There's no doubting that major shonen titles reign supreme in the anime world. Many people in the Western anime community essentially grew up watching shows like Naruto and One Piece, and now multiple generations are watching Demon Slayer, Attack on Titan, and Jujutsu Kaisen together. As a result, placing stories up against similar titles from other genres is a rather noble undertaking. Fortunately, anime viewers aren't that divided, and other genres and demographics, such as rom-com, isekai, shojo, and so on, are equally popular.
When it comes to rom-com anime, a certain formula has always shown to be popular. But, as time went, fans discovered there were severe faults with the way romantic anime portrayed their characters, particularly their female protagonists. Great games like as Maid-Sama and My Little Monster dominated the genre for many years and continue to be fan favourites. Their portrayal of a good female lead, on the other hand, is problematic and has perpetuated a long-standing rom-com cliche that is seriously out of date. Fortunately, the Winter 2023 season has made significant progress towards resolving this issue.
Romantic Killer and Horimiya Anime Altered the Game for Rom-Coms
The past few years have been sort of "revolutionizing" in changing the face of romantic comedies in anime. Where several shows still followed the memo -- the damsel in distress, fighting over the same guy and lack of personality -- many others took the high road.
One of the most defining and out-of-the-box romance anime of the last decade is Horimiya, which completely changed the way a heroine is represented in a high school romance setting. Kyoko Hori is now the standard when it comes to portraying a strong female lead. She is everything that a typical romance anime girl is not. Her personality overwhelms almost every guy in the show, and she's way past the damsel in distress trope.
Another breath of fresh air in the romance genre came in the shape of Netflix's Romantic Killer. Its protagonist Anzu, who genuinely prioritized her personality over any high school crush, was 2022's best anime girl. And there's nothing wrong in a female lead being a tomboy in the true sense. A realistic approach to a female character adds more value to the content.
The Rom-Coms of Winter 2023 Raise the Standard for Strong Female Leads
The Ice Man and His Cool Female Colleague, Tomo-chan Is a Girl!, and The Angel Next Door have also enthralled spectators for the majority of the Winter 2023 season. Even in high school romances, their astounding attitude to low-maintenance relationships and realistic standards has clearly resonated. Tomo Aizawa's defiance of the "fragile female" stereotype is admirable, and several other anime girls this season are following suit.
Ice Guy has been entertaining through and through as an office romance with no typical drama, but a true representation of two introverts' struggles with being in a relationship. The audience has been more than welcoming of anime, rom-coms or otherwise, for getting rid of this ridiculously overused damsel in distress trope.
The anime community is absolutely loving the way several shows are breaking free of cringey rom-com trends. Anime is a wonderful medium for telling stories and showcasing relatable characters, and it's past time that the girls are treated with better and more realistic trends for the sake of the audience's engagement.