What They Say:
Beauty Might Only be Skin-Deep… But Falling in Love is Especially Hard for the Thick-Skinned!
Takeo Goda s hulking physique and affinity for sports make him popular with other guys, but girls just find him intimidating. Unaware of his gentle nature, the girls that Takeo likes always seem to fall for his handsome best friend, Suna, instead. Takeo is resigned to being Suna’s wingman, with no hard feelings between them, until Takeo rescues Rinko Yamato from a molester on the train. Unfortunately, while Rinko might see past Takeo s brutish appearance, Takeo s become so conditioned to girls preferring Suna that he assumes Rinko is the same! Being the good, genuine guy he is, he s going to do everything he can to help the two of them be happy. Will Takeo let himself believe someone likes him?
The audio has a 2.0 release in English and a 2.0 in Japanese – I watched the first disc in English and the second disc in Japanese to compare – and with the Japanese release I did have to raise the volume a little from my default settings, however, there were no other issues regarding sound quality, echoing, synching with subtitles, etc – the quality is high overall. The dub is excellent too, shame there wasn’t any extras with it because you get the feeling would have been a lot of fun hearing some of the actors on the characters. Of course, I wish it had a 5.1 release but it is still more than acceptable.
Similar with the audio, set with the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, we have HD quality with this seemingly common school setting but the colors are incredibly vibrant and in your face that is great to watch in Blu-Ray. There were no problems with synching with the subtitles and no slowdown or any other technical issues I got when watching through it – it does feel like an older style anime but with colorful animation and translates really well to Blu-Ray.
There was no packing for this test release.
The menu on both discs is pretty basic – the first disc has an image of Gouda and Yamato holding hand with Gouda looking embarrassed whilst the 2nd disc has a picnic atmosphere adding Suna to the mix on the left-hand side whilst the opening theme plays. Both discs are bare bones and just have the episode selection and a languages option for English and Japanese. No delays in the selection, has a pop-up option in show and very quick, just very bare bones in terms of catching your eye.
There are no extras however if you buy the special edition, you do get a plastic O-card, rigid Collectors Box, set of Art Cards, and a poster.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
TSUKI DA!/I LOVE YOU/HER!
Get used to hearing that and also get used to that smile on your face everytime you do hear that.
My Love Story/Ore Monogatari is one of those series that got through everyone’s radar and became a sleeper hit – the manga was shortly licenced and has been released in English and whilst not yet finished and the anime definitely has room for a sequel, this is still one of those great warm feeling shows that is one of the shows I’d say is a great gateway for anyone new to anime as well, it’s just so…pleasant.
The idea is, of course, it seems like a whole beauty and the beast story, but the strange thing is that it is much more than that, and it turns out to be one of both my favourite romance shows in recent years, but also one of my favourite friendship ones as we get to that…
Our lovable lead is Takeo Goda, a 6 foot giant of a high schooler who has a good heart, strong body, loved by his male kohai…and is kind of a flop with girls. Actually, let me rephrase that – everyone he ever has a crush on actually likes his best friend, a handsome young man named Makoto Sunakawa, called Suna by Goda. However, he always rejects them – and as we later learn for actually nice reasons towards Goda but more on that in a bit – Suna whilst handsome seems quite aloof and the two are polar opposite however they are neighbours so they’ve known each other most of their life and Goda seems to be the only one capable of making him laugh. So a typical friendship as they travel to school, but on the train, Suna notices someone molesting a girl. Goda immediately stops the guy as the girl turns who is an absolute cutie-pie. Her name is Rinko Yamato who admits to the police the culprit was molesting her who then tries to say that with the school uniform she was wearing she was asking for it.
Cue GOUDA PUNCH. Awesome…before you remember he was in a police station. ^^
So he gets suspended from school but then surprisingly gets a visit from the grateful Yamato who bakes him some cakes. Early indications seem to suggest she likes Suna (especially as Suna actually seems to appreciate her, as he never compliments girls) and Gouda wishes for them to get together. However, things suggest that she may have an eye on someone else…little things like leaving her phone as a reason to go visit him again, and asking for Gouda’s e-mail and not Suna’s…
So initial things seem like pushing Suna to Yamato, even though Suna clearly sees that Yamato is actually interested in Gouda – meetings, saving them from construction stuff, and the reason why Suna rejected all the girls before (basically all of them were badmouthing Gouda), Suna makes it clear to Gouda that Yamato actually likes him and tricks Yamato to confessing to him, and the two begin to become a strange but adorable couple.
