An Act of Love ~ A Gripping Connection!

by Ephemeral Dreamer.

Aoi Hana hands intertwining

Love is a strange thing, indeed. From the charming confessions to ginger kisses to steamy sex, love acts are widely varied and allows us to express our feelings in so many different ways. All these cute (or sexy) displays of affection tickle our hearts or make us go d’awww all over these interactions, rightly so. However, there seems to be one basic act that seems to have gone unnoticed and under-appreciated in anime: holding hands.

hand holding beneath an umbrella

We all know those extremely cute doki-doki moments in anime when a girl is embarrassed wanting to hold hands with her boyfriend, or vice-versa. The same can be said for yuri and BL couples as well, though they are viewed differently compared to their heterosexual counterparts. A yuri couple holding hands in public would be seen as regular friends and as such, people would not cause a big fuss about this matter unless their relationship is clearly defined and shown. A BL couple holding hands would be seen rather differently, with some people just outright overreacting over this small act.

So why hold hands at all? As it turns out, there is some science involved with this simple act of love! It’s all due to the so-called “love hormone,” oxytocin. When one comes in contact with a loved one’s hand, the soothing touch actually calms down the parts of the brain that deal with stress and pain, acting along the same pathways that a pain killer would. In effect, this means that the body and the brain doesn’t have to work as hard, since just the comfort and warmth of a loved one’s or even a stranger’s hand can help ease one’s mind.

Shoma taking Ringo by her hands

Another factor in wanting to hold hands is also the feeling of wanting to lead, comfort, or protect your loved one. This small act of intimacy shows a strong bond of trust between the lovers, and the lovers themselves can take solace in the knowledge that they are there for each other. For yuri and BL couples, by holding hands, they can take comfort in the knowledge that even if their world is against them, they know that their partners will be there for them.

This may be very common in manga, but for anime generally, it doesn’t seem like there are plenty of scenes with cute couples holding hands. They don’t always portray the small cute acts of physical affection, such as a character sleeping on another’s lap, cuddling, sneaking teasing glances, flirting, etc. It could be that in Japan, public displays of affection isn’t that common culturally, or maybe because we, the viewers, just want to get right to the heart of the romantic action with the couple overcoming their struggles in their relationship.
Well in any case, it’s amazing how one simple act of love can ease two people’s minds!

About the Guest Author:
Ephemeral Dreamer is a fellow anime blogger, who writes, with on a variety of topics, ranging from the smallest details to profound analysis. It is a delight to have Ephemeral Dreamer as a guest author to share a bit of those insights and keen sense for ideas that make Ephemeral Dreams such a wonderful read.

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50 Responses to An Act of Love ~ A Gripping Connection!

  1. ojisan says:

    So this is also a bio-hormonal explanation of why kissing an owie better actually works – cool!

    My own all-time-favourite handholding scene is in Kare Kano when Yukino finally accepts and answers Arima’s confession by holding hands secretly with him during class – so much courage to overcome all that vulnerability & fear –

    • A kiss also holds the power to soothe pain as well!

      I have not yet watched the anime Kare Kano, but I have read the manga so I’m familiar with it. It’s been a while since I’ve heard of that series, but I also agree that scene is so nice, with Arima and Yukino being a cute couple. ^_^

  2. gozieson says:

    Hmm…, holding hands is a good way to tell the one you love that you’ll be there for them. Of course, holding hands is not the only way to display your love to another person.

    Things like hugging or giving gifts can also constitute as showing your affection in certain situations. Of course, being the single person I am, how am I supposed to know…


  3. gozieson says:

    still looking…..

  4. Cely_belly says:

    That’s true. I rarely see it in anime. Ugh they should go pride and prejudiced with anime already!!

    • asakura89 below does make a good point about the reason as to why it’s rarely seen in anime, but even so, it’s still always nice to see simple acts. Now then, I really ought to start reading the book, Pride and Prejudice, soon… ^_^

  5. ayame says:

    Oh old good oxytocin~~
    My favourite pairs of holding hands come from Utena – either on the table or in bed or (moreover) in that photo in the end scene 😀

  6. Smithy says:

    I loved how “Candy☆Boy” put quite a lot of significance in Yukino & Kanade holding hands. They not only spent some key scene and visual moments in showing them holding hands but also when they purposely don’t hold hands while their relationship is in crisis. Was quite well done in that series.

