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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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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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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3D Kanojo: Real Girl Episode 7: The Ants Go Marching Two By Two

Anything that may have been different or interesting about this anime seems to be getting levelled out by the inevitability of teen romance plot mechanics. Let’s pair up everyone and go camping together. Whee.

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It’s an ongoing annoyance I have with romance stories where not just the main couple, but everyone who interacts with them, seems to be matched up by the end of the story. It is totally implausible and it forces relationships where there seems limited grounds for it. And while this story hasn’t got there yet, we now have a main cast of six characters, three boys and girls, and as we prepare for what seems an unnecessary and entirely forced camping trope of an episode it seems as though they are getting matched up two by two.

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Though that doesn’t really review this episode and more my general thoughts on where the series may decide to go. This episode was pretty much nothing. The jealousy was quickly and mostly uneventfully overcome and then we went shopping with the boys in Akihabara before Tsutsui rescued the gardening girl from being harassed while working part time as a maid handing out tissues.

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When Tsutsui became assertive I’m not sure but it is part of the ongoing trend of this show homogenising with every other teen romance. Compare Tsutsui’s open declarations in this episode compared to when he rescued Iroha from being accused of stealing a book. What happened to this character? Right now he’s pretty much standard male protagonist who occasionally has self-doubt and everything distinct about his personality has been toned down to practically negligible leaving a fairly unremarkable viewing experience in its wake.

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3D Kanojo: Real Girl Episodes 5 + 6: The Miscommunication Ploy

One conflict quickly brushed over by the protagonist ignoring it, and another one lunged into. Despite the implausibility of plot, I’m still enjoying this anime though I fear it might be starting to just become a melodrama that is going to bore me by the end.

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Episode 5:

The rumours have spread thick and fast about Tsutsui but for the most part he takes being ostracised in his stride. It almost a novel way of dealing with it given Tsutsui explains that with so many other things going right for him, he can’t get all that upset about a bit of bullying (even if it goes beyond just a bit of bullying). I was kind of annoyed at him for his passive approach but I liked that he did get the cause of the issue to explain to his family what had happened. I feel that without this scene I’d have finished this sequence feeling like the anime was simply asking us to accept that bad things happen and you need to deal with them.

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The second half of the episode then delves into yet another miscommunication fiasco between Iroha and Tsutsui. Miscommunication is an overly replied upon plot device in rom-coms and generally you can get away with it but when it has already been established that the guy doesn’t get it and yet the girl refuses to actually explain the problem it just starts feeling really forced to create a conflict.

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Episode 6:

And now we’re definitely spirally down through teen drama as Tsutsui reeling from his misunderstanding with Iroha causes another issue with Ito (leading to a flash-back sequence of how they became friends). We then finally get a kind-of reconciliation before Iroha spots Tsutsui talking with gardening girl and for some unknown reason gets suddenly jealous, even though she’s exhibited none of the usual emotional responses to events up until this point.

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The issue with all of these conflicts isn’t the implausibility of them, but the way they pace them with one feeding another and the overlapping sequences. While it ensures there’s always something happening on screen, it all feels incredibly scripted and fake, even for a high school anime. And while there are some interesting enough moments as the conflicts develop, that artificial tone of each encounter is definitely hurting my overall investment in the series.

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3D Kanojo: Real Girl Episode 4: Dark Times

This anime isn’t exactly caring about the plausibility of its conflict and yet manages a decent enough episode for the characters. What did you think?

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One of the weakest links in this anime so far has been Tsutsui as the protagonist given he’s been pretty unlikable despite some reasonably relatable character traits. Episode 4 goes about correcting that by putting us firmly in the shoes of someone who has been looked down upon and misunderstood for so long he doesn’t even fight against it when his reputation is literally destroyed by a vindictive would-be boyfriend of Igarashi.

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Of course, this raises all new problems given no matter how you look at it the situation is overblown. Reporting something falsely to the police, regardless of the circumstances, seems a bit extreme for high school rivalry, particularly since the target in question is so pitiful in the first place. Igarashi remains a solid character staying true to her decisions and now Tsutsui is starting to look a little bit more human despite his rough edges. It isn’t a great show, but there’s certainly some reasonably moments here and the romance between the two leads is actually kind of cute, even if sometimes I wish Tsutsui would just stop doubting himself long enough to accept that a girl might actually like him.

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3D Kanojo: Real Girl Episode 3: The Outsider’s Perspective

Despite the missteps, this anime has something that makes it oddly interesting to watch. What did you think of episode 3?

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It is quite clear that Tsutsui isn’t the ideal male protagonist. He isn’t even a particularly likeable or sympathetic geek character. Yet for all his faults, there’s something kind of interesting about watching such an incredibly awkward guy slowly stumbling his way into developing an actual social circle. That isn’t to say that I suddenly want everything to work out for him as some of his actions are still kind of eye-roll worthy and self-indulgent, but for anyone who has ever wondered what they should do about a situation, or not gotten a social cue, or experienced an emotion and not known what to do with it, there are moments where a connection can be made. Moments. It isn’t exactly consistent.

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The really interesting part about the developing social circle is it put a focus onto one of his classmate’s relationships. As much as Iroha and Tsutsui are a cute kind of couple, there’s a time-limit and some real awkwardness still there. Still, seeing how they viewed the crush and ultimately how the two of them ended up dealing with the emotional fall-out was actually a nice moment for this series.

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I’m not going to sing the praises of this one as it is definitely problematic but I like the look of the anime, I like the characters or find them interesting enough to want to know more about them, and the occasional well developed moment raises this up enough that I think I’ll make it through the season.

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