Friday, June 14, 2019

Green Phoenix - Ore Monogatari!!

Originally running as a Madhouse production from April 8 to September 23, 2015, Ore Monogatari!! (Translated as My Love Story!!) is an adaptation of the shojo romantic comedy manga of the same name, written by Kazune Kawahara and illustrated by Aruko. 

The manga series ran for 13 volumes between October of 2011 and July of 2016, and was published by Shueisha. You can find the manga in most bookstores, and the English sub of the anime can be found on Crunchyroll.

  • Romantic Comedy
  • Produced by Madhouse
  • Written by Kazune Kawahara
  • 24 Episodes Long
  • (English Sub available on Crunchyroll)


My Love Story!! Follows Takeo G┼Źda, a high school freshman who, despite being incredibly tall and strong, is considered frightening by most of his female classmates and is consequently unlucky with romantic relationships. All of his crushes end up falling for his best friend and neighbor, Makoto Sunakawa (Suna), who never reciprocates those feelings.

Takeo seems resigned to a loveless life until a chance encounter on train results in him helping and falling for the shy Rinko Yamato, who clearly has feelings for him as well. However, misunderstandings on Takeo’s part convinces him that Rinko is really in love with Suna, and Takeo makes it his mission to help the two fall in love.

I can already see it now. So many people are going to look at this review and probably think me quite peculiar. And quite frankly, I don’t really blame them. I’m something of a snob when it comes to watching anime and can be very particular and eccentric in my tastes where they are concerned.

Despite my hopeless romantic nature, the premise of this story seems to have the potential for so many cliches that I absolutely despise in romantic comedies that I should never have given this series a chance.

Thankfully I did, as My Love Story!! Is one of the most heartfelt, genre subversive, and genuinely charming animes that I have ever had the pleasure to watch.

While I could never call the animation and art design ground-breaking or particularly innovative such as with an anime like Violet Evergarden, My Love Story!!’s animation remains an incredibly clean and graceful, matching the tone of the series magnificently. 

My Love Story!! is a romantic comedy and thus needs to balance out comedy and sweetness, and the animation assists in that endeavour. The story of Takeo and Rinko’s relationship is a slow comedy where the heart and humor is born from either genuinely sweet moments of young adults dealing with first love or the sudden transition to One Punch Man levels of absurdity, almost exclusively from Takeo and his ridiculous levels of strength. That transition between the two states is done seamlessly and oftentimes left me awed at how realistic and genuine the whole series was. While dialog heavy, My Love Story!! does have quiet moments where the animation can and does shine.
Beyond that, I cannot recall any moments where the animation quality dropped or decreased noticeably in quality and the series utilized highly stylized animation throughout in order to express the comedy and heart of the story: a task it accomplishes beautifully.
It’s not a masterpiece of animation, but it is perfect for what it needed to be.

As a slice of life anime, My Love Story!!’s soundtrack is a subtle one, intended to compliment the action but never overstage it. In this task, it performs admirably thought perhaps at the expense of memorability. Admittedly I can really only recall a few moments where the music especially stood out, the principal one being Rinko’s singing of “Happy Birthday”, which is just about the cutest thing you have ever heard.

Of all the pieces, “Negai Kage” possesses an undertone of tragedy which really cuts to the heart of Takeo’s life and why his relationship to Rinko is so important. I love listening to it and it balances out some of the more humorous pieces, like “Tenyawanya”.

Overall, I highly recommend listening to the soundtrack on its own as that helps to isolate it from the story and the animation and aid it in standing on its own. You will not be disappointed.

The true strength of any romance story lies in its characters. If we don’t empathise or love the characters, we won’t care about the status of their relationship. In this, My Love Story!! Truly triumphes as it relies upon shattering stereotypes and shows every character, even those who might be rivals, in a somewhat positive and realistic light.

Takeo is a cinnamon roll. While ridiculously (shonen anime level) strong, somewhat dim, and not particularly good looking, Takeo has a heart of gold and is loved by all those who truly get to know him. This leaves him as somewhat tragic, when so many judge him and are afraid simply because of his outward appearance. Takeo is instantly sympathetic and you find yourself both cheering him on and berating him for his continuous self-deprecation.

Rinko is the perfect romantic counterpart to Takeo. Incredibly shy and seemingly demure, Rinko adores the ground Takeo walks one, but is often too shy or self-conscious to act upon those feelings. Throughout the series, she struggles with letting Takeo know just how much he means to her and how far and fast she wants to take their relationship. Coupled with Takeo’s general ignorance when it comes to women (and a lot of other things) it leads to moments of both well-meaning frustration and genuine sweetness.

Takeo’s best friend, Sunakawa, would, in a lesser anime, be the obvious romantic rival to Takeo for Rinko’s affections. He is incredibly smart, traditionally handsome, and loved by all of the girls at Takeo and Sunakawa’s school (including the ones that Takeo had crushes on). Thankfully, My Love Story!! takes a higher road by making him Takeo and Rinko’s chief supporter and Takeo’s wingman. He comes off as rather disinterested and sarcastic (with some of the best dialog coming from him) in most matters, but still manages to provide support and guidance to Takeo, and occasionally receiving it in return.

At the heart of My Love Story!! is a realistic approach to human relationships. This series wouldn’t work so well if the interplay between Takeo, Rinko, and Sunakawa wasn’t so earnest and down-to-earth. While each episode often has moments of absurdity (especially on Takeo’s part) at its heart, its characters are unerringly human and realistic.

STORY - 9/10
On the surface, I should absolutely hate the premise of My Love Story!!. I hate some of the frustrating and cliche elements of the narrative. Thankfully, this entire story thrives off of subversion of genre expectations. My fear of a series long “will they/won’t they” is put to rest within the first three episodes (in just the most adorable and heartwarming way imaginable).

Instead of focusing on whether or not a relationship will happen, My Love Story!! decides to tread the day-to-day situations that a couple might find itself in. Doing something special for your partner's birthday, first valentines, first kiss, meeting the parents. These seemingly boring and innocuous moments that a lesser romance might skip over, My Love Story!! relishes in.

You will find yourself being sucked into the anxiety and sheer compassion that everyone has for one another, and the humor and occasional moments of absurdity add a sense of genuineness to everything going on that makes this story so heartwarming to experience.

Watching this anime, I had a smile on my face the entire time. With its genuinely pleasant and down-to-earth characters, wonderfully timed dialogue and physical comedy, and subversive exploration of romance from the eyes of two good-hearted people, My Love Story!! truly is a one of a kind romantic comedy that I can’t recommend strongly enough.


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