    • Ah, yes, that was one of most heart-warming series I’ve seen, and the hand holding scenes were really quite well done. Yukino and Kanade are such a cute couple! All the more reason why and how holding hands can be important as well. 🙂

    • I agree that Candy Boy was done incredibly well considering it’s rather short length.

      I only realized about the whole holding-of-hands thing when I read this post and remembered about Candy Boy 😛

  7. asakura89 says:

    Um, interesting, I’ve never thought about the difference in hand holding between the anime and manga before. But I think it’s also a difference in how the two media portray things. In anime, the background music, the voice, and the facial expressions carry alot of the emotion and cute “aww” factor, so there is no need for showing holding hand moments, no?
    About the oxytocin part though, I’m curious as to where you got the source from? Because from what I’ve been taught, it may be called a “love hormone”, but not in the context you’re using it as; anti-depressant and anti-anxiety. Oxytocin is involved in sex; uterus contraction and milk ejection.

    • It is true that anime and manga are both different media, and I agree with you! The sounds and the visuals, when done right, can often give a stronger impression of love. Even so, it would be quite nice to have a quiet scene with a couple just doing simple acts as a break in the series, maybe?

      Oxytocin’s major role is most associated with sex, that is true. But recent and past research has also linked this hormone to more than just sex, and this isn’t hardly surprising since there are still so much more that we have yet to learn about hormones. Here’s a simplified news story on hand holding hands and oxytocin:
      If you’d prefer scientific journals, here’s an interesting one:

      I hope this clarifies things up about oxytocin!

  8. Yerocha says:

    I never realized how rare hand holding was in anime. I remember it in Lovely Complex and Kimi ni Todoke, so I just kind of assumed it was more common than it really was.

  9. Overlord-G says:

    Most recent example of holding hands being incredibly sweet, “Margot Knight and Malga.Naruze.” That is all you need to know.

  10. inushinde says:

    Holding hands is a surprisingly heartfelt gesture, precisely because of how simple it is. Good to see that there’s a biological explanation behind that.

  11. SnippetTee says:

    It’s so interesting how hand gestures create some form of a language. Most of the time, I beleived these actions convey more impact than words. Another nice way to view holding hands is you’re leaving your (finger) prints to your partner—it’s like imprinting something unique or yourself to the one whom you held hands with.

    • That’s a very nice perspective of seeing holding hands! Imprinting your own marks on your partner’s hands so that you’ll never forget each other is another benefit. This reminds me of a scene in Pure Water Adolescence by Kowo Kazuma, where it was revealed that Matsumoto bandaged her finger to keep Nanao’s bite mark from fading away. That was so cute and heart-warming. ^_^

  12. Anya says:

    I never thought of a possible neurological effect, but I do agree that holding hands does have its own appeal in a more subtle form of intimacy. Also one of the few forms of intimacy I experienced in real life, and it was a good experience.

  13. Ryan A says:

    I love hand-holding, very much. ^ ^ And there are so many variations I wish there was an mini-encyclopedia of it all. It isn’t something we see often in anime, but I think that is because it’s treated properly as a sign of affection; even brushing hands by accident often leads a character to react. Of course personally, I don’t understand the reaction-potency from brushing hands… hair falling in one’s face as a woman brushes it behind her ear will always receive a larger internal reaction from me… *cough* anyway.

    The same can be said for yuri and BL couples as well, though they are viewed differently compared to their heterosexual counterparts.

    It really depends on the entire package. When we look at a pair holding hands, I feel it’s easier to see what’s there by gauging body language and facial expressions. Sometimes it is casual and non-romantic, and other times it’s clear the feeling carries a deeper intimacy. Delightful, really.

    I’ve known about various affects of physical contact from others vs ourselves, but I had not realized there is a hormonal effect from hand-holding. Wonderful, all the more reason to enjoy it!

    • Ahaha, you’re not alone with the hair falling in one’s face. That always get a bigger reaction from me, too, for some reason. And a slight accidental touch of hands is something I still don’t really understand, but it’s rather cute! There may be some more explanations for these acts. ^_^

      When we look at a pair holding hands, I feel it’s easier to see what’s there by gauging body language and facial expressions.

