3D Kanojo: Real Girl Series Review: Average Is Being Generous

Self-proclaimed otaku with a dislike of flashy girls draws the attention of a flashy girl. Must be love.

Review:

3D Kanojo: Real Girl falls into a couple of pretty obvious traps that prevent this anime from ever rising above being fairly ordinary and actually make it pretty painful to watch at times. And I’m not talking about the characters themselves, though many viewers did seem to find Tsutsui pretty hard to take early in the series as he is a fairly unlikable protagonist (kind of the point though).

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No, what this series does wrong is set up a premise that is pretty standard, made only even vaguely memorable by the strength of the character personalities (whether you like them or not) and then essentially spent the first half of the season eradicating any discernible evidence that the characters ever had a personality outside of their romantic trope. It’s painful to watch as the characters are leached of all defining traits outside of boyfriend and girlfriend from a standard high school romance and even the few attempts to recall that Tsutsui was supposed to be an otaku and Iroha had a reputation for playing around just kind of fall flat as these two generically empty shells of characters go through the motions of every cliche misunderstanding that can occur in such a story.

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Which brings us to the second trap which is that this anime has nothing new to say or bring to the table. While being derivative or basic genre fiction isn’t a death sentence in and of itself, if you aren’t bringing anything new then you have to at least bring your A game and 3D Kanojo: Real Girl is anything but.

I won’t lie. I actually quite enjoyed the first episode. While I didn’t like the main characters, given they were both pretty unlikable, I found them interesting enough and was curious as to how they would come together. Unfortunately, they got together in fairly quick order and then proceeded to do that on again, off again thing where the story would have them being happy and then just throw a random spanner into the works of one or the other’s emotional make-up to have them suddenly get annoyed at the other for being who they were. It didn’t help that literally every issue the two had as a couple could have been solved by a conversation.

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However, the narrative isn’t the only area where this anime falls a little short. The pastel colour scheme and character designs work well enough, but are also fairly unremarkable. Then we had some fairly obvious character off-model moments in the latter half of the season which weren’t a complete game over for the series but certainly made watching it less enjoyable as you had to wonder if one of the characters had just turned sideways or if they’d actually morphed into a different human being.

The OP is also pleasant enough but totally forgettable.

Then we have the support cast who all seem like they might be important. And yet not one of them ever brings anything of consequence to the story. Occasionally they are a catalyst for some kind of drama but then they just kind of fade into the crowd of generic ‘friends’ that Tsutsui somehow has and at the end they all go for ramen.

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Which brings me to my other concern with this series and that is that things get forgotten fairly quickly. Iroha says she can only date for six months. Tsutsui never asks why and the audience never gets an answer. Another character literally frames Tsutsui as a potential child-predator and yet that’s also forgotten. Tsutsui just goes about his normal life afterward and the guy who did it is never actually held accountable for being a liar and making false reports to the police (defamation of character, etc). In fact, he becomes one of the friends in the background. The kids at school go from being completely anti-Tsutsui to exactly as they were at the start which is ignoring his existence, but someone who has gained infamy for potential trouble with the police probably isn’t regaining their peaceful life that easily.

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It all just adds to the overall feeling that no one really knew what the point of this story should be. Nothing has weight and nothing matters. Stuff happens, it is overcome and then the next things happens. While it never becomes unwatchable, nor is there much reason to watch it.

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Ultimately, there’s no real way to recommend 3D Kanojo: Real Girl. It won’t be the worst thing you ever watched, but it isn’t really something you need to watch either.

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Karandi James

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3D Kanojo: Real Girl Episode 12: Is That It?

There are some stories that when they finished they leave you wanting more because they were just that good. This is not one of those stories.

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Wow. So the brother shows up, rips the broken glasses off the face of the guy he assaulted, has them fixed but then essentially demands that said guy breaks up with his sister. Then he just kind of creepily hangs around, dropping the ‘we’re not blood relatives’ into a conversation with his sister (because that’s totally a normal thing to say). We won’t ever know where he’s actually been or why he’s so possessive of his sister, or even how they became not blood relative brother and sister because this is the last episode and this character arrived last week and somehow became significant even though, like most everything else, he isn’t.

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Worst logic ever.

