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This is a character type that shows up frequently in Harem Anime and Visual Novels.

It is usually a girl, who grew up together with the main character, practically since infancy, and has been always in love with him, but instead of taking the initiative to become his girlfriend, she decided to take it slowly, developing a Like Brother and Sister relationship with him. In the most stereotypical examples, this trope is usually first demonstrated by a scene of her routinely visiting him in the morning, waking him up, walking to school with him, and giving him a lunch box full of delicious food that she prepared.

Basically, for the uninitiated observer, it would seem like they are already dating, and even those who know better, like their parents, or best friends, expect that they will eventually start dating and get married.

At this point, the Harem plot or Love Triangle starts, and in face of the new rivals she realizes that it's time to get serious. Hilarity Ensues, sometimes involving fights over her earlier "privileges" like feeding the protagonist, or as a trump card, bringing up some sort of Childhood Marriage Promise.

Often a Girl Next Door, even more literally than that trope describes, living close to the protagonist.

In terms of personality, she tends to be either a Yamato Nadeshiko in training, as evidenced by their cooking skills, serene patience, and the serving, yet guiding the boy at the same time, or the long friendship turns her into One of the Boys, a Tsundere who seems to be Vitriolic Best Buds with the boy.

If she is successful in breaking out of the Friend Zone, she becomes a Victorious Childhood Friend, if she fails, she becomes the Unlucky Childhood Friend.

In that thing we call Real Life, this sort of situation is very rare, mostly due to the Westermarck effect; people who have known each other since they were small children tend not to fall for one another because they literally have more of a sibling relationship. There are exceptions to this rule, but they're very rare (and, sadly, almost always one-sided). Typically, the earliest you can develop a proper "crush" on someone is your "pre-teen" years; works that posit an introduction of the couple prior to this can push the bounds of feasibility for many viewers.

Subtrope of Childhood Friends. See also Childhood Friend Romance for the more generic trope about people who knew each other since childhood falling in love.

Examples of Patient Childhood Love Interest include:

Anime & Manga

Fan Works

Live Action TV

Video Games

  • This is pretty much Shana's attitude towards her love for Dart in Legend of Dragoon. It takes the rest of the party talking some sense into Dart before he finally reciprocates.
  • In Ar tonelico, Shurelia's cosmosphere has Aurica as this. At one point, she confesses her love to Lyner. He has to reject her in order to advance the plot of the cosmosphere. If he accepts, Shurelia will complain and force him to redo the level.
  • To an extent, at least to the shippers, The Legend of Zelda series has Saria and Ilia.
    • The actual game has Ruto, who still considers herself Link's fiancee after the 7-year Time Skip.
  • Elements of this are played with both Cloud and Tifa from Final Fantasy VII. While the former's interest in Tifa isn't revealed until later into the game, the latter is the more obvious one being Cloud's staple childhood friend who has feelings for him, but it's subverted in that Tifa never really noticed him until few before he left to join SOLDIER (and she feels real bad when she realizes it).
  • Princess Tana and her older brother Prince Innes from Fire Emblem the Sacred Stones are this to Prince Ephraim and Princess Eirika, respectively.

Visual Novels

  • Akari from To Heart, who contributed to the popularization of this archetype, especially the waking him up in the morning part.
  • In CROSS†CHANNEL, the Genre Savvy Taichi comments that Nanaka's personality fits the trope, so it must be a flaw in the plot that she isn't really his childhood friend. She's actually his mother.
  • Kei Shindou in Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two. is a classic Tsundere variation.
  • Kaede from Shuffle. Sia and Nerine are childhood friends too, but Kaede's the one who fits the definition to a T.
  • Brass Restoration has a rare twist on this where the childhood friend, Minori, is a Cloudcuckoolander. Much humor is milked from the way she seems to follow many of the traits in the trope description, in the worst ways possible, such as making lunch for Ryo...except it's all rice.
  • Mizuka Nagamori from ONE ~To the Radiant Season~ is probably as straight as an example as it gets, possibly even exaggerated, considering the extent to which she takes care of protagonist Kouhei Orihara, who is a troublesome combination of a Jerkass and Cloudcuckoolander.
  • Da Capo has Sakura Yoshino, who's actually the protagonist's cousin but often called such by him. His adopted sister Nemu has more of the stereotypical characteristics of this trope, though - waking him up in the morning, going to school, long standing love, etc.
  • Subverted with Otome Katou from School Days, who triples as none other than Alpha Bitch and Jerkass.
  • Sumika from Muv-Luv to Takeru. She's content with their masochism tango until the very aggressive Meiya came into the picture. Meiya herself may also count even though she wasn't with him for most of her life.
  • Genderflipped with Yoshiyuki from Shall We Date?: Ninja Shadow.

Western Animation

  1. Also Rare for a Harem Genre for she is literally the first girl introduced