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.
Considering the amount of pactios and indeed pairs that are in here, there are quite a lot I could choose from here – so I will mention that Konoka/Setsuna, Yue/Nodoka and also Asuna/Ayaka could easily be choices as well. However, I’ve gone with Negi/Asuna for one particular reason. Trust.
Their bond like a few others here didn’t really start out on the right foot. Asuna doesn’t like kids, Negi is a mage who accidentally on several times embarrasses Asuna. Not exactly a match made in heaven. But the fact that Asuna is the first to find out about Negi’s secret and despite the crap that happens to her doesn’t immediately blab about it is actually an early indication of her selflessness as a character. The development of their relationship is the key because as we later learn about Asuna, is that she is definitely more than she appears…(obvious spoilers alert coming up)
Negi and Asuna basically room together and to say it’s awkward at first is an understatement despite Konoka also being there, but when Negi becomes more involved in plots whether involving loli vampires at his school, their roomate being kidnapped due to issues with Kansai magic, or being transported to a completely new magic world, Asuna is always involved with him somehow. Even during the less serious moments like when they go to one of Ayaka’s beach resorts, they actually have a childish falling out which is really sweet in how they make up (involving fake sharks – hey, it’s Negima, doesn’t have to make sense) as the two grow from strangers to the closest to a brother/sister bond without being related (or are they? ^^).
This culminates in the magic world arc when Asuna is actually kidnapped, yet even Negi manages to out the imposter, she is still a part of Negis’ heart, and when the arc actually concludes and Asuna/Negi join up against the Lifemaker, it is the culmination of their relationship – one of love, trust and companionship. The Negima manga being quite long takes it time but does it beautifully to get their relationship shown, and despite the sadly weak conclusion to this mostly awesome manga, it is still worthwhile considering all the relationships that Negi gets in the series that this one still takes the primary focus throughout. Hell, even in the maligned anime Asuna/Negi is still the primary focus, considering the surprisingly dark turn it took just before the end, so despite me not enjoying the first anime that much, it still gets points for that. Negi/Asuna is one of those dynamics which takes it’s time to develop, but from minute one you know they are going to be something perhaps beyond anything romantic, it is more a degree of being partners for life(if certain things hadn’t happened), their trust and need for each other is what seperates her from the other members of Negi’s harem(plus despite a few moments, it’s actually one that is rarely considered more than platonic) and actually stands out more as a pair especially when you consider Negi is my favourite male character of all time, that despite on their own I like Nodoka, Setsuna, Yue and Chisame more(Negi/Chisame also a pairing that warrants mentioned especially in the magic world arc) – as a pair, Negi/Asuna is my favourite dynamic.
CCS versions, not Tsubasa first – this is similar to Negi/Asuna in terms of a show that takes time to develop their relationship to the point where it is hard to imagine one without the other. And before anyone asks, yes – Sakura/Tomoyo were obviously considered, but the difference is basically that Tom/Sak had a basis and were already friends at the start whilst Sak/Syao have to develop their relationship, and it really ends up as being one of the most beautiful pairs in anime.
Syaoran’s reason for interfering with Sakura to start with was just because of his family, and him being a descendent of Clow Reed, basically making him believe that he is the rightful owner of the Clow Cards. Sakura of course is innocent and after learning about it from Kero, actually first thinks he should have them but Kero is not having any of that. So the two are rivals in trying to get the cards albeit having to work together as well at times, though the rivalry is mostly all on Syaoran’s part (though Sakura will cutely be angry with you if you mess with her friends ). However, there is a slow change that goes through Syaoran which is very noticable after the first few times when he is clearly antagonistic to our heroine. There is rivalry between them yes (more based on their ‘affections’ for Yukito more than the Clow Cards) but Syaoran definitely becomes more accepting of Sakura during the first card arc both with Syaoran helping her out a few times (The Power Card, and when Sakura goes back in time – that ep is the first time where Sakura hugs Syaoran and causes his tomato blush on HER), and when Meiling arrives his focus is less being antagonistic with Sakura, but more trying to keep his cousin/fiance safe. And of course, we get the Sleeping Beauty episode where it’s now becoming way more obvious of his care for Sakura…
Of course, Sakura is oblivious but at the same time this is part of why this pair works so well. She is as innocent as always and doesn’t want to be enemies with Syaoran, and befriends him with her natural charm and friendliness. Syaoran cannot bring himself to hate her and becomes more on her side helping her out both with her and when she doesn’t know it. After the Judgement and Sakura becomes the true owner of the cards, it appears he has no reason to stay in Tomoeda – yet is able to be convinced in staying. Why? Because of Sakura. The Star Card arc brings the two closer together to the point that Syaoran actually calls her by her first name and vice versa which is something Syaoran has NEVER done to anyone outside family (and is the reason Meiling realises that Syaoran cares for Sakura more) – Syaoran actually gets advice from Sakura’s other true companion Tomoyo at times as he wonders about what he feels about her, before realising it is love. His attempts at confessing both in the series, and in the 2nd movie are ALWAYS interrupted in some form (whether comedic or just Star card duty) but combining with the hug in the elevator, the pinkie promise, and Sakura realising her own feelings after being rejected by Yukito, it is one of those innocent relationships that is developed little by little throughout the series that you absolutely fall in love with them as a pair. A combination of innocence, development and characterisation makes this one a winner in almost everyone’s book.
