Anime Review: My Love Story!! (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 05.06.2017

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My Love Story!! (UK Rating: 12)

Based on a manga series from Kazune Kawahara, creator of High School Debut, this unorthodox high school romance follows quite the unconventional protagonist. The high school first year Takeo Goda looks more like a muscle-bound, senior delinquent who towers over not just his classmates but most adults, too! Despite this, he has a heart of gold and easily falls in love. The problem is, the girls he falls for (and, in fact, most girls in general) fall for his best friend, Makoto Sunakawa, a heart-throb who seems to have no interest in dating. The pair saves a girl from a train molester and a surprising young love story flourishes. This complete series comes courtesy of Manga Entertainment and is out on 5th June.

Takeo has gotten used to the status quo with Sunakawa (Suna). They are best friends and have been both friends and neighbours since they were in kindergarten; even their mothers are friends. In all that time, Takeo has been the ogre that everyone was terrified of - girls especially - while Suna has had everyone fawn over him thanks to his good looks and academic prowess. That's exactly why it's so hard for Takeo to pick up on it when suddenly a girl becomes interested in him. While the friends are commuting one day, Suna clocks a guy molesting a girl in a school uniform and Takeo takes care of it, snatching the guy's hand and dragging him off to station attendants. The fallout from this act of heroism finds the young beauty - one Rinko Yamato - finding excuses to spend time with the pair, at first seemingly to thank and repay them. During this, Takeo realises he has fallen for Rinko but thinks she, like every girl in his life, is interested in Suna, so he dedicates himself to getting the pair together. It never crosses Takeo's mind that Rinko could be interested in him; who would want the gorilla when the idol is there?

Well, it turns out Rinko does; she is completely smitten with the great big lunk, and early on in the series the pair officially becomes a couple. Instead of falling into the age old trap of shoujo - the old "Will they, won't they?" - it establishes the relationship early on and spends the rest of the time focusing on it. The flirtation and prospect of becoming may be an interesting premise, but it's one that is as old as the hills and, honestly, the relationship itself can be just as interesting. There's plenty of drama and tension through the romance, along with great side-stories in the supporting cast.

The heart of the story is very much a slice of life tale; watching the pair go on first dates, meet each other's family and friends, and have those early relationship struggles that will be very familiar to most of the audience in their first love. Both Takeo and Rinko spend a long time coming to understand what it means to be in a relationship, trying to figure out what the other wants and how to keep them happy. The pair both ends up with rivals for their love, too, and it makes for some fantastic episodes seeing the relationship tested and the subsequent fallout. This is very much a romantic comedy, though, and there are tons and tons of funny moments throughout. Suna's deadpan, straight-man responses to Takeo's over the top reaction… Takeo's working at a gay bar named Machos, seeing Rinko's desperate horniness clash with her innocent persona, all make for plenty of real laugh-out-loud moments. The best episodes, though, are the ones that focus on the supporting cast - an episode around Suna's dad, one around Suna's sister, and one about Takeo's Mom, for instance, are absolutely fantastic.

The series is produced by Madhouse, which has managed to completely capture the manga's style. Filling most of the scenes with gorgeous shoujo-style art, surrounded with rich and warm tones, floral flourishes, and sparkly effects. The series doesn't rely on this throughout, though, using dramatic lines and imposing moments to accentuate Takeo's intimidating form. This is dual audio for the dub fans, too, and both language choices are equally good, with some great performances across the board.

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
An absolutely superb romance from start to finish, a story that breaks out of its genre and becomes something that can be enjoyed by everyone, not just shoujo fans. It's so rare to see such a perfect ending, too. Every character across the entire show gets its story wrapped up - even the molester from the first episode! The manga ran on for some time after the anime but, still, this feels like a complete story with no need for a second season; however, those who enjoy My Love Story!! be sure to check out the live-action adaptation.

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