The rules for this are simple – the pair in question have to be in an existing relationship. It doesn’t have to be romantic – friends, family, work colleagues, schoolmates, anything like that. They don’t even need to like either other initially, character development can make an antagonist pair into easily the most interesting dynamic in the whole show. Of course, romantic pairs are also included in this list, mainly the theme is that these pairs must basically ‘complete’ each other. You feel that without one, the dynamic of the character will be changed (and in some cases, they do as you’ll see) and you wonder what would happen without them.
Being a fan of the original Slayers series, I remembered this one quite well – Gourry actually thinking Lina was a damsel in distress, and accompanying her through the journey, whilst Lina let him tag along so that she could some try and get his sword of light. The interesting thing about this one is that their relationship doesn’t seem to change that much throughout, and yet you can never see them separating now due to how much they are linked together. It may be a surprise they are on here…if it wasn’t for the fact that Slayers Next gave something a bit more deeper, that their relationship could easily go to the next level…magic consequences not stopping it of course. Lina is a bit of a brat to be honest, whilst Gourry is a lovable dumb ox so it’s a very simple relationship between the two, with Gourry misunderstanding and Lina ‘correcting’ him (with force 9 times out of 10) – but the point still stands that the two don’t actually have any real arguments outside of food grudges – they have a very strong companionship where they always seem joined at the hip. And at times, that is all you need – just someone who will always be there, no matter how powerful you are, it’s just nice to have that person there who will stick by your side. And that’s how I view Linas’ relationship with Gourry – that the sword is just an excuse for him to stay by her, in case real trouble occurs, but also that there is someone she can talk to, and because of his simple-minded nature, gives Lina more interest in her life. Sure she has interesting relationships with Amelia, Zel and Xelloss, but Gourry is the rock in her life and she’d be damned if it breaks now.
I’m not a huge Kiddy Grade fan, it’s a decent series with a good sci-fi element with various pairs and government conspiracies, but it was always a once every know and then in my series lot. However, the one thing I definitely agree is that the dynamic between Éclair and Lumiere is one of the most intriguing in anime. The two are very close, despite being popular opposites (Éclair a huge go-getter, and Lumiere a near upper class reserved young lady). However, as the series develops, you see how their relationship is – the fact that they will always be together, no matter what. Near half way through the series, the two girls are branded as traitors – Lumiere herself is obviously against going against the GOTT…but still does because of Lumiere. The two even when not together still are drawn together and stopping bad guys (the episode where they have a day off) – the two’s relationship is borderline romantic (some would argue not even borderline) due to the nature of their cuddling, snarky comments and titles of ‘elegance’ – I’d say it’s definitely very sisterly, even more so once their past is revealed, and the shit hits the fan in the second half. The one thing that is guaranteed in this series, is that they have a sense of togetherness which makes them seem inseparable, even with all the other close pairs in Kiddy Grade. Now if only it’s ‘sequel’ had them as the lead…*shudders*
This one is a relationship that went from clubmates, to friends, to awkward, to romantic. The basis of any romantic couple is to go through a friendship stage, with Ogiue, it is a bit more deeper than that. The young girl had a rather, depressing, issue with her old school, where her old boyfriend was traumatised by something she did, which nearly caused her to commit suicide. In fact, when she joins the Genshiken, it’s because the manga club was against her tirades apparently against otaku…which is weird when it is clear she is an otaku herself. So there is something about this girl that the Genshiken have to draw out. And thanks to the combined efforts of people, especially Ohno and Sasahara, she manages to become a friend of the Genshiken. But as Ohno herself says ‘Sasahara has the key to heal her heart’. It is the development of Sasahara/Ogiue as friends which leads to moments, whether out drinking, helping out in creating doujin, and just taking care for her when she is sick. When Ogiue bares her heart out to her own perversions, Sasahara takes the unique way to make her feel better and actually the start of Ogiue’s heart being healed. And yes, it is hilarious and sweet at the same time but I just love how their relationship becomes as it is. The awkwardness around them despite their attraction, their arguments during Ogiue’s work as a mangaka whilst Sasahara is an editor, how it became very gradual just from Sasahara himself growing from wishy-washy to more confident (Sasahara’s character development is very understated because Ogiue’s is much more obvious, but he definitely grows as a character), it’s a definite case of the two needing each other but not necessary longing for each other – in fact the romance part of the duo is very understated (only see them kiss once) and it is just good to see the two of them interact once Ogiue finally stops being withdrawn and just be herself.
