Harem shows are the anime industry’s bread and butter these days, with studios churning out show after show wherein multiple girls vie for the affections of one (loser/bland) guy. It only seems logical that fans often have at least one particular girl in any given series that they end up rallying behind, which is why the creators often end things without any one girl being chosen, thereby keeping their audience sated while leaving themselves an opening for continued harem hijinks in the future.
But every once in a blue moon a show will make the bold decision, for varying reasons, to have one girl come out on top in the romance department. Naturally, with only one girl gaining exclusive rights to the male lead’s heart, it’s inevitable that one or more of the girls not chosen are going to end up heart-broken.
In these instances I often find that I have thrown my support behind the wrong girl, which leaves me almost as heart-broken as the girls I was rooting for. Hence the origin for this post listing the top ten anime girls that I felt the most sympathy for when their hearts were broken, even if we’re not really shown the extent of their heartbreak or it was obvious from the beginning that they had no chance.
That being said, allow me to clarify my definition of “heart-broken” in this particular case. This is a list of the girls that I personally felt bad for or was disappointed that they did not win the heart of their object of affection, instead losing out to another female character. Not all of the females I’m about to list below were absolutely heart-broken or reduced to tears, nor am I suggesting that the girl that did ultimately win the guy’s heart was unworthy in all instances. This is simply a list of characters I wish had gotten more love.
This was certainly not an easy selection as there were plenty of girls that had garnered my sympathy for their unrequited feelings, such as Airi and Sana from Mashiroiro Symphony, all the girls besides the the annoying one from Love, Elections & Chocolate, Tomoyo from Clannad if I had ever bothered to watch it, and even a few from some of the shows mentioned below (I’ll list them as alternates below). Linda from Golden Time was a near miss bit I ultimately liked Mitsuo better than Banri, and so far Nagi no Asukara is lining up the way I had hoped, so thankfully no one there had to be added to my list. But for my money, these girls listed below are the ones I felt the worst about.
10. Siesta (The Familiar of Zero)
I never liked Louise from the very beginning; she is a tsundere of the worst possible caliber in that she is physically abusive towards Saito and often treats him like a pet rather than a human being. Yet Saito puts up with it and loves her all the same, which for me was a major detractor for the series. Louise’s complete opposite, however, was the kind and caring resident maid, Siesta. Whenever Louise would abuse Saito (which was often), Siesta was there to take care of him (a trait she unfortunately started to abuse by sometimes allowing him to be mistreated so she could then take care of him). During the first season, Siesta was actually on fairly even footing with Louise for Saito’s affections. In many ways she seemed as though she was created to be a near-perfect match for Saito. Unlike any of the other residents of the world The Familiar of Zero takes place in, Siesta is actually part Japanese given that her great-grandfather’s fighter plane crashed in that world many years ago, so she actually has that trait in common with Saito, who was pulled from Japan when Louise summoned her familiar. Saito even seemed to reciprocate some of her feelings. But then the following seasons seriously reduced her screen time, added more haremettes and eventually concluded with Saito marrying Louise.
So instead of being with the caring and considerate Siesta, Saito ultimately ended up with a girl who routinely abuses and unfairly punishes him for things that are often beyond his control. If that’s what he wants, then I guess in the end Saito gets what he deserves. But he could have avoided that with Siesta. Just throwing that out there…
Alternate: Henrietta de Tristain
9. Mawari Zenigata (My Bride is a Mermaid)
Whereas in most shows the childhood friend tends to pull ahead of the pack, such was not the case with Mawari. Given that the show is called My Bride is a Mermaid, it was pretty clear from the start that the titular mermaid, Sun Seto, was going to be the winner in the end. So with Mawari I knew I was rooting for the long shot going in. Still, though, she remained my favorite throughout.
As the child of a police officer, Mawari is the self-appointed school disciplinarian and thus has something of a reputation as a ball-buster. That combined with being Nagasumi’s childhood friend kind of puts her in a more masculine role, or at the very least he doesn’t completely see her as a girl, or so she believes at least. Hell, Masa (a dude – think Lando Calrissian) probably had a better chance with Nagasumi than Mawari did given how Nagasumi perceived him as a sexy bishounen and would get all starry-eyed around him.