Then we get the continuation of Itou and Ayoda’s non-romance which just kind of continues along its status quo going nowhere. Again, this is a final episode and we have a relationship that is essentially in an ongoing holding pattern. While this does happen in real life, it does not make for compelling viewing.

Finally we have our main couple who will, for reasons unknown, go through yet another communication break down as Tsutsui works to earn money to buy Iroha a ring. She insists she trusts him but gets all teary about it and so he hands over the ring and they get a kiss and that’s pretty much all she wrote. The kids all go for ramen.

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That’s is it. No actual mention about the six month time limit on this relationship that was somehow a big deal way back when. Nothing to address Iroha’s family situation. Just nothing. It is all just kind of blah.

Full series review coming soon.

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3D Kanojo: Real Girl Episode 11: Reality Is Not A Rom-Com

Well, Tsutsui is finding out this week that just because you want someone to be happy doesn’t mean you can achieve it. Right before he gets punched in the face.

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I’m going to complain about something that doesn’t normally come up in my reviews, and that is the number of slightly off-model shots this episode has. The character faces are distorted and slightly too wide or too long so many times and the whole thing just ends up looking a little bizarre like the characters are made of clay and have been left in the sun too long. It is a weird thing to worry about wen the show has only had average visuals and animation in the first place, but it was actually distracting during this episode.

Onto the episode itself and we see Tsutsui realising that Ito like Ayoda and has him trying to set them up. It understandably doesn’t end well because Ayoda likes Tsutsui and leaving the two alone just results in Ito realising that Tsutsui is always going to be Ayoda’s first choice.

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We then have the touching recap of events with Iroha and Tsutsui where a random guy shows up and punches Tsutsui. Turns out he’s Iroha’s before unmentioned brother who has been overseas (love how many characters in anime have a parent or sibling conveniently overseas until the plot decides to drop them in, even though they’d never been mentioned before). And naturally, the best opening when meeting someone for the first time is to punch them in the face.

Oh well. I guess we’ll see what happens in the final episode.

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3D Kanojo: Real Girl Episode 10: Is Confessing To One Girl While Rejecting Another Considered To Be In Poor Taste?

I think we need a word that means to confess to someone while rejecting someone else. A portmanteau could be conjection or rejessing, though neither one seems quite like it would catch on. Then again, let’s hope this kind of scene doesn’t catch on.

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Other than making up new words, I don’t have much to say for this episode. Tsutsui goes and rejects the gardening girl but has texted Iroha to wait in the bushes while he does it. He then withholds an actual rejection from gardening girl while he goes on about how his relationship developed with Iroha before finally he asks gardening girl if she sees how it is. I’m guessing part of this in some-one’s head came off as sweet, but to me, this was one of the scummiest moves Tsutsui has made yet. You forced the girl you were rejecting to listen to your happy love-love story, meanwhile you simply staged your rejection in the first place to get closer to the girl you actually liked. Wow. Be still my heart.

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They then go to karaoke. By they I mean Iroha and Tsutsui. And it isn’t actually the same day because there’s some stuff with the cat-eared guy and Tsutsui first as they re-establish their bond as friends, which was never really established in the first place other than they were seen talking together and clearly don’t have any other friends.

So, quality episode. Really feeling the characters this week. Counting the episodes until this middling melodrama is done.

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Karandi James

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3D Kanojo: Real Girl Episode 9: We Can’t Reconcile Yet, There Are Too Many Episodes To Go

Let’s have the random girl who came midway along confess because there isn’t already enough drama in the mix. This anime is sure stretching this current miscommunication crisis for maximum mileage.

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You know, rather than these two sitting around thinking they are both at fault and having stilted conversations that don’t address the problem but simply try to take credit for most of the blame, they could just agree to get over it. Admittedly, that would be pretty uncompelling writing but at the very least it would get us out of this pattern of misery these two have fallen into. Part of me almost agreed with Ayoda when she thought that a clean break up would be the best thing for them.

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But despite all the issues and problems raised last episode, this episode does nothing to repair the situation and throws more fuel on the fire. Now when they do this in shounen anime it can lead to something being quite awesome, if overly drawn out. When you do it in shoujo anime, mostly it just has me rolling my eyes at the teen drama unfolding on screen. It doesn’t help that none of these characters remained interesting after their initial introductions as they all just kind of gravitated to ‘generic role in a high school romance’ status.

