Over the last two weeks, I’ve discussed two of my favorite couples in anime, why I like them, and why I think they work. That continues this week but with a couple that is relatively new to me. I’ve gushed and gushed about the visual novel YU-NO: A Girl who Chants Love at the Bound of this world, talking about the individual arcs, the characters, and why I think it is a masterpiece of fiction. Reflecting back on that this last month, and thinking about what is my favorite couple, I found myself thinking back to a surprising one. Join me after the cut as I take dive into the relationship of Takuya Arima and Amanda.
As I have said before, Ayumi Arima is both my favorite character and favorite arc of the entire story. However when it comes to the relationship with Takuya, I found that his one with Amanda in the second half was the one I preferred out of all of them. That isn’t to say that Ayumi, or any of the girls relationships are worse, they all manage to check different boxes, but Amanda’s was the one that stayed with me the most.
I credit this to the fact that Amanda herself is a refutation of my least favorite character archetype not only in anime, but in all of media: the rebel girl. I’ve mentioned this before, but the rebel girl is the character who is part of a resistance movement who often is 100% more committed to the cause in order to make up for the perceived deficit of being a woman. Rebel girl is often overly aggressive, rude, short-tempered and rarely endears herself to the audience with any real motives. Kallen from Code Geass is this, Cagalli from Gundam Seed is this, and you can take your pick from any western story. I’ve never liked the trope, and while some are done better (Kallen noticeably lightens up after the first season), I never really found a character that changed my mind.
Amanda however is not this, and I was surprised at how YUNO handles the so called leader of the resistance. Her meeting with Takuya and their subsequent escape from the prison camp doesn’t go the way you would expect. Throughout their conversations, it is clear to the viewer that Amanda is a young girl who is way, WAY out of her league. She has no real idea on how to defeat the God-Monarch, and she herself remains the only survivor of the resistance, all of them having been killed. When Takuya brings up the death of her estranged sister Illia, it is the final levy broken for Amanda, and she surrenders to her emotions, and to Takuya’s embrace.
What is more interesting though, is that after their campfire conversation and love-making. Amanda is just suddenly all about Takuya. She still wants to remove the God-monarch, but that suddenly becomes not as important as it is to stay with Takuya. In the short conversations there are, we see that Amanda is shy, bashful and more than believes she is now Takuya’s wife. So much so that when Yu-No comes back into the story, Amanda is already calling her “daughter.” It’s funny, clingy, and a little cute, but again it is something that isn’t common in a character like Amanda. In regards to Takuya’s side of the relationship, well YU-NO has never been a series about long-term relationships, as Takuya rotates between all of the romances, but there is a degree of fondness that he has for Amanda that, if things had not ended up the way they did, probably would have gone the distance.
Now this relationship straight up isn’t as deep or meaningful as the last two I discussed, but I still really liked it. Mostly because I found that despite their limited time together, Takuya and Amanda really do click as a pair. Amanda’s tough, yet fragile demeanor melds extremely well with Takuya’s comedic and playful attitude. It is Amanda who gives Takuya the strength and reality-check needed to face the truth of their survival. Takuya meanwhile provides an outlet of emotional and that love that Amanda, now completely alone without her cause or her family to lean against. In a sense, their relationship mirrors the one seen between Sarah Conner and Kyle Reese in The Terminator. They are two people brought together and despite having a small amount of time to fall in love, their feelings and emotions are real and believable, and that is more than enough for something that is over…within a minute.
Takuya Arima and Amanda’s relationship in YU-NO is, like I said in the last paragraph, nothing overly special. It doesn’t rewrite the book, nor does it do anything special with what it shows. Yet still I really liked it, and for a series that has a buffet of different girls, all with their ups and downs that Takuya can end up with. This brief relationship with Amanda still stands out among them all. Two people brought together by circumstance, and giving each other the strength and will to carry on. It may end as quick as it began, but it’s effect on both of them, and on their daughter Kanna can’t be denied.