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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Natsume Yujincho Seasons 1 – 4 Review: Great Characters, Great Atmosphere, and Just Pure Relaxation

This is part of a series of re-posts of older reviews on 100 Word Anime. The original review came out in May 2016 and can be found here.

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It might seem strange that I love Natsume. Given my usual tastes for faster paced stories, stories that are a little bit darker, or stories that do something a bit unexpected, there really isn’t any reason for me to be such a huge fan of Natsume.

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And yet there is something incredibly compelling and adorable about Natsume himself that manages to draw me into this world and makes me want to spend more and more time with him.  Natsume in the early episodes of season 1 is damaged, and that damage doesn’t just disappear. It fades and comes out in different ways at appropriate times, and slowly, ever so slowly, it is being healed, but there isn’t an instant fix.

In point of fact, it’s hard to even notice how far Natsume has developed as a character until you go from an episode mid-way through season 4 and maybe watch an episode from late season 1 or early season 2. Natsume is a dynamic character who continues to take on board the experiences he goes through and these become integrated into his overall character. While it is subtle development it is consistent and ultimately it makes this whole story feel authentic in a way few manage. And it isn’t just Natsume.

All of the characters in this show develop slowly but surely in ways that fit with the experiences they go through. You really feel like you are part of this group and watching this show is like catching up with old friends. There’s a strength of writing and character development that you do not normally come across. This is something Irina and I explored when we took on the Natsume Supporter Character Battle to determine who the best supporting character was in this story. It ended up being a heart-breaking experience as we pitted truly great cast members against one another.

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The plot also moves. While each episode really is the yokai of the week appears with either a problem to be solved or a desire to get their name back, each season feels like it is moving forward. Season one helps Natsume overcome his unreasonable hatred of all yokai. Season two sees him developing some actual human relationships that aren’t superficial or simply being acted out. Season three helps Natsume begin to understand Reiko (his grandmother) and her actions. The season four plunges us into finally facing some of Natsume’s child-hood trauma and finding some closure.


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The art style is also really pretty. There’s definitely a reliance on soft colours but the nature effects, whether it be sunlight, flowers, leaves, snow or rain are always gorgeous and the characters are simple but easily distinguished.

Music is used well throughout the series but again has a very laid back kind of feel to it. Sound effects are mostly understated which makes the occasional dramatic effect really stand out.

The fifth and sixth seasons of this show continue building on the compelling foundation and this is one story that just keeps getting better. I completely recommend this series. If you want something warm and fuzzy and don’t mind watching events unfold at their own pace, Natsume will be a very rewarding watch.


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Island Episode 3: The Wrong Way To Spin Narratives

Setsuna continues to try to figure out the secret of the island in episode 3, “The Right Way To Spin Dreams”. However, no matter which way you look at it, this episode is a mess.

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Hands up who wants to watch dreams sequences without a context in the opening, followed by the story openly acknowledging it’s own trope by attempting to subvert it in a sequence that if executed correctly might have at least drawn a chuckle but here just fills up screen time? Setsuna’s ploy to get Rinne outside is childish at best (let’s pretend to have fun on the beach and she’ll join us) and the transparent excuse for beach fan-service as Rinne dreams of a far more adventurous romp on the beach for Setsuna, Karen and Sara than they could possibly have really just falls horrendously flat, as does Rinne when she finally venture out into the sand.

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Of course, we could still gain something from this overly long sequence if they had then done something with Rinne. She claimed to believe she had Soot Blight Syndrome and was apparently at risk of death from sunlight. And yet immediately after her fall on the beach she’s sitting under the umbrella with Setsuna and just kind of shrugs it all aside with an, ‘I kind of knew’ line. However, with one potential plot line (the mysterious illness Rinne might be suffering from) shot in the foot, the girls stumble upon a shack and when they go to open it Rinne freaks out and collapses.

This is not how a story should develop. If we then follow this up with a hot springs sequence where Rinne once again decides to sing, for no apparent reason, and then we get her singing over a whole bunch of still scenes that I guess are meant to be the group getting closer together or something but its so boring I kind of zoned out. Then we get more drama with Karen and her father before a quiet heart to heart with Sara who pretty much calls Karen on her childish behaviour and lack of planning, only to Setsuna and not Karen.