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Friday’s Feature: Romance in the Spring of 2018

As always, it strikes me as odd that I’m writing about Spring as the temperature plummets and I am being plunged into Winter. Now Winter in Australia, particularly QLD, isn’t exactly chilling for most people, but when your Summer and most of Autumn days are hovering at the 35 – 39 degrees Celcius, a sudden and abrupt drop to the low twenties with nights dropping to frost levels is more of less like an ice-age swept through. Particularly when you live in a house designed to let heat escape so you don’t bake in Summer.

And that’s an incredibly long preamble to get to the point, which is Spring may have brought in a whole bunch of sequel and spin-off anime, but it has also given us some interesting, and less interesting, takes on romance. While there is one title I’m wanting to watch but can’t, I’ve still found more than enough sweet stories and stories of broken hearts, misunderstandings, companionship and the like to give me cavities this season and this week I wanted to take some time to look at some of these.

On that note, there will be some spoilers for the anime below so if you aren’t watching the Spring season you may want to check out one of my other posts instead.

The Frozen In Time Couple

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Carrying over from Winter, we have the adorably sweet relationship that is Sakura and Syaoran in Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card. For fans of the original series, or fans of Tsubasa Chronicles, this is not a new pairing. These two are totally fated to be together and define cute and wholesome. One might suggest the two are in fact a little innocent and naive but when you consider the age they were in Cardcaptor and the time when the original anime aired, it kind of makes sense that their relationship wasn’t exactly flying into the R-rated territory.

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Clear Card continues to tone of their relationship and that’s probably one of its downfalls. There’s been no progress here at all. In the beginning of Clear Card Syaoran returned and Sakura was happy to see him. Since then he’s had some great moments where he’s actually gotten to be useful and protect Sakura and she’s continued to be the fairly independent and powerful character she’s always been and the two of them have had so many cute moments. But that’s more or less where they were when we left them twenty years ago so while nostalgia is a wondrous thing, realistically, if we wanted to see this phase of the relationship, we could just go back to where the original series and watch it through. Then we’d get to see them go through the rivals/friends phases again to actually becoming a couple which was by far the more interesting part of their story.

The Do I/Don’t I deserve Love Couple

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As much as 3D Kanojo: Real Girl has started to bother me, the initial phase of the story set up a fairly standard introverted nerd/otaku falling for the outsider girl who was brash and spoke her mind. It’s a dynamic we’ve seen before and done well can be a lot of fun. Early on there was some promise that this series was going to explore this dynamic however as we’ve entered the mid-season viewers might be struggling to see these initial characters. The introverted guy has a whole group of friends he talks to who like him and the girl who speaks her mind has suddenly become fairly silent.

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What that left us with were two fairly generic high school characters who keep butting heads because the guy keeps devaluing himself and the girl is still hiding something which also makes her wonder if she has the right to be in the relationship. It’s no wonder they aren’t making progress as a couple when both characters are trapped inside their own insecurities. Still, if done well, these characters could still deliver something of note in terms of an anime relationship, but at the moment we’re kind of lost in the maze of miscommunication and teenage angst and my hopes for it lifting its game are not so high at this point.

The She’s A Monster and So Am I Couple

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Yep, we’re back to Darling in the Franxx where the man devouring woman turned out to just be a misunderstood and lost monster who wanted to connect with her childhood friend. After which she becomes a teenage girl obsessed with how she looks, her guy, and suddenly becoming the perfect team player. Meanwhile, he may not have been devoured, but Hiro is definitely transforming into something other than human and the question will become how much he remains Hiro after the physical transformation is complete. Though, given how little exploration has been given to other themes in Franxx, I’m not optimistic on this one being explored either.

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While Hiro and Zero-Two are actually an undeniably cute couple and almost nauseating in their honeymoon period as they bond over drawing a picture book that Zero-Two apparently literally ate back when she was a child, this relationship kind of came at the cost of Zero-Two’s actual personality and character. She’s a far less interesting presence in the series now that she’s resolved her past with Hiro. As for Hiro, he seems to have lost any drive he had either. Previously he wanted to pilot the Franxx, then he wanted to be with Zero-Two, but now he just kind of is. There’s no real motivation pushing him any more so the relationship coming together has more or less cut the guts out of what story there was and left viewers wanting the next step but there’s no real clue as to how we’re going to get there.

