Tokimeki Memorial ~ Only Love

I must ask pardon for the lack of discretion I had with this post; although I didn’t imbibe any alcoholic drinks or partake of foods with high sugar content, I must have had excess dopamine (a neurotransmitter involved in motivation and pleasure) in my system at that time. I can offer no more reasonable explanation.

* * *

Tokimeki Memorial ~ Only Love is the currently running anime series spawned from an H-game. It has an older sister, simply named Tokimeki Memorial, although I know nothing much about it except that it was of the same material as the newer series: that is, it also dealt with romance and it also could be classified as part of the harem/romance genre of anime.

In the newer series, there are three girls competing for the love of the archetypal harem hero: charming, gentlemanly, kind, and yet thtoroughly indecisive for the most part. I, however, see something different from Aoba Riku. Unlike most other harem leads, he’s decisive: he clearly demarcates to his peers and the curious that he is not in a relationship with Kasuga Tsukasa, and he clearly tells them that his ‘confession,’ if it could be called one at all was purely an accident. This is something you do not see often in other harem leads: the existence of a spine. If you’re bored with most harem series boasting heroes without will, then maybe Tokimemo can make you feel excited once again. I’m glad I found this when I started Tsuyokiss ~ CoolxSweet, because if I hadn’t I would have lost faith in all harem anime.

Of course, all and any media circumambulate and revolve around a single concept without which it is not media, and that is conflict. In this series, the conflict is (of course) romantic in nature: two (three) girls vie for the heart of the hero. I put three in the parentheses there because Amamiya Sayuri (pictures of the ladies will appear later, don’t worry) hasn’t fallen in love with Riku yet, but we all know she’s bound to. If the more recent episodes didn’t show chinks in her armor it did show foibles in those descriptions of her as a demigod.

Let us then proceed to dive and delve in their characters. (A caveat: I didn’t rewatch the whole series or even any of its parts just to be able to accurately pinpoint their values and idiosyncracies, so if I make mistakes, feel free to correct me.)

Kasuga Tsukasa

From my perspective, Kasuga Tsukasa‘s the quintessential sportswoman. She excels in her sport, which is volleyball, and she’s being groomed to become the next captain of their varsity team. Her work ethic is highly structured, rigorous, and disciplined; and she likes to classify a lot of things as black and white (winning and losing), or as two antitheses of one another: she doesn’t seem to see that there’s a whole lot of gray around. She became infatuated with Riku when he bumped into her (or the other way around) and with him helping her up (gentleman that he is). She believed that it was fate who brought them together, and she affirmed to herself that Riku was indeed her man because of his kind nature. Of course, from this, we see that she’s innocent to affairs of the heart; it’s not merely winning or losing: there are a whole lot of other things in between. Going back, much to the anger and disappointment of many potential suitors of her (as she was beautiful, fit and svelte), she declared him (in front of a whole lot of people, no less) to be her boyfriend.

As he was with everybody, he was kind to her to the extent of eating inedible food – Tsukasa was unfamiliar with culinary arts, so the lunch she cooked for him (as she had been advised by her friend, Ayame [?] that girlfriends cook lunches for their boyfriends) was abhorrent. When Ayame pointed out to her that the food she cooked for him was not even for human consumption, it endeared her to him more (because of his tact) as well as made her strive to cook better for Riku. She even enlisted the help of her home economics teacher, and later on she was finally able to present to him a lunch that was both edible and delicious. Her interest towards him is one-sided for the most part, however. Riku takes their relationship as that of friends, not of lovers, although Tsukasa thinks otherwise.

Will it be unrequited love until the end? We’ll see.

Amamiya Sayuri

Next up on the bat is Amamiya Sayuri. Even when Aoba just first came into the classroom he had already taken a liking (an infatuation) to this girl. She’s the ‘untouchable’ in this series. (I don’t mean it in this manner, though.) She’s treated as a demigod in their school, with Riku’s friend chronicling all the legends surrounding her. She’s initially a distant character, but as the series progressed, is get to be known by Riku more. She’s an honor student, a wonderful cook and an excellent sportswoman. She’s the complete package in this series, and the only thing she does not have is a boyfriend (this is so clichéd that it’s not even funny anymore). Things brew up later, however, when Riku does something unexpected …

So far, I couldn’t say much about her as I could with the two other girls as it she hasn’t been focused on yet; in fact, if I’m correct, she’s the one with the least screen time compared with the other girls.

