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