Image source: アニメ「徒然チルドレン」公式‏ on Twitter

Tsuredure Children is pretty much what happens when you take every conceivable romantic comedy pairing in anime and toss them into the same series. However, even then, not every single character in the series is in a couple, and some “couples” are only funny because they’re actually one-sided. In my view, the most hilarious character and thus my favorite is Furuya Hotaru, a brother-obsessed little sister with zero social skills.

The plot line of Tsuredure Children, or perhaps I should say plot lines, is not so much a plot as it is a distillation of the various types of romantic comedy pairings to be found in anime and manga. There are about four or five main couples, two or three minor couples, and maybe a pair of not actually couples. Then there’s a few supporting characters who are not (yet) in any couple. If you can think of any ridiculous couple type from any romantic comedy in Japan from the last 30 years (and that includes drama and movies, not just anime and manga), Tsuredure Children probably has it.

A Guide to All the Couples in Tsuredure Children So Far

In the case of Furuya Jun and Minagawa Yuki, you have the two class representatives. One is the fairly serious but indecisive boy; the other, his mischievous and capricious sort-of-girlfriend. Their whole relationship is formed around the underlying question: Is Yuki serious about wanting to be with Jun or is she just getting off on teasing him? Which Yuki is the real Yuki? How does Jun decipher Yuki’s signals?

Honestly though, that’s not the best part of their relationship. The best part is the third wheel of the relationship: Hotaru, Jun’s younger sister. What makes Hotaru great is the combination of her own (lack of) charms and her interplay with Yuki. Jun himself is a bit lackluster, outside of his commitment to being class representative. This, of course, mirrors many male protagonists in anime romantic comedies. The real star relationship isn’t Jun/Yuki, it’s Yuki/Hotaru.

Image source: アニメ「徒然チルドレン」公式‏ on Twitter

Unlike other meddlesome interlopers we could consider, Hotaru isn’t that great at being mischievous. She tries to be, but she’s a horrible failure. Openly and publicly besotted with her brother—and openly and publicly spiteful to Yuki—there’s no difference between her public and private personas. To put this in a Japanese context, Hotaru is all honne, all the time.

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In the western context, we might say she has no filter. None at all. She even goes so far as to explain exactly how she’s being an asshole, despite it being already obvious to the viewers and to Yuki. She’s only “two-faced” in the sense that the teeth-rottingly cute persona she uses towards Jun is so very different by how she treats threats (specifically Yuki). I’ve met very few people like her, and even in anime, there’s often a honne under a brash tatemae. That Hotaru is so transparent is absolutely delightful, refreshing, and highly entertaining.

Adding to the hilarity, Hotaru can’t help but get herself into messes of her own making. Yuki quickly and decisively runs rings around Hotaru in terms of manipulation—even when Hotaru believes herself to be smart. She’s not just immaturely manipulative, she’s really, really bad at it. In an attempt to ascertain Yuki’s motives and use it against her, Hotaru sneaks onto her brother’s phone and tries to convince Yuki it’s him. Yuki, knowing Jun extremely well, recognizes the deception immediately. She then proceeds to lead Hotaru into the mistaken belief that Yuki and Jun have had sex and Yuki is pregnant. Hotaru cannot help panicking and bringing chaos to the household by yelling to her mother that her brother is having a baby. Game, set, match, Yuki.

Image source: アニメ「徒然チルドレン」公式‏ on Twitter

While all the couples have their moments, and there are couples I really like (the two I enjoy most are Sugawara/Takano and Kana/Chiaki), the fact that Hotaru’s craziness dominates the relationship between Jun and Yuki is welcome diversion. Hotaru’s obsession is juvenile, unrequited, and doesn’t represent any actual true romance (this is not always the case with such characters in anime), and thus is a fun romp through aromance or perhaps even anti-romance. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the feelings of many of the characters in couples. After all, I’ve been there myself. But I’ve never had a crazy little sister or gone into battle with one. It’s pure ridiculous fantasy. Hilarity as therapy with Dr. Hotaru prescribing.

Tsuredure Children is streaming with subtitles on Crunchyroll and dubbed on FUNimation.

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