My Love Story!!: Is Ichinose a better romantic rival than most rivals in shoujo anime?

Kouki Ichinose in My Love Story!!

My Love Story!! is a romance we experience from the protagonist Takeo Gouda’s perspective. He has a big and muscular build that intimidates everyone around him. Unlike his appearance, however, he has a kind personality and is considered an icon of bravery and chivalry by his male peers. He fell in love at first sight when he protected a girl, Rinko Yamato, from being molested.

Unbeknownst to him, Rinko also fell in love with him. The tale tells us about their journey, filled with misunderstandings and rivals. Having said that, the anime contains some of the most well-rounded characters. Are their characters, especially the love rivals, better than other shoujo? How about we find out?

Who is Kouki Ichinose?

Kouki Ichinose is a pastry chef at Les Cerises. It is the same bakery where both Rinko work. Due to a misunderstanding on Ichinose’s part, he starts believing that Rinko is in love with him. Upon this misleading revelation, he challenges Takeo over Rinko. 

Kouki Ichinose
Handsome Ichinose | Courtesy of Madhouse

He is written with delicacy in mind. His character development is leaps above any character development. He is an amazing example of how love can make a person grow and be better. He has his flaws and that is what makes him such a brilliant piece of the story.

Ichinose in the past:

  • Antisocial
  • Condescending 
  • Narcissist

Ichinose in the present:

  • Confident
  • Friendlier

It is a must that we look into his relationship with Takeo and Rinko to have a final say about his quality as a romantic rival.

His relationship with Rinko

In the beginning, they had a formal relationship. However, in time they both grew fond of the other. She once told him how she admires and loves his cakes, which led to a misunderstanding on his part to believe that she likes him.

This brought a huge change in his personality and behavior. Determined to confess his feelings to her, he asked her to help in a baking competition and if they win, he will tell her something. They won the competition.

Hit by Rinko's cuteness
Rinko’s effect | Image Courtesy of Madhouse

After the competition, he confessed his feelings to her. He got rejected. Ouch. He still views her fondly, which can be seen as he named his new recipe after her. It was and continues to be a one-sided relationship. He adores and respects her and she enjoys her time watching him bake. 

His relationship with Takeo

His relationship with Takeo can be termed as a love-hate relationship. While arrogant about his chances, he flaunted his appearance and went as far as to say that Rinko only loves Takeo because she is grateful to him. He was so aggressive that it made Takeo think that he might have a point. 

Ichinose demanding Takeo to break up
Ichinose’s aggressive approach | Courtesy of Madhouse

Despite his toxic approach towards Takeo, he only receives opposite responses. Takeo was kind to him and helped him through the competition. When he forgot his baking tools, Takeo rushed back to the bakery to bring it to him. The high-schooler supported him as well. 

After getting rejected, he has a much better relationship with Takeo.

So are My Love Story’s romantic rivals better?

Ichinose's confession to Rinko
Confession | Courtesy of Madhouse

After all that happened, Ichinose never showed any sign of grudge. He accepts his defeat against Takeo and commits to his newly found personality. Unlike other romantic rivals who continue to create unnecessary drama to prevent the main lead from getting the girl, he is mature enough to not be toxic. Unlike other romantic rivals who use their feelings as an excuse to keep approaching the girl, he understands her feelings and does not act as a creep. 

Ichinose sets the standards for everyone in both the animated and the real universe. He has shown that loving someone does not mean that it should turn into an obsession to make them yours. It means to love them despite their answer. It means to love them even if they do not love you back. He accepts and exhibits how love has changed him and how grateful he is for it. 

Post-Rejection Clarity
Post-Rejection Clarity | Courtesy of Madhouse

Many romantic rivals in Shoujo do not come close to this standard. They despise the male/female lead and try their best to destroy the relationship between the pair. Most of the romantic rivals do not have enough substance in their character to become nearly as influential as him. 

The Verdict

A better version of Ichinose
A changed Ichinose | Courtesy of Madhouse

Kouki Ichinose has a far better chance of winning the Best Romantic Rival award than most characters. He is already a winner in many of the hearts in the community. Other shoujos’ should look him up for inspiration. His growth is realistic, and his means of handling the reaction should be the prototype for everyone in the world.

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