With grand performances in Amagami SS and Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai, this has been quite the strong season for the osananajimi/childhood friend. Given the previous work done in strategic and operational doctrine for both shoujo/josei and the aspiring suitor here at THAT, I’m here attempting to contribute to this body of anime romance doctrine. To this end, I’m focusing on which strategies, tactics, and capabilities are most effective for that childhood friend trying to both secure her longtime love and fend off challengers. Using seven examples this post will attempt to pass on the lessons learned from previous successful and failed osananajimi campaigns.
A note on methodology: for the purposes of the chart, I have assigned some characters both ‘success’ and ‘unresolved’ codings. Rihoko from Amagami SS effectively achieved a success, but the resolution wasn’t shown on-screen so some dispute this. I also coded Mihoshi as ‘success/unresolved’ because even as I’ll ship for Our Queen and Savior Fumie, it’s clear from a non-shipping perspective that Mihoshi will be the victor. Manami from Asobi ni Iku Yo and Tsugumi from Kannagi are coded as ‘failure’ even if the anime didn’t explicitly state it. Asuka is considered an osananajimi in that she knew Aihara for an unspecified amount of time beforehand and interacted as if she knew him for some time. The cases drawn from are Rihoko (Amagami SS), Manami (OreImo), Mihoshi (Sora no Manimani), Mao (KimiKiss: Pure Rouge), Tsugumi (Kannagi), Manami (Asobi ni Iku Yo), and Nao (Yosuga no Sora.) There will be spoilers.
The osananajimi by her nature is best suited to a protracted form of war that can outlast the enemy and drain their will to fight, if not deny them operational space outright. Proximity and generally fighting on home turf brings the osananajimi advantages in intelligence, environmental awareness, access, short supply lines, and usually the support of the locals. Frequently they are also more crafty than their opponents and better understanding of the target male’s preferences. They are at their weakest when operating outside of their own territory, and when attempting to confront an outsider enemy in pitched battle too early in a campaign. In these ways the osananajimi’s way of war is similar to Mao’s People’s War and the three stages of revolutionary warfare. Below are four frequently observed components of osananajimi warfare and their observed effectiveness. But first a quick look at likely enemies.
They can come in many varieties, from the provocateur (Zange) to the eccentric outsider (Nagi.)
The osananajimi’s natural and most likely foe is some class of ‘outsider’ that suddenly enters the scene with a strong display of force. Outsiders typically show up on the scene armed to the teeth with a range of traits that the osananajimi cannot match. These can include eccentric outsiders with oddly endearing traits (True Tears‘ Noe), provocateurs that go for the ‘vital regions’ (Macross F‘s Sheryl), or cutesy, seemingly nonthreatening nice girls (KimiKiss:Pure Rouge‘s Yuumi.) They deploy such qualities and are adept at disrupting the long process by which the osananajimi has already been proceeding to attain her target.
Continuity – Ideology for Romantic Warfare
Childhood memories will vary, but are always invaluable.
As People’s War is linked strongly to political ideology to form a comprehensive revolutionary warfare doctrine, the osananajimi frequently employs this as a way of cementing her link to her target. It is in the nature of the osananajimi to bring forth memories from childhood, but alone it is not enough for victory. It must be frequently brought up and current events woven into a narrative that emphasizes continuity, to the point where the target can only think of a future together with the osananajimi. Reactive use of continuity tactics, such as bringing up a memory in response to an event or object, must be paired with proactive pushes for the target to think about the potential couple’s future together. The evidence from cases considered shows that this ‘continuity as political warfare’ component is vitally important for success. Even for Nao, who felt that past experiences with Haruka had doomed her, found this historical link to her target the important building block for claiming Haruka in her arc.
Reactive (above) and proactive (below) continuity tactics in action.
The ‘People’ in People’s War – Friend and Family Support
Sometimes they take the form of potential beta-couples.
