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.
Sometimes a pair doesn’t need to be a high definite backstory of drama and development, or a romance story that builds over several years – it maybe just they click and are a fun pair from the get go. And whilst Ellis/Nadie’s development is excellent, I just enjoy Rally and May the most out of all the gunslinger duos…well, with one exception as you’ll see.
Rally and May is based more on the manga in this writing, though the anime duo is a lot of fun. The manga however tends to be far more adult which brings out a lot more interest in the duo. The two are a lot more open in their space so to speak, as the first manga basically jokingly has fun at both of their ‘turn ons’ with gunpowder and bombs. The two are best friends, who bicker, argue about food, and sometimes have their own way in doing stuff. However, at the same time they never lose the care for each other and the fact they are so in-sync with each other during missions that it’s almost like a heart is cut away whenever one is away…and even during that they still someone have each others thoughts with each other to get out of their respective troubles.
Rally is a tough no-nonsense girl with a lot of enemies, but at the same time is very reserved. May is similar, but a LOT less shy – she enjoys teasing Rally a lot of the times but even then May has a broken lifestyle, and Rally understands that. She also respects May has a life outside of Gunsmith Cats with her boyfriend Ken (who they later actually marry) and despite some real shit going along with Goldie, she refuses to interfere with their life. Once said shit is found out, May is upset not just because of what has happened, but rather that she didn’t consider asking for help because of their honeymoon. Both girls despite their natures are actually qutie selfless with each other, and this unique dynamic has stuck with me over the years. (For those who don’t know, Gunsmith Cats is my favourite manga of all time)
It’s not the most complicated of relationships, and it’s not the most developed either in this list. But for most likeable, most in-sync, most fun? Can be top 10 for all those reasons. Sometimes it just works, and because of that, this pair is very memorable.
I could easily refer to my non yuri canon list for the same joke (i.e. pick a pair) but similar to a few other pairs here, I am specifically picking Yumi and Sachiko for a few good reasons. They do focus on their relationship very well as each season it develops to a stage of something.
Season 1: They become seours, and also begin to learn to be friends, instead of the younger one being an admirer of the older one. Sachiko is her most coldest here, but at the same time secretly enjoys being an onee-sama. Yumi is a lover of Sachiko but also has her pride and wants Sachiko to know her, not use her as convience. They balance each other out and learn how to be friends whilst still not changing too much about their personalities…yet.
Season 2: This is where it begins. Sachiko becomes mysterious in the later half of the season after Sei leaves but Touko comes into as a main player. As the two have been getting better, it catches Yumi off guard, and almost needy at times. However this also is the fault of Sachiko being very guarded where just a simple ‘this is what is going on’ would have been necessary. This actually is the catalyst for Yumi’s character growth (second fave character after Sora remember for me) as she grows up pretty quick after a scolding from Touko, snaps Sachiko out of her funk, and from then on, the relationship is almost as equals…
Season 3: …as Yumi seems to know how to handle Sachiko. She doesn’t seem to get upset as much despite various issues and really is like a big sister to some of the others as well. She grows with friendships (Yoshino in particular) whilst Sachiko and her develop a bond which is both mutual and equal, and borderline romantic. Her nature over girls like Kanako and Touko is shown as she is becoming worthy of becoming Sachiko successor…
Season 4: …and here she practically becomes it. Sachiko and Yumi are practically equals, they love each other, Sachiko trusts Yumi’s decisions and knows her in and out, hence a few choice words over Touko during the rosary issues. The transaction has become complete – from nervous sempai/kouhai pair to best friends, sisters, and confidantes.
This development is in general great for most of the pairs in the show (Noriko/Shimako being another good one) but Sachiko and Yumi get the most and deserved attention. In terms of character development as a pair, one of the greatest.
Like a few of these, we are going mostly by the manga, though these two definitely get the first step of the relationship we know and love by the end of the anime. Tohru herself has quite a few pairs that she grows with which all develop as characters because of her (Yuki, Kisa and Rin being key ones) but it is the one with Kyo that is the big focus, and it’s not surprising why.
This is another pair which goes from strangers, to friends, to romance – and again it does it naturally and over a good period of time. In fact Kyo who is usually very tempermental, is actually quite apologetic (or rather wants to be) during their first meetings. They quickly become friends and despite Kyo’s hatred for Yuki, he learns to tolerate him just because Tohru is so selfless whenever they go on trips courtesy of the Sohmas. It really gets intense though during the part where Kyo’s beads are removed and he turns into his true form. But as we know, that was due to a test basically to see if Tohru is the one that truly would accept him.
This causes a crossroads of not only the relationship between Tohru and Kyo, but with other cast members as well (Yuki as he sees Tohru more as a mother figure, Kagura as she sees Kyo now sees Tohru as the one, Shigure as he sees her as the catalyst to stop the Sohma curse) – however it is here that the two’s friendship is increased, trust and love come from that. Kyo is a protector of Tohru, but does it so succintly that Tohru doesn’t really know about it. Tohru is not a damsel in distress, her nice nature really makes her seems cluelless but her elements of strength are all but there to see, and this is why she and Kyo make a perfect pair. Kyo has his rage issues, but Tohru is like a tranquiliser, whilst Kyo is also the realist to snap Tohru back into shape whenever she gets distracted or confused.
