Over the years, I have collected quite a few ships to emotionally invest in! The earliest one that I can recall is SyaoSaku from Cardcaptor Sakura (compounded further by their plots in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles and Clear Card). While I cannot say with absolute confidence that they are my One True Pair, they certainly rank high-up. Without further ado, here is a catalogue of the relationships (canonical or otherwise) that tug at my heartstrings. Warning: there will be spoilers!
Last updated: 19 May 2022
Bubbline from Adventure Time: When this show first came out, I had zero interest in it. But when I kept seeing tumblr gifs of these characters together, I decided to give it a shot. There are many, many reasons why I love this series now, but Bubbline is certainly one of them. It makes me emotional to reflect on how they went from subtext to domestic bliss together.
Connverse from Steven Universe: Oh these two... I was very blessed to have the original show, a movie, AND Future to watch their relationship flourish from friends to first loves. I adore the arc these two go on - especially the harder moments, the arguments, the worries, the miscommunications. They're handled just as deftly as all of the sweeter songs and lighthearted dancing.
Catradora from She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Such a complex relationship! One of my favorite fandom experiences is when a show leaves me with so much inspiration for what could happen after the canon plot wraps up, and I imagine there is so much on the horizon for these two: the trauma and healing, the tense parts of new love and the absolute joy of it. Hurt/Comfort is not my main cup of tea, but I adore (pun not intended!) how it is written in this series.
Huntlow from The Owl House Admittedly, this is a newer interest of mine so I haven't fully formed my opinions about them, but I can only imagine looking at them even more favorably as the series wraps up. The few canonical interactions we have seen have been really good! It's not quite hurt/comfort territory like Catradora either since Willow has been fairly in the dark about the full extent of Hunter's backstory; instead, it's this complicated texture of friends-to-lovers-to-sorta-enemies-to-friends-again-to-maybe-future-lovers. I can dig that.
Garnet from Steven Universe: Fusion as a metaphor for relationships completely blew my mind and when it was revealed that Garnet was specifically a romantic experience between two nonbinary femmes... that just meant so much to me. She's still one of my favorite characters in a show with so many great options to choose from and I love that Ruby and Sapphire hold up on their own.
GlimmerBow from She-Ra: At the start of the series, including at Princess Prom, I didn't think I would end up shipping them. Even though I am very fond of "friends to lovers" as a trope, I wasn't sold on them as a romantic pair. But that's the thing with this trope - as time passed, as their friendship went through so many trials that still resulted in them loving and caring for one another, it made it clearer to me that these two care that one love spills into another so seamlessly.
Gohan and Dende from Dragon Ball Z: So... when I was in grad school, I binge-watched the series for the first time since I was a teenager. There aren't a lot of ships that in this show that I cared about (it IS a shonen series much more bound to friendship after all,) but there was something about Gohan and Dende that I found very sweet. Maybe in part because I knew already that Gohan ends up with someone else later on, but for the moment, on Namek together as kids, their joy was gentle and comforting.
Korrasami from Legend of Korra: One day when my wife and I were rolling our eyes through Mako x Korra drama, she declared something along the lines of "That's it; I'm just going to ship Korra and Asami together!" We both laughed because we thought it was a pairing that was just so outside the realm of possibility for what might air. And that moment keyed us in to every brush of hair, every blush, every scene they shared together. We were super invested in these two and that made it so rewarding when it became canon.
Kyoru from Fruits Basket: Oh wow... so I started reading this manga when it was first translated to English and published by Tokyopop. I was so emotionally invested in all of the characters, but especially Tohru. I couldn't understand why so many people online disliked her. Revisiting the 2019 anime... holy smokes, this romance is so well written. Don't get me wrong: there are TONS of good characters and pairings available in this show (I have a soft spot for Momiji x Tohru even though it's one-sided and unrequited), but they gave me all the warm fuzzies I had in high school only amplified since I now know what real love feels like.
