Now, before I begin, let me just say this: I’m straight (whoa, where is she going with this, right?), so I’m not about to start acting like the voice of the LGBTQ+ community. That would be kind of inappropriate! That said, something that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed about this year’s anime is that they’ve featured quite the assortment of gay and otherwise unconventional pairings. In fact, I’d suggest that many of these are some of the best pairings we’ve had this year, regardless of whether the characters’ feelings are mutual or one-sided.
These unconventional pairings include: After the Rain’s Kondou and Akira (with their considerable age difference), Banana Fish’s Ash and Eiji (same sex, different ethnicities), Bloom into You’s Yuu and Touko (same sex/asexual), Darling in the Franxx’s Hiro and Zero Two (different species), and Ichigo and Ikuno (same sex). There might very well be more notable examples that I’ve neglected to mention, but these are the ones that I’ve had first-hand experience with!
One of the reasons why I’ve loved this glut in unconventional couples is that the mainstream market (i.e. not hentai) is already saturated with opposite sex couples of similar age, background, and other characteristics, so it’s great to have a bit more variety! Not only does it break up the monotony of het couple after het couple, but it’s also nice to see other types of couple represented, regardless of the fact that I might not belong to them myself!
Another reason why I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching these unconventional couples is that they often experienced a completely different set of problems than what I’m used to. For instance, Akira desperately tried to find common ground with a much older Kondou, Eiji frequently found himself at odds with Ash’s culture and violent way of life, Yuu, initially, struggled with confusion over her inability to feel romantic attraction towards other people, and Zero Two lamented over her inability to have children with Hiro. It wasn’t that I liked watching these characters struggle (I’m not that twisted), but it did open my eyes and make me sympathetic to the problems that other types of couple face.
Whilst these couples aren’t without their problems, many of which have nothing to do with their age, ethnicity, or orientation, like the fact that Ash and Eiji’s relationship is kinda co-dependent (understandable, given the abuse that Ash has been subjected to for his entire life), or the fact that Yuu leads Touko on, it’s still such a relief to see them, especially the same-sex ones, portrayed in a way that isn’t characterised by out-and-out abuse. Admittedly, I’ve not seen a wealth of shoujo ai/shounen ai anime, but the ones that I have seen, e.g. Gravitation, Junjou Romantica, Loveless, Netsuzou TRap, and Citrus (the bad apple of this year’s decent crop), all feature some extremely unhealthy couples. Grooming, manipulative mind games, and sexual abuse run rampant in nearly all of the above shows. I might not be a member of the LGBTQ+ community, but it makes me angry to think that this is the way that anime has, overwhelmingly, portrayed them! It paints such a dangerous, erroneous, and unhelpful picture, which is why the couples that I’ve listed are such a welcome relief!
Thanks for reading! If this year has produced any other awesome, unconventional couples who I’ve neglected to mention, please let me know, I’d love to take the time to meet them! Bye for now!