The best romance anime can be a window into a nearly universal experience: love. The shows that get you emotionally invested in the characters keep you glued to the screen as you experience the highs and lows of their relationship and emotional lives. Unfortunately, many series rely heavily on romance anime tropes to achieve better ratings and engagement. And while tropes in romance anime can help unify the genre and make it recognizable, they can also get really boring and stale.
Some of the stuff you see in every romance anime, like the complete absence of LGBTQ people and the fact that anime characters often interpret rejection as a sign to keep pushing until they get the romantic or sexual relationship they want, are not only dull, but actively harmful. Even if you're a casual fan, you probably know at least a few of these recurring themes in romance anime. Check out this list and vote up the romantic tropes you're sick of seeing.
Easily Resolvable Misunderstandings Drive The Plot
Misunderstandings are a huge part of romance anime. Sometimes, they can be kind of fun. For example, in Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-kun, which is based entirely on a misunderstanding, Chiyo tries to confess her feelings to Nozaki, and he interprets her feelings as a desire to help edit his professional shojo manga.
However, there are times when misunderstandings are super annoying, like in Masamune-kun's Revenge when Aki becomes furious because another girl hugs Masamune, and she won't take five seconds to let him explain that he's never met her and doesn't know why she's hugging him. Another example is Kimi ni Todoke, where almost all of the progress made in Sawako and Kazehaya's relationship gets canceled out by contrived rumors. Handled right, this can be an interesting wrench in the proceedings, but handled wrong, it's just plain frustrating and drags the show along a bed of nails.
In Romance Anime, Rejection Means Keep Trying
One of the most irritating tropes that crops up in romance anime is the fact that when characters get rejected, they just keep trying until they get what they want. Sometimes, this is the whole story - like in My Little Monster, where Shizuku and Haru reject each other approximately ten billion times, and their friend actually yells at Haru for not ignoring Shizuku's blatant refusal to date him. In Kaichou wa Maid-sama, Takumi stalks, blackmails, and harasses Misaki in a bid to get closer to him.
In the real world, if someone rejects your advances, you're supposed to accept it gracefully and move on with your life, not keep bothering them until they finally give up in frustration. If you keep bothering them, you're not seen as a romantic person - you're seen as a freak and a stalker. When a fictional romance starts off with one person not respecting the other person's boundaries, thoughts, or feelings, it can be hard to get invested in the characters.
Physical Assault Is Totally Cool If If The Victim Is A Dude
If you've watched any anime ever, you've probably seen a girl punch a dude across the room for offenses ranging from accidently walking in on her naked to refusing to be her boyfriend. While this is usually played for laughs, the violence can sometimes be extreme. For example, in Urusei Yatsura, Lum does more than just smack Ataru around for hitting on other women - she electrocutes him. Yikes. This isn't exclusive to older anime, either. Noragami, an anime that aired in 2014, features a guy getting hit so hard that he's actually still in pain the next day.
The reason why anime women are rarely on the receiving end of slapstick violence is because there are too many uncomfortable parallels to actual domestic abuse that exists in society. That said, according to some studies, up to 40% of domestic abuse victims are men. With that in mind, watching a dude get punched across the room for a minor offense isn't all that funny.
All The Romance Is Heterosexual
Yuri!!! on Ice is a pretty good anime in its own right, but what makes it special? What makes it really stand out amongst other, equally high-quality shows? It's got gay people in it. Not queerbaiting (hinting at an LGBTQ relationship that's never going to happen), not yaoi or yuri (specific niche genres with their own tropes), but an actual, realistically rendered gay couple who canonically express their feelings for each other.
If you're thinking to yourself, "That shouldn't be exceptional," you are 100% correct. Yet queer relationships are almost completely absent from anime while straight relationships consistently appear in anime of all genres. Japan is a notoriously conservative country where homosexuality isn't always discussed openly, so this isn't exactly surprising. To be fair, it's not like the Western media is knocking it out of the park in terms of representation, either. That said, anime's relentless heteronormativity is something that really needs to change.