This of course, also makes things unique in all three of their personal lives. Gouda’s friends, for example, are happy their idol has got a girlfriend so when he and Yamato takes them to meet some of Yamato’s female friends as a group date, cue all of them either smitten with Suna (who was dragged along and couldn’t care this) and not understand why Yamato would choose Gouda as a boyfriend considering his size and none fairytale appearance – Yamato is upset when friends badmouth him behind their backs but Gouda couldn’t care less – however they see just how awesome the dude is when he is able to save several of them from a fire (Suna also helping out by encouragement when he nearly passes out) and slowly begin to realize why Yamato fell for him…
And strangely for what seems like a ‘date an episode’ series, there are other characters and stories that come through. We get introduced to Suna’s older sister Ai, who clearly had a crush on Gouda but never expected him to get a girlfriend before she could confess – however Ai actually takes a big sister role on Yamato despite her own disappointment realizing just how lovely his girlfriend is and Yamato feeling embarrassed about her own desires to get closer to Gouda (holding hands to kissing) and the parents of both Suna and Gouda also get stories (Gouda’s mother being pregnant and Suna’s father needing surgery) and what I love about the series is that the show focuses just as much on Gouda and Suna’s friendship as it does with Gouda and Yamato’s relationship. Because Yamato’s birthday falls on the same day as Suna’s dad’s surgery, he asks Gouda not to go with him and focus on her, but Yamato eventually says he is his best friend showcasing his worry, leading to Suna breaking down his stoic persona and the three later having a good day after some good news.
The story does go the traditional route as the two lovers go through that awkward transition into wanting to be closer – Gouda is actually quite the gentleman and doesn’t want to even look at Yamato in a swimsuit or anything remotely risqué in case he gets impure thoughts about her, or trying to get into the same school as her despite his grades being…less than good. (The payoff is hilarious as well…) We get an admirer of Ai as well named Oda who wanted to see who his rival is in Gouda (and then panic on the initial impression, seriously he dwarfs the entire cast) and then see if he can get Ai to confess to him so she can move on, to the fact that his new relationship actually makes Gouda actually get other admirers – during the obligatory sports festival episode, a girl named Mariya is forced into a relay despite being quite slow, Takeo begins to train her and despite problems, she manages to get the baton to him during the actual race and they win – and the fact that Yamato may have a rival even gives her concern (she thinks any girl would love him because HE IS SO COOL – she’s awesome ^^) – yet Gouda has only one love and that is Yamato.
He even helps his buddies in romance after this – the initial group date has one of his friends Kurihara being friendly with one of Yamato’s friends Nanako and the two of them play matchmaker – and despite some rough moments, the two get together which leaves Gouda and Yamato with a final step, in actually kissing each other which leaves to one of the sweetest moments in the show and perhaps in all of anime – and then it continues even further as Gouda’s family love Yamato and are happy about her being their boy’s girlfriend (and of course embarrass him with the obvious baby pics), her pregnancy has been alluded to despite her being still strong as an ox herself, it does lead to her going into labour and you can also see how awesome his mom is (when a friend of hers also goes into labour at the hospital, she gives her the wheelchair – Gouda instead carries his mom in :P).
It continues on a seemingly merry way with a Valentine’s day episode and Yamato bringing her friends to make chocolate and some miscommunication is resolved when Yamato brings Gouda his first ever love chocolate, but it also brings back Suna as up until then, bar Yamato, there isn’t a girl he’s really had an interest in and with her, it is that she is nice and gets along with her. We get introduced to a girl named Yukika, who has had a crush on Suna since kindergarten but has never had the courage to talk to him. So Gouda-sense is activated, she gets involved with the gang and Suna also sees her as a nice girl and someone who has sent him valentines in the past and sees in just getting to know her. They enjoy a nice date at the zoo, and seems like this might be a relationship happening…
…but surprisingly the show doesn’t go the obvious route because he does turn her down – his kindness allowed him to accept her seeing her feelings and it feels she will get upset, but it does actually lead them at least becoming friends as Suna whilst doesn’t show it, is a very nice young man and accepts her feelings and at least returned them with kindness as well.
