POTENTIAL SPOILERS: PROCEED WITH CAUTION
Age difference in relationships will always be a polarizing topic. One of my favorite anime from the spring 2021 season is Koikimo. This anime features a relationship with a ten-year gap in age.
Ryou is a successful salaryman with a womanizing reputation. He has gone through life using women for pleasure and then not even bothering to remember their names. On the outside, he is good-looking and sought after, but has little room in his heart for meaningful relationships.
After a night of pleasure, Ryou finds himself irritated that the woman he slept with kept him up all night. Tired and dizzy, he made his way to the station. While distracted, another person bumps into him just as he was at the top of the stairs. Realizing that he is about to be seriously injured and/or possibly die, all he can do is say, “Oh shit.”
Enter our female protagonist, high-schooler Ichika. Ichika saves Ryou from certain injury, perhaps, even death, by using the handle of her umbrella to grab his coat collar and pull him back. As he gathers himself, she apologizes for strangling him in her attempt to save him. She notices he is pale and asks if he had breakfast. Replying that he had not, she rummages in her bag to see if she had anything to offer him. Glancing at her watch, she realizes that she is about to be late for school. In a swift action, she shoves her lunch in his hands and takes off running wishing him health.
At first, Ryou is annoyed. Why would this stranger give him her lunch? He was about to throw it away when he suddenly had a change of heart and opened the lunch, presumably, to eat it.
The day has ended and Ryou heads to his family home. There, we meet his younger sister, Rio. She announces that she has a friend over. That’s when Ichika and Ryou make eye contact. He then enters playboy mode when his sister leaves the room to take a call. Under the guise of “properly thanking her” for saving his life, he first offers her shoes or clothes, then a kiss, and then offers to go even further.
Ichika, with a disgusted look on her face, replies, “You’re creepy. You’re offering up yourself as thanks for saving you? What are you thinking? That’s not why I saved you.”
Ryou is taken aback by her honesty.
Almost immediately, Ichika apologizes for expressing her thoughts.
And, this. This is the moment Ryou feels something stir in his heart for the first time. Moved by her sincere gesture of giving him her lunch to her honesty to his shallow offer, he gets down on one knee and tells her, “I’m moved…I’ve never felt this way before.”
The balance of the show spends the bulk of its time building the relationship between Ryou and Ichika. There are so many memorable scenes of Ryou acting like a love-sick puppy and Ichicka being disgusted by him. It’s well done, and actually quite funny. What starts as a one-sided love eventually blossoms to mutual feelings. But, there is a glaring issue. Ryou is ten-years older than Ichika. At one point, a pursuer of Ryou brings up this fact in a moment of jealousy. Can Ryou and Ichika be happy together? Can they make it work? Will the age gap bring Ichika misery instead of happiness?
I don’t believe that age is a sole determinant on whether a relationship will be successful. I have friends that have successful marriages with much older spouses, and friends that could not make it work. I, personally, believe that there are other factors that determine whether age will affect a relationship such as personality, maturity, and willingness.
For example, I’m pretty young at heart. I wear youthful clothing; I dye my hair funky colors; I like stuffed animals; I watch anime and Asian dramas; I used to stream video games; and, for the most part, I am interested in things that people my age “gave up” or “moved on from”. When I went to college orientation with my now 21-year old son a few years ago, the students thought I was his older sister and/or a student myself. One student was pretty shook and told me he didn’t think I was a day over 25. At the time, I was 38.
Unless the person is also the same, someone older than me would most likely be a deal breaker. On the flip side, I am confident that I could maintain a relationship with someone quite younger than me. As long as they’re responsible and mature, or have the willingness to hear me out when I might have a bit more wisdom on the situation, we’d be fine. Do you hear me, Park Jimin or Kim Seok-jin?? I’d make it work!
Is age just a number? For the most part, I think so. In this particular show, I believe whole-heartedly that these two can make it work. She’s mature for her age and he’s willing to do what it takes to make it work. If they date for a few years to allow her to grow a bit more, they’re going to be fine.
So, there you have it. Large age gaps don’t bother me unless the situation is illegal, of course. Obviously, I don’t support predators that target young men/women. I’m talking about normal, healthy, good-intentioned relationships. It doesn’t bother me one bit that this show highlights such a large age gap between the protagonists. While I may not understand marriages with 20, 30, 40 year gaps, I don’t disapprove of them. Everyone’s situation is unique and it really is none of my business or my place to judge who people fall in love with.