Yayoi Mina
Guess the girl I’m rooting for …

Finally, we have Yayoi Mina. Among the three girls, she’s the youngest; in fact, she’s one year behind Tsukasa and Sayuri. She gets to know Riku while she tries to reach for a book on dolphins in their library (he helps her, of course). He was very polite and kind to her, and it seemed (from my point of view) love at first sight. Riku isn’t one with ugly looks, because there’s a general consensus that he looks cute, so if one added that to his demeanor it would lure quite a few girls. I think he’s just lucky that it lured the best girls. We discover later that Mina’s the darling of the first-year students, and this adds to his problems, seeing that it further inflames the other boys’ hearts.

Yayoi Mina
You must have some vague idea by now …

Mina likes him all the more, however, when he continues with his honesty and politeness as they talked. Since he was sneezing because of the rain, Mina lent her handkerchief to him unhesitatingly. Of course, Mina blushes later on, but I think that’s a given with his kindness. This continues when he struggles to return the handkerchief to her: a lot of events had to happen before she became alone and available, however, for him to return the handkerchief with the least suspicion among his peers and with that freedom that one can only possess when talking alone with a good friend. With all honesty, Riku praises Mina’s form and skill in her swimming. Mina blushes from this, as she hasn’t been praised before with her swimming; Riku remains clueless about her feelings towards him, however. He even had the gall to ask why she was blushing. Harem leads, by the way, are often clueless with the girls who are interested in them; what makes Riku differ from the others is that though he may be clueless, he is not a man of indecision. This makes me hope for a happy ending for him and his chosen girl (unlike Shuffle!, for instance, where although they chose someone unique for Rin to end up with [at least, not the girl expected by many for him to end up with], he was so irritating with his indecision and lack of humanity that he couldn’t even console someone whom he knew was having a hard time; that’s for another post and another time, however). This all the more makes Mina like Riku to the extent of asking him to be her psychological coach, and trying her best to be with him whenever he’s free. Compared to other demure girls in other anime, Mina has a spine. She’s not afraid to risk failure even although she’s shy just to try to get Riku closer to her. That’s something unique I haven’t seen much (or at all, I just don’t remember) in anime series.

Yayoi Mina

This exploration into the characters of these girls (while still in my mind, as I formulated this post) led me to another question: will the series end with Sayuri and Riku being the couple in the end?

This has plagued me all throughout this post and all throughout my pondering of who will end up with Riku at the end of this series. Will the producers stick with their formula of letting the ‘best’ girl win? Or will they try to do a Shuffle!, only better? This has made me think for quite some time, but I guess, if one really just got down to cogitating, the answer is yes.

Sadly, even at the very start, Riku has had her eyes set on Sayuri. Among all the girls he’s been with, he only said that he was infatuated with Sayuri. Sayuri’s bound to come out of her armor of invincibility sooner or later, and we’ve had some glimpses: we see her true self as she talked with Riku while they were trapped in the storage room, and we’re going to just see more and more of that as the series progresses, and it will probably culminate with her falling head-over-heels for him. (Who hasn’t?)

I’d very much like the series to end otherwise, however: I want the series to end up with a Riku and Mina pairing; it may be enough to say that the kouhai has never won in a harem series. I would like it to be that way because Mina’s something new in this genre: she’s the demure type, but she has got guts and a spine. I wouldn’t want that wasted. Sayuri, on the other hand, is merely (IMHO) a rehash of many other harem ladies, and they’ve won over or been won over by the male leads more than once in different series. This may be totally personal, but I’d really like to see something new.

I very much see potential in this series because the girls are only few; that would allow for wonderful character development among them and with the lead as well. So far, the production values and the animation have been highly consistent and iridescent, and the clichés of harem anime are made into inventive innovations. Besides, who doesn’t like a dose of blushing Mina?

35 Responses to “Tokimeki Memorial ~ Only Love”

  1. moyism Says:

    Just a quick comment but all the Tokimeki series were never a H-game. This includes Only Love as well. It’s one of the few anime based on a harem game that isn’t H.

    Remember, Harem != H 😉

  2. Keisuke Says:

    Another Mina fan? Hehe, no kidding. Can’t resist the blushing girl. I really do hope Riku ended up with Mina too. She dropped a lot of hints for him but he seems to not pick them up. All the elements for harem anime is on it..beach episode, sports day, and I’m in anticipation for the hot spring episode, they would probably incorporate it along with the Field Trip episode.

    On a side note, Tokimeki Memorial series are nowhere near H. The most ecchi they’ll ever go through is the shower/hotspring scene with fog all over the places. ^^ All the games in this series are rated CERO A or B (somewhat equivalent to ESRB’s E-T). It’s quite correct to say that the game is harem-esque, though. 12 girls in TokiMemo 2(+3 hidden), 6(+2 hidden) in 3.