As cute as her flustered face was in the moment, I couldn’t help but feel bad for Mawari when Nagasumi distracted her from peeking in the hot springs bath so she didn’t see mermaids frolicking by telling her to “only look at him,” which in Japan (or at least anime) is akin to confessing your love to someone. So poor Mawari got the wrong idea. It also didn’t help that since the climactic finale took place under the sea, Mawari was left out of the action since she can’t breathe underwater (naturally). Sorry Mawari, but if it’s any consolation you’re still my favorite.
Alternate: Lunar Edomae
8. Ruri “Kuroneko” Gouko (Oreimo: My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute)
Kuroneko would probably be higher on this list if not for two factors. First, she accepts Kyousuke’s rejection quite well, knowing in her heart that she wasn’t the one he truly loved. Secondly, the spineless, sister-loving doormat Kyousuke doesn’t deserve her anyway, so she’s so much better off without him. Still, I can’t really understand why anyone would choose their own bitchy, controlling sister over Kuroneko, but different strokes for different folks, I suppose.
One really couldn’t ask for a better friend than Kuroneko. While she definitely had her geeky and somewhat anti-social side, she was nonetheless intelligent, loyal, cute as a button and was the one Kyousuke could always rely on in a pinch to help him extricate the overly-fortuitous and undeserving Kirino out of whatever jam she had gotten herself into or to go the extra mile on Kirino’s behalf. And while she and Kyousuke did date for a time, she ultimately broke it off because she didn’t want to damage her friendship with Kirino. Now that’s the sign of a loyal friend and a good all-around person, which is why Kuroneko deserves so much better than Kyousuke. That doesn’t mean she deserved to get her heart broken though.
7. Azalyn (The Irresponsible Captain Tylor)
Azalyn is the 16-year-old Empress of the Raalgon Empire. Lt. Commander Justy Ueki Tylor is captain of the space battleship Soyokaze. Only problem: They’re on opposing sides of a war, which isn’t very conducive for an interstellar romance. There’s also Lt. Commander Yuriko Star, who has caught the eye of Tylor, and she has developed an attraction to him, much to her initial chagrin.
One has to feel a little sympathy for Azalyn, who had the burden of ruling an entire empire placed on her shoulders at a young age, denying her the chance to live the carefree life of a child. So when she meets the happy-go-lucky Tylor, who also readily accepts her in spite of who she is, it’s no surprise that she instantly develops a crush on him, claiming him as her pet to save him from execution. Hell, every female in the show eventually succumbs to his charms, including a robot and a computer program incapable of emotions, so it’s not a shock that Azalyn does. Later in the series, Tylor saves her from a bomb planted by her own adviser and when she insists on accompanying him to the Soyokaze to ensure he’s okay, he doesn’t treat her as a prisoner aboard his ship even though she technically is and ultimately lets her go, which is tantamount to treason. Tylor is just an all-around good guy so it’s no wonder she loves him.
But unfortunately for Azalyn, Tylor really only has his sights set on Yuriko and ultimately regards Azalyn as a friend, albeit a very close one. While she does act a bit bratty aboard the Soyokaze, pretending to be pregnant with Tylor’s child in order to remain with him, she is after all just a young girl in love for the first time. And in the end it was inevitable that she must return to the loneliness of her Empire surrounded by scheming advisers set on assassinating or manipulating her for their own nefarious purposes. That’s a pretty sad outcome for poor Azalyn.
6. Teletha “Tessa” Testerosa (Full Metal Panic!)
Tessa was always my favorite from the start, but it was pretty obvious that Sousuke was going to ultimately choose Kaname. While he technically doesn’t state his love for Kaname in the anime, it is all but implied and in the novels they do eventually admit their mutual love for one another, so “bad end” for Tessa in the romance department.
Personally I found Tessa to be a lot more attractive than Kaname, and her sweet and caring personality more to my liking. It made the aggressiveness with which she would pursue Sousuke all the more charming. And as the captain of a submarine at the young age of sixteen, it was quite the contrast to see her have to be formal and disciplinary while on duty, but then turn around and be a regular teenager with a crush during her down times, with all the angst and hormones a situation like that brings with it. Her little whoop for joy when Sousuke finally called her Tessa (being on a first name basis is a very big deal in Japan, suggesting a close or intimate relationship) was one of the cutest moments from the show.
