I’m going to have a harder time defending this one.
I’ve written about two “ace pairings” with which I have connected: Woody and Bo from Toy Story 4 and Marlin and Dory from Finding Dory. I argued that Woody and Bo are an ace pair because they are toys and toys are asexual. I argued that Marlin and Dory are an ace pair because they are kind of like life companions even if they are not romantically or sexually involved. It is harder to make this argument for Poppy and Branch from Trolls.
(As an aside, I had thought Trolls looked incredibly silly from the trailers and had no intention of watching it but ultimately watched it on Netflix at a friend’s urging. It was silly and trippy and crazy, but I surprisingly actually enjoyed it a lot. Also, spoiler warning for Trolls.)
I don’t know if I can make the same argument about trolls that I did about toys. Although in real life trolls are toys, in the context of this movie, they are certainly not toys á la the Toy Story universe. It is established that trolls have kids and maybe they do procreate sexually and maybe they don’t: I honestly don’t know. However, the movie depicted the trolls as a very innocent tribe with nothing sexual going on. While the trolls have been shown as having crushes and saying “I love you”, I can’t recall whether there are any canonical couples (where is Poppy’s mom?). I haven’t watched the TV show but I tried to skim it to see whether Poppy and Branch are an official couple, but I honestly didn’t have the patience to watch it. (The movie was enough: I’m not going to sit through the show.) However, I do think the movie heavily implies that Poppy and Branch do romantically like each other and become a couple in the end. But because they kept it so innocent with no kissing (only hugging!), it does become possible to argue that they are not a sexual couple in the way we normally see on media.
Even with all that being said, I can’t really claim Poppy and Branch qualify as an ace pair. But I am including them here still because their “romance” fits the category of “high on the love and low on the sexual tension” that I talked about in my first OTAP post. Branch is a depressed sad troll who has “lost his color”. Poppy is a very upbeat and friendly troll who always tries to befriend him. Although he secretly likes her, Branch avoids going to her parties because fun and music triggers a childhood trauma. (Sheesh it’s actually darker than it appears on the surface!) Then throughout the shenanigans involving creatures called Bergens who want to eat the trolls (and a Cinderella plot among the Bergens), they bond. They have the dynamic of the kind where she is too peppy and he finds it too annoying, but when life gets her down, he helps her up.
Which brings me to the “True Colors” scene: Come on, isn’t this the cutest thing ever? It’s pretty absurd, like the rest of the movie, but the whole concept of restoring the colors is so sweet. Poppy is feeling extremely demotivated and hence lost her colors. But Branch finally sings to her and cheers her up. And he says he loves her. That’s how she gets her colors back. Given Poppy’s nature, it’s probably safe to assume her colors would’ve come back sooner or later, but the especially sweet part is that in the process of trying to make someone else happy, Branch is finally able to be happy again and he also gets his colors back. Despite how trippy and silly and sanitized everything about this movie is, isn’t just so cute that you have these two characters who can just make each other so happy?
And that’s it about Trolls. It doesn’t really fit the bill, but the pairing is just too darn cute not to include.