  3. mikemil828 Says:

    //Tokimeki Memorial ~ Only Love is the currently running anime series spawned from an H-game.//

    Incorrect, Kanon was originally an H-game, so was Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru, and Happiness.

  4. Sailor Enlil Says:

    Just to clarify, Tokimeki Memorial was never an H-Game. It’s a Renai.

  5. Stripey Says:

    Mina is love no doubt. Despite her quiet/demure personality, she’s actually a very focused individual who works on her goals. It’s sooo refreshing to see supposedly the shy-est of the harem to also be the most aggressive to tackling Riku’s affections. I can’t wait for you to see ep 7. I was made a staunch Mina fanboy then. 🙂

    Btw the TokiMemo franchise never spawned any h-games. Just wholesome dating sims.

  6. Vexx Says:

    Nicely written essay. I see it predictably tumbling down the Sayuri path as well, but I keep hoping that we actually see a well-constructed swerve at the climax to Mina (or even Tsukasa) — both archetypes rarely “win the day” and it would be extra neat to see the classic material of Tokimeki take a swing at avoiding the usual “yamato nadesico” ending.

  7. Owaranai Destiny Says:

    Excellent piece. Quite an interesting analysis and in-depth look at the girls and their relationships with Aoba so far.

    As you stated, Sayuri is indeed a rather recycled character in terms of personality and perhaps appearance or the aura she exudes. Despite the prominent trend that the first girl the male lead sees ends up with him, I’m still certain that Mina has a go at it. It depends on how things develop and at what pace. It isn’t necessarily anyone’s victory yet, that’s for sure. The ball’s in their court.

    That being said, I somehow pity and sympathise with Tsukasa…Unrequited love on first look is almost a definite, and I’d like to see how her relationship with Aoba develops or crumbles…Whichever it is.

    Lastly, I just want to say I can’t really decide between Mina and Sayuri. I just believe that Sayuri still has plenty of room for development, while Mina is most certainly a surprising character as a shy girl so far.


  8. Michael Says:

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. Whee~

  9. Ryan A Says:

    Wow December already. So…

    She’s not afraid to risk failure even although she’s shy just to try to get Riku closer to her.

    I agree with this uniqueness, she is so textural and I love it. I’m a sucker for sick girls, but she really isn’t sick, though I get the vibe, and I think I’m tricked because it is a false vibe; she’s quite healthy to me.

    Anyway, Sayuri, I believe if she will be “the one” the viewers will want to be on her side. Really there isn’t any reason for us to be on her side because she has only been hyped up. I feel the attraction will come from revelation of flaws (by default). Seeing her struggle or become unstable really pits the emotion on the “runt” of the pack. Yes, I just called the anamoly of beauty, Sayuri, a runt, but for good reason. She is behind in the harem-race, and even though she doesn’t seem to want to make the podium, she will, and just like she had a hinderance in the school sports day, she will have some kind of downfall which to build a sence of sympathy towards for the viewers.

    Okay, I’m confused now, but I stand by it! Sayuri = weakest link to win sympathy of viewers. I could be totally wrong though.

  10. Michael Says:

    Sorry for the disappearing comments. Even Akismet makes mistakes sometimes. I’m too lazy to change the whole entry, but thank you guys for pointing out that Tokimemo is a ren’ai and not an H-game. I stand corrected. 😀

  11. smashingtofu Says:

    I have no idea what a renai is…but tokimemo is a classic dating sim game among famitsu’s reader top 200? best games of all time
    *not surprisingly, there are many rpgs in the list being a japanese consensus, but that still says something as its a famous game magazine*

    if you have knowledge of the japanese language ….or even if you don’t, its any extremely amusing/fun/addicting game
    where you have 3 years to study/club activities/date all for the sole purpose of scoring that girl and no there is no hentai at all : p

    just recently there has been an online tokimemo game *I have no idea how THAT works*

    and I think the anime is LOOSELY based on the online game…

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  20. Yellow Devil Says:

    Nobody supports Tsukasa eh? Aoba is fine with Tsukasa or Mina, i hope he wont end with Sayuri… …

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  23. Rage Says:

    I really hope Tsukasa gets to be with Aoba in the end. I wouldn’t like it to end it with Sayuri.

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    well it’s okay if aoba riku ends up wt sayuri 4 me or mina-san or even kasuga-san whatever! i just luv d show…

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