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.
Thank you for the ongoing manga, because if not the complexity of this friendship would never be explored. The anime definitely hints at it, especially as it seems at first Hotaru only seems to have Mikan as a friend for convience sake, when it clearly is not the case. She teases her in her deadpan manner, charges her for the inventions use, and is generally very snarky around her. But as the story develops, it is clear that what we originally thought is quite the opposite. The set up is that Mikan adores Hotaru (to some perhaps to a romantic extent, this does change though once Natsume arrives) whilst Hotaru kinda abandons her at times (FOR THE NAME OF SCIENCE!!!) and considering their Alices, they are set apart as the genius and the outcast.
But the wonderful think about Gakuen Alice is whilst Mikan develops as a strong character, Hotaru develops much more slowly, and it’s obvious that whilst at first Mikan needs Hotaru, it is in fact quite the opposite. Hotaru NEEDS Mikan. Her tenderness about her friend is gradually increased at Alice Academy to the point when she is in tears when Mikan has to leave to save Natsume. She practically confesses to her (romantic or not is open to interpretation) as this is a great example of how a friendship develops when originally it was more for the fact they were in the same class together. Her motivation for a lot of her things is to see Mikan, which she hides in a cold self (not quite tsundere, ironic as she is played by Rie Kugimiya) whilst Mikan never loses the idea of friendship no matter how cold Hotaru appears, after all Hotaru always allows her as a ‘victim’ for her experiments (and charges her ) – but if you are only basing this on the anime, the manga really hits full throttle that Hotaru is not as emotionless as she appears, and her love for her friend Mikan is absolute. It’s a great developing relationship and I utterly adore it.
From one adorable pair to another (with one more on the way), Anita and Hisami’s relationship is really based on the fact Anita is actually in an environment where she gets to make friends. It’s rather ironic that Hisami is the girl she has to sit by, and they are quite the opposite in a lot of way, but despite this, there is a huge connection between the two as soon as Anita sits down. Hisami is a very sweet girl, but her shyness makes it hard for her to actually make friends, so Anita immediately breaks the ice in her way, giving her a shortened name (Hisa), combined with Anita’s dynamic and athletic personality, she immediately become the starlet of the school.
However, the interesting thing is whilst Anita is really popular and asked to join school clubs, she askes Hisami what club she’s in, which is the library. Anita, as is well documented, is a paper user who despises books. Yet the token of friendship with Hisami actually makes her join as well, which is a real surprise considering a) her hatred of books and b) not even her own sisters could convince her to do anything book related. She sticks it up because Hisami is the first person her age she’s managed to interact with – which brings up why these two are so close.
I think the main reason is that in reality, both of them have been alone for a while. Now don’t get me wrong, Anita has her sisters (and Nenene) and they love her (the story of them getting together is very heartwarming), but Anita has not had anyone her own age to interact with for…well, ever as far as we know. So it’s like a start for Anita to have the closest thing to a normal life, even if it sadly was temporary. Their love for each other was obvious (and her sisters adore Hisami as well) and they became so close in such a short period of time…then when Anita returns to the school after Joker has rewritten everything…it is truly and utterly heartbreaking as the one person Anita hoped to return to when the shit hits the fan…yeah, I won’t go any further than that.
ROD had Nancy/Yomiko as well as a pair I could have included here from the OVA due to their quick friendship and despite betrayal how they came about in the TV series, but for some reason Anita/Hisami stuck with me as a pair I adore the most because of the instant friendship and dragging from loneliness the two had, hence why they made the nod in this list.
A similar situation for Sadako…er sorry Sawako…in that she was practically friendless before the story started, but unlike Hisami who was shy and withdrawn…Sawako was shy, withdrawn…and sadly had rumours spread about her because of her inheritently spooky nature. (Ironic, considering when she smiles genuinelly, she’s REALLY pretty) And in spirit, I would include Sawako’s relationship with Ayane and Chizuru here as well, because they are part of what changes Sawako. But it’s interesting that this is one of the few pairs here which really never change from the get-go in terms of personality. Sawako is still nervous, shy and completely oblivious whilst Kazehaya is a legit nice guy and remains that for the series. But he interestingly only has eyes for Sawako.
