This thought just hit me so randomly that I have to write it down and tell you guys about it. It is one of the most cliché anime relationships but it has such a sweet feeling to it I don’t mind them overusing it. “What?” You might ask me. Well, it is the deep bond between two people and (maybe) not (yet) in a relationship yet? Childhood friends.
According to Keima from The World Only God knows, a childhood friend has to be (pardon the awkward phrasing, it’s a translation)
The house next door — which means very close
Onii-chan/Ototo Relationship — which means very close friends
Yakusoku — a promise made
Old memories — having a common memories.
TAchiba — a complete change in positions, the giant change between the old times.
Well these are definitely not the exact definition but a mere Otakus dream of having a close (female) friend. But to a certain extent this is correct. So to begin, I’ll start with the anime version of a “childhood friend” and move on to the (sadly) more realistic real life version.
Where do we usually find childhood friends and what kind of relationships do they usually share? In almost any anime from slice-of-life to action to drama to harems, you can find them. The relationships they share are even more varied, one sided loves, mutual respect, friends who fell out the list goes on and on.
So other than Keima’s weird definition of childhood friends, what is the “official” way to say they are childhood friends? (By official I mean my opinion) Simple, if the anime premise mentions it or the characters say it themselves or you get a childhood flashback, they’re childhood friends. We just leave it to the anime or that form of fiction to determine it for us.
But why does having a childhood friend (who’s preferably a female) such a craved things among Otakus? Maybe it’s the way anime displays it and it strikes a perfect harmonized chord with a fetish that they posses or it’s really nice to share a platonic relationship with someone of the opposite sex? Nah.
Plus with the premise of childhood friend added in, it saves the writers of the story quite a lot of hassle. You want to add in a fanservicy scene of the guy awkwardly walking in on the girl and after that they both shower together. Explanation? They’re childhood friends. So not only does it please the viewers, it saves you time and trouble, rather convenient I might add.
With the simple premise of “childhood friends” it gives you the convenience to steer the story quickly and save time on all the drama of both parties getting to know each other. You can save 5 episodes used for them to be on good friend terms and move into drama and making the show more “exciting” to the general public. Why the inverted commas? Because some people just don’t like drama. But at the same time, it can be used for drama and tragedies, it’s one thing losing a close friend, another thing losing a friend of 10 years, as AnoHana shows how it can affect people.
Real life now. We all should have friends when we were kids right? So technically we can call them childhood friends right? But what age does it count as that a “childhood friend”? If we go by the anime term and assume it means preschool (5-6 years old), then the actual chances of you still being in touch with these friends is quite low seeing the kind of society we live in this days. So I guess that could be the reason why Otakus crave for a childhood friend so much. Because I barely did have a childhood when I was younger, let alone made friends and kept in touch with them.
Though can we say that there is a distinct difference in the way we see childhood friends as compared to other good friends? The only thing I can think of is that you would understand your childhood friend better seeing how long you have been hanging out with them, but there are always outliers to this kind of situations as you can understand a lot about a person without spending like 8 years together if you *ahem* share certain experiences together. (See how I made that into a sexual innuendo?)
Honestly, in my personal opinion, anime does have certain truth to the relationship that childhood friends have with each other. The way that male and females can get rough with each other and it seem seemingly find or how both parties understand each other really well and know when to assist each other. Or it could be nothing more than a figment of my wishful thinking. But still, I find that childhood friends help to emphasise reliability in a relationship and how you know who to go to when you have problems. But remember that there is really hardly any difference between childhood friends and normal ones, so have fun with everyone together and I wish you a Happy 2013.