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The blossoming of love between two people is something that is considered both sweet and beautiful. After all, it takes an almost magical set of circumstances to properly initiate a full-fledged relationship. However, circumstances always get more interesting the more complicated they get. Thus, one simply cannot help but be drawn to stories that involve not just two persons, but three.
The love triangle theme has been around since pretty much the dawn of literature. It does, after all, pander to man’s seemingly genetically predisposed tendency to be drawn to choices that will ultimately affect the course of his life. In anime, the theme of love triangles is very much explored, with titles both modern and classic utilizing love triangles to effectively drive the plot forward.
Our list today looks at the most notable love triangles and the reasons why they are significant to us anime fans. Here then, is our list for the Top 10 Anime Love Triangles!
10. Makoto Itou x Kotonoha Katsura x Sekai Saionji - School Days
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2004 - September 2007
It is said that love itself involves a certain degree of insanity. In anime, there is not one example that can probably attest to this adage more than one of the most controversial titles in recent years, School Days. After all, the story of Makoto, who is widely considered as the worst male lead in anime history, as well as Kotonoha and Sekai, has gone down in anime infamy.
The love triangle in this anime is quite graphic, as one sees the main character consistently take advantage of the two female leads for his own gain. He takes advantage of Kotonoha, who sincerely loves him, and he does the same for Sekai, essentially using her as a sexual object simply because she enables his behavior. The dynamic of the three garners the same amount of revulsion that you would get out of a Saw movie, but just like the film, it draws you in with the promise of a worthy conclusion. And when it finally does, you will see just how big a price one would pay if a love triangle benefits only one person.
9. Tuxedo Mask x Sailor Moon x Black Lady - Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Crystal
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: July 2014 - July 2015
It is no secret that the story of Sailor Moon is essentially the story of love between a lady from the moon and a man from the Earth. Transcending life itself, they are very much destined to be together, fighting by each other’s side, and sacrificing one’s life for the other. In fact, they are quite perfect for each other, until another person comes along with feelings for Tuxedo Mask - someone close. His own daughter.
Possessed by dark energy, the issues of Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask’s daughter from the future, Chibiusa, come into fruition, turning her into the sultry Black Lady. Though the love triangle only lasted a couple of episodes, it did have a massive effect on the plot of the anime. Throughout their daughter’s stay in present-day Earth, Usagi could not shake off the feeling that her future daughter seems to be taking her partner away from her. As it turns out, she really was, since Chibiusa felt so neglected in the future, she ended up falling in love with the idea of her father in the past. I swear, Black Lady’s passionate kiss with the past incarnation of her father was quite a big shocker for those of us who are used to the childish innocence of the original Sailor Moon series.
8. Hiro Hirono x Miyako Miyamura x Kei Shindou - ef: A Tale of Memories
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2007 - December 2007
This little gem in the slice of life genre actually holds one of the best love triangle stories in recent years. What makes the love story between Hiro, Miyako, and Kei a very engaging tale is the fact that it is so relatable. Everyone of us, I believe, has had an experience with a crush or the like that is very much like the dilemma faced by Hiro in the anime.
On one hand is Miyako, whose introduction to Hiro’s life involved an impulsive chase after she inadvertently stole his bike. While the circumstances of their meeting was nowhere near conventional, they do end up spending a somewhat magical time together, during Christmas eve. On the other hand, however, lies Kei, who is basically a constant in Hiro’s life. She genuinely cares for him and even goes to great lengths to make him happy. These two girls signify a very real struggle faced by those who end up choosing between two people - do you choose one that has always been there, or one that might make you happiest?
7. Hitomi Kanzaki x Van Fanel x Allen Schezar - Tenkuu no Escaflowne
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 1996 - September 1996
When a person is faced with a choice between two possible partners, one usually looks at the positives and the negatives in each person. For Hitomi in Tenkuu no Escaflowne, this struggle is real, for her affections for Van and Allen, two men whom she feels attracted to, ultimately leads her to a huge existential crisis.
The young prince Van is brash and cocky, yet he is also ultimately kind and caring. On the other hand, there is the gallant knight, Allen, who is dashing and chivalrous, yet seemingly hiding numerous secrets from his past. Hitomi ultimately faces a tough choice, for both men are good men, and both are actually great matches for her, despite their flaws. This is something that anime viewers were able to relate to, for this very dilemma happens quite often in real life. In this case, how can a girl really choose without losing something significant?
6. Kohta x Lucy x Yuka - Elfen Lied
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2004 - October 2004
Love can be a battle between those who can provide you with a life of safety and security and those who can provide you with a relationship filled with passion, dangers, and intensity. In the case of Kohta in Elfen Lied, love ultimately becomes a matter of choice between a cousin who has loved him ever since he was a child, and a cataclysmic killer whose heart only he can reach.
Yuka provides Kohta with the chance of having a most loving, conventional relationship possible. She loves him deeply, and is willing to do anything for him. However, viewers of the anime know that a relationship with Yuka will only give Kohta a happy, albeit average life. Lucy, on the other hand, is one who does not even hesitate when she kills, yet her feelings for Kohta are very real and sincere. As dangerous as she is, Lucy is the one who can give Kohta a life that Yuka can never give him - a life of rabid intensity and passion that will truly make him feel alive.