But Tessa never really had a shot for several reasons. The first was that she was Sousuke’s superior officer, so that was a conflict of interest. Secondly, she got to spend very little time with him, whereas guarding Kaname was Sousuke’s entire mission, meaning he had to be near her constantly, which certainly increased Kaname’s chances. That’s not to say that only time and proximity were the deciding factors in Kaname’s case, as the pair took an unspoken interest to the other from the start, but it certainly didn’t hurt. I’m not opposed on principal to Kaname being with Sousuke because I do like her, I just like Tessa all the more so I feel bad that she loses out in the end.
5. Eri Sawachika (School Rumble)
Though School Rumble started off as Harima obsessively pursuing Tenma, side character Eri managed to become something of a fan favorite and actually stole the spot of main female protagonist. And to be fair, the heartbreak I’m referring to here is mostly based on the anime version, as the manga actually ends on a relatively nice note between her and Harima, even if he did insinuate that she was a whore at first and completely misunderstood her character. The sequel manga series, School Rumble Z, apparently also seems to suggest that they end up together in the end, so yay for Eri if it’s true!
But we’re talking about the anime here, as it was the first and only thing regarding their relationship that I’ve seen. Eri and Harima maintain a love/hate relationship throughout, mostly attributed to the fact that they started off on the wrong foot when Harima accidentally told Eri that he loved her when he had intended to confess to Tenma, only the sun was in his eyes so he didn’t realize he wasn’t talking to Tenma. As one who is used to constantly being hit on by guys who only see her for her looks, she actually saw something honest in Harima’s confession and thus started becoming interested in him. Unfortunately it was pretty much one-sided, as Harima only ever had eyes for Tenma.
That doesn’t mean the two didn’t get close, and they helped each other out on more than one occasion, with Harima actually pretending to be her fiance at one point. But alas, once she learned of Harima’s love for Tenma and then him subsequently telling her she was a slut, things didn’t exactly pan out for her the way she had hoped. She did manage to finally clear the air though, expressing her frustration with men in general and how all she was ever looking for was someone that would truly love her. She had hoped it would be Harima, but in the end that did not seem to be the case. I couldn’t help but feel for her, and for that reason she makes the list.
Alternate: Yakumo Tsukamoto
4. Hanakawa Tsubasa (Monogatari Series)
Hanakawa Tsubasa is the sole exception on this list where I was actually in support of the girl that did come out on top. Much as I love Tsubasa, like Koyomi Araragi, I love Hitagi Senjougahara more. That doesn’t mean I didn’t feel bad for the poor girl though, which is why she makes the list. Way back when I wrote my top anime girls post I mentioned that I had entertained the notion of Araragi going for Tsubasa despite already dating Senjougahara. I’m glad he didn’t, but for a moment I wavered.
Originally a loner, it is Tsubasa that Araragi owes for pulling him out of his closed-off world, becoming his first friend and supporting him during the time when he had been turned into a vampire. While this may have earned her his undying love and admiration for her, in some ways it also may have been the thing that worked against her, because he felt he owed her so much that internally he may not have thought himself worthy of her given how kind, smart and seemingly perfect she appeared to be.
Why I really feel bad for Tsubasa is that she doesn’t just get rejected once, but twice, at the end of the Bakemonogatari season and at the conclusion of the first arc of the Monogatari Series Second Season. The second was all the more painful given how she finally began to accept her own feelings and place in the world, and the fact that he didn’t love her as much as Senjougahara reduced her to tears. It may have ultimately been cathartic for her, but she still garnered my eternal sympathy.
3. Noe Isurugi (True Tears)
Words can’t even begin to describe how cute I thought Noe was, in terms of attractiveness but most especially her personality. A bit quirky and lonely, she places a curse on Shin’ichiro at first for teasing her, but they ultimately hit it off and actually start going out for a spell. Noe is the one who manages to instill confidence in him which pushes him to put effort into breaking free of the things that frustrate him. Yet despite all that, she ends up the loser in love.
Noe didn’t ultimately win Shin’ichiro’s heart in the end, Hiromi did (but she can do the splits, guys, so it’s cool), but she still remained something special to him. His whole speech to her at the end admitting his feelings for Hiromi was him actually stating that his heart was wavering and that it crushed him to have to hurt Noe like that. Glad to see a protagonist actually nut up, though I still think he made the wrong choice, but that’s just my opinion. I mean, how could anyone pass on a girl like Noe? Just look at the scene where she had Shin’ichiro’s belt tied around her waist and rocked her hips back and forth while preparing food and blissfully singing like a girl in love. That was simply too precious for words.
