OP: 「だいじなこと」 (Daiji na Koto) by Quruli
「オレがあいつと出会ってしまった件について。」 (Ore ga Aitsu to Deatte Shimatta Kudan ni Tsuite.)
“About the Time I First Met Her.”
The first episode of 3D Kanojo Real Girl is the story of two people who don’t communicate so good, at least at first. Tsutsui Hikari (Uenishi Teppei) is an otaku with a persecution complex, brought about by years of being harassed by bullies who so happened to be girls. Part of it comes from a very logical place, as he—and his best friend Itou Yuuto (Aoi Shouta)—are reacting to very real injuries in their withdrawl from most social interactions. But Tsutsui clearly takes it too far often, mistaking a comment about his bangs being gross for him being gross, just as Itou mistook a compliment about how his hat is cute for him being cute. These boy’s outlooks have been warped by the bullying they’ve suffered, and they’ve overcorrected to it. That makes communication—and understanding others who are unlike them—difficult at the outset.
The other half of the coin is Igarashi Iroha (Serizawa Yuu), a friendless girl who is hated by the girls and fought over by the guys, though more in a, “She’s my possession!” kind of way. Obviously not ideal. She’s proof positive that pretty people don’t always have good people skills. She’s overly blunt and appears unconcerned with the rumor mill swirling around her, and she has all sorts of problems connecting with others—in this case, Tsutsui. Her asking him out is a prime example. If she was better able to understand him, she’d have known that asking him out like that was a surefire way to get shot down. But she doesn’t.
The interaction between these two characters—with Itou there to keep Tsutsui’s side from being all internal monologues—leads to a series of talking-past-each-other scenes where neither of them can communicate properly. Tsutsui jumps to all sorts of conclusions. Iroha can’t explain herself properly. It’s all rather well done, though I was at times getting flashbacks to the first few episodes of Ore Monogatari!! where the author seemed to have no idea how to progress the main relationship without a string of dramatic hero moments. Of them I liked the first and third better, because they were the least overly-dramatic—and the first most of all, because the third required some light stalking. Er. Don’t do that, boys. That’s a crime.
Speaking of, I feel like Tsutsui and Itou’s initial dislike of 3D girls walks a fine line fairly well. The problem with that kind of blanket dismissal of half of humanity is that it can feel toxic really fast, but neither of the boys quite tip into that. They’re reacting to past injuries that happened to be caused (largely) by girls, but when Iroha first shows kindness in Itou’s presence, he’s quick to say that she’s a kind person and to push Tsutsui into being nicer to her. Likewise, while Tsutsui takes longer to get there—mostly due to the complexity his own feelings add to the issue—he’s also willing to entertain the possibility that she might be a good person pretty quickly, and he stops making assumptions by the end of the episode. I could see in both of these young men the seeds of toxic masculinity—beware anyone who speaks broadly about the “evils” of women—but in this episode we saw those seeds smothered, because someone was kind to them. They were kind to each other first—that’s important. But they’re not twisted souls. They’ve just been growing a bit twisted because they were hurt, but some kindness can right the ship quickly. Iroha delivered some of that, and I have a feeling more friends will be incoming shortly.
The other thing I really apprecaited about this episode is how it reinforced the power of stories. This is an old hobbyhorse of mine—I subscribe to the Pan narrans (storytelling chimpanzee) theory of humanity as the, whereby our propensity to tell stories is our defining feature. It’s not that stories are necessarily good, but they are powerful, because stories are how we learn to be human. Here you can see that used for good on Tsutsui. When he’s about to run away, it’s the voice and face of his favorite magical girl that appears in his mind’s eye, and it’s that fictional character’s words that propel him to act. Yes, he’s a giant nerd, but we all learn how we ought to act through the stories we read, which is why it’s no surprise that a fictional character spurred him to action. Do you not think that young children will be animated by Captain America, Wonder Woman, and Black Panther? Stories are important. That’s why Tsutsui acts as he does—and why 3D Kanojo itself could be a force for good in the world, as it shows how those with social awkwardness/anxiety can still find love, or at least friendship and an occasional smooch.
Animation could use some work, though. They keep doing these lazy far away shots with little character detail. Over all it doesn’t distract from the story much, but definitely shows either a certain amount of rush, a certain laziness, a lack of budget, or all three.
I don’t know if we’ll continue to cover this (it’s a pretty stacked season), but I’ll definitely be watching it, and a post may yet appear next week. Either way, enjoy!
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ED: 「HiDE the BLUE」 by BiSH