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Old 2014-02-17, 21:50   Link #1
Marcus H.
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"Defeat" in Romance Series: When Your Chosen Girl Loses [Spoilers Ahead!]

Everyone encounters a time when what you think is the "best girl" doesn't end up with the male lead. Of course, that's one of the rules of romance-themed series regardless of medium: by the end of the series, there will be one winner to the protagonist's heart, and the rest would have to face the crushing blow of defeat.

I haven't been that exposed to many romance series, but I do understand how hard it is to deal with seeing your chosen girl lose to someone else, particularly a predetermined pairing that has been there since the very first volume. I know that some are well-informed of my random outbursts when a certain outcome showed up and I wasn't happy about it. Worse, there are series that simply gave a finger to its fans by causing that "predetermined pair" to lose in favor of another girl that came out of left field.

And there's Seo Kouji, who continues to fuel his writing with our bottomless rage.

So let's talk about this aspect of romance series and how you face the facts established by canon.
Of course, since we're gonna be talking about plot details, please put those on spoiler tags (either text or images) for our fellow members' convenience.

Let it rip!
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Old 2014-02-17, 22:01   Link #2
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I generally prefer OTPs to love triangles and harems. I like to see all the characters be truly happy in the end.

Or something like Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai where the other girls are purely in support of the main heroine and have no interest in the male MC. We need more romance setups like that.
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Old 2014-02-17, 22:18   Link #3
Marcus H.
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Quote:
I generally prefer OTPs to love triangles and harems.
There have been times when I supported OTPs. One strong example is Horizon Ariadust and Toori Aoi from Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon, which is pretty much established at the start of the series.

Quote:
I like to see all the characters be truly happy in the end.
Same, but sadly it doesn't happen all the time.

Spoiler for Oreimo:


Well, it seems that LN romance trends often go with contact between members of the established OTP -> introduction of "competitors" -> raising flags for said competitors -> competitors lose to OTP -> END. The part with "introduction of "competitors" -> raising flags for said competitors" is what bothers me.
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Old 2014-02-17, 22:32   Link #4
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When love triangles are even, like in True Tears, Rumbling Hearts, or Sakurasou, it's a lot of fun. And by fun I mean emotionally torturous for all the right reasons. When they're uneven--and I mean very uneven--it's like, why do the writers even bother making any competition.
Spoiler for Kashimashi:

Spoiler for Strawberry Panic!:
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Old 2014-02-17, 22:54   Link #5
Marcus H.
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When they're uneven--and I mean very uneven--it's like, why do the writers even bother making any competition.
This is probably my main gripe with Oreimo's romance part.

Spoiler for Oreimo:
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Old 2014-02-18, 00:26   Link #6
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From the ones that I've watched, I've yet to come across a series where I couldn't predict which girl would end up with the guy by the end of the series. Every story leaves a pretty decent amount of clues and hints to point toward the direction a story is going to take to establish the eventual pairing if any. Of course there are stories which doesn't resolve the pairing and leave it ambiguous. Even then, such story will present enough clues and hints toward that particular direction over pairing. So yeah, even if I think girl A should win, a story will politely correct me if I'm paying attention and will tell me to take off my shipping-goggles. So yeah, I'm bragging about how I have yet not to root for the girl that has lost at winning the affection of the useless (and equally clueless) hero in any of these romance-heavy anime stories I've watched. It doesn't mean the girl who is poised to win was my favorite. I was simply able to recognize and admit that my favorite girl had no chance in hell at losing her virginity to the useless hero at that moment.
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Old 2014-02-18, 00:38   Link #7
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Although internally, I have a good idea of which romantic pairings are optimal and consider their relative efficiency, I don't think that should really dominate the discussion, as in there's more to the narrative than romance. To be honest, I generally have a pretty low opinion of shippers. Rabid shippers in legitimate series discussions feel like pigeons to me-- they're relatively harmless and can be amusing to feed, but then they fly up and shit all over the place when overfed.

As a result I don't get butthurt. Clannad went a safe and mediocre route, though that's still better than series like Nanoha that don't do anything

You don't need a romantic outcome or silly things such as happy after ever endings to validate a so called "best" character's existence. So the main male character hits it with up with some scrub female character and the show doesn't even bother to have any hint of subtlety that the intent was that. Yea well, nothing changed.

But you have to realize that romance is far more about compatibility and chemistry. It's not about "Oh this girl is Masters level, this girl is bronze scrub, the dude should go for the former". For example, I think Shinji and Asuka are a pretty good couple in context. I can't really say I squee in pleasure when I see the two together. In fact, I'd say I'd have to go to the bathroom now. Though not as badly as viewing your average LN romance. And ultimately, it's a 2 way street. Just because it's good for one side doesn't mean it's good for both sides. And something like White Album 2 illustrates the point perfectly, in which getting together isn't necessarily a good thing.

