“Science-y types are always like that!”
Every field comes with certain occupational hazards, stereotypes that outsiders come up with that has no actuality, stereotypes that you grow up hearing to a point you end up becoming that very stereotype, misunderstandings and all that, and STEM people are not exempt from any of it. There’s no way of telling whether we are a certain way and as a result we feel drawn to a certain field or that field molds us into a certain shape after experiencing for too long but either way, there is a link between the two occurences. And Rikei ga Koi ni Ochita no de Shoumei shitemita (RikeKoi) base the ever-popular rom-com setting on these grounds.
A brief summary of the story would go like : in a certain Information & Computer Science Research Lab in Saitama National University, one master’s student Himuro confesses to the other, Yukimura, and they decide to prove that it’s really love by the usual scientific method. You know, the classic “decide on the problem > collect data & read the previous literature > hypothesize > design the experiment > run the experiment with a control group > draw conclusions and publish” and, well, cry a lot in between. This is the route these science-type follow in order to prove their hypothesis, and since they do literature review and use correct statistical models and all that, their advisor lets them be. Aah, the joys of having scientific tools at your disposal to experiment on the most random stuff! Totally brings me back to the morning I arrived at the physics office assigned to the PhD students and saw my friends looking at some coffee mold with a stolen microscobe from the microbiology lab.
What are these stereotypes I have been talking about? Huge introverts, awkward at the parties, black hair + glasses combination (plaid shirt is a must if you’re in the engineering department), oddly specific about the most random things, uninterested in anything other than numbers and only language they are fluent in is either Python or C++. And just like every other stereotypes, it’s true to some extent. Not just because outsiders keep repeating it, but these signifiers become a common language among scientists and a space to belong. The anime exaggerates these labels to comical extents without having you roll your eyes out of boredom or cringe your teeth away.
Upon seeing half of the first episode, I knew I would enjoy the show. I love romantic, cliché tropes and already enjoyed the research lab setting. What I totally didn’t expect -and was more than pleasantly surprised- were the science related parts. The explanations of the scientific concepts related to that episode and the amount of thought that went into the smallest details had me swoon!
Some examples of those details! At the beginning, we get a list of information on the characters; height, blood type, hobbies, their idols. I loved how Yukimura’s idol is John von Neumann; he’s one of the greatest mathematicians/physicists who made major contributions to many fields including topology, game theory, geometry, fluid dynamics, statistics and so on… I know of his work through the mathematical groundwork he laid for early quantum mechanics theories. Yukimura is also very ambitious, very knowledgable and from what I can gather, he works on topics related to game theory and uses statistical methods, delving into computational complexity. In this sense, I found it very fitting that his idol was von Neumann! Another thing caught my attention that they are using Ubuntu on the lab computers, which is again quite accurate. My favorite episode was where they subverted the traditional fairy/folk tales such as Cindrella or Kaguya-hime into more science-y stories. These tiny details and a lot of “I know what they’re talking about!”s deepened my connection with the series.
Character-wise we have our science-types Himuro and Yukimura, Ibarada as the gamer, Kousuke as the otaku and Kanade as the ‘normie’, but she is only a normie compared to other members of the lab. Ibarada and Kousuke are childhood friends and overall they are a lively bunch that never gets tired of poking fun at each other. As undergrads, Kanade and Kousuke help Hmuro and Yukimura in their research and as others’ senpai, Ibarada gives advice or helps the experiments when the others are stuck.
Of course, no need to have a science degree to fully enjoy RikeKoi. However I found it a very funny and a fresh take on the usual romance tropes. Right when you think things start progressing in a regular shoujo way, RikeKoi throws a curveball and fulfills the duty of the show to remind you: everything in this world can be explained through numbers and Professor Ikeda’s research lab members are here to prove it!
Hope you enjoyed my short and messy review of RikeKoi and if the show was off your radar for some reason, my post gave you the little nudge you needed to start. Until my next post, take care and stay healthy!