Pair the Spares – Why It Should Be Handled Cautiously

It happens in most series where characters are finding eternal love left and right. Amidst the aftermath of broken ships and hearts, there usually are two or more individuals who aren’t romantically involved with anyone. From here, the author and / or studio has to decide something.

Should the runner-ups in romance get together?

(Spoilers in this post)

As an example, say Alice is pining after Beth while Claudia is trying her best to get Della to notice her. In the end, however, Beth and Della end up together. Should Alice and Claudia start dating each other?

Some series embrace this sort of development whole-heartedly. The manga adaption of Special A would be one such case – after Tadashi and Akira end up falling for each other (and before oblivious Hikari actually realizes Kei likes her), the rest of the Special A students start pursuing romance.

The end result has every relevant character ending up with someone else, which is all very well and fluffy. To me, however, it has unfortunate implications that everyone should be paired up no matter what. What if someone is happy being alone? What if someone just never finds that special someone? While Special A has a special (I swear I’m not doing this on purpose) spot in my heart when it comes to shoujo manga, it’s a bit too idealistic for my tastes.

Be that as it may, I have to give Special A credit for at least giving some shiptease scenes before the finale. It would have been awkward to suddenly see these couples emerge from the woodwork with no hints or shiptease prior to the last chapter/scene/episode, but the series in question avoided that both carefully and beautifully with plenty of subtext. Meanwhile, the same can’t be said about Kaichou wa Maid-sama. Somehow the maids and the three idiots ended up together? That came out of nowhere since the series neglected the side characters (especially during the last arc) to focus on Misaki and Usui.

That leads me to my next point. I personally feel like the author should not feel compelled to force the single characters to couple up. After all, some of the most popular ships are actually not official! For example, Yuzu and Kaede in Sakura Trick could be considered the fan-preferred couple despite being shown as only close childhood friends and nothing more. That doesn’t stop the fans from writing fanfics and drawing fanart, though. EDIT: Kaede ends up confessing to Yuzu so there’s that. But it doesn’t change the fact that they were the most popular couple even when they were just friends.

The same could be said for Nena and Ano in Kindred Spirits on the Roof. Both girls are supportive of yuri relationships and are close friends. In the end, however, Nena considers relationships to be too tiring and bothersome while Ano gets too flustered over receiving attention (and finds real-life romance to be so much more overwhelming compared to the stories, manga, anime, and games she indulges in).

It still doesn’t stop the two from having a near kiss the first drama CD, “Playing Girlfriends.” Fans can rejoice!

It comes to a matter of pacing, in my opinion. If the author / studio / team can’t properly give a (side) ship the on-screen time before the finale, I think it’s best to leave the ship ambiguous. That way the relationship won’t seem forced or random.

An example of this can be found in Nurse Love Addiction. If Asuka (aka the main character) ends up with Sakuya, it’s noted that your (unrelated by blood) sister, Nao, has recently started talking a lot about Itsuki, Sakuya’s ex-girlfriend. Granted, Asuka admits it’s mostly bad stuff, but it’s just enough shiptease to get fans hopeful for them to end up together.

Meanwhile, something similiar happens should Asuka pursue the Itsuki route, leaving both Nao and Sakuya, Itsuki’s ex-girlfriend, single. The following exchange takes place in the hallway as they overhear Itsuki having fun groping Asuka in a private room.

Sakuya's verdict.pngnaos-responsesakuyas-questionnaos-verdictcomradestea-time-invitationinvitation-acceptedpotential-ship-incomingand-into-a-private-bedroom

There was no time to give the Nao x Sakuya ship subtext during Itsuki’s actual route, but I do appreciate how it was handled here during the afterwords. It gives the fans something to work with and it seems rather plausible. The two girls can go hang out together and maybe they’ll bond over their mutual loneliness as close friends. Maybe they’ll fall in love with each other. Open-ended endings aren’t the end of the world to me. They mark the beginning of possibilities!

I guess I just wanted readers to consider how some “losers in love” just end up together for little discernible reason. Love doesn’t have to be so neat and clear-cut. Of course, sometimes it doesn’t happen and a character is just left to be all alone. That’s fine, too.

At any rate, I hope this post made sense. Thank you for reading.

19 thoughts on “Pair the Spares – Why It Should Be Handled Cautiously

  1. Met some fans who were all like “Grrrr! I wanted Yuna X Ano, not Yuna X Hina…”. Wouldn’t surprise me if most of these people thought that way because Ano entertained them more. Anyway the Ano X Nena ship is cute but ultimately is wishful thinking. Whatever the case it’s no big deal if they don’t hook up. They can just do their own thing while supporting their lovey-dovey buddies.

    Meanwhile in NLA it’s 99% likely Sakuya is the True Route and of course the NaoSuki hints were most welcome. About Nao and Sakuya both “losing” in the Itsuki route or all three “losing” in the Sensei route, they can always look for other babes. Who is to say they won’t find their respective others one day?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right. I think all of the ships are nice in their own right. But there happens to be a canon one. They’ve got their pals as support, yeah.

      Makes sense. That route was so intense. That game, too.

      I very much enjoyed the hints regarding Nai and Itsuki, too.