The last two episodes bring the finale cliché if you will as Yamato gets a potential suitor – she starts working at a bakery and her skill and beauty catch the eye of the shop’s assistant Kouki who is quite the patisserie. Yamato being innocent wants to see him in action, whilst him, being rather dramatic and a tad egotistical believes she is interested in him. It does lead to some jealousy on Gouda’s side but when Kouki finds out she has a boyfriend, he tries to make him break up with her, not deeming him to be good enough for her. He enters a patisserie contest and if he wins he’d confess to her, but forgets to bring his tools to it. Despite everything, Gouda is asked by Yamato to get them and with his intense speed and stamina manages to do it, leading to Kouki winning it. However, his confession fails as proved earlier, Yamato loves Gouda for who he is and has no eyes for anyone else – it ends there as the two speak with their first names for the first time (Takeo and Rinko) as we can only hope (or read the manga) to see what their relationship becomes…
This is a fantastic feel good series. It’s definitely slice-of-life and it also isn’t exactly what you’d expect out of an anime series – as in, not really high intense with action and such. It is, however, an incredibly charming love story between two what appears to be polar opposites falling in love with each other, as well as focusing on the friendship between the two male leads, and everything else in between that revolves around them. It does feel beauty and the beast with the Aesop being what is inside rather than outside, and it does feel very cliché heavy, but as mentioned, doesn’t make it any less charming.
Most of the reason for this as is with any romance series is due to the strength of our leads. And Gouda is strong in body and personality – literally the first moment when he punches the molester despite being in a police station shows he has awesome written on his head. He is incredibly nice (pretty much all the boys are in awe of him when the girls are concerned about his looks and size) to the point that because of his fearsome looks he is completely confused about a girl possibly liking him – he is a bit dumb, but he is somehow completely adorable because of this. He is also a good sense of humour (practicing kissing with Suna, his part-time job at the bara café, his sensing of Yukika) but the clichés are once in the shows favour as he gives you a warm fuzzy moment every time with his dense personality – and then helping either Suna as he finally breaks down when his father is in surgery, or his moments of pureness when being around Yamato, when ironically she wants to be a bit more forward…
And don’t think Gouda carries the show himself – Yamato is an adorable young girl with surprising strength and you can see why she fell in love with Gouda, and how she thinks he is so cool. Her mind wandering and flustering nature make her so cute but also she is totally loyal and their interactions are heartwarming and fun. Seeing her confess early on especially with Gouda totally assuming that she likes Suna is a welcome change which allows us to focus on the relationship developing (a minor weakness is that there is no real conflict between the two themselves, aside from a bit of jealousy when a couple of other characters seem interested, but that is also part of its charm as well) and just how much they love each other.
What I really like though is the fact that the series focuses just as much as Gouda and Suna’s ‘bromance’ as much as the romance between Gouda and Yamato. Suna is a fairly stoic character that seems unfeeling but you learn there is more to him than meets the eye. His reason for rejecting the girls proves he is true friends with Gouda and how he approves Yamato as a rare girl he thinks is nice shows he believes in his friends’ happiness. He isn’t completely stoic either – his fear over losing his father and also how he deals with Yukika shows the guy is both smart but also sensitive, and he needs someone like Gouda to help deal with his own insecurities – the three become a three person bad so to speak and he acts as a helper for Gouda when he needs to, as well as help for his sister (comically, a lot of his romance advance comes from shoujo manga ^^)…
The series is hard not to recommend, to be honest. It is funny, sweet, has memorable characters, a great relationship that doesn’t fall hard on the beauty & the beast trope because the two are in love pretty much after episode 3 and then the story is developing the friendship and romance. Of course, people not into romance or slice-of-life series won’t like it but the show is obviously not aimed at them. It as mentioned, is a great starting point for newcomers to see a good all round series of fun that doesn’t revolve around giant robots, huge shounen battles, or anything strange, it is a high school romance that develops under strange circumstances but shows that the heart can conquer all if your main romance characters are that awesome. And in the same of a couple of months, I’ve had two other top similar series that focus on something outside that (Snow White & The Red Hair, Your Lie In April) and I hope that trend doesn’t stop.
My Love Story is a strange couple of tall, boisterous, imposing guy vs. small, adorable delicate girl. And not only does it work, it works in one of my favorite couples of all time. Add to that a character that isn’t a third wheel, a developing relationship, some great backstories/side stories that add to the development, and a true romance that is occasionally disturbed but never denied, it is wonderfully charming. It is a bit clichéd filled and the lack of conflict between the two may seem this is a bit unrealistic, but that doesn’t make it slightly the least bit horrid. It is sweet cute fun all the way and you’ll be watching this with a smile throughout.
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: May 8th, 2017
Running Time: 600 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.