There are a number of couples in various anime who have canon building for them, either to end the series with inference, or leave you guessing. I personally ship these five couples and hope that they will end up together as their series continue to progress.
There’s one anime in the countdown that has already ended, but there’s enough canon to confirm their feelings, even if they never confess. That pair is #5 on the countdown, so let’s kick it off.
Luke & Tear
5. Luke Von Fabre & Mystearica Grants
This duo, from Tales of the Abyss, has a chance meeting when Tear interrupts Luke’s training in order to kill her brother Van, Luke’s trainer. In defending his trainer and clashing with Tear, the pair have a fonic resonance that send them flying into the enemy country.
Luke at this point is a bratty, self absorbed protagonist who goes through a huge learning process and emotional struggle with Tear by his side. He learns that he’s a replica of the real Luke, and has a hard time figuring himself out after that. Then he makes a brash decision to follow Van, who unfolds as the main antagonist, and ends up destroying an entire city.
Once he’s able to come into his own, and gain everyone’s trust back, Luke becomes a fascinating hero of the story. There is a lot of emotional tension between the pair through the series, especially when Luke makes a sacrificial choice that is slowly deteriorating his body. They have several encounters when they mean to confess their feelings, but it never happens. After one such encounter, when Luke is saying his goodbyes, she whispers back as he’s leaving, “I love you.” The final battle ends with Luke presumed dead and gone. I yelled at my screen after that, probably for an hour. Why couldn’t she just tell him?!?!
The end of the series brings the main cast of protagonists together two years later to celebrate Luke’s coming of age, even though he’s gone. Then a mysterious stranger appears who just happens to look like Luke and his original, who was definitely dead by that point, combined. And they left it at that; the series ended. I straight up cried. I’m am in full hopes that if the episode were a minute longer, she would have confessed, or him, or both.
Kyoko & Ren
4. Ren Tsuruga & Kyoko Mogami
What I love about this pair from Skip Beat is the evolution of their relationship throughout the series and their connections when they end up working on acting projects together. Ren is a twenty year old ace actor, already at the top of the A-List. Kyoko is a renegade 16 year old who broke into the acting business after her long time roommate and “friend” confessed to solely using her for his own gain. She dropped out of highschool to work several jobs and housekeep for Shoto while he launched his own music career. Blindly in love with him, she was mortified and sought to get revenge by becoming a bigger star than him.
Ren learns of Kyoko’s motive for getting to acting, just the revenge part, not on whom she wants the revenge. Their relationship is really abrasive at this point, as he frowns upon her method of using acting for revenge. Kyoko quickly learns that not only is she good at acting, but she actually loves doing it.
Ren carrying Kyoko
When she starts to get acting jobs, the pair tend to connect just by watching the other act. She got her first acting role because the previous actress was too much of a diva to take direction. Kyoko was, afterall, supposed to be that actress’assistant. Kyoko actually broke her foot, carrying her to the shoot after the van broke down and she refused to walk. Ren went back to find Kyoko and carried her to the shoot. That was when I knew there was something there for this pair.
With the role, she did a tea ceremony scene where she knelt down the entirety of it with her broken foot. She showed no sign of pain in the filming. It really impressed Ren. That’s kind of how the anime plays out, but there’s a deeper emotional complication to it. Ren has been chided for not being able to act in roles that involve being in love, because he has no experience to draw on it from. He begins to realize that he’s starting to have those feelings. Kyoko herself is in such a blind hatred because of the betrayal that she forgot how to love.
It also unfolds to the viewer that there is a good chance that the pair met when they were younger, and he had given Kyoko a fair bit of hope in the form of this Corn stone. I think Ren realizes it, but Kyoko still seems to be oblivious that he knew what the stone was called and where she was when she got it.
Then, there’s a string of episodes in the middle of the series in which Kyoko is Ren’s assistant. She nurtures Ren, making sure he eats (which he often doesn’t do when he’s busy) and admiring him on set. Then he falls ill and Kyoko does everything in her power to care for him.
Ren’s assistant, Yahiko, megane danshi and comic relief, is fully aware of their feelings for each other and often prods Ren into seeing it, but Ren denies it. Though they are getting closer in the manga, neither of them are any closer to realizing their feelings.
Ulquiorra and Orihime
3. Ulquiorra Cifer & Orihime Inoue
From the anime Bleach comes probably the most controversial couple on the list, because though canon exists, its tough to read and could swing either way. Also, there’s been a number of inference toward Orihime and the title character, Ichigo, especially her confession toward him before she’s kidnapped. Ulquiorra is also an antagonist, which puts another strike in. And Ulquiorra also dies, so there’s another. BUT! There’s still some lingering hope!
Orihime has a spiritual ability that can reverse damage on allies by “reversing time” on their bodies, a power said to be greater than god’s. For this reason, the main antagonist, Aizen, tasks Ulquiorra with kidnapping her and being her keeper while she is Hueco Mondo. He gets pretty possessive over her. And I’m not sure if their little spat over making her eat is out of concern for her or as a prerogative to keep her alive for Aizen’s sake.
Later, Ulquiorra has the infamous “are you afraid?” chat and the “heart” questions, about whether or not she has one of those that all humans have. He doesn’t believe in human emotions of the heart, because he can’t see them. (Granted, if he just opened up one of the bodies of his victims, he could see it, honestly.) But instead he inquires as to whether or not he should crack open her body to see it. He doesn’t.