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There’s not one interesting sequence in this entire mess and while there are ideas that link all of this together, it really doesn’t feel worth the effort to think about. Honestly, in a season where I had more on my watch list, I’d drop this at this point, and even without a replacement show, I might still drop this. It is just not particularly interesting.

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Island Episodes 1 + 2: Amnesiac Protagonist Alert

What makes for a better mystery than a guy washing up on an island without a memory and then finding himself caught up in some ancient island legend? Probably lots of things but here we go for island.

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I’m really glad I watched both episodes of this together. The first episode is intriguing enough but really doesn’t do much other than have ‘Setsuna’ walk around and meet the various characters who will probably be important later. He thinks he’s from the future but doesn’t really remember and even the name Setsuna is a name he remembers but he isn’t sure if it is him. Of course all the people he’s meeting are cute girls who live on the island and belong to the three great families or whatever and there’s a bunch of legends and folklore surrounding them.

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Part of me really wants to enjoy this story and the other part of me is calling this show out on its extreme lack of originality. Amnesia, time travel, a harem of girls, ancient legends, there’s nothing here that hasn’t been employed before and while I’d like to think this anime was going to do something original with the cocktail it actually executes it all fairly by the numbers. possibly worse because it seems to be laying out a lot of explanations early on so unless we’re just getting mis-information I’m not sure how much mystery there’s going to be. Then again, MAL doesn’t list this as a mystery but as a drama/sci-fi and I haven’t seen much sci-fi yet so who knows what this will do going forward.

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Despite my misgivings, these first two episodes have made me interested in finding out what is actually going on here so I guess they served their purpose. That said, the characters are so far pretty ordinary and while it is visually quite pretty that isn’t going to be enough unless the plot really steps up its game.

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Doreiku The Animation Episode 12: All Those Slaves And No Ambition

Having finally enslaved almost everyone in the game, we realise that neither the writers, nor the characters, have really considered the implications of having total control of another human being. Instead, we have hormonal moron who just wants to satisfy whatever impulse comes his way. Not much of a grand scheme really.

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So apparently getting involved in a game where a device is used that can enslave you is a bad idea that can lead to bad things. That is apparently the sum total of the story that this anime wants to tell given any of the other considerations have just been completely ignored at this point. However Eia has a plan… Wait, no she’s just going to listen to Ryuou and then they are going to burn a building down. And the yellow haired guy is involved because… I’m not actually sure. Was Eia a closet pyromaniac because she also set ten million yen on fire earlier in this season.

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Basically though after all the foreshadowing of horror to come, we get the single worst character as the final bad guy to overcome. Mostly because it isn’t the scientist guy with a masterplan for enslaving humans, it isn’t the kid who seemed to gather massive numbers of slaves early in the game, it isn’t even the split personality Zero, but rather it is the whiny idiot who really just thinks about what he wants right now. I want to shoot someone. I want to hit them. I want to have sex. Really, he has no plan here. None at all. Was he just going to hide out in his school house for the rest of his life sleeping with his enslaved harem and hunting them down when he got bored?

But hey, we’re done and I’ll get to do a final review soon.

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Doreiku The Animation Episode 11: This Anime Just Needed More Psycho

The higher they rise the harder the fall I guess is the message here. Though I am kind of stretching to assume this has any underlying significance other than people still being horrible.

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After another round of “Look how smart I am” we get yet another shift in the power balance of who owns the most slaves. The fact that Eia still hasn’t actually lost is kind of surprising and to be honest I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to see her as an actual player in this game or an observer. The bad guy revealed his plot, gloated about how clever he was, and then got taken down a peg by someone even less emotionally stable, meanwhile Eia is nowhere to be seen.

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Speaking of, the new guy actually was present way back at the start and I guess that’s kind of foreshadowing, but the fact that they have to do a whole flashback to remind us that the scene in question even existed kind of makes me feel like it might have missed its mark. Whichever way, I’m not overly concerned with how this plays out as long as it ends at this point.

Maybe the message should be, don’t stick random devices in your mouth that could lead to mind control.

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Doreiku The Animation Episode 10: Ten Minutes Retell, Ten Minutes Of Confusing Story

I genuinely don’t get what the point of the first ten minutes of this episode is supposed to be given we’ve already seen this story from Julia’s view and the Ryuuou’s view adds nothing. But that’s this show in a nutshell, really.