Unlucky 13…how appropriate for these two. Rosette and Chrno represent another human/other being pair, perhaps the most unique because here we have human and demon – a word that you wouldn’t normally associate with when discussing ‘good’ pairs. But fans of the series are well aware that Chrno is a nice demon and Rosette is the ‘evil’ one. Well, O.K, sloppy one is better. However, the amount of story these two go through is just heartbreaking when you see just how much these two mean to each other.
The flashback sequences when they meet a ‘young’ Chrno with her brother Joshua as they start off as being friends, so the innocence of the children doesn’t comprehend what Chrno is? Nope – Joshua is well aware and he is memorised by it, and Rosette simply doesn’t care. Of course, this leads to a bit of tragedy considering what happens to Joshua which basically also ruins the ideologies of both Rosette (for her family) and Chrno (for his fellow demons). This leads to Chrno doing a contract with Rosette, allowing him to feed on Rosette’s soul energy to power up whenever he needs to. This is very dangerous as Rosette says later to Azmaria that she won’t live up to more than 30 because of this. So you can see their relationship considering how little Chrno wants to use it despite it being the game winning situation most of the time.
I rank this quite high because of that – the nature of their relationship is one that at first glance should be antagonistic, but it is NEVER shown like that. Despite various other members of the Order of Magdalene a lot more skeptical (albeit just as much as Rosette because of her hot tempered nature), the two are a very good cohesive unit. Whilst there is a romantic angle, it is never overplayed, and is actually quite fun and cute during those moments Chrno is embarrassed around her (whether in a slitted red dress or just in general when Rosette is being Rosette) – but when it comes to the dangerous stuff involving Aion, Chrno is torn between risking his power or prolonging Rosette’s life because of the sheer trust and care the two have for each other. They get their fun moments (their dancing) but it always turns to serious business in the end, and the ending is absolutely tragic in the anime (manga it is not so bad but still quite sad) which gives me all the feels for these two. You can see how far they’ve come along and how much they wanted to stay together but in the end it just wasn’t meant to be, so for the brief time they had together, their smiles on their faces were well worth it.
The best thing is I get the feeling this pair could be higher because I haven’t read everything from this series (specifically the later light novels) – I am going from some spoilers I sadly was informed of but the fact they are still close to the top 10 shows how much I rate this pair.
