Romance in Japan: anime VS real life
Written by Méline

Anime romance VS Real Life!

Is love more exciting in anime?

In many ways, anime are quite different from real-life in Japan: by the characters clothing and hair styles, their mindset, their life-style, and also by their love stories. Here are the main differences I spotted while living in Japan, and binge-watching too many anime!

1 - Romantic rooftops in schools

In anime: it is not uncommon in anime for the characters to gather on the rooftop of their school : to have lunch, talk, seek tranquility and sometime, for a love confession. Indeed, those rooftop are quite romantic, and can lead to pretty setting, perfect for a charming love-confession scene.

In real life: sadly, most of schools in Japan forbid their students from going to the rooftop, for security reasons. Bye-bye dreamy love confession with only the sky and white clouds surrounding you, if they want to confess in school, real-life students have to pick another option than the school’s rooftop.

image source: One Week Friends, released by Brain’s Base.

2 - Love letters

In anime: especially in school-life and shōjo (targeting young girls) anime, you would find characters expressing their feelings through love-letters. One characteristic plot would even be all about the love letter, getting lost, stolen, given to the wrong person, etc.

In real life: did modernism killed romance? Maybe, because nowadays love-letters are perceived as cheesy, and it would be most common to receive a love text (or a DM) than a love letter! Even if I’m pretty sure lots of us would still love received a good old love-letter.

image source: Damatte Watashi no Muko ni Nare, released by the english studio ensemble.

3 - Yelling a love confession

In anime: you might have already seen an anime character being so stressed by his/her in-coming love confession that he/she just yells it to his/her crush, a bit randomly, in what appears to be a cute and shy way to confess.

In real life: Japanese people are usually reserved, even shy, so yelling something to someone is quite uncommon, and would drive an unwanted attention on the person speaking loudly. Most of the time, Japanese people would just confess love in a regular tone, and in a simple way. Sometime though, they might perform a kokuhaku, the traditional Japanese love confession - but still not yelling. If you want to know more about the art of kokuhaku, check out our article about it!

image source: I’ve always liked you, produced by Shunsuke Saito

4 - Sex

In anime: anime characters sometime seem kind of clueless toward sex - especially girls, or they are completely obsessed by sex (and their nose bleed whenever they see something exciting). My guess is that innocent characters and first-love story are just more popular, and that if you really want to see anime characters having sex, you could just watch hentai…

In real life: in Japan, the average age where people have their first sexual intercourse is 20 years old (data from 2012). So it might be right that most of teenagers have never had sex, but that doesn’t mean that they are clueless about it. The porn industry is big in Japan and targets teens as well as adults, and porn magazines are displayed to the sight of all (even children) in every konbini (Japanese convenient store). About nose bleeding, it is not as common as in anime at all.

image source: One Piece, released by studio Toei Animation

5 - Expressing emotions

In anime: anime character are usually more expressive than real-life Japanese people. Some have temper, others are exaggeratedly shy, and most of them express a lot of feelings in various way: stuttering, becoming really mad, crying (a lot), yelling, etc. It is usually quite easy to read an anime character’s mood - especially if he/she is in love with another character.

In real life: In Japanese society, it is not very wise to express feelings and opinions out loud, as what you are thinking might hurt/upset someone, in every kind of situation. There is however an exception when it comes to compliments. Globally, Japanese people tend to keep secret what they have in mind and heart, and it is sometime very complicated to read a Japanese person’s true feelings.

image source: Re: Zero kara hajimeru isekai seikatsu, released by White Fox studio

So, do you think romance is more exciting in anime’s fiction or real life? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page!

main image source: Sword Art Online, released by studio A-1 pictures


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    Kokuhaku - What is it? Can I avoid doing it? How do I do it?

    I actually....really like you *blushes* ... When do two people actually become ‘a thing’? When do you decide if you two are casually seeing each other, or if you are actually a steady couple? In some Western Cultures, this can sometimes be tricky, as this is normally decided with the first “I love you” or directly asking “Are we a couple now?”. This can be disastrous if you and the other party aren’t on the same page at the time, and can often lead to premature breakups. In Japan however, this is less of an issue, due to a culture known as ‘Kokuhaku’. ‘Kokuhaku’ means confession, and in this context, it refers to the confession of your feelings for another person. This is similar to what many people all over the world do in their childhood romances (at least that’s what it was like when I was a kid). Unlike in the rest of the world where people slowly progress from “I like you” to “Do you want to go hang out sometime?”, much of Japan retains this culture of confession. That isn’t to say that they can’t also casually start by inviting someone out for a drink, but even if you’ve been seeing each other for some time, most Japanese people wouldn’t consider the two of you as a couple until you’ve properly confessed your feelings to them.