Lumity from The Owl House: Thank you Dana Terrace and Molly Ostertag for gift-wrapping this pair to me personally. In all seriousness, Lumity is the kind of ship that would have been my OTP as a kid. There's something about them that reminds me a LOT of SyaoSaku - this one-sided rivals-to-lovers that actually tips even more quickly to the latter. I'm consistently surprised by how the series navigates their relationship and I wish that Disney had greenlit a proper Season 3 because I want more!!
Raeda from The Owl House: This is the last one from this series, I swear! Even though Lumity hit me like a truck right out the gate, I was pleasantly caught off-guard by the introduction of Raine - especially since the series does not tip-toe about the romantic history between these two. If you haven't guessed by now, I'm BIG on friends-to-lovers as a trope so being able to see Eda and Raine at various stages in their friendship has made my heart super full. Plus, a queer woman AND a nonbinary person (voiced by a nonbinary POC no less?) I didn't think that anything could distract from Lumity in this show, but Raeda immediately won me over.
SyaoSaku from Cardcaptor Sakura, Tusbasa Reservoir Chronicle, and Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card: As mentioned earlier, these two were my first ship - the original One True Pair. Maybe it's because I too find Sakura's seemingly endless plucky optimism inspiring or because I relate to Syaoron's mega-tsundere but truly smitten phase, but these two always bring a big fat smile to my face. And even though there are some problems with the series, I can't help holding it dear to my heart after frantically scouring swapmeets for merchandise as a kid or for AMVs on YouTube when that first became a thing.
TomStarCo from Star vs the Forces of Evil: I know most of my list has revealed that I tend to be a Canon-shipper. When a relationship is intentionally written, I find that I can relate to and enjoy their growth as a pairing much more. But I genuinely enjoyed Star x Marco AND Star x Tom (even though it made sense when and why they broke up) and even though the show never truly leaned in the direction, I thought Marco and Tom had just as much chemistry together. I knew Disney was never going to deliver a polyamorous relationship, but I can see it happening in their futures together!
Almond and Peridot from Cucumber Quest: These two cuties are adorable! Even though the comic is on indefinite hiatus, it is still very, very much worth. the read. gigi digi's style and humor is utterly charming and while these two aren't necessarily canon, I think their dynamic together ticks all my boxes for that "first crush" kind of story.
Camilla and Victor from Brass and Sass: I am rooting for these two. They definitely give me those SyaoSaku vibes as well, especially given how much Camilla is rooting for Victor's success from the very beginning and how he has to learn to let his walls down.
Dorian and Monica from Hooky: When it was still in progress, I looked forward to every update of this comic hoping that these two would FINALLY talk about their feelings for each other. Another great friends-to-lovers, slow-burn series. Monica is such a joy, especially since my wife loves these princess-type characters who go from bratty and spoiled to hard-working and compassionate. Don't get me wrong, I love Dani a lot, but especially after the time-skip, I was very laser-focused on this ship.
Emile and Radu from Blades of Furry: When I started reading this series on a whim, I had no idea how deeply I would fall for Emile and Radu (wait - do they have a ship name? Let me know!) There are other great ships to look out for in this webtoon, but I love their blushing expressions, Radu's inexperience with falling in love, Emile's anxieties about keeping their dating life a secret from the media. It's been a while since I was as engrossed in m/m pairings and I dig this new era for me.
Hana and Seowon from A Good Day to be a Dog: What a delightfully ridiculous series for a webtoon! Wait... who am I to judge after *gestures broadly at Fruits Basket* I was on board with these two from their first drunken kiss and it is absolutely worth the wait for them to be open and honest with their feelings both with each other and to themselves.