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Dumb characters continue to make dumb choices once the story finally gets over retelling the story of how Julia became a slave and that Ryuuou is trying to free his mum (given we already knew all of that). Essentially, all of Ryuuou’s slaves decide to face down the guy they know nothing about with the weird star icon on the map and dutifully get stolen as his slaves. It is too stupid for words and it is a plot development that makes little sense at this stage of the game.

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Meanwhile, the new characters we met last week are apparently important and get a section here, though why on earth we care at this point about their story I can’t begin to figure out. And unless something tragic is happening to Eia in the next two episodes, I don’t understand her opening monologue where she said that she was going to regret things. Because so far Eia has walked through most of this series more or less unscathed.

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Doreiku The Animation Episode 9: Introducing A New Cast of Characters

I always thought episode 9 seemed like an excellent time to introduce two entirely new characters plus a split personality in an existing character. Makes perfect sense in terms of narrative pacing.

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So this week we get a flashback to see how Crazy Girl lost her dual to the sleazy scientist guy and it turns out she didn’t. His custom SCM just lets him enslave people who are wearing an SCM. Great. That’s just what this story needed, a god-mode style cheat to the game.

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And were you still wondering what the deal with Zero was way back when he first got enslaved and there was that whole five minutes where it was a big deal that he resisted an order before no-one ever mentioned it again? Turns out, even though this anime hasn’t addressed the point in any episode since, Zero now has a split personality with his dead mother taking over at times and she has her very own SCM (how) and is now making her very own slaves (why). Does this noticeably improve the story? Not really, but it does create yet another faction in this mess of a plot and eats up screen time so we don’t get to notice how shallow Eia’s characterisation has been despite her technically being the narrator during early episodes. Incidentally, she doesn’t show up at all this episode.

Onward to more fun with human slaves and poor plots next week.

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Doreiku The Animation Episode 8: Protagonist Resorts To Singing Own Theme Song

If the goal is to make Eia look smart, her challenge this week certainly did not work. Doreiku continues to push some fairly poorly thought out character interactions even as it tries to escalate the tension.

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This episode really had two parts. The first has Ryuuou and his group of slaves looking into an unusual symbol on the SCM map and their actions land Julia in pretty hot water. But again, what else could be expected. And why on earth would they even take their SCM’s with them. If they didn’t have them, they couldn’t be challenged to duels and they couldn’t be stolen as slaves. It all just makes little sense. I guess the drama of Julia’s predicament is supposed to be the payoff as we wait to see how she’s either rescued, gives in or goes crazy, but I’m really indifferent to her plight.

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Meanwhile, Eia and her newly formed band are trying to gain more slaves. All for freedom of course. And yet there was a lot left to chance here. Eia had to rely on one of her slaves collecting enough in donations that she would be beat what the guy could take from his stores. And there was no way to know what the store take would be. While the whole trick with the 10 million yen kind of seems superficially clever, it really serves zero purpose. If they’d never offered it, the guy might have worked a bit harder to gather money, but if he’s had a brain he’s have collected everything he could regardless. So basically, Eia just burned 10 million yen for nothing. The outcome of the game wouldn’t have changed either way. Unless she really just wanted to have Outa beaten up. And I guess maybe that is motive enough.

I think what really annoyed me was how smug she looked while holding up her bank book and showing that it really was 10 million. Seriously? That’s even stupider. At the least, only put the money on top if you are going to burn it.

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This show really frustrates me because it’s like the writers keep trying to be clever but it all ends up really dumb or pointless.

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Doreiku The Animation Episode 7: Battle

This week Eia takes a break as we see the showdown between Ryuuou and the Crazy Person and their slaves.

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This week we get to see Julia’s story and how she went from being Seiya’s girlfriend, to a freeloader, to a slave. What this story tells us is Julia was pretty messed up even before becoming a slave and that’s about it. We already knew Ryuuou wanted money the only thing this segment adds is the reason why and as normal for this show it is just horrible people being horrible.

The showdown between the two groups of slaves had the potential to be interesting but mostly just came down to a series of encounters and one person getting knocked down by some underhanded means or another before Ryuuou, who is being set up as being so much smarter and more prepared than anyone else, basically just walks through the battlefield and wins the day.

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It isn’t overly exciting and while it means Ryuuou essentially owns all the slaves we’ve met up to this point, there isn’t a lot going on in this episode. This anime still hasn’t really delivered anything other than a fairly poor series of encounters between horrible characters.

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