5. InuYasha x Kagome Higurashi x Kikyo - InuYasha
- Episodes: 167
- Aired: October 2000 - September 2004
In a very real sense, love can be a matter of choosing between a person who has touched your heart in the past and a person who has managed to reach your heart in the present. For InuYasha, this is a very prominent dilemma, as he is faced between his love for Kikyou, a woman who shared his love with in the past, and his developing feelings for Kagome, Kikyou’s very own reincarnation, in the present.
The tale of InuYasha is first and foremost, an epic of love. Its love story is very much relatable to viewers too, as most of us have faced a somewhat similar dilemma as InuYasha in our past. There are, after all, people who just stay with you, even long after they are gone. These people, like ghosts, forever haunt us, to the point when they make moving forward extremely difficult. This anime shows us a very real concept in love, and does it beautifully.
4. Kyouko Mogami x Ren Tsuruga x Sho Fuwa - Skip Beat!
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 2008 - March 2009
There are times when we get hurt, yet despite the pain, we never can really throw away the person behind the source of our tears. We may say we hate the person, but in our heart of hearts, we know they are still there. This is something that is very well expounded in Skip Beat!, with protagonist Kyouko being hurt badly by Sho, who, despite the young girl’s efforts, continue to haunt her. Even after finding Ren, who in his own mysterious way, shows her care and affection, Kyouko is still rooted in the pain she mercilessly received from a man she truly trusted.
Skip Beat! excelled greatly in character development, and this is seen in the way the three characters in the story’s love triangle are fleshed out. While Sho is a egoistic, immature young man, Ren seems to be the complete opposite, being a man who is always calm and in control. For Kyouko, the choice between the two men seems to be simple, yet it isn’t, since Sho’s effects on her go way beyond the present. For many people, this is very true, and this anime manages to portray such inner struggles really well.
3. Hagumi Hanamoto x Yuuta Takemoto x Shinobu Morita - Honey and Clover
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2005 - September 2005
Honey and Clover has become quite a staple when one talks about love triangle anime, and for good reason too. After all, the love story between the gifted Hagu and the two flatmates, Yuta and Morita, is something that is takes straight out of real life. In the anime, Hagu represents the ideal female, one who is essentially a blank slate when it comes to relationships. Her two choices, on the other hand, are very symbolic of the types of persons we end up going for.
Morita is the very definition of mystery. The fact that no one even knows what he does and that he disappears for certain periods of time add to his mysterious factor. Add the fact that he shows his affection to Hagu in unconventional ways and you end up with the very definition of a man who seems to have many layers. Takemoto, on the other hand, is the very definition of a man who women consider to be “safe” and risk-free. The fact that he encouraged Hagu to look at him as an older brother ultimately cost him a relationship with a woman he can possibly love for his whole life. At the end of the anime, Hagu finally does fall for one of them, and for those of us who have been in Takemoto’s shoes, we all know how such a conclusion feels like.
2. Yona x Son Hak x Soo Won - Akatsuki no Yona
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2014 - March 2014
There are times when those who we fall in love with turn out to be people who we do not even recognize. Sometimes, such revelations cost us greatly, and we end up paying a high price for our mistake. In Akatsuki no Yona, the princess of Kuoka learns this lesson in the costliest way possible, as the man she loved since she was a child turned out to be the man who will rip away everything that she considers precious. If it wasn’t for the intervention of Hak, a man whom she does not feel much affection for, she would certainly have been killed by the man she has been dreaming of marrying.
Yet despite the grave betrayal of Soo Won, Yona still holds on to the last pure memory of him before he turned his sword against her father. As the series progresses, viewers also see that even if Yona and Hak are getting closer, Soo Won is still there somewhere in her heart. For us, this is something that happens frequently, as those who have betrayed us in the past still have a tendency to haunt us in the present. RIght now, we still do not know how Yona’s tale would end, but if the anime and manga are to be considered, it is quite certain that the tale of Yona’s, Soo Won’s, and Hak’s love triangle is set to have an explosive conclusion.
1. Hikaru Ichijyo x Misa Hayase x Lynn Minmay - Super Dimensional Fortress Macross
- Episodes: 36
- Aired: October 1982 - June 1983
At the top of our list is an anime that practically became the definition of a love triangle anime - the 80’s classic, Super Dimensional Fortress Macross. Indeed, the story of the young pilot, Hikaru, the beautiful, headstrong Misa, and the attractive, talented Minmay has gone down in anime history as one of the industry’s most notable love triangle. In fact, it has practically legendary status, with the franchise’s latest iterations, including the critically-acclaimed Macross Frontier, still taking its cue from the original love triangle in the 80’s classic.
What makes this love triangle so engaging is the fact that the characters are so fleshed out, viewers will end up empathizing with both Misa and Minmay. Both girls have very endearing qualities that make them great, if not perfect, for Hikaru, and despite the anime concluding with the pilot’s final choice, one cannot help but feel like he should have gone for the other. Love triangles are all about choices and giving up one to get another. This anime portrays this perfectly. The anime closes with a really great note as well, proving that it is the one perfect example of the genre we now know as the space opera.
Of course, other notable love triangles have been portrayed in anime. Some of the special mentions here would be those featured in anime such as Nana, True Tears, and even G Gundam. In anime, the better the characters are developed, the more impact the love triangle will have.