In my humble opinion, nothing can beat a good slow burn. It can be executed well in book form, on screen, in art form if it’s in manga/webtoon form. Basically, slow burns are top tier and it’s more than just the pining between the characters. Slow burns are great for giving us all the feels but I think they give us much more than the feels. They allow the writers the space to develop the individual characters, giving us more chances to connect to the characters.
When I think of all the various tropes we have floating about the world – very few come to mind when thinking of ones that allow the characters room to shine individually and together. By this I mean, take a look at the ‘love triangle’ trope that became very popular in the late 2000’s and 2010’s. Typically this trope is plopped into works, to try and get you to fall for one of the male interests.
Since it was usually used with 2 male love interests and 1 female main character having to pick between them. This trope can of course be executed really well, however it often falls short leaving the reader wondering why the girl is picking between a dark haired broody bad boy and a blond good/straight A’s boy. The trope has since evolved and I’m sure it offers more depth and character insight than it’s original form.
That being said in it’s original form you were basically picking sides for who you wanted the main character to be with. Stereotypes littered the pages and we never really got to see who the characters were beyond, they were hopelessly in love with this apparently flawless girl who could do no wrong.
Slow burns have always made space for a characters flaws to shine through. They may not be perfect, the two characters who are slowly falling each other may not totally see eye to eye but communication is key. We get to see how these individual characters handle conflict, face challenges both regarding the person they’re pining for and in general.
Nothing is more satisfying than watching characters grow and evolve throughout a book, show, series etc. Particularly when it is done well, watching them grow into themselves face whatever demons they have and then see them get slices of happiness. So fulfilling.
I really enjoy putting myself through the pining stage, arguably I think this may be my favourite stage in a slow burn. We as a reader/watcher know they have feelings for each other and so we get the full experience of seeing them pine, yearn and fumble through choices unsure of what they’re doing but they’re doing their best with the cards they’ve been dealt.
That being said just because I like mutual pining, does not mean I enjoy it being dragged out without reason. Yes I am staring at a lot of Chinese Dramas because they have many episodes and many enjoy prolonging the miscommunication and pining stage. It’s only enjoyable if done right and not prolonged ok. Stop putting us and the poor characters through that much miscommunication.
I Find It More Realistic
This is a personal and subjective reason but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised slow burns seem on the more realistic side of love to me. Whilst I don’t doubt you can instantly fall for someone and be in love. I do think there’s something quite beautiful about slowly falling for someone. Be it the way they smile, their laugh. How they take their coffee. Perhaps it sneaks up on you unsuspecting like it does the characters. To me slow burns are more realistic in their depiction of love.
It’s kind of beautiful watching characters, whether they’re from a show or our favourite book series, slowly fall for one another. Seeing them realise at some point, that they really have fallen for whoever it is. Love doesn’t always have to be big, grand and full of romantic gestures. Sometimes it’s in the small things, the mundane moments of someone knowing your drink order off by heart. Or already knowing how you’ll react to a situation. Love is being known.
I have not read the Manga. One day I fully plan to start reading the manga and collect it because the characters have a special place in my heart. The anime was the first anime I watched and did I fall hard. It accompanied me throughout my teen years. This anime is very popular and hyped up, personally I think there’s good reason for it to be as hyped. The friendships, character development and plotlines are so well done.
As for why it’s here…there are several slow burns that occur in this show. They don’t begin to start blooming until a lot later which is both lovely and agonising. The main two characters that everyone ships are confirmed canon by the creator himself.
Chicagoland Vampires by Chloe Neill
An adult urban fantasy series which has a huge chunk of my heart. Our main characters Merit and Ethan go through so much growth throughout the series and the slow burn is immaculate. This is one of my favourite series of all time too, the books explore friendships, romance as well as politics between the supernaturals (vampires, shifters, witches etc). Truly if you’re a fan of paranormal romance/urban fantasy, give this series a chance.
Falling Into Your Smile
This remains my top favourite drama to date out of all of the ones I have seen currently. The slow burn is paired with a grumpy x sunshine trope. (he becomes a soft marshmallow though and it is the cutest!)
Whilst the slow burn is obviously why it’s here, this drama also explores fandoms and how toxic they can be. The premise being we’re following a group of professional video gamers, who play this video game and the first female is joining their team. Cue the dramas exploration of fandoms, toxicity and just so much more. Truly, if you take anything away from this post go watch this drama.
Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
Enemies to lovers + grumpy x sunshine + a slow burn all rolled into one? This trilogy broke me. I am still recovering but the world building is stunning. I am definitely never going to the thousand eyes forest described in the book, it sounds scary as hell.
I fell for these characters, for their friendships and the love that slowly unfolded in the pages. If you’d like to get your heart hurt then highly recommend these books.
What’s your take on the slow burn trope? Do you have any recs for me with slow burns in them? What’s your favourite trope, that will make you interested in something immediately? Thank you so much for reading, slow burns are one of my all time favourite tropes in case you couldn’t tell haha.