Is it because of pity? Did he just want to interact with the rest of the class? Nope – he genuinelly was interested in Sawako, and wants her to get more involved with everyone, and get to know her specifically better. Early moments immediately show this (the scene with the dog), whilst Ayane and Chizuru and a few others see Sawako’s true personality (Chizuru being a personal fave character of mine, as this tough tomboy like girl gets really emotional rather quickly) but the dynamic is the fact Sawako and Kazehaya are a dynamic feuled by trust, friendship and eventually love – yet they never change a thing. Sawako has her hardships sure, but it’s more defending her friends rather than herself, she seems very self-aware of her nature and how she is seen by others, but as people realise what she’s really like, and she gets more friends, her genuine smiles become more and more frequent.
And this is why Kazehaya is a corner stone in that – he was the first to notice this, even before Chizu and Ayane. His most criminal thoughts are things like wanting to kiss Sawako and the two are such a sweet bundle of nerves when they finally get together. Surprisingly, he’s not considered perfect or even a boring character because of his interactions with the others like the other girls and Sawada show he can be succumbed to teasing, but it’s a rarity that a genuinelly nice girl and nice girl manage to have such a sweet and tidy relationship without changing much throughout the series. So for that, Kimi Ni Todoke is one of my favourite romantic manga and mainly due to the excellent characters.
This one isn’t really that complicated, but it’s just the fact that sometimes all you need is the gel of two people together, whether they are similar or different. Jet and Spike is not as deep as Spike’s rivalry with Vicious, or maybe as comical with Faye, but the fact these are the first two characters we see in the series makes you wonder how they got together – one a bounty hunter and one a former cop? It’s never really given a back history with just little snippets here and there, but at the same time, the way they gel despite their adversities is the glue that holds the Bebop together. Jet is the dad of the group, whilst Spike is like the oldest brother who takes command at times but also just does his own thing. This leads to some amusing moments where Jet is trying to talk or think, and then Spike just knocks about a Betamax or something…it’s quite amusing.
But at the same time they seem to be the closest pair in terms of actual friendship. Spike is definitely an anti-hero but he definitely errs on the side of caution, helping out a few people occassionally without any gain (especially considering the Bebop’s constant money worries) whilst Jet usually is the one giving him the advice and information he needs. Both have flashback episodes (Spike getting more) which explore their characters and showcase that they are actually both calm and collective characters which work better as a team than I think a lot of people give them credit for – I personally think Jet is a very underrated character and wished there was more about him and how his history with his past combined with his relationship with Spike came about, which is the main reason why these two aren’t as I as I originally put them at.
However, it is the main relationship which runs the Bebop, and in turn, makes this show as good as it is. Sure, Faye, Ein and Ed are also fantastic characters, but these two are the glue, and without glue, it’s a broken down spaceship. Oh wait a sec…
…speaking of pairs that I ranked higher originally, I’m sure people maybe surprised this one isn’t much higher. Well, I’ll explain that first. As fantastic as this show is, it is still just a short series. And if it wasn’t for the flashback arc, then I doubt this pair would be on there, as you wonder why Homura is obsessed with Madoka.
Fortunately, that is solved well. The other main reason though is that most of the feelings are via Homura, because she is the only one who has any memories of her past relationship with Madoka which explains her obsession to make sure Madoka doesn’t make her wish causing catastrophe. Her care, adoration for the first person who became her friend in a similar way for Anita to Hisami is adorable, and Madoka slowly but surely gets it as she learns more from people like Homura, Kyoko, Mami and even QB. Her past feelings for Homura may have been forgotten, but her present feelings for her developed seeing how hard she is trying, which suggests in the back of her mind, that care was always there, and one hug later before she actually does make her wish cements their relationship as one of the greats in anime.
Homura is the focus more than anything because she acts cold and calm because she doesn’t want to get close enough to Madoka which could cause the disaster, but the feelings for her cannot be held in forever, and she loses it at times. Madoka is able to eventually grow as a character thanks to Homura in her present time, whilst in the past their utter devotion is both heart warming and heart breaking. I look forward to the movies and see how they interpret this relationship, as we know it will be the most adorable thing in existence.
At least until the later pairs which will challenge that…