Ever since I caught up on the irreverent romantic comedy anime, Kaguya Sama: Love Is Struggle, I’ve been hellbent on discovering a lovey-dovey anime to fill the heart-shaped gap it’s left on my watchlist. Simply once I was starting to lose hope that I’d ever discover a romantic present, in got here Tomo-Chan Is a Woman. After watching its first two episodes, I wager Tomo-Chan Is a Woman! is an early contender for love anime of the 12 months as a result of it doesn’t depend on convoluted harem plotlines, as an alternative selecting to discover how antiquated gender norms get in the way in which of affection.
Tomo-Chan Is a Woman, created by mangaka Fumita Yanagida, follows the romantic misadventures of a tomboy named Tomo Aizawa as she makes an attempt to get her childhood good friend, Jun Kubota, to acknowledge her female facet and cease treating her like one of many guys. I watched the primary two episodes of Tomo-Chan by way of a screener, and it’s scheduled to premiere at this time on Crunchyroll in each Japanese with subtitles and in English.
After watching flashbacks in Tomo-Chan’s first episode, I can’t blame our titular heroine for catching emotions for her bestie contemplating how inseparable they had been since center faculty. Outdoors of their shared curiosity in martial arts deepening their bond, the boy would wait exterior of Tomo’s home each morning to stroll to high school. That’s some licensed loverboy habits that will make anybody’s coronary heart flutter. However when Tomo lastly musters up the braveness to explicitly confess her like to Jun, she’s promptly flung into the good friend zone.
Seems, Jun’s rejection of Tomo’s emotions wasn’t as a result of he didn’t really feel the identical means however as a result of he sees her as one of many boys. After they had been in center faculty, Jun didn’t even know Tomo was a lady due to how effectively she blended in with the opposite schoolboys. As a substitute of getting flowing lengthy locks like her classmates, Tomo sported a brief mullet coiffure. Every time they’d speak, Tomo’s diction was simply as gruff and informal as the remainder of the muddy boys within the sandbox. Whereas this comedy of errors supplies a very good stability to the 2’s slow-burn romance, the present by no means lets its jokes overshadow the ache Tomo feels when she tries to behave extra girly to impress Jun. Tomo doesn’t undergo alone, both. Jun will get flustered each time he notices that Tomo is a lovestruck lady who’s dying to have her emotions reciprocated. Tomo and Jun’s love story is one thing I’ve been dying to expertise from trendy romantic comedies: a easy but relatable romantic storyline the place its characters aren’t caricatures of drained harem anime tropes.
Harem anime heart on a protagonist, usually a dude, who’s both pursuing, avoiding, or oblivious to the romantic emotions that three or extra feminine characters with one defining character trait have for him. In case you’ve seen one in all them, you’ve seen ‘em all.
A typical thread amongst well-liked trendy romantic comedies like Quintessential Quintuplets, Couple of Cuckoos, and Lease-A-Girlfriend is that all of them have wacky premises that depend on shock and awe, just like what you’d count on out of actuality TV. Whereas any such automobile crash-like drama anime tends to land trashy harem anime within the “so unhealthy it’s good” class, I by no means really feel fulfilled once I end them. If something, the numerous hours I spent watching these exhibits weren’t out of a real curiosity of their romantic storylines, and extra like a inconsiderate routine as a result of I want one thing to look at.
After some time, watching these sorts of rom-com anime felt hole, as in the event that they had been empty energy from a bunch of impulse-purchased frosted sugar cookies. Someplace in trendy romcom’s try and entice audiences with wacky premises, the style forgot tips on how to write a tantalizing story between two plausible characters. In distinction to most trendy rom-com anime, Tomo-chan’s love story is grounded on one thing painfully relatable: not being seen the way in which you wish to by the particular person closest to you.
In “Solely a Joke Can Save Us: A Concept of Comedy,” American creator Todd McGowan wrote that comedy is when “we’re shocked by a conjunction of lack and extra.” As a result of hottest romcom anime lean closely on harem tropes, trendy anime is commonly relegated to solely exploring themes akin to characters being in elaborate love triangles Tomo-chan, in the meantime, has substance that doesn’t require an advanced setup. By counting on a extra simple premise, Tomo-Chan can dive extra deeply into difficult topics like inflexible gender norms and the way they have an effect on romantic love. Higher but, Tomo-Chan accomplishes this thematic feat with out punching down.
Whereas I’m uncertain how the remainder of the present will pan out, one side of the present that assured me it wouldn’t develop into spinoff was the real care and attentiveness of its supporting solid, notably, Tomo’s steely-eyed feminine good friend, Misuzu Gundou.
Sometimes an outdoor character in rom-com anime serves as a pseudo-villain to the romantic progress of its titular characters by putting them in uncomfortable conditions to damage their progress. Whereas these characters are annoying to look at by how mean-spirited their romantic subterfuge impacts its principal characters, their antics are likely to inversely strengthen the bonds between them. To my shock, Misuzu’s plotting and teasing of Tomo by no means come from a spot of spite, however from goodwill. Misuzu truly needs Jun and Tomo to come back collectively. Misuzu, just like the viewers, sees via Jun and Tomo’s clumsiness and pinpoints their blossoming romantic attraction. As a substitute of rubbing it of their faces, Misuzu gently nudges them in the fitting course with out overstepping their boundaries each time they misread one another’s phrases or actions.
Tomo-Chan is a refreshing anime as a result of its situational romantic humor by no means diminishes its exploration of how poisonous masculinity performs an integral half in its principal character’s rising romance. Extra anime ought to observe swimsuit.