Happy Valentine’s Day/Singles Awareness Day, my readers! <3 Froggy
To celebrate the occasion, here is a quick list of my favourite Valentine’s Day anime episodes.
Note: There are spoilers for the series listed in this post, so be warned.
5. Kimi ni Todoke S2 – Episode 1 “Valentine”
Kimi ni Todoke is a frustrating series to watch. Its pacing is slow and ponderous. Contrived situations keep getting in the way of the main couple. In other words, it’s full of your typical Shojo Shenanigans.
Even so, Kimi ni Todoke contains nuggets of truth in its storytelling. Sawako’s shyness may be exaggerated to the point of caricature, but her thought process in the Valentine’s Day episode strikes me as completely believable. She makes chocolate for Kazehaya as a “thank you” gift, but she’s secretly in love with him, and she’s scared that this may show through her actions. She agonises over small details like how many nuts she put in his chocolate. Her pain is familiar to anyone who has attempted to act normally in front of their crush.
In the end, Sawako can’t muster the courage to give Kazehaya her chocolate, and he can’t muster the courage to admit he wanted them. What ultimately deters Sawako from giving him the chocolate is when Kurumi asks her if she had ulterior motives for making it. Sawako is distraught; she is too honest to pretend and yet not honest enough to confess. And so she runs away.
Her action sets the scene for the drama of the rest of the season. For a show whose title literally means “reaching you”, there’s not an awful lot of reaching out.
It’s agonising, but part of the reason it’s so agonising is because it’s true.
4. Code Geass R2 – Episode 12 “Love Attack”
You know it’s a good Valentine’s Day when you swap places with a ninja maid who dates every single girl in the school, backflips in the air to evade missiles and giant robots wielded by those very eager to date you, all while wearing a goofy hat pictured above.
There’s really nothing more to be said about Code Geass. In sheer entertainment value it has no peer. It is a perfect encapsulation of everything that is beautiful about anime. This Valentine’s Day episode was incredibly romantic.
3. Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo – Episode 17 “Valentine’s is a Day for Chocolate”
Sakurasou is a series of soaring highs and crushing lows. I’d say the Valentine’s Day episode was my favourite episode of the anime overall. It’s essentially a repeat of the Christmas arc, but the conflict feels much more organic here. Sorata’s decision to prioritise Nanami over Mashiro is a cruelty born from kind intentions.
That’s not to say his good deeds weren’t motivated by his jealousy of Mashiro, but here it manifests subconsciously via his preferential treatment towards Nanami. He’s especially kind to Nanami because he doesn’t feel jealous of her. The Sorata/Nanami dynamic is tinged with a bittersweet and melancholy air because you know Sorata’s internal issues prevent him from truly loving her. For her part, Nanami confesses her heart out to Sorata, only to quickly backpeddle. Perhaps she is aware that once her feelings are out in the open, things will never be the same.
The theme of things left unspoken carries over to the other relationships portrayed in this episode. Rita comes all the way to Japan to visit Ryuunosuke for the day, but in his stubbornness he locks himself in the toilet. When she leaves, he quietly regrets it. Misaki makes mountains of chocolate for Jin, but he never even comes to visit her. Mashiro is left waiting on the rooftop right until the very end of the episode. Everyone has their hopes dashed on Valentine’s Day.
2. Kimi to Boku S2 – Episode 7 “Sweet, Sweet, Bitter”
Episode 7 of Kimi to Boku is a story about how things don’t work out and yet somehow manage to work out anyway. An unnamed girl confesses her love to Shun but is turned down. Mary, who also has a thing for Shun, is shocked by the realisation that her love won’t necessarily work out either. In the end, she fails to give him her chocolate.
All of this prompts Chizuru to take action. First he embraces Mary and then, at the very end of the episode, he tells her that he loves her. And even though he knew from the start that she doesn’t love him back, he feels overwhelmingly happy, like he’s gotten a weight off his chest.
I really enjoyed the dynamic between Chizuru and Mary. They’re both awkward young people who hardly communicate with each other. But this doesn’t feel contrived or irritating because you’re not supposed to see them as a couple. They’re simply teenagers struggling with hormones and their place in the world. The ideals they yearn for (symbolised visually in the anime as a lonely yet bright and sunny place) are shown to be far off; neither of them know how to get there. But in the end, they are both able to see it clearly, even if they cannot truly understand what it is they’re searching for.
One of the things I love about Kimi to Boku is how well it conveys nuanced relationships without much dialogue. Although the series can feel slow and plodding at times, the art direction and pacing came together really well here. This was one of Kimi to Boku’s finest episodes.
1. Hyouka – Episode 21 “The Homemade Chocolates Case”
I can still remember how I felt the first time I watched this episode. I was spellbound. The climax of the episode hit me like a punch in the gut. When I finished, I stared vacantly at the ceiling, dazed and reeling.
Part of the reason this episode hit me so hard is because it was so atmospheric and heavy. The tension is built up slowly and deliberately until it’s almost unbearable. By the time Oreki confronts Satoshi, you’re clinging to every word. It’s one of those mysteries where the ‘why?’ is infinitely more important than the ‘how?’
Another reason it made a strong impression on me is because I saw a lot of myself in Satoshi. If I’m completely honest with myself, I’d probably have done the same thing in his situation. I have done similar things in the past.
As depressing as this episode was, it didn’t end on a complete downer. Life moves on, stopping for nobody. Oreki is becoming increasingly more active and empathetic, and Satoshi continues to search for answers. Next year, things won’t be the same.
Hyouka captures the utter ambivalence of Valentine’s Day for high school students. It can be bittersweet and bewildering and a little bit painful. But it’s part of growing up, and one day the memories will seem fond and sweet.
Hyouka is heavy, yet not never maudlin. It portrays youth as ephemeral yet timeless. Hyouka is one of my favourite anime ever.
Once again, Happy Valentine’s Day, guys! What are some of your favourite Valentine’s Day-themed episodes in anime?