      Body actions do always speak volumes about one’s feelings, and I agree that it’s far easier to identify the emotions. One perfect example: As I am deaf, I sign ASL frequently, and two major components of ASL are body language and facial expressions. In ASL, it’s not always about using hand signs; rather the body language and facial expressions can lend a deeper meaning to the terms signed. Slow movement can indicate calmness or time-consuming, and a happy face shows that the event or story being described was enjoyable for oneself. It’s the same thing with deaf couples signing to each other sometimes as well. ^_^

      • Ryan A says:

        Fascinating. I had never pondered the importance of body language when signing, but I do feel there is so much we can communicate non-verbally, so it makes sense. Thanks for the enlightening thoughts. ^__^

  14. Pingback: An Act of Love ~ A Gripping Connection! (Guest Post on Listless Ink) | Ephemeral Dreams

  15. Nopy says:

    I actually think that there’s quite a bit of hand-holding in anime, but the anime that I recall having those scenes were all pre-2005. It’s cool to learn about the science behind the effects of hand-holding.

  16. Cell says:

    I’ve always enjoyed the small, cute, every-day interactions between a couple; be it yuri or not. As you mentioned before, manga tends to portray more of this than anime does. Actually, anime tends to skip over many small things that their manga or light novel versions have (which IMO, makes the story more shallow). It’s amazing how just holding hands can actually physically make the mind go into a calmer state. I always knew that the body and mind were interconnected, but I never knew it was to this extent! Thanks Yi, for a well-appreciated lesson in biology.

    • In my opinion, I really do think that these small acts can help to heighten the lovey-dovey mood, and we, the viewers, can easily identify with those acts more. I would love to see more of these scenes implemented in anime!

      Thank you for reading my post! And I’m sorry, but I’m not Yi. ^_^

  17. Reed says:

    No comments about Spice & Wolf? The hand-holding there was done well, and not in the typical fashion of “We held hands! It’s TWU WUV.”

  18. Wieselhead says:

    Hehe, yeah holding hands is really nice, its quite relaxing and gives me a feeling of security.
    In terms of anime I also like to see couples holding hands, but in generally, Im always looking forward to the kiss ^^ A romantic anime feels empty without any of these two things.

    • I’d think that the kiss is much preferred, because it’s such a prominent act of love that everyone has come to expect in romance, compared to holding hands. But I do agree that a romance anime would feel sometimes empty without these acts as well. ^_^

  19. Hana says:

    Like some of the others above, I didn’t know about the scientific explanations behind some of the effects of hand-holding, so that was fun to learn!

    Another factor in wanting to hold hands is also the feeling of wanting to lead, comfort, or protect your loved one. This small act of intimacy shows a strong bond of trust…

    Given that the only strong examples that come to mind are parents, lovers, or girls who are friends, I can’t imagine many others who are secure/ comfortable enough in their relationships to hold hands, generally speaking. Perhaps that’s why you don’t see as much of it in anime, as it’s more of the end product or goal (well, one of them) of a show, which would be more concerned with how the participants got to that stage in the first place. Unless, of course, it’s a more adult show which would by-pass that stage altogether, lol. Personally, I hardly ever hold hands with any one, I’m more likely to link arms with someone. Probably because I see the former as quite intimate, whereas the latter is more casual. Unless I’m with a parent, in which case it still amuses me when I’m walking with mum or dad and we’re about to cross a road and s/he instinctively grabs my hand, haha.

    A simple, but strong gesture of love and/ or trust for me overall, I guess. Thanks for sharing the interesting findings and thoughts!

    • Perhaps that’s why you don’t see as much of it in anime, as it’s more of the end product or goal (well, one of them) of a show, which would be more concerned with how the participants got to that stage in the first place.

      Yes, I agree! When I think about it, holding hands is more of a subconscious act in that one can easily instinctively go for another’s hand. This would happen only if the two partners felt very close to each other, and as we know, it does take time to build up a romantic relationship sometimes.

      If I’m not mistaken, I do remember reading your guest post on Beneath the Tangles about being a Muslim anime fan (great post, btw!). Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I do believe that holding hands has a different social significance in the Muslim world. That could be why you prefer linking arms, though this is a great nice alternative act of intimacy. ^_^

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  21. YuriFan says:

    hello Ephemeral Dreamer from what anime is the first Picture with the two girls?

  22. Pingback: An Act of Love ~ A Gripping Connection! (Guest Post on Listless Ink) | Ephemeral Dreams

  23. Yi says:

    Oh yes, Oxytocin, the chemical of love. 🙂 I seem to remember a study I read some time ago that correlates physical contact to increase the levels of oxytocin in people. Of course, holding hands is one of the simplest gestures that does so much. I like it a lot, indeed. It’s not overly affectionate in public, nor is it so smothering, yet it is a physical link to another. ♥

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