Likewise I think something like Haruhi and Kyon is a great pairing given the narrative force and are certainly more pleasing to look at together even though I don't think Haruhi is my favorite female character for the series.

You really need to consider it context. If you pair these two characters together, is it really best for them and the story? Not just because you want to, but because it'll create something meaningful. So there's plenty of times where the "better" girl won but the road to the end didn't really create anything meaningful, like in True Tears, so I was like "okay! Whatever!"
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Old 2014-02-18, 00:42   Link #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archon_Wing View Post
You really need to consider it context. If you pair these two characters together, is it really best for them and the story? Not just because you want to, but because it'll create something meaningful. So there's plenty of times where the "better" girl won but the road to the end didn't really create anything meaningful, like in True Tears, so I was like "okay! Whatever!"
Oh, so that means Noe is better than Hiromi. Gotcha.


---

In all seriousness though, great points.
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Old 2014-02-18, 01:29   Link #9
Marcus H.
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Likewise I think something like Haruhi and Kyon is a great pairing given the narrative force and are certainly more pleasing to look at together even though I don't think Haruhi is my favorite female character for the series.
Same. In fact, aside from her "passable" beauty, there's nothing much that is great about having a girl like Haruhi pester you around. Kyon pretty much complements her: we got an immovable rock and an unstoppable force and the story of how the universe survives their many interactions.

I wouldn't argue on the Kyon-Haruhi pairing. Had it been another guy handling Haruhi's quirks, the universe may have ceased to exist.

Quote:
You really need to consider it context. If you pair these two characters together, is it really best for them and the story? Not just because you want to, but because it'll create something meaningful. So there's plenty of times where the "better" girl won but the road to the end didn't really create anything meaningful, like in True Tears, so I was like "okay! Whatever!"
I feel that there's no such thing as a meaningless pairing in anime ever. That's what visual novels and their adaptations often say. That said, there are relationships that are better than others, but that's almost always objective.
_____________

Anyway, I feel a bit surprised seeing that there seem to be a lot more people are capable of looking at romance stories from a neutral standpoint. Taking sides when it comes to who gets who seem to have become second nature to me, so the risk of ruining my enjoyment of that series because of the author choosing that girl over another is always present. You can't blame me, though. I can't possibly support the relationship of a character that has a lot of personality issues, for example.
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Last edited by Marcus H.; 2014-02-18 at 01:49.
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Old 2014-02-18, 02:59   Link #10
Akito Kinomoto
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Originally Posted by Marcus H. View Post
Anyway, I feel a bit surprised seeing that there seem to be a lot more people are capable of looking at romance stories from a neutral standpoint. Taking sides when it comes to who gets who seem to have become second nature to me, so the risk of ruining my enjoyment of that series because of the author choosing that girl over another is always present. You can't blame me, though. I can't possibly support the relationship of a character that has a lot of personality issues, for example.
There's some truth to looking for the flags for the route the hero(oine) is going to go on, but if I'm noticing it in the first place, if I feel unintentionally neutral, I have to question where my involvement for the characters is. Those signs should only be obvious in hindsight.

Now, I can have a favorite character, but the rival should at least be an understandable partner for who they're going after, so no hard feelings. If I felt sorry my favorite lost, it's because the other character was an equal or better fit for the love interest. If I felt disgusted my favorite lost, odds are the show has done something wrong with the characters, chemistry, or both. It's an odd dichotomy that tells me how good or not the romance was (ignoring tragic pairings and wedlocked pairings). Failing the quality check, I disregard writing entirely and go in descending order of hair color and bewb size,

1. Strawberry blonde+mid-sized bust
2. Golden blonde+big bust
3. Golden blonde+DFC
4. Pink hair+any bust size
5. And many, MANY more!
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Old 2014-02-18, 03:32   Link #11
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I heard that shippers totally ruined the discussions forum for Chihayafuru Season 2...
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Old 2014-02-18, 03:50   Link #12
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Originally Posted by Pocari_Sweat View Post
I heard that shippers totally ruined the discussions forum for Chihayafuru Season 2...
Shippers destroyed any possibility of civil pairing discussions for Macross Frontier and Nanoha as well.

Even in fanfiction.net, there were instances of online bullying in the Nanoha subsection because the author decided to not write Nanoha x Fate.
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Old 2014-02-18, 03:50   Link #13
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I personally don't complain when my favorite girl loses as long as the end pairing makes sense, i. e. the minimum amount of explanation, and doesn't come completely out of the blue. That's on the objective level. When it comes to my personal (heavy) bias, I see myself more raging than enjoying. Preferably no forced drama, at all, but that's due to my heavy drama allergy as I have mentioned in various other threads (mostly in the Eroge impression ).
Then again, I also simply dislike love triangles, unless used for comedy. Fortunately, I am much more a VN reader than anime/manga so I have the option to choose the girl (except of enforced playing order and stuff like that) and the genres.

