Before I get into this review, I’m going to try something different. I would like you to think back to your first love. As early as you possibly can. What did you do? What did it feel like? And when did you become aware that this was your first act of being “in love?”
For me, I was in second grade. There was this girl in my class that I thought was super cute. She transferred into my elementary school mid-year, so I was probably blinded by that mystique of being part of the out group, granted I didn’t know what that was when I was 8 years old!
You probably would have called this situation an “infatuation,” and that may very well have been the case. However, in the years since that one event, I still cherished my friendship with this girl, getting the chance to talk with her after school, as we both waited for our parents to come pick us up. I don’t think it ever crossed her mind that we were anything more than friends, and I’ve learned — on several occasions since then — that that was okay. But those few moments where we got to talk to each other alone, without any interruption from my peers, were all I needed to satisfy what I would learn would be my asexuality.
What I have described above is another example of the love between this romantic comedy’s leading couple: Momokuri.
Momokuri gets its title from the ship name of our two high school student leads: Shinya Momotsuki and Yuki Kurihara. Momotsuki is a shy first-year boy who likes to hang out with his friends, and Kurihara is a second-year girl whose favorite hobby is to watch whatever Momotsuki is doing.
Kurihara prefers stalking Momotsuki, taking as many pictures of him as possible. However, by her 100th picture of her effeminate beau, she finally decides to confess her love to him, and in an odd twist of fate, he agrees to go out with her. And thus began this seemingly odd couple’s budding teenage romance.
To those of you who believe that Momokuri is a tale of “normal” romance, I beg to differ. Even for an anime, Momokuri establishes the romance from the very beginning, something that I only see happen in romances like My Love Story!! or Ah! My Goddess. Our leading couple displays awkwardly cute passes at each other, where even the simple act of holding hands or saying each other’s first name is the boldest thing they can do. And when your “average” romantic display contains a lot of physical contact as nearly every other romantic story contains, I’d say normies’ expectations are too damn high.
Besides, when your lead girl’s favorite activity is to obsess over a cute boy by making a habit out of stalking him or collecting things that he touched, I wouldn’t categorize anything about their relationship as “normal!”
Now to most of my hypersexual friends out there, neither Kurihara or Momotsuki would be bold enough with their romantic advances because they both get very squeamish about physical contact; and on that view, that may very well be true. However from both of their experiences, the fact alone that they are even seeing each other is considered taboo.
Although there are no adult figures to be found in this series, both Yuki and Shinya receive different kinds of ridicule (albeit playful) from their peers. Yuki is constantly reminded that she is plain by comparison to other girls, so she becomes even more self-conscious of herself when it comes to other girls in Shinya’s life. On the other hand, Shinya is told by his friends that his girlish behavior makes him seem less attractive.
From these interactions with their peers comes more pressure for Yuki and Shinya to show their affections toward each other, even when they spend time alone, out of shame or embarrassment that they might not be good enough for each other. And perhaps, to some worldview, it is rather funny that these two are very weird when it comes to the “simple” act of being romantic.
Well I for one thought this show was funny for a different reason: the very act of trying to live up to this expectation that romance is bold, physical, and otherwise a loud, external display of affection is absolutely ridiculous!
Given that this is both Yuki and Shinya’s first love, neither of them really know how to express their love for each other. Sure, they get a lot of tips from friends or other media on what is considered “appropriate,” but neither of them are particularly comfortable with a physically intimate form of romance yet. Those normal displays of romances are very awkward for what they need most.
I find that there is a lot of pressure from boys and girls alike to be more sexual. And while it is the norm for people to show such affections openly, not everyone is ready to put their libido on full display for anyone and everyone to see. And if you think that being asexual means that I have some strict policy against hypersexuality, may I remind you that one of my favorite anime shorts to date is an ecchi comedy about the psychology of sex.
And just when you thought that Yuki’s affection for Shinya was one-sided, Shinya knows how to play with her feelings, too!
As far as I’m concerned, Yuki and Shinya display their love for each other in a way that feels right for both of them: for each other, and not to appease anyone else’s expectations about how they should.
No romance is going to meet everyone’s expectations. And the spice in Yuki and Shinya’s romantic life has yet to be seen. But for now, these two are in love for all the right reasons.
So if you are looking for a romantic anime that offers positive displays of asexuality or revisits the awkwardness of that first love, watch Momokuri!