Not to mention they are utterly adorable together. The final scene of the manga is one of my favourites and just the pure love this scene emits and prior to that shows just how far these two have come together. The curse be damned as Tohru’s determination is unprecedented and she just explodes as a character, whilst Kyo’s determination to break what has been passed to him shows his own development, which in turns, effects everyone else in the Sohma family. It is a great tale of how a romance occurs naturally throughout a few years of trust and friendship, and the fact the curse for Kyo is hardly a factor of Tohru proves how something of the supernatural can work just as normal as any other healthy relationship.
I’m sure no-one is surprised these two are on the list. A combination of the above for the GSG and FB reasons, these two just gel in a weird way, as Viccy is being a tsundere whilst Kujo is just confused on what is going on in general with the mysteries surrounding in. But if you take the mysteries out of this show, what is the story about? It’s about two outcasts, one a little girl outcasted by her family due to political and bewitching reasons, and one an outcast for being a foreigner in an outside land.
These two outcasts are put together because of that, and in turn they must learn to adapt. Viccy has to learn human emotion, the outside world, and how to interact, whilst Kujo has to learn to take things on both sides, realise he needs help, and to put his own decisions at hand and not what his family would decide. It is definitely a case of opposites attract but it is done so well that you notice when little things change.
Viccy during an early case has her feelings of love for Kujo when he thinks he has been killed and is so happy and relieved he’s OK but quickly reverts to her usual nature, part tsundere and part unsure of what these feelings are. She is a child who sees new things and wonders what everything is, but at the same time is intelligent, cold and tries to hide her insecurities. This relationship strengthens over mutual trust and love, to a point where you know it is going to end in heartbreak (the fortune teller episode didn’t help much, especially when you realise this is an alternative WWII setting), yet Viccy nor Kujo don’t believe that.
And sure, their relationship isn’t initially as buddy-buddy as a lot of the others, but that’s what makes it interesting. Viccy has to grow into being a human being, after basically being treated as a wolf most of her life. She doesn’t understand human kindness, she has to learn it. Kujo is a bit part of that, and because of that, she slowly begins to interact more. (Granted, a bit on the mean side of any potential other girls for Kujo…poor Avril…) The mystery element allows the two to bond in a way as Viccy needs a partner, and Kujo needs a friend. Like Viccy, he also has to develop in making people realise that he is harmless, though unlike Viccy he has enough social skills to do so, it’s more prejudice which is his enemy. So these two outcasts join up, and become a remarkable team, which develops into a point that even when they are apart, they are always together in their hearts. Sappy yes, but none a word truer for the end of this series, and for this couple in general.
O.k, now this one is probably a surprise. I’m sure this is not what anyone is expected, especially from Gunslinger Girl.
But when you stop and think about it, these two are exactly a working pair’s dream – and considering the manga and what happened, it kind of when the way of Usagi Drop, but in a different disappointment as you’ll see what I mean.
Triela is the best character in GSG – this is rarely an opinion that is challenged, as basically when she enters, awesome is added. She is blessed for being the only girl that has a true personality that is on the job, rather than just follow their handler. But fortunately, Hillshire is also the best handler out of the bunch…for ALSO having a personality to match Triela’s. Unlike Jose/Henrietta which is Henrietta scary love combined with Jose trying too hard to be a nice girl, or Jean/Rico which is almost like a master/tool relationship, Triela/Hillshire are snarky, challenging and more like true brothers/fratello in the way they interact.
The initial story with the two showcases this well (Triela lets a mob guy go and whilst Hillshire hears, he doesn’t report it – and the two actually begin to talk to each other rather than snark or Hillshire doing something out of necessity). Throughout the story, Hillshire actually becomes a better handler and talker to Triela than say Jose, because he asks her what she wants, he helps her develop as a girl and the two have proper conversations as a duo. Why this pair is so high up is because of the environment they are in – a dangerous one. Triela doesn’t go nuts over Hillshire getting hurt or vice versa, the two are dangerously in-sync and grow as a pair as Triela becomes more adult. And yes, there are some overtones especially as Triela does seem to, er…grow…a bit shall we say…but compared to Henrietta, these are fortunately downplayed, and Triela is the only one where medication is never really discussed, and she seems well aware that her time is limited, so she enjoys hanging with the girls, snarking with Hillshire, or just being a general badass.
But the real key was the connection the two have subconsciously. In the flashback, we see Hillshire and a doctor he was in love with save the life of this girl as she becomes one of the cyborgs as Hillshire’s partner. This come full circle during the scene during a mission when Triela is shot, and she sees the doctor come in flashback. I won’t spoil more, but I think most fans realised this was coming and was thoroughly dsappointed…not because it wasn’t expected, but because it was the best character and we wondered what the series would do. Interestingly at the end of the manga, there is a nice moment for Triela that carries her on through the ages. Hillshire himself becomes Triela’s true fratello and the interaction is one for the ages.
And of course, I have to mention the Pinocchio arc. We were disappointed on how it was animated in Tratello, but it was still the best arc of the series. Triela is upset over her loss to Pinocchio, Hillshire tries to comfort her, she can’t stand it, the two work to get better, Triela wins, the comfort can finally happen. This is the point where these two became even more awesome, and were easily showcased more as a fratello pair than the original leads of Henrietta or the new fanservice attempt lead with Petra. These two made the series far more fantastic, and their dynamic in this sort of environment was told really well through good storytelling, flashbacks and character development. I was surprised when I realised I was going to put it this high, but in the end, it’s definitely one of my faves.