Updated: Jun 19, 2018
Whether you're a senpai, or want one to notice you, there's a ship out there that is special to you. But guess what, you're not the only one! We all long for our anime ships to sail, but when an anime is just starting off, how can you tell it's the real deal?
A good story will usually lead you by the nose till the very end to see something canon between two love birds. This makes the story compelling and happens frequently in your favorite shows! At the same time, it can also lead to some fandom strife; if there's two different ships from a series involving the same people, you might find some clash. The next time you find yourself writing a long shipping post about why two people are meant to be, consider these few things!
Go to the Original Source
If you're a big enough fan, this will be the first thing you do. A lot of anime series are based off of manga, light novels or even text novels. In many cases, this mean that the series is already ended or farther ahead in the story line than the actual show. This content always works extremely well for shippers who want to get ahead in their reading.
Even if a story isn't solely about romance, you might find more context behind a relationship or different meanings. Also, if the series hasn't wrapped up in the original source, you might want to get ahead of the game just in case anything does happen that will prove your theories. Consider it an extra part of research! If you read ahead in the Bleach manga, you might've seen Orihime and Ichigo getting together long before the anime watchers.
Know the Creator
This one isn't necessary, but it can help in a lot of instances. Consider whether or not the author of the original work would put a lot of stock in romance or ships; does that relationship even benefit the story as is? If the answer is no, you may want to reevaluate your coupling.
You can find out these things through past interviews on the series or even in their previous work, if they have any. Reading or watching a creator's past shows can often give some tells on what their focused on if they're not someone who directly says it. Always keep in mind that these creators can change. Perhaps they do consider a ship and decide to make it happen. Consider how Oda responded to a fan's question considering romance on everyone's favorite pirate ship; even though it's not the main goal, we might literally see our ships sail!
Judge the Relationship on a Basic Level
Often times, ships are based on appearance and the interactions between the characters. Logically, if two people spend a lot of time together and go through multiple obstacles, it might stand to reason that they have a strong bond that could lead to romantic feelings. While this is okay for the foundation, a great ship will need further development.
Consider the dynamic and story line that goes on between the two characters. This is especially important in anime that isn't necessarily romantic, like a shounen series. If you're trying to prove that your ship will be the ultimate OTP at the end of a series, you have to think about whether these two really do make sense together in the first place and then back it up with some evidence. You can think about ships like Sakura and Naruto; yeah, he liked her for a little bit, but it didn't work out in the end because she didn't really feel anything back for him.
How Many People Ship Your Ship?
You might not think it matters, but the size of a fan base is extremely important, not only to the health of your ship, but also to the creator. Any kind of creator will want to consider what the fans pick up. This doesn't mean that they change the story for those fans, but rather, can judge how well the underlying stories are doing by their reaction.
It's pretty obvious what an overall goal is; heroes fighting bad guys, trying to find something or any other achievement will be a given towards the end of a series. But good stories will always consider things like family, friendships and romance in the background. If a certain ship is being picked up more than others, it might just be the real deal! Think of adorable ships like Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus; despite the original series labeling them as cousins, they've been a couple in the manga and remade series.
Regardless of what fandom you're a part of or who you ship, always keep in mind that this is really just supposed to be for fun. Even if your ship is the one leading the fleet, those who ship the same characters with other people still deserve to think what they want or just imagine the possibility. Respect other ships and have fun with yours!