Sousuke and Kaname are another pair that have a rough start. The interesting thing about these two is that they continually have this rough start and nothing really changes much in their personalities, yet they still actually develop well as characters AND as a pair. Sousuke is a military otaku whose only focus is his missions and as his primary mission is protecting this girl, hilarity ensues. Kaname is a no-nonsense girl who at first doesn’t understand why this weird guy is stalking her, but admits early that she doesn’t hate him, he’s interesting to say the least. This is the beginning of a combination of several comic moments where Sousuke is over the top in his protection (especially in a series like Fumoffu) but also how Kaname is a Whispered, why she is being protected, and how they really develop a bond of trust (especially in Second Raid). Sure, Sousuke is still way over the top at times and there is a lot of comedy even in SR, but my golly how this poor boy is broken…
The first series is a good indicator in terms of developing their relationship – Sousuke is the bodyguard, Kaname eventually finds out why she’s being protected, you get a bit of rivalry/jealousy out of Sousuke’s captain the adorable Tessa, but the fact she begins to understand what she is and why Sousuke is doing what he is doing develops their friendship bit by bit, despite the regular harisen swings. Fumoffu amplifies the sillyness elements but still gives us some really nice moments (the kimono wearing Kaname being the most famous of them). It is Second Raid however when the relationship comes full circle – the elements of romance, always hinted, becomes much more as trust between the two and specifically the two in Sousuke’s paranoid military mind is beyond almost anything I’ve seen in anime. The haircut scene is obviously the most well known, but when a) he’s been reassigned and b) thinks Kaname is dead, the poor boy is psychological screwed and really is thrown off the deep end, not knowing what to do with his life considering his issues with the Lambda Driver and just to see his relief and his mind fixed when Kaname reveals herself is a moment of awesome in my book – the finale of Second Raid when Sousuke is almost about to hug her is the culmination of the boy learning true emotion for someone he cares about, whilst Kaname uses everything she knows from her smarts and Sousuke’s smarts to outwit the threats to her life, just to eventually snap Sousuke back into the real world.
I’ve heard some things about the light novels which do incorporate the romance aspect a lot more, but the anime is enough to really establish these two as a prime pair – friends to more than friends but developing themselves rather than their personalities. They become smarter, stronger, more resourceful, but also bring the boundaries of human emotions to a point when you know not even an adorable captain can break the bond these two have. Sorry Tessa.
I REALLY wanted to put this higher. I really did.
Let’s explain. I saw this anime not that long ago (probably about a year) and I have the Australian set on DVD. The anime is near inch perfect as a show – it’s about an adorable little girl named Rin, who is apparently the love child of Daikichi’s grandfather. With said grandfather now dead, the family are wondering who to care for her. Daikichi is a 30 year old man who lives on his own, no real responsibilities bar his job, and hasn’t ever considered anything of romance, children, etc – he basically an adult child(no surprise I identify with him ) but hearing basically the ideas of what to do with Rin, how selfish the rest of the adults are, he actually volunteers to be Rin’s foster dad, despite not having any knowledge or experience in child rearing.
The anime basically is the story of these two living together as Daikichi learns about himself, how he develops as a parent to Rin (realising about childcare, school, cutting his hours so it is easier to commute with Rin, buying necessities, etc) and how his new life as a ‘dad’ changes his social life (meeting other parents, developing an interest in a single mother, how his workaholic lifestyle changed peoples opinion of him both for the positive and negative). Rin herself is a charming young girl, who develops with Daikichi being so close in looks to his grandfather, intelligent for her age as she gets friends, had child problems from wetting the bed to chipping teeth, it’s very cute as expected – but the charm about these two is watching Daikichi grow up as he has new responsibilities thrown at him, yet never really complains about it. He says at one point that when he visits his parents, they wonder why Rin was so shy when such a chatterbox with him – he tells that is because when Rin saw his parents last, they were shouting and complaining and thought it was her fault, basically showcasing how children view the world and that they do listen. It leads to some good development as Rin really does become like the granddaughter for Daikichi’s parents.
The anime for me is a personal favourite – 11 episodes of pure character development and Daikichi is one of my favourite male leads. When the manga came out expanding it to when Rin grows up, I was enjoying it immensely. Here, we see Rin as a teenager/young adult, how her friends have grown up (her relationship with childhood friend Kouki being a primary plot point) as she experiences love troubles, the fact that she doesn’t want to be a burden to Daikichi despite her intelligence and with Dai now in his forties, how things have changed for him as well – Rin is still his daughter and it’s funny seeing the two in this stage now Rin bates back with a snarky comment or six. It was going really well especially when Rin actually finds her mother and the fact she goes into whether it is a stranger or a mother and comparing how happy she is that Daikich is her dad. I was so putting this in top 5 of the list…
…then came the ending.
I won’t spoil it, but let’s just say I wasn’t happy. Comes out of nowhere, no real hints and sadly it all comes from Rin’s side, making things horrendously awkward for Daikichi. It’s one of my least favourite endings, and especially to a series I really liked. Because of that, it drops a few places – I’m going more for the fact that if it was just the anime, then this is a good place for it. If the manga continuation had done things differently, certain this would have been top 5, maybe top 3. But as it is, enjoy the anime – just be concerned when you get to the end of the manga, as the anime is perfect.