That isn’t what defines me. Love is what defines me.

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This is my first journey through the “100 Days of Anime” Challenge, an ambitious project that I’ll be taking. For the full list of prompts, click here.

“Favorite canon couple?”

Despite the longwinded name, “I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying” is a two-season short that revolves around a single idea: the daily life of a quirky couple in modern day Japan. It’s a slice of life that builds around their chemistry much more consistently than most full-fledged romances, especially with a total runtime of only 78 minutes. What makes Kaoru and Hajime’s relationship seem more grounded than the typical couplings of its genre is not their relatable mundane day-to-day. After all, plenty of other slice of lifes have treaded the same ground (Working! or the more recent Love is Like a Cocktail). It’s simple, cute, and genuinely funny; a blueprint that sets up our couples for interactions that feel natural at heart.

And I absolutely love that.

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There is one thing I’ll admit. Kaoru is plain, with a level of understanding that borders on otaku fantasy or wish-fulfillment. It’s a trait that clearly defined her as a character. In the same vein, Hajime had a single trait that defined him as a character: being otaku.

But I was wrong.

Because it isn’t blind acceptance that makes Kaoru a character. Yes, she’s accepting, but she isn’t a pushover either. It’s the subtle parts of her personality, shown through her interactions with other characters throughout the show. She has standards, and expects Hajime help support them (financially and otherwise). She’s caring, but can also get tired, especially after working her day job. Hajime plays at being a NEET, Otaku, and total Uke, unfit for an ordinary day job. Yet when it comes to supporting Kaoru, he’ll step up to the plate, going all out to comfort Kaoru when she’s sick, or sacrifice his precious figurines for the greater good. Whether it’s treating Kaoru after a long day or getting a job to support his growing family, Hajime never holds back.

Being accepting and being otaku isn’t their defining trait. It’s a byproduct of the shows central theme: loving each other through both good and rough times.

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A simple take on chemistry, and what it means to love.