Friends that help arrange dates and opportunities, and family that attempts to support or ship the couple can offer strong support to an osananajimi. And they can serve a secondary role as well by offering membership in an institution. Operating on her home turf (or having returned to it after a period of time away) the osananajimi has the greatest potential to draw on the support of those around her. Friends have been with them a long time, and the parents of either the osananajimi or the target may already secretly or overtly wish for them to become a couple. Both may even force support on the osananajimi during moments of weakened strength or lack of confidence. Allies like these are also useful, in that they offer an ‘institution’ to join. Seeing how well a club, group of friends, or family gets along can lure in the target with the prospect of a warm, caring support structure once they get together with the osananajimi. While the positive power of this support is not as strong as continuity warfare, the test cases argue strongly for not ignoring it.
Shipping by other means.
Parental support in action, with some maneuver to obscure the osananajimi’s intentions and make her seem tame by comparison.
Sometimes the support of the locals can provide the momentum other resources cannot.
Winning the love of the target by demonstrating that he would be best off under the osananajimi’s benign rule.
In the osananajimi’s version of People’s War, the path to victory is a broad-based approach that over time demonstrates her superiority in all forms. By their nature osananajimi tend to be caring and adept at providing the goods and services that others cannot. Similar to the way Hezbollah builds its reputation in Lebanon by dispensing services and patronage, the osananajimi can both show her determination through gifts and favors and can use such instances as an beachhead to deploy other attacks from. Manami and Rihoko demonstrated their culinary capabilities and used them as pretexts for spending time with their targets. Mao nearly stole a kiss on Koichi when he was sick, Nao used an opportunity to sew on buttons to bring up old memories and nearly completed a successful kiss operation, and so on. Success or failure depends on how such opportunities are used, however, as the natural tendency of osananajimi to do this means that the results are inconclusive.
Sports appears to be an area to avoid, as it leads to thinking of the osananajimi/close friend as a female bro and thus to the friend zone.
Helping Rivals – Muddled Priorities
Don’t let this happen to you!
A core part of the osananajimi’s personality can work against her in war if it is not restrained. Osananajimi are decent people and always concerned about the happiness of their targets, but sometimes this leads them to back off, hesitate, or even advise or help their rivals when the time for conflict approaches. Sometimes this is an attempt at a relationship-by-proxy like AsoIku‘s Manami, other times genuine concern for the rival and/or target like Asuka in KimiKiss, who naively thought that she could level the playing field and win in pitched battle against Eriko. The time for Mao’s ‘third phase’ had not been reached for Asuka, and even so there was no need to handicap herself in such a manner. Mao fell victim to this behavior initially and it was a mistake from which she would not have been able to recover had her continuity doctrine not be so firmly instilled in her target beforehand. The cases show that every character that has done this and not changed course has lost.
Manami has fallen for the relationship-by-proxy trap.
Other Considerations: Use of Overwhelming Force and the ‘Imouto Factor’
Shock and Awe for osananajimi.
Typically the osananajimi does not stand a chance in pitched battle against rivals until Mao’s third phase has been completed and the opposition is effectively beaten. However, if the osananajimi can get to the target before any potential rivals reach the theater of operations then she can use conventional tactics to great effect. Nao quickly claimed her prize in a surprise blitzkrieg, making Haruka her’s forever after. Mihoshi on the other hand had to content with powerful potential rivals later on. But by seizing on Saku immediately by force and beginning the continuity indoctrination process from the beginning, she attained an easily defensible position that would pose immense difficulties for Hime and Our Queen and Savior Fumie. However, there was not enough examples to draw a valid conclusion about overall effectiveness.
Hindrance or help?
Another area for consideration but that lacks data is the ‘imouto factor.’ From available cases this appears to have a negative effect for the osananajimi, but not always. Sora in the picture above interrupted an imminent kiss, and Kirino would have spoiled Manami and Kyousuke’s time had she been present. It showed great foresight on Manami’s part in inviting Kyousuke to a location that Kirino dared not tread. However, Miya was definitely amenable to the idea of Rihoko and her brother coming together. Further research is needed.