      True, true. I guess they all get caught up on chasing after childhood friends that they forget this is an option.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! Very interesting topic. I agree with you that the authors of these series shouldn’t feel compelled to pair off the characters just to have a clear-cut happy ending. I like your point about what if a character doesn’t want to be paired off with another. I think that pairing off all these characters when there is no previous basis for their relationships in the series feel very forced. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t rank “Special A” and “Kaichou wa Maid-sama” high on my romance manga lists. Don’t get me wrong. I like them, but I just think that they’re, ahem, “shallow” if you know what I mean. I enjoyed reading them and watching their anime adaptations but I can list other better romance series than these two. Anyway, once again great post. Keep it up. And of course thank you for sharing this to my blog carnival. I appreciate it. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mmm it just feels forced and feels like a lame cop-out. That being said, I do feel bad when a character ends up alone and heartbroken, but it’s still better than when they’re forced into a relationship that came out of nowhere.
      I also feel the same way about Special A and Kaichou wa Maid-sama. Not a bad ride, but there’s certainly better, less-overly-fluff romance series out there.

      Thank you, thanks for dropping, and thanks for hosting your blog carnival. Wow, we got the triple threat here, haha. Take care! c:

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly. Well, I guess it depends on the character. If it’s a very minor character that barely gets any screen time and background story, I wouldn’t care for it. But if the character is someone I care about, I would be invested in his/her happy ending (or lack thereof) as much as I care for the main couple.
        You’re very welcome. Ahaha! I hope you join us again for the next carnival this coming December. Keep on blogging. Take care. Cheers!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I really appreciated this post! Personally, I’m not a huge fan of authors pairing the spares. But, for some reason authors feel that each and every character deserves a romantic partner, usually with little or no previous romantic set up! *sigh*

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Them Big Ass Giants were so much fun. I have no idea what Tera is about, but enjoy!
    (You can’t blame the girl, they’re very lickable abs)

    I think one of the advantages of a written story as opposed to a visual one is that, most of the time, you’re living inside the protagonist’s head and treated to a constant stream of their thoughts. So when attraction comes into play and evolves into something serious, you know that there’s more to it that the other party’s bust size or washboard abs. Well, some of the time. You also have fetid piles of shit like Fifty Shades of Grey…

    Hey, I can’t complain. My original comment is ridiculously long too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, they were. Season 2 should be exciting.
      Oh, Tera has these enemies called BAMs. Just substitute in monsters instead of giants. Yes, that’s their official name in-game, whee. I’ve been meaning to re-download and play it, but I’ve lost my 3 year old account details wahaha. Too busy with anime and visual novels anyways.
      (They are very lickable and sturdy enough to scrub her shirts and underwear clean with, I agree).
      That’s a good point. The stream of consciousness format/tool is so strong. Anime just has to make do without it or else the seiyuu would be just talking through entire scenes nonstop.
      Fifty Shades of Nah.
      Haha fair enough. But this is important! The anime characters suck at love!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have utmost respect for any product that went and named its monsters Big Ass Monsters.

        They do. Even in romance genre, which is just sad. We’ll just have to suffer through it, I guess. And hope to come across the better ones.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. A topic after my own heart!

    I’m one of those people who likes romance in theory but is often left unimpressed by its actual execution. Seriously, I can count on one hand the number of times an anime’s canon couple(s) worked for me. A main reason for this is that, a lot of the time, it feels like they’re together because the writer wanted them to be together even though they have all the chemistry of a horse and a dead rat,

    So when a show/story starts pairing people up left and right just so no one would be left single by the end, I find it annoying. What’s wrong with being single?? Not everyone even wants a romantic relationship.

    To expand on what you said, I usually prefer anime with little to no focus on romance (Attack on Titan, Psycho Pass etc ) over those that find time to give its MC a crush even in the middle of saving the world or solving a gazillion crises (Akame ga Kill, Guilty Crown etc).

    [I tend to compensate by reading romance heavy stories though. That’s less likely to piss me off, for some reason.]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to agree that romance is hard to pull off in anime correctly. Often times it seems like characters just end up together just because the writer said so, like you said. Yet the amount of rom-com shows is truly amazing. Maybe a few will hit the mark but it’s a small number.

      Fair enough. I think Psycho Pass and Attack on Titan was right in keeping romance to a minimum. Sure, there’s a few instances subtext here and there (yeah, Akane, check out Kogami’a washboard abs because you know you want to lick ’em mmmm), but viewers came to see a) a dystopia or b) BAGs (also known as Big Ass Giants. My desire to start playing Tera again is becoming very apparent). If they want a show that’s dominated by romance, they can have their pick by looking through the rom-com genre.

      I think romance has a better chance to succeed as a written (or typed) story. With the flexibility of text and no need to cram an arc into this amount of episodes and each episode into this amount of time in order to air, romance in literature has enough time to sell us the couple and make us actually believe they belong with each other.
      It’s just what comes with medium, I guess. Some light novels series are great but are awful when adapted into an anime series.

      Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.. Sorry that I replied to your post with walls of text filled baseless opinions!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a pretty interesting topic. While I haven’t seen any of the anime or played any of the VNs listed, I do know what you mean. I think that a lot of times, since these “side characters” aren’t the main focus they can often be left in the dust. More often than not it seems like they may have an incomplete romance, or a spur of the moment one. Like as you mentioned, sometimes characters just end up in love for no specific reason. Its something that I really haven’t considered. And after reading this, it looks like it is time for me to start watching “Kaichou wa Maid-sama” and “Special A” since they have been on my list for forever and a day, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad you understood what I meant. My post was a bit vague but your reply was very concise!
      It’s a tough life for “side characters” when it comes to romance!
      Oh, you should definitely give them a shot! Despite what I said about them, they were still enjoyable.

      Thanks for dropping by!

      Liked by 1 person

I-it's not like I want you to leave a comment or anything. B-baka.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s