The vast majority of romance anime, and romance stories in general, feature relatively happy endings, typically with the main characters getting together by the end of the title — if it’s not quite a happily-ever-after, it’s at least usually a happily -for-now. There are of course a few exceptions to this rule, especially if an anime is classified more as a drama, but on the whole, anime fans have come to expect a positive outcome when it comes to romance shows.
Such is not the case for Bokura ga Ita (We Were There), which does technically end with the characters being together — just not in the physical sense. While main couple Yano Motoharu and Takahashi Nanami are boyfriend and girlfriend by the conclusion of the show, they are nevertheless separated when Yano decides to move with his mother to Tokyo and Nanami remains on Hokkaido, making their relationship a rare long-distance one.
Based on a shojo manga of the same name, the Bokura ga Ita anime consists of 26 episodes that originally aired in 2006. The main story follows high school students Yano Motoharu and Takahashi Nanami as they navigate the remainder of their teenagehood. Although Nanami is at first repelled by Yano’s outwardly superficial personality as the popular guy in class, the two eventually discover more about each other and then begin dating. However, the relationship comes with plenty in the way of emotional baggage, as Yano’s first girlfriend Nana, who had seemingly been reconnecting with one of her ex-boyfriends, perished in a car accident only a year ago.
While the 70 chapter Bokura ga Ita manga continues following Yano and Nanami’s relationship into young adulthood, the anime concludes the story at Chapter 32, with Yano moving to Tokyo with his mother and leaving Nanami behind despite the two still being a couple. This makes Bokura ga Ita an extremely unusual example of a romance anime that features a long-distance relationship between the main pair. For this reason, the series will perhaps resonate particularly with viewers who likewise find themselves in long-distance relationships.
It also doesn’t hurt that the dynamics between Yano and Nanami come across as refreshingly authentic at times compared to many of its anime counterparts. While mainstream romance anime tend to portray physical relationships as stopping at kissing, or even just at the characters blushing wildly whenever one of them gets up the courage to ask the other out on a date or to hold hands, Bokura ga Ita depicts topics such as sex far more frankly. This results in a story about teenagers who actually talk and act like teenagers rather than like cloistered innocents who have never even heard of sex, much less want to discuss it.
This is not to say that the series lacks melodrama. Over the course of its 26 episodes, Bokura ga Ita is filled with the typical misunderstandings and frustrating breakdowns in communication that have become a hallmark of the romance genre. However, where the title stands apart from its ilk is in its relatively natural-seeming dialogue and actions in relation to its romance. In turn, this makes the characters and their interactions not only understandable but relatable — and of course, all the more emotionally poignant for viewers when the couple is physically separated but determined to continue on as a couple. The conclusion of the show is open-ended yet hopeful while remaining realistic.
In the end, people need to go their separate ways while wanting to stay in the relationship for many reasons — for school, for work, to be with family or any other number of important reasons. However, given that this is such a rare outcome in romance anime, Bokura ga Ita may especially be suited to viewers who have had or are currently going through similar experiences.
Bokura ga Ita is available to stream via Amazon Prime.