Then it starts to get interesting. Ichigo even comments that Ulquiorra appears to be more human, and that Orihima might have had that impact on him. Ichigo and Ulquiorra have their fight, and as Ulquiorra dies and disintegrates in the process, he reaches out to Orihime. He asks her if she’s afraid of him, to which she says she’s not. Then he realizes he has a heart; it was in his hand all along, and Orihime was at the other end of it.
So now there’s the question. Is he really dead, and is there more in store for the pair? My sister is a die hard shipper of these two, and she’s horribly upset that they aren’t #1 on my countdown.
2. Tamaki Suou & Haruhi Fujioka
Haruhi and Tamaki
Tamaki is the president of the Ouran High School Host Club from the anime of the same name. He is also the illegitimate child of the school board’s chairman. Haruhi on the other hand is a commoner who got into the elite Ouran Academy on scholarship. Since Haruhi finds herself mixed up in the Host Club, the two begin to expand their worlds into each other’s.
Haruhi, looking like a boy, accidently knocks over an 80 million yen vase that was in possession of the Host Club. She is then forced to join the Host Club to get 100 customers to request her in order to free her of her debt. Eventually they all figure out that she’s a girl, but they still go on with it, continually masquerading her as a boy in school.
When Tamaki goes below his status to help Haruhi dig through the fountain for her lost food card, it reveals a side of Tamaki that most “stuck up rich kids” don’t have. He’s very down to earth, albeit a little crazy, but he has an enormously generous heart, a genuine demeanor, and an infectious personality. He gets very upset with Haruhi for doing things on her own, but comes to realize that she’s been alone her whole life and manages to do everything growing up on her own. Her mother died when she was ten, and her father is always working.
The best scene ever is when Tamaki finds out about Haruhi’s fear of thunder and lightning. He crawls into a closet, and when he inquires as to why, she tells him that she’s always used to getting over stuff like this on her own. He throws open the closet doors, and she embraces him while he consoles her. He tells her, gently, that she never has to do anything alone. (Then the scene is kind of ruined with a whole S&M inference by the other Host Club members, because he gives her ear plugs and a blindfold to help. He’s then chided the whole rest of the episode. They should have just cut it after the embrace.)
Since Haruhi’s involvement in the Host Club, Tamaki took a genuine interest in “commoner” things such as stuff they eat, games they place, and even a products expo that he convinces the Host Club they need to take a field trip to. He’s also extremely overprotective of her, attributing it to his fatherly duties over her as her mentor. The rest of the Host Club think he’s an idiot, because he still hasn’t realized he’s in love with her, even though the rest of them have.
At the very end, I think Haruhi comes to realize how much he means to her as well. When Tamaki was set up by his loathing grandmother to take off to France as the fiance of some rich, snotty chick, Haruhi collapses and exhibits similar habits from when her mother died. Eventually she takes off in a rampaging horse carriage to stop them before going to the airport. While on a bridge, she loses control and falls out of the carriage while side by side with Tamaki’s car. Tamaki jumps out of the car to grab her, and pulls her into an embrace (which should have been a kiss scene!!!), before they land in the water (photo above).
The anime ends, after dancing with all the Host Club members, with her in Tamaki’s arms. In the manga, it continues, and Haruhi has come to full realization of her feelings. Tamaki, meanwhile, is still an idiot. It’s just a matter of time.
Temari and Shikamaru
1. Shikamaru Nara & Temari
From the anime Naruto and Naruto Shippuden comes, hands down, my favorite couple who isn’t together (yet). Shikamaru is a Leaf Village (Konoha) ninja, while Temari is from the Sand Village (Sunagakura). The pair first meets in the Chuunin exams when they are put against each other. Though Shikamaru actually wins the fight, he forfeits before claiming victory.
Their relationship really gets bumped up when Shikamaru is put in charge of a squad to bring Sasuke home. Shikamaru ended up in a battle and was having trouble trapping her, because she could easily fight from a hiding spot. Then Temari shows up and shatters all the trees with her wind technique, which also deflected the music, easily defeating their enemy. After the battle, they return to Konoha find several of his subordinates in near death condition, including his best friend Choji. He blames himself for it, vowing to step down from being a ninja. Temari has a serious conversation with him, and Shikamaru accepts what happened and agrees to move forward. Then when he sees her and her brothers off, they have a quick exchange of words, after which he half smiles and she has a gleam in her eye.
After the time jump, Naruto returns to Konoha to see the pair walking around together. Naruto makes a comment about them dating, to which they deny. (It’s okay, we all know the truth!)
Shikamaru's proposed title screen
Shikamaru’s relationship with Temari is very much like his father’s relationship to his mother, which bodes favorably for them. There is a running gag that Shikaku, his father, is whipped, and that his mother is a force to be reckoned with. Shikaku says , “no matter how strong-minded a woman is, she will show kindness to the man she loves.” Which is funny, because Shikamaru mention that Temari is “as subtle as a Rhino” and is “scarier than his mom.” I think its fate.
And to stir the pot further, in an OVA at the end of episode 75 of Shippuden, we see something strange. Asuma talks about having the show named after him, and shows the title screen with the silhouetted of him and his lover, Kurenai. Shikamaru says that the show should be named after him, and as you can see to the right, the title screen features him and Temari silhouetted. Awesome, right? Shikatema ftw!