With Valentine's Day, February is seen by many as the month of love. I had a great time with my better half until we finished the day watching a Sex and the City special Valentine's day marathon. I never like the show much while my wife, on the other hand, adore it but, during about 3 nauseating hours in, My mind began to wonder and landed at all the love stories/romances in animation. So naturally, I have made my list of my favourites to share with the world. This feature will consist of 2 parts ending next week when I take you through my favourite anime romances but, for today, we start with my 5 favourite cartoon romances:
5. Doug & Patti (doug)
First up...we are taking you way back to 1991 and into the mind of a pre-adolescence Doug Funnie. When the animated series first premiered on Nickelodeon, it was herald as a significant point in cartoon history. The series bucked the trend of cartoon action and silly hijinks that ran amuck in the 80s for a more real-life reflective look at the trials and tribulations of pre-teen life. Doug was totally relatable as he joggled being a son, a middle child of three, a best friend, an elementary student, bullys and of course, secret crushes. One of Dough best friends was Patti Mayonnaise who he also happened to be crushing on hard throughout the shows two runs on air. Patti, usually as how these things go, was not aware of this and thus the absence of any true romance. But, I found their relationship dynamic as Doug constantly battle with his great need to confess his love vs his fear of rejection. It is the classic first love tale and one that eventually had a happy ending when she finally became his girlfriend in the series finale.
4. Aang & Katara (Avatar: The Last Air Bender)
From one of Nickelodeon older shows to one of their modern classics. Avatar: The Last Air bender is one of my favourite animated shows of all time. Beautifully choreographed action, amazing animation, riveting plot...the show had it all. What it also had, which admittedly took a back seat to all the action (hey the world was at war), was a decent romantic element. And while there were numerous romantic relationships during the series, the one between Aang and Katara stood out the most. This was mainly due to the fact this relationship wasn't necessarily expected when Aang was freed from the ice by Katara and 'team avatar' began their treacherous journey to save the world. But, the real entertainment came from watching how their relationship blossomed after both grew feelings for each other. Both knew that there was no time the explore them when the world was in peril. If you had watched Avatar: The Legend of Korra, you would have already seen the end the result after they finally made time.
3. Roxanne & Max (A Goofy Movie)
Awwww...there is nothing sweeter than puppy love. A Goofy Movie is another personal fave from my childhood, so it is no surprise that my next entry on this list focuses on the protagonist and his love interest. This romance started similar to all the usual high school romances. Boy, being an oddball, has a crush on the cute popular girl, do all in his powers to be noticed in his attempts to impress her. The great twist here, on the other hand, Roxanne was also crushing hard on Max and thus, his ridiculous grand adventure that followed served no purpose other than to be thrilling entertainment for us of course. The usual cliche tale of the popular girl finally seeing the good in the lovable loser wasn't needed as she liked him for him from the very beginning, and despite his Goofy father.
2. Helga & Arnold (Hey Arnold!)
Now, from the sweet and kind...to the aggressive and abrasive. By now, except for perhaps with Aang and Katara, these romances on the list follow a familiar school theme. There is no love quite like your first and, as kids, we lack any real knowledge of how to exactly go about it. So, what do we do when you are a kid and in love? Bully your crush of course. This was the whole dynamic behind Helga and Arnold's early relationship, were in hopes of masking her true feelings, she would regularly prank and bully. Helga went from making fun of Arnold and calling him names like 'football head' one moment to spewing her deep affection for him the next. Heck, her personal shrine of him in her closet ups the ante from a simple crush, to the dangerously obsessive. Hey, at least it all paid off in the end, as she got finally got her man by the end of the Hey Arnold! Movie.
1. Ginger & Darren (As told by Ginger )
Admit it...while all your friends were talking about the latest episode of Dragon Ball Z, you were secretly thinking about what was going to happen on tonight's episode of As Told By Ginger. No? Just me? Whatever Nickelodeon started with Doug back in 1991 they perfected with this masterpiece. As Told By Ginger was as real as any 'kids' cartoon got during this time, constantly portraying mature themes that pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable for a 'kids show'. Their portrayal of love/relationships was a different tone compared to the other entries on this list and, was more akin to something you would usually find on an MTV/BET show. This takes us to the romance between Ginger and her best friend turned boyfriend Darren. Neighbours since kids, Darren was one of Ginger's most trusted friend as she struggles to find her place in school and even life. Naturally, this deep bond leads to affection as the best friend, was now looked at in a different light. However, in a true ugly duckling turned swan fairy tale, Darren dropped his ridiculous headgear and became a heartthrob, catching the eye of all the girls. This didn't stop the two from dating but, with his newfound popularity, Darren eventually dumped Ginger for the high school cheerleader. To be dumped by your love and your best friend would crush anybody's soul with Ginger's handling of it all, made for the most fascinating period in the series. It was indeed, a true classic.
Looking back at this list, it has come to my realization that Nickelodeon shows dominate. This is not to say love and romance didn't play a huge role in cartoons produced by its competitors (namely Disney and Cartoon Network) but, perhaps the ones found here, were more relatable to the average person. Hence, why comic book cartoons and Disney's 'princess in danger' movies were omitted.
Thank you for reading and, please be free to comment below about my list or to provide one of your own. Also, look for the Anime version sometime next week.
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Hey I am Marlon Mcfarlane the writer here at Blue Crescent Studio & a longtime lover of all things Animation & Gaming.