For The Love Of Mechs
Love it or hate it, the mecha genre has been an anime staple for years. Its influence has been a defining feature in the artform as well as its growing popularity. Mecha anime have also delved into various sub-genres as well. From over the top action to moving plots which make us question ourselves and society around us. Naturally, with such emphasis on human interaction, romance has been a big part of it. That’s exactly what we’re gonna focus on today as we look at 5 top mecha series with romance.
Neon Genesis Evangelion (And its sequels)
This choice might raise a few eyebrows but don’t be too quick to dismiss it. As with everything in the Evangelion universe, the topic of romance is largely vague and unclear. In fact, to an audience that isn’t very perceptive, it may even be baffling. Yet its there nevertheless. Early on in the series we get insight into Misato’s prior relationships and just how unstable and rocky they were. Pent up old feelings leads her to seek out a brief fling with her ex, Ryoji Kaji. That isn’t all though. There’s also a subplot of romance between Shinji and Asuka that begins as awkward teens trying to cope with their hormones and goes into some strange places.
In fact, things even get a little R rated in The End Of Evangelion. This has to be one of the more distant, psychologically disturbing romance subplots out there. Not only does it involve 2 individuals with a history of trauma that leads to an inability to express their true feelings but it also manifests in unhealthy and abusive ways due to the stress of everything they endure.
(Minor Spoilers Ahead)
Here we have a far more tame but still dramatic romance. This time involving love triangles and soap opera-esque manipulation amidst bloody and tragic conflict. Without spoiling much we see the young Kira caught between the woman he thought he loved and the one he actually did. With him being a genetically enhanced ‘coordinator’, he’s no stranger to racial hatred by ‘natural’ humans. Yet his long time crush who’s a natural suddenly falls madly in love with him. Unbeknownst to him, she merely wants to use him for his skills as a pilot. Later on this creates not just conflict among friends but also battlefield drama as he fights his childhood best friend. To make matters worse he later finds himself drawn to the very woman said best friend is set to wed. Talk about stuff out of a soap opera!
This is one of the more tragic romance stories. Set in outer space with the last survivors of humanity fleeing extinction from a mysterious organic alien, prodigy pilot Nagate finds himself in a weird love triangle. On the one hand he has a budding romance with a fellow pilot. On the other there’s a more awkward, unrequited love from his friend Izana. It all starts off full of humour and light moments but quickly becomes tragic as his love interest meets her demise by the hands of the alien ‘Gauna’. To make matters worse, Nagate’s own lapse during battle is what led to these events. He spends quite a while dealing with guilt and loss. Yet things might not be so bad as he later finds himself face to face with an ‘alien clone’ sharing his dead love’s persona. A strange yet complex romance but a romance nonetheless.
Another anime, another love triangle huh? No wait, its a love quadrangle! Thankfully there’s solace in a more classic, predictable romance depending on your tastes. You won’t have to deal with as many psychological roller coasters. Thus, it can be a good distraction. That’s basically the romance of Star Driver between protagonist Takuto Tsunashi and literally every other major female character. One has a classic case of unrequited love. The other is actually already supposed to be committed and the 3rd is more of an awkward puppy love affair. All in all it makes for some entertaining flirtatious moments.
Last but not least lets take it back to the 90’s with a romance subplot that can put a gripping soap opera to shame. From its intros to underlying themes The Vision Of Escaflowne can have a very romanticized feel to it. We have the classic love triangle of Hitomi Kanzaki and the dilemma of which man she should choose. The boisterous, loud and brash one or the more mellow gentleman? Yet it takes the chick flick cliche to another level when one of these hookups is actually the result of a villain’s manipulative scheming. This can cause a dilemma for the audience as well! You might have been cheering for that pairing only to feel bittersweet when you do get it because it was the baddy’s plan all along.