So during browsing and looking for fanworks for this pairing, I stumbled upon a blog post where someone expressed their dislike about this ship. No hate here, mind you, and the post was rather polite and thoughtful, but it revolved around a single reason: That fans only ship Honoka with Tsubasa because the rest of u’s are paired up with each other already.
This reasoning saddens me a bit. I am a TsubaHono fan, had been one since that short scene in Season 2 Ep. 3. I fell in deep for the pairing (or rather, the potential of the pairing) in Ep. 10. Why? To be honest, I find it hard to pin down why I like them so much. There’s magnetism there and there is definitely respect between the two characters, but I liked them together not because the rest of u’s are supposedly paired up already (at the time, I’m still copping around for a ship I actually like) but because I feel like they share something special, something that Honoka doesn’t necessarily have with her group.
Tsubasa and Honoka are both leaders of their respective groups. They are the driving forces behind A-RISE and u’s respectively, the face of the team, and the spokespersons. Because of this, I imagine that they are both placed on a certain pedestal by their members. u’s claims that it does not have a leader, but they all clearly look to Honoka for decisions and ideas. Eli, for example, asked Honoka many times what must be done. I bet A-RISE is the same, especially now that we know that Tsubasa may also be responsible for song composition. Because of their positions, I feel like these two characters share a bond that they do not have with their teammates. There are things that only a leader knows and understands, and I think this is one of the reasons why Tsubasa sought Honoka out in Ep. 10, aside from asking her what drives u’s to be as good as they are. She hoped that Honoka would understand where she was coming from when they were talking and that there would be no offense taken. Though Honoka was confused and perhaps even overwhelmed, deep down she knew where the questions came from, hence she called Umi later that night for guidance.
After going back and watching the episodes many times, I always smile whenever we are shown instances in which Honoka and Tsubasa watch each other as idols. And here lies yet another reason why this pair is endearing to me. In the anime, Honoka got the idea of forming an idol group because of she saw A-RISE perform. Later on, Tsubasa keeps an eye on u’s, because they are potential rivals. Gradually, they become each other’s idols and end up driving each other forward. A-RISE is already popular, they have all the glamour of being celebrities, and they won the first Love Live! like so many fans thought they would. Yet, in the second event, u’s was there to keep them on their toes. There is a new challenge since u’s is back and better than ever, and A-RISE must somehow try to keep the crown. But instead of being a bad sport, Tsubasa found herself admiring Honoka. It was never stated verbally in the anime, but the looks she gave, the sheer awe in it, spoke volumes. Of course, this could only be because she was impressed by u’s Yume no Tobira performance, but we see that look a few times in other instances, like after they talked by the lake and after Tsubasa saw what Honoka came up with as a catchphrase for u’s. The fondness in her expression for Honoka’s honesty and achievements always makes me smile.
I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I haven’t seen their interaction there. I heard that Tsubasa had quite the role in the latter half of the movie. I really like how they did that. And I think they did so because Honoka needed someone, another mentor, outside of her group. Umi might have taught her discipline, Eli might taught her how to better herself and overcome adversities, but no one from u’s knows how to deal with the bigger picture. Tsubasa is there to teach and guide Honoka into being more than a School Idol, into being popular. And I’m certain Honoka appreciates this, perhaps she’s even grateful. It’s not everyday that the person you admired for so long would openly support you, especially after you have surpassed her.
I won’t jump the gun here and prattle about romance, because it’s difficult to assume that with characters who have so little screen time together. However, I still find it hard to understand why some people cannot see their potential and simply wave the pairing off as a solution to Honoka being a leftover. I believe that Honoka and Tsubasa see each other as equals, true equals. They’re not each other’s leader, and they are no longer each other’s rival. They have become two people who have gone through the same process of rising from the very bottom and climbing to the very top with their friends in tow. And they did this through sheer will and determination. Romance may blossom, or it may not (though I’m certain Tsubasa is already quite smitten of Honoka’s sunny charm), but they have more chemistry with each other than many of the other possible ships in LL.
EDIT: I nearly screamed when I saw those horrible typos on there. This
is why I dislike typing crap on my phone. Bad things happen! /0\ And
knowing my typos, they’re always actual words that go unnoticed until I
read it carefully. Either that or missing words. OTL -laments in the
corner of fail writing-