Valentine’s Day was just a few days ago, but romance is still in the air thanks to otome games. These are my favorite swoon-worthy romance tropes in otome games!
Childhood Friends Romance
Childhood friends who evolve into lovers is probably one of the sweetest romance tropes, and I’m a sucker for it. In Love Spell, Enix Gray is one of Luna’s childhood friends, and she’s had a crush on him for a while. And like with many friend crushes, the love-struck MC has yet to confess her feelings and see if he feels the same. Let’s face it, Enix is probably the most gorgeous love interest benevolently gifted to the otome world, and I know a lot of people fell in love with him just like Luna did. Luna and Enix have a history together, so naturally you’re rooting for them to finally take the next step and become a couple.
Friends to lovers is a storyline that we’ve seen in a lot of visual novels and other methods of storytelling. A lot of times, you see the characters deny their interest in the other, mostly out of fear of rejection. We as the readers are desperate for the relief and for them to finally acknowledge those feelings. It’s a trope that a lot of us can’t resist, and that’s because friendship can oftentimes set the foundation for a great romantic relationship. There’s nothing sweeter than a pair of lovers who have been friends since childhood. Ironically, my next favorite trope is quite the opposite to this one.
Enemies to Lovers
This section contains spoilers for Norn9: Var Commons.
Enemies to lovers is the opposite of friends to lovers, and although it doesn’t kick off as sweetly as a childhood friends story, it is the ultimate slow-burn romance trope. If it’s done right, the payoff is very rewarding. In Norn9, Mikoto and Natsuhiko are a great example of enemies to lovers, because their initial encounter is stormy and tension arises between them but eventually sweetens into romance. In Natsuhiko’s happy ending, he gives up his weapons and chooses not to do the Reset, something he had been fixated on in order to change the world. But in the end, he finds happiness with Mikoto, and that’s enough for him—which is what makes it beautiful.
This trope is often riddled with misunderstandings between two characters who eventually come to realize the negative emotions they originally felt towards the other person weren’t true. Other times, it’s rivalry, whether out of pride or by natural affiliation with an opposing force. It’s romantic because the characters overcome all obstacles and adversities and realize their feelings for each other.
The beloved princess carry, or as some may call it: the bridal style. The heroine hurts her leg on her way to school? The love interest will carry her into the sunset. MC is ridiculously clumsy and tripped on a pebble? The hero dashes to her rescue, graciously saving her from an embarrassing and painful death-by-pebble situation. In Piofiore: Fated Memories, Liliana makes a silk rope and climbs down the balcony. The outcome is as you’d expect from climbing silk: she falls, but Dante flashes to her and she lands in his arms in this fairy tale moment.
I love strong heroines, but there’s nothing wrong with a distressed damsel and a knight in shining armor to save her from a sticky situation. Everyone makes mistakes and needs help sometimes, and I think these scenes show that the love interest cares for the protagonist. Even though it’s usually a minor misstep on the MC’s part, it shows that the LI will aid her without a second thought. It unveils protective and caring qualities of the LI, and that’s why it makes us swoon. Maybe another reason we fall in love with the bridal-style carry is because it sets the scene for wedding bells, which leads to my next favorite trope.
The arranged marriage trope is probably my favorite, not only for visual novels but for literature, movies, webtoons, manga, you name it. There are a few variations, but more often than not it’s an arrangement for financial or political reasons, and has been set up by the characters’ families. This is evident in Variable Barricade, where the protagonist, Hibari, is the sole heir to her family fortune. Her grandfather selects a cast of eligible bachelors to win her heart and marry the heiress.
Why is this trope so swoon-worthy? You have characters that initially have no romantic feelings or attachments toward each other, and yet they are both trapped in this situation together. You might be thinking: “And how is that romantic?” It’s the circumstances that bind them together and, in a seasoned romance, the opportunities for them to fall in love rain like cherry blossoms. Of course, in Hibari’s case, she’s the one who’s dead-set on rejecting romance while her suitors are desperately trying to change her mind. What’s exciting is, we know each one of the suitors will change her mind, it’s just a matter of how.