A Fine Romance!

In Japan, Valentine’s Day is celebrated by the ladies giving the men in their lives chocolate. Giri-choco (obligation chocolate) is given to friends, bosses, and co-workers so they don’t feel left out. Honmei-choco (potential winner chocolate) is a more expensive or homemade chocolate that a woman gives to a man she likes. She may also give him a nice present of some sort.

March 14 is White Day, when the men are supposed to reciprocate with candy and presents.

Valentine’s Day romance is a popular story in manga. Guys getting overrun with chocolate, girls agonizing over trying to give chocolate, or guys desperate for chocolate. In Ouran High School Host Club vol 4 the club has to refuse chocolate because Hunny’s teeth are rotting. The girls of the school are crushed until Tamaki saves the romance of the day!

Kare Kano is a long romantic comedy about two high school kids learning to get past their facades and find love.

On the other end of the romance spectrum is Train Man Densha Otoko, a classic story of ‘geek meets girl and then panics.’ Supposedly based on a true story, “Train man” starts when a 23-year-old geek signs on to a national message board for singles and explains his amazing day. While riding the train, he intervened when a drunk started harassing a group of women. Later, one of the women sends him a rather expensive set of tea cups. Does she mean more than ‘thank you’? What should he do now? If he calls her, what should he say? Thousands of online readers assist in teaching him what to say, how to dress, where to go on a date, and how to behave; in return “Train Man” writes about his blossoming romance. When the two finally kiss, thousands rejoice.

Valentine Librarian

Incidentally, if you don’t get anything for Valentine’s or White Day you can celebrate Black Day on April 14th, by going out with other singles and eating Jjajangmyeon, Korean noodles with black and white bean sauce (hence the name).

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