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Of course, if we’re talking about couples on Darling in the Franxx, the undeniably adorable couple is Mitsuru and Kokoro. Now there’s a girl who knows how to get what she wants and yet she seems so unassuming.

The He’s a Monster and I’m Suicidal Couple

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Devils’ Line… There’s only so much you can write about this one. However, I’m giving this one props for having one of the stupidest female character from any of these anime relationships this spring. Forget the fact that her chosen partner is a vampire (devil). And forget the fact that they never actually had a conversation before he stuck his tongue in her mouth and somehow she fell madly in love with him to the point where she became obsessive. The sheer fact that she knows the sight of blood sends him crazy and hurts him as he tries to stop himself from killing her and that she still goes near him while bleeding just kind of hurts my head.

The Classic Hollywood Couple

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Tada and Teresa, you two kids are so cute. Of course, given the title is that Tada Doesn’t Fall in Love, I have to wonder if they are setting us up for an ending where Teresa does in fact return home at the end of the school year to face her obligations and they just have the photos of their year together to remember. That would be very sweet and very Hollywood from an early age, and yet somehow kind of annoying. It would make all the Roman Holiday comparisons for this anime fairly conclusive at the end of the day.

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That said, Tada as a protagonist has served the role of being perhaps the least interesting character in his own series. He does have good moments and interactions with other characters, but it is the other characters who seem to drive things forward. Teresa is also a little too over the top at times in her portrayal of a foreigner obsessed with Japan due to love with an old anime. It is adorable at times, but at others just makes her a little hard to take seriously. Still, the two of them together have undeniable chemistry even if that chemistry seemed to form in a near instant of sharing a shelter during a shower of rain.

The Action Couple

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Finally, we have the return of Kaname and Sousuke in Full Metal Panic. If you don’t know why these two characters are amazing already that’s probably because you haven’t seen the original series. Go and watch it. Both characters start out in a very stereotypical manner, but unlike so many other romance/action leads, they don’t allow those roles to define them. They grow and adapt and bounce off one another and their development individually and as a couple has been extraordinary with the first four episodes of Invisible Victory show-casing the incredible bonds between them, right before it ripped them apart.

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Your Favourite Couple

With so many relationships and couples on parade, and I’ve missed a huge number of them, I know, I’d love to know which couple have grabbed your attention this season. Or even which couple you find the least convincing. Sometimes we learn more through observing failure than success.


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Karandi James

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3D Kanojo: Real Girl Episode 8: Writers, Please Understand No One Mistakes First Aid For Romance

I’m going to ignore that this anime has descended further into teen melodrama and focus in stead on the fact that 3D Kanojo: Real Girl has taken a step far away from reality by having the girl seething with jealousy over first aid. And it wasn’t even mouth to mouth resuscitation for once.

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Last week I came to the sad realisation that almost everything interesting about this anime had disappeared with the characters becoming worse than tropes, they’d become boring. That trend continued this week as 3D Kanojo: Real Girl proceeded with its bog-standard plot of taking the cast camping, got some characters wet which of course resulted in a fever, and just for fun decided that they should break the main couple up after Tsutsui treated Ayoda for a burn by holding her hand under water.

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Yup. That was apparently the catalyst for Iroha, previously cool and an amazing character capable of carrying the show, as become this much of a joke shoujo protagonist that she resorts to tears, a ‘baka’ and flees into the woods at night wearing her house slippers. Sigh.

And in its usual contradictory manner, this anime gave us one of the coolest Iroha moments early in the episode where she confronts the boy who stirred up all the drama a few episodes ago. Most characters would put a ‘but I forgive you’ at the end of their spiel but Iroha actually despises the guy who is despicable. I kind of liked that. To bad by the end of the episode I legitimately wanted it to pour rain just to see if my theory that anime characters melt if they get to wet was actually the reason for their extreme paranoia of downpours.

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Okay, I’ll admit that the actual reason for Iroha getting upset was that Ayoda did tell Iroha that she loved Tsutsui, but really. Iroha is smart enough to know that Tsutsui isn’t cheating on her so the whole situation is just overblown.

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Karandi James

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