Now I’m sure people are wondering why I didn’t mention Madarame/Kasukabe either. Well to be honest, as great as a dynamic they had and their friendship did become genuine, it still felt a bit off in terms of Madarame having a crush on Kasukabe – it kind of took the interest of an otaku and a ‘norm’ having a friendship. And unlike Ogiue, there is nothing really complex about it – one is an extreme otaku who has found a very attractive girl who is the girlfriend of a member of the club he’s part of…and knows she won’t be interested and keeps things secret. For him, it may seem like it’s the best, but it’s a shame that there wasn’t a step closer of bravery (as Madarame is far more interesting than Kousaka) otherwise they’d have been here instead. For me though, Sasahara/Ogiue is the most unique of the pairs in Genshiken, and one of my personal favourite couples.
The first true family relationship I’ve added (not the last), this duo is quite unique for being not only sisters, not only vampiric sisters, but the fact one of them is a reverse vampire who actually injects blood, goes into the light and is immune to stuff like garlic and crosses. I felt Karin was an underrated series (the manga Chibi Vampire being even better) anyway despite the inclusion of Winner, but the relationship between the sisters in both manga and anime format is so fantastic to watch for one simple reason.
Anju DOESN’T CARE what other people think of Karin – she is her sister and she loves her. This one simple fact is the reason why Anju is the second most popular character behind Karin herself, that whilst the rest of the family whilst caring, are rather odd (father gets depressed over times Karin is stubborn, mother throws her shoe at Karin on a stupid decision, brother is rather snarky and mean to her), Anju despite having a doll that ‘insults’ Karin (Karin arguing it is Anju being a ventriloquist), Anju absolutely loves her. The imagery in the anime for example is rather heartbreaking – Anju always told that Karin loves her, and Anju wanting to hug her sister, but doesn’t, due to the fact she fears they will be apart and doesn’t want to get too attached, yet by the time she awakens, it is absolutely depressing in both anime and manga (anime as she tries to be mean to her so Karin will hate her and go to Usui, manga it’s Karin who gets depressed as she has no-one to join her in the mornings now and make lunch for). The subtitly as Anju awakens as a vampire (not tasting Karin’s food, at one point Karin nearly hurts her because of a spicy food she couldn’t taste) is beautifully done (though some can argue that Anju may actually be attracted to her sister in the anime if the imagery shown is an indicator) but the fact she still loves her sister throughout is utterly adorable. In terms of families, Karin can’t have stranger, yet Anju despite her maturity is still a young girl for vampires (seeing her get a bit jealous when Maki comes over is fun, ironic considering her blood type in the anime) and needs her big sis around. The end of the manga makes you wish that the depressing ending didn’t happen as she see Anju look over his sister one more time, but it’s a sweet dynamic where even in the anime with attempted hatred, it fails completely due to the love the two of them have – a very unique family relationship, but still one that is incredibly close.
The pairs in Aria could easily be anybody to be honest – but instead of doing the same thing as the Hidamari pairs, I went with one pair. I came close to putting Aika/Akira in there as well, so quickly explain why I didn’t – Aika’s responsibility as the heir to Himeya gives her responsibility early, and Akira is the one to drill it into her. She is caring, but in a strict way – and yet can be crybabies as well. Akira knew Aika when she was young and indirectly helped her out as well, and to be honest it seems like a good criteria to put them on the list. So why Alicia and Akari instead?
The main reason is the fact that Akari’s environment on Aqua is a bit different to Aika’s. Whilst Akira was hooked onto Aika early on, at least Aika has a lot of people around her to mould her and set her up – Akari only has one person. And not to mention the fact that Akari is an immigrant, which if she had been born with any other personality other than…well…her’s ^^ then this could have been really difficult. Alicia is the perfect nurturer for someone like Akari – there is an episode in Origination where Alice (Alice/Athena could have easily been included as well) actually talks to Alicia and wonders why Akari never gets scolded. Alicia actually does a very well down speech about her nature and why this is her way. Now a lot of time, relationships that are just positive x infinity can be infuriating. But not this one – why? Because Alicia actually becomes surprisingly selfish as the series concludes due to how much Akari has meant for her life.
I’m not going to throw spoilers of the ending, but let’s just say it is both sad and heartwarming at the same time. Akari sees Alicia as a mentor, but at the same time wants to be her friend as much (she states she is jealous at Akira/Aika’s relationship at one time and hopes she and Alicia become that close) – this isn’t an issue with their personalities, and the two become closer and closer through the series – the Arietta OVA is practically a love story between the two. The tenderness they show each other doesn’t become annoying(mainly as both characters can be very fun) and as a pair, they indeed do need each other – even when Akari makes mistakes, Alicia is able to work their personalities so that she gets better without being scolded. They are truly a beautiful pair in anime that deserves to be here.