My favorite part about the end scene, however, was that it was Shin’ichiro that was balling his eyes out while Noe just walked away like a champ without shedding a single tear, instead singing her little cockroach song. She was the one getting rejected yet he was the one crying. Quite the reversal there in terms of expectations and it really spoke volumes about their characters.
Noe does finally cry at the very end in a scene taking place months later, but those were more cathartic tears than anything else, showing the audience that she finally got her tears back. May she one day find someone truly worthy of her.
2. Kanna Tanigawa (Waiting in the Summer)
While Waiting in the Summer was one big pile of teenage romantic angst throughout, what with the complications of Mio liking Tetsuro who likes Kanna who likes Kaito who likes Ichika, it was obvious from the start that one or more of them would end up heart-broken by the end. While Kaito and Ichika were (apparently temporarily) separated when Ichika was forced to return to her home planet, they at least reciprocated each others’ feelings and were officially a couple by the end, so they managed to stave off that heart-break. Tetsuro was rejected by Kanna after he confessed his feelings while Mio never received an official answer when she confessed her love for Tetsuro, so technically they both experienced heartache, but the two grew closer after that and Tetsuro did ask Mio on a date near the end of the series, so there is definitely romantic potential for those two there. Which just leaves poor Kanna.
Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that I don’t like Ichika, because I do, so it’s not that I’m saying I think Kanna should have won Kaito’s heart. I just feel really bad for Kanna. What I actually really liked about Kanna, and the thing that might have turned a lot of people off her character, was that her jealousy and insecurity concerning Ichika caused her to occasionally act out or put others on the spot, both as a means of lashing out but also to try to get answers as to where everyone stood in that particular romantic triangle. While I didn’t necessarily approve, I appreciated its realness; that’s how most jealous people would actually act in that situation, and at least Kanna questioned whether she should have done or said the things she did after the fact. Unfortunately, though, her romantic overtures were doomed from the start. It was already clear to everyone else that Kaito had no romantic inclinations towards her, and every time she tried to do something to impress him, such as choosing a sexy swimsuit or dressing in a pretty kimono, Ichika always unintentionally ended up one-upping her. I give her credit for being the one who convinced Ichika to accept her feelings for Kaito and go for it, as well her tenacity in her support of Kaito and Ichika’s relationship even after being rejected and balling her eyes out for days, but that doesn’t make it any less painful to watch her heart break.
1. Sophia Forrester (Last Exile)
Sophia was Alex Rowe’s XO aboard the flying ship, Silvana. She was also the Princess of Anatory. But most importantly to her, she was also head over heels in love with her captain. The only problem was that Alex had been engaged to her older sister, Euris, and when Euris died, a big part of Alex did as well, to the point where the only thing he was rabidly passionate about was getting revenge on Guild Maestro Delphine Eraclea, who he held responsible for Euris’ death. So Sophia’s matters of the heart were doomed threefold. She was the younger sister of Alex’s fiancee, which puts a relationship between the two in the dicey category since it could be seen as a betrayal to Euris. She also would have to manage to find some way to resuscitate his already dead heart, but it was probably already beyond saving by the time she was old enough to take a shot (she’s only 19). And finally, and probably most importantly, the living can never compete with a dead girl, especially a sister. And it certainly didn’t help that Sophia so closely resembled her sister, which must have been a dagger through the heart for Alex every time he looked at her.
That was probably the most painful part to watch regarding Sophia. As much as Alex trusted her unconditionally, leaving her in charge of the ship during his absences, he also didn’t treat her very well given her resemblance to his deceased fiancee. Whenever she would let slip too much concerning her feelings towards him, his response would be cold or snarky. When she let down her hair, resembling Euris even more, he got upset with her and dressed her down saying it was unbecoming of an officer to let their hair down. Poor Sophia never even had a shot.
And if you think that’s already bad enough, there’s even more pain in store for her. In charge of the Silvana while Alex was held prisoner aboard Delphine’s flagship, she was left with no choice but to order the ship destroyed with him still on it, sealing his fate. And though the listening officer lies and tells her his last words were her name, in truth he said the name “Euris” and Sophia knew it. It doesn’t get much more heart-breaking than that.