My Love Story!!
Despite his huge build and scary physique, Takeo Gouda has a heart of gold. Unfortunately, he’s also had a bit of bad luck, as every girl he ever liked has wound up liking his best friend, Sunakawa “Suna” Makoto. When Takeo meets Rinko Yamato, he expects things to be no different… but could he be wrong about her? What will happen when love starts to bloom?
24 Episodes (Approx. 480 minutes)
April 8, 2015 - September 23, 2015
Director: Morio Asaka
Writers: Natsuko Takahashi
Starring: Takuya Eguchi (Andrew Love), Megumi Han (Tia Ballard), Nobunaga Shimazaki (Austin Tindle)
Distributors: Sentai Filmworks, Madman Entertainment, Animatsu Entertainment
Genre: Shojo, Romantic Comedy
I first stumbled upon this pretty little gem of a show when I was in my middle-school “otaku” years. Like many thirteen-year-old girls, I was drawn to the soft colors, gentle animation style, and, of course, sappy schoolgirl romance fantasy. One of my all-time favorite shojo anime series, Ore Monogatari!! (or My Love Story!!), holds a special place in my heart to this day.
Takeo Gouda is a very large youth who often uses his size for good as the everyday hero Tokyo needs, but not the one it deserves. Though beloved by his friends, he finds romance difficult, as girls seem to be intimidated by the glowering face and broad physique that make him so popular among the guys. But all this changes when he meets Rinko Yamato, a sweet, tiny girl from a nearby school. After saving her from a handsy pervert on a train, Takeo wins over Yamato’s heart and an awkwardly charming love story is born.
Language: There’s the occasional profane variant of “dang” or “heck,” depending on what subbed/dubbed version you choose to watch. Some translations are free of questionable language altogether. Taking of the Lord’s name in vain seems altogether absent, at least based on the translations I have personally watched. The word “perv” comes up a few times (in episodes 1 and 11, predominantly), but the act of perversion is never glorified and is even condemned by Takeo, who actively strives to keep what we Christians call a “pure mind.”
Alcohol/Drug Use: None. Both lead characters’ groups of friends go together to a restaurant where beverages are shown in the background, but none of the leads ever touch or refer to any illegal or morally ambiguous substances.
Sexual Content: Though not completely spotless My Love Story!! is about as squeaky-clean as they come. In one scene, a bit of Takeo’s bare bum is shown through his singed pants for comedic effect. The girls’ outfits are relatively modest, with perhaps the exception of episode 11 in which Gouda’s friends ogle over Yamato’s and her friend’s bathing suits–mostly skimpy two-pieces. Before that, we see Yamato’s friends helping her pick out a suit by pointing out her “big rack” and “nice legs,” but even these comments are left unaccompanied by any scandalous visuals. Yamato does get a little carried away, holding up different, very revealing swimsuits she is thinking about trying on to impress Takeo. Takeo, however, seems to hold his respect for women, especially Yamato, above all else. When his friends mention how they look forward to seeing girls in bathing suits, he shuts them down as “pervs,” saying that “bathing suits are for swimming!” His pure-hearted response to their worldly objectification of women’s bodies serves as a strongly redemptive quality, which, in my opinion creates a stronger sense of purity than if these topics were never approached at all.
Violence: Nothing graphic. The beginning of the titular relationship involves Takeo saving Yamato from a train-riding molester. This scene in itself is innocent enough, as brave Takeo is able to stop the situation, but it may leave some younger or more sensitive viewers wondering what could’ve happened had Takeo not stepped in and rescued our shojo doll from the train-riding creep’s lustful eyes. Of course, being the hero he is, Takeo is constantly finding himself in perilous situations–burning buildings, drowning children, etc.–though nobody is fatally hurt. At one point, Takeo runs into a building to save two of Yamato’s friends, and hearts begin to race as a burning beam falls to crush him. In spite of the danger, the show never resorts to blood or gore, save for some red spots that might indicate mild burns or bruises, post-heroics.
Spiritual Content: The characters allude to traditional Japanese culture and visit a family shrine, but spirituality is never discussed, leaving the values portrayed up for interpretation.
Positive Content: This sweet little show brings about strong themes of pure and innocent love. The characters grapple with real-life emotions and situations. Yamato deals with jealousy and shyness, Takeo with self-esteem and keeping a pure head, but in the end they come out better for it. Yamato learns to stand up for what she believes. Takeo learns the value of his friendships and protecting his loved ones. Others learn not to judge a book by the cover, as even scary-looking men can be sweet and pure of heart. The character development reveals a pure and holy relationship between the two protagonists, where their mutual affections, and not a physical drive, is the core of the bond they share–much like the Christ-centered relationship many of us strive for.
This charming tale of a lumbering giant of a high school student and his petite, girlie crush puts every stereotype used in typical Japanese dramas to the test–and they all pass. Every odd happenstance and unlikely almost-disaster brings viewers closer to the happy ending they crave. On top of a cutesy storyline and playful dialogue, the music is catchy and the animation is gorgeous. Soft characters, lovably unique voice acting, and elegant scenery add the perfect touches to My Love Story!! and make it every stereotypical schoolgirl’s dream.
This entire series is crafted from anime romance stereotypes, in particular. You know how the story goes: The leading lady is caught under a falling beam, or in a burning building, or in an alleyway surrounded by creeps. Suddenly, he’s there, pulling her to safety and sweeping her into his arms. They make eye contact, and the screen fills with sparkles. Cue the internal monologue asking, “Is this… love?” Cut to a childhood flashback, and then tie everything together with a cheering crowd and a lot of relieved tears. She blushes, there may be a kiss–or an attempt at one–and the rest is history.
These silly, sappy scenarios might be a turnoff for some. Yamato baking cookies for Takeo every time they meet up may be a literal sugary overload. Chances are, though, if you’re a total shojo fanatic, you probably have daydreams of similarly gooey scenarios on a daily basis. If that’s true, then My Love Story!! is ideal for you. Clean, silly, sweet, lighthearted–it’s the perfect anime to curl up and watch on a rainy day when all you need is a romantic pick-me-up and a little bit of anime sweetness.
Simply put: My Love Story!! is adorable. I’d watch it with anyone, Christian or non-, who I was trying to get into anime. It’s safe enough for even children to enjoy, and the one or two episodes I’ve watched dubbed had capable English acting. The innocent, flirty romance had me squealing like an otaku, as any good shojo should. Takeo is a nontraditional love interest, making him that much more lovable. Next time you find yourself daydreaming, I suggest curling up with an episode (or twenty-four!) of My Love Story!! …and perhaps a plate of baked goods.
+ Charming characters
+ Clean content
+ Positive and healthy portrayal of young relationship
+ Themes of friendship, loyalty, honesty, selflessness and courage
- Cheesy, sometimes shallow writing
- Hard-to-follow English translations
- Occasional reference to the "male gaze" struggle