As for Seo?
Spoiler for KNIM:
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Old 2014-02-18, 04:45   Link #14
Marcus H.
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Now, I can have a favorite character, but the rival should at least be an understandable partner for who they're going after, so no hard feelings. If I felt sorry my favorite lost, it's because the other character was an equal or better fit for the love interest. If I felt disgusted my favorite lost, odds are the show has done something wrong with the characters, chemistry, or both. It's an odd dichotomy that tells me how good or not the romance was (ignoring tragic pairings and wedlocked pairings).
After going through the many anime series I've watched, I realized that there are two series where I rooted for someone other than the main lead: Oreimo and Haganai. [I supported both Kuroneko and Ayase for Oreimo, while I preferred Rika to steal Kodaka's heart from Sena and Yozora.] The inverse of the first case applies to Haganai, where I felt sorry for Yozora for the events that led to the end of NEXT, while the other case was for Oreimo, where the finale left me disgusted towards the two girls I rooted (who were more obsessed to Kirino than in love with Kyousuke).

I have to disagree that this dichotomy is a decent litmus paper for the quality of romance. It's better to say that it demonstrated the emotional attachment the reader or viewer had in the story, regardless of who he/she rooted for. In the case of Oreimo, well played, Fushimi-sensei. I raged hard.

Quote:
Even in fanfiction.net, there were instances of online bullying in the Nanoha subsection because the author decided to not write Nanoha x Fate.
Off-topic: I'm sure somewhere out there, Ume-sensei wishes for a canon kiss between Nanoha and Fate.
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Old 2014-02-18, 05:08   Link #15
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I see replies and will work on them later, but...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheba View Post
Shippers destroyed any possibility of civil pairing discussions for Macross Frontier and Nanoha as well.

Even in fanfiction.net, there were instances of online bullying in the Nanoha subsection because the author decided to not write Nanoha x Fate.
It didn't help that the series had absolutely no guts and could do nothing more than endless, repetitive teasing in the most patronizing way possible (but at least sometimes it was pretty). And I'm quite sure I remember hearing there was even shipping amongst staff that led to conflict and would explain why the current incarnation of the franchise is so disjointed. And the fandom has quite the tension and angst because of being denied closure.

Nanoha x Raising Heart OTP

Back on topic, I think one of the worst aspects of shipping is directing hate @ every other "rival" ship. I don't really care if you hate my favorite characters. But if the only reason they have is because said character is in the way, I would most consider them a fucktard and cease communications.
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Old 2014-02-18, 07:39   Link #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus H. View Post
Anyway, I feel a bit surprised seeing that there seem to be a lot more people are capable of looking at romance stories from a neutral standpoint. Taking sides when it comes to who gets who seem to have become second nature to me, so the risk of ruining my enjoyment of that series because of the author choosing that girl over another is always present.
I tended to take sides for a long time as well, and occasionally I might slip back into that way of approaching things. But if you put aside shipping preferences, and focus as objectively as possible on where the story is going and why it's going there, you can usually tell which pairing is being favored (or if an ambiguous ending is being favored). The earlier this is recognized the easier it is to come to terms with "your girl" losing or at least not winning. That's what I usually find to be the case, anyway.

Even putting aside specific in-narrative hints, there are some "rules" that are very rarely broken in anime:

1) First girl wins.

2) Tsunderes tend to win. Even if there are no girls that neatly fits under "tsundere", the one closest to a tsundere tends to win.

3) Many love triangles in anime are male lead, "magical girlfriend", and "girl next door". "Magical Girlfriend" will almost always win these. Basically, the girl with something truly different about her (alien, magic-wielder, has superpowers, etc...) will tend to win out over the relatively normal "girl next door". Note that this is one of the things that can trump tsunderes.

4) If a pairing is more or less established by the end of Season 1, it's highly unlikely that there's going to be a lasting shift away from it.


These four rules alone will account for most romance conflicts in anime.


One final thing that I think should be considered here is that writers sometimes take a sort of shonen-esque approach to romance conflict. What I mean by that is that you'll have your presumptive main pairing, and writers like to throw "challenges" at it not unlike throwing challenges at a shounen hero (i.e. a new opponent that seems stronger than our hero is!). To make the romantic challenge seem truly challenging and impressive, a writer will give it a degree of chemistry and/or ease that the presumptive main pairing may well lack. This is because it's supposed to come across as a real threat to the presumptive main pairing.

