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Childhood Friends in Anime

September 09, 2010 By: Nopy Category: Anime

A few days ago I was watching Kaichou wa Maid-sama, and if any of you are watching that as well, you’ll know that Misaki’s childhood friend has popped up out of nowhere to try to steal her heart (poor Usui has some actual competition now). After watching that I got to thinking, childhood friends sure are popular in anime, especially ones that deal with romance. That then got me wondering, what do you do if you don’t have a childhood friend of the opposite gender? Naturally, I went and asked a friend this question and his reply was that if you’re not hooked up by the time you’re eight, you’re doomed to live a life of solitude and despair. I wouldn’t go as far as saying someone without a childhood friend is going to be alone forever, but based on all the anime I’ve seen, childhood friends seem to increase the chances of getting hooked up by a lot.

I think the very first anime I watched with a childhood friend was To Heart (it was also one of the first subbed anime I watched) sometime back in 2000 or 2001. For those of you who don’t know about To Heart (the first one, not the second), it’s a harem anime starring male lead Hiroyuki and harem members Akari, Multi (a robot voiced by Yui Horie), Shiho, and others. When I saw the past that Hiroyuki and Akari shared, I thought “aw, that’s so sweet,” apparently if a little boy helps a little girl, that little girl will fall in love with the boy many years later. Anyway, while it’s obvious that Akari likes Hiroyuki, he spends most of his time playing with his harem and though my memory is a bit fuzzy, I think he ended up with Multi in the end.

So what was the point of the childhood friend if the guy ended up with a different girl? Basically, having a childhood friend is like having a savings account. You put money into a savings account and watch it make more money for you over time. You can then go spend that extra money and let your initial deposit make more money. Likewise, a childhood friend will bring more potential lovers because everyone will think there’s something special about a guy if a girl is totally head over heels for him. In both cases, if you use up the extra, at least you still have what you started out with.

Lets take a look at another example that people are more familiar with: Love Hina. In Love Hina, Keitaro tries to make the moves on Naru with limited success, thinking that she was his childhood friend. Later, when Naru finds out that Keitaro’s childhood friend is actually Mutsumi and that she might like Keitaro, Naru starts to fall for him. You could say that that moment was when Keitaro’s initial investment finally matured, in other words, the presence of a childhood friend suddenly made him attractive.

So while a childhood friend probably isn’t necessary for someone to find the love of their life (just take a look at Toradora), according to anime, it certainly helps. In the case of Kaichou wa Maid-sama it seems to work with reverse gender roles too. The presence of Misaki’s childhood friend has made Usui start to get serious in his wooing of her. I think the messege that anime producers are trying to tell us is clear: invest early!

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This post is part of the Guide to Anime project. For more guides on various topics related to anime, check out the project page.

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14 Comments to “Childhood Friends in Anime”


  1. “if you’re not hooked up by the time you’re eight, you’re doomed to live a life of solitude and despair.”

    …I guess I’m doomed to live a life of solitude and despair, then. :p (j/k)

    Yeah, I can definitely see the “investment” aspect of it, but honestly; do kids really think about these types of things in real life?

    As much as I dislike cliches, I still have a soft spot for this one, though. It can be well-written (if the anime/manga sets it up properly).

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  2. @Ari:
    Don’t worry, it looks like I’m doomed too :(

    Kids probably don’t think of this stuff, it’d be weird if they did. I remember when I was a kid, girls were icky and if you got too close you’d catch cooties. If Japanese kids are like this too, then there probably aren’t many real childhood friends out there, but like you said, it helps make for a good story.

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  3. Hmm..I don’t think I have a childhood friend since I move around a lot when I was kid. Even my high school and college friends are now scattered all over the world. On the bright side, I have reason to visit the different countries now!

    But if I do really have childhood friend of opposite gender, I guess I would cherish them since they most probably would be the ones understand me the best. I’d want them by my side.

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  4. It is quite a popular theme in romance shows and what not.

    Sometimes I do wonder if I had a cute childhood friend could we have made a transition to lovers?

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  5. too bad it doesnt work like that in real life *usually* =3.. i never had many female friends to begin with lol.

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  6. Ah that bring back memories…
    as a kid I’ve never had averseness to girls so I had a childhood friend in kindergarten, but she went to another primary school,
    in secondary school we met again were put in the same class.
    we developed something like an romantic relationship and and I had
    my first nice experience in loving another person.

    Well, at that time I was only thirteen and we weren’t that experirenced as it came to dating her I felt a bit uneasy, so in the end I ruined it somehow ;(

    after that we just stayed friends for the remaining years in school
    I met her some years after secondary school, all I thought lol
    “I was an BIG idiot for not dating her ”

    in summary we had a really nice time together but in the it didn’t worked out, too bad

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  7. @flyzice:
    A lot of my friends moved around too when I was younger. Back then computers and cellphones weren’t as popular so we weren’t able to keep in touch with each other.

    @Miette-chan:
    It’s a nice thought. Sometimes I wonder what might’ve happened if I had a childhood friend too.

    @alucard13mm:
    I never had many female friends either, we just didn’t share any of the same interests.

    @Fabienne:
    That sounds so sweet. It’s a shame that you two didn’t stay together, but at least you enjoyed the time that spent with each other. Another bonus is now you have more dating experience :)

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  8. I love that comparison to a savings account. In visual novels, the childhood friend is usually the default route. It’s the core of your assets. And having one raises your credit so you’re able to do better investments. Such an apt analogy!

    Anime is kind of ridiculous sometimes. ^ ^
    Yi recently posted..Heart-Pounding Excitement at Mononoke Girls’ Academy Review – a Blush-Worthy Yuri

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  9. @Yi:
    Yea, it is kinda ridiculous, but that’s what makes it so enjoyable.

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  10. my interest was gaming, anime, and guns lol..
    alucard13mm recently posted..Lucky Star – Hiyori Tamura Gym Uniform ver by FREEing

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  11. @alucard13mm:
    I was a bookworm, but I didn’t meet any shy quiet girls in the library :(

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  12. @Nopy,

    I guess the truth is rather that you haven’t walked up to any shy quiet girls in the library. Be bold! :)

    Hmmm… for me, I just don’t know what to say about my childhood friends. I think we have already ended up in different countries.
    softz recently posted..Lineage II Elf Orchid Seed

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  13. I don’t like the childhood theme. It’s like there is no build up, nothing exciting about those animes. You kinda know from the beginning who the
    guy or girl will end up with. I too wonder when watching anime – is it really like that in Japan? Just because you’ve lived next to a person for years does not mean they will automatically make a good mate; the love of your
    life may not be the person next door. I think I read somewhere that birth rates are down in Japan hmm….

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  14. @Cloud:
    They don’t always end up with the childhod friend though. In the examples I used, the childhood friends all got the shaft.

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