Ivy and Freckle from Lackadaisy: What a throw-back! I was reading this comic back when it was only being uploaded to DeviantArt. I'm fond of pairings where the girl aggressively pursues the boy who is clueless and maybe a little fearful of her advances. Ivy is such a go-getter, sure of what she wants and Freckle is such a mess of a cat haha
Jieum Ban and Seo Ha Mun from See You in my 19th Life: There was a deep hole in my heart when Hana and Seowon's story ended... and Jium and Seo Ha have far surpassed them. Lee Hey is SO good at drawing expressions! I don't know how she will top this series when it finally ends, but I'm sure she will have so many more stories to tell.
Lucy and Graham from Gourmet Hound: Slow burn perfection!! Leehama did a twitter thread series once rereading all of the chapters and it was utterly delightful to gain additional insight into how she mapped out this relationship (which, unfrotunately, seems to have been deleted along with her account.) The hands that almost but do not touch! As with other big romance series, this one has plenty of great side-love stories that are well worth rooting for, but Lucy and Graham had my attention from the beginning.
Nana and Nana from... Nana: I skipped on this series when it first came out and binge-read it a few years back. What a marvel of its time! Sure, there are plenty of canon ships that are complex and interesting... but nothing holds a candle to the two titular characters. Platonic, romantic, erotic... I don't care what the nature of their relationship is, but I am constantly rooting for them even when they utterly destroy one another.
Persephone and Hades from Lore Olympus: This series has earned all the praise that it receives. I adore so many characters in this re-imagining of classic Greek mythology, but these two make everyone else melt away when they are on "screen" together. Maybe it's not quite love at first sight, but they (literally, in the case of Persephone) blossom into their feelings. The artwork has improved so much from the earliest updates, but the writing has always been top-notch. The most recent update has me on the edge of my seat for their futures!
Sarah Lin and Oliver from The Kiss Bet: This is another webtoon I started to read on a whim and of all the high-school romance series I have checked out there (Jackson's Diary, True Beauty, etc.) this one is my favorite. The art, characters, premise... everything is so cute! Slow Burn is my favorite romance trope, whether the characters have an antagonistic or friendly relationship from the get-go. And this series is burning into its third season and I just know the tipping point is coming soon and I cannot wait.
September and Saturday from Catherynne M. Valente's Fairlyand series: When I was in grad school, there was something about the way that September and Saturday were written that I found achingly compelling and I couldn't put my finger on why... now that Valente has come out as bisexual and I'm like ah!! That's it. They were channeling this energy that I had no words for back then. I started re-reading the series a year or so ago with my wife and I was finding all these elements that I could not have described previously.
Siren and Kappa from Castle Swimmer: This a quick burn in comparison to most of the romances that I read on webtoons, but these two fish boys are absolutely precious. I love how their respective personalities on their own a lot, and the journeys that they are on, which only makes their care and support for each other all the better. They are a little broken, but leaning on one another to heal and move forward even when that means separating for a while.
Sunati and Austen from Always Human: This was the first romance series that I read on webtoons and I have been hooked since then. It was slim-pickings trying to find queer comics when I was growing up - especially if I was seeking something more than subtext, unrequited pining, or... lacking in homophobic/transphobic trappings. Ari North's series is a wonderful slice of sci-fi that does not shy away from inclusivity. It allowed to form expectations for queerness at the forefront of media I consume rather than settling. And like Siren and Kappa, I appreciate that these two have their own goals in life, their own sense of self separate from one another.
AsoRyuu from Great Ace Attorney Chronicles: My wife and I finished playing the Great Ace Attorney series earlier this year and I never would have thought that I could love a spin-off more than the main Ace Attorney series... but I do! Truthfully, I'm okay shipping Ryuunosuke with most people, especially since he has big asexual energy (which I appreciate as an ace myself!) But... friends-to-lovers always wins out for me. Their friendship is SO well written and it is genuinely hard in the canonical material not to read this as love, whether the devs or translators meant to go in that direction or not.
Don't worry.. I have plenty of other videogame ships to write about in the future, but a good chunk of them are from Fire Emblem Three Houses and I'm not ready to open that can of worms just yet haha So stay tuned for more!