Sometimes, though, writers make the "challenge" so good that fans can feel like "Wow, they should ditch the established pairing, and go with this alternate one instead". There's a show we're both watching right now that's become a pretty good example of this, I think.
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Old 2014-02-18, 08:28   Link #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pocari_Sweat View Post
I heard that shippers totally ruined the discussions forum for Chihayafuru Season 2...
Taking shipping seriously - now there's defeat right there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Archon_Wing View Post
You really need to consider it context. If you pair these two characters together, is it really best for them and the story? Not just because you want to, but because it'll create something meaningful. So there's plenty of times where the "better" girl won but the road to the end didn't really create anything meaningful, like in True Tears, so I was like "okay! Whatever!"
Short attention span age/we want it now age/style age.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Archon_Wing View Post
But if the only reason they have is because said character is in the way, I would most consider them a fucktard and cease communications.
Truer words were never spoken.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
Even putting aside specific in-narrative hints, there are some "rules" that are very rarely broken in anime:

1) First girl wins.

2) Tsunderes tend to win. Even if there are no girls that neatly fits under "tsundere", the one closest to a tsundere tends to win.

3) Many love triangles in anime are male lead, "magical girlfriend", and "girl next door". "Magical Girlfriend" will almost always win these. Basically, the girl with something truly different about her (alien, magic-wielder, has superpowers, etc...) will tend to win out over the relatively normal "girl next door". Note that this is one of the things that can trump tsunderes.

4) If a pairing is more or less established by the end of Season 1, it's highly unlikely that there's going to be a lasting shift away from it.


These four rules alone will account for most romance conflicts in anime.

Solution - more reverse harems!




But seriously speaking, there are ways. There are some decent exceptions.


Kimagure Orange Road - Its love triangle ended in one of very few that left me emotionally blown away. 48 episodes and 8 OVAs wishing like hell for the girl almost everyone wanted to win. Then you finally get it - but feel guilty as hell from what happens as a result. I found that to be darn good writing to turn a character people would spend all that time to lose then in 90 minutes be reminded that she was a person and that what she got was cruel yet ultimately character-defining.

Rumbling Hearts (Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien) - That's probably the best case of first girl not winning you're going to get. Argh, what an utterly excruciating journey that was....but damn, it was insatiable despite how cruel it got.

Hana Yori Dango - You could really argue in some points that in some ways, no guy deserved to be with the girl. Did the 'best' guy won? No effing way. But was it the somewhat befitting one? I'd say so. You could argue the aftermath of that one for forever and a day. But it worked.

Hanasakeru Seishounen - This really is a title that turns romance on its head and how you think about it and relationships. It was refreshing to see an open-minded, more spiritual approach. For being a love pentagon in a reverse harem, it was unusually mature and so politically intriguing. If there was ever a romance title that made those involved better for the journey, regardless of whether they won or lost, this would be it. Such a rarity.

Say I love you (Sukitte Iinayo) - The girl that lost was definitely better off for it in the long run. Rarely was it more compelling to see a girl realise how much of a terrible person she is and want to change, as well as the main guy realise he really is quite a prick for letting it happen amongst other things. Was also heartening to see the type of girl you'd usually never see winning actually win because the process went both ways - not only did it do a world of good for her confidence and how she regarded people in general, it made other people re-evaluate how they regarded people themselves. That was one real trope-breaker of a title.

Garden of Words - Victory came in a different way and both people were so much better for it.

The Tatami Galaxy - Whathisname losing over and over was integral to the whole process. It made Akashi that much more elusive yet alluring and led to a weird mix of wanting Whatshisname to win, yet watching him lose was fine too.

They are few and far between, though. Romance that makes it to anime is very cookie cutter these days. You can find some that break the mold, but they're generally not the popular ones.
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Old 2014-02-18, 08:49   Link #18
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Sometimes when I see shippers arguing over a series, I end up wondering "is the guy really worth it anyway?" I mean, a good deal of harems and love triangles go to the effort of giving the lead character some interesting or likeable qualities, but when some others just make him some utterly generic spineless dork with no unique qualities like Ichika in Infinite Stratos, I just think "will my favorite girl even be happy in the long run with this moron?" This is where I guess I'm supposed to self-insert, but I'm simply incapable of self-inserting into such unlikeable characters whose decisions often run contrary to what I would do in their shoes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
Even putting aside specific in-narrative hints, there are some "rules" that are very rarely broken in anime:

1) First girl wins.

2) Tsunderes tend to win. Even if there are no girls that neatly fits under "tsundere", the one closest to a tsundere tends to win.
In regards to that, I'm sure Mashiroiro Symphony bemused many people here.
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Old 2014-02-18, 09:16   Link #19
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I'm just gonna drop by and say, screw the boring and lame main girl, Hana should win the boy in Prison School.
Pretty sure majority of the readers feel that way too.

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Old 2014-02-18, 09:34   Link #20
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I can also mention Ichigo 100% which breaks the first girl rule, and is still debated on which girl he would have picked.
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