OP: 「オトモダチフィルム」 (Otomodachi Film) by Masayoshi Ooishi
“I Can’t Just Leave You”
Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai flew under my radar until I read Stilts’ preview. Then I made it my top pick, for a couple of reasons.
Most of Gekkan Shoujo’s production team have reunited – a cause for celebration, because they’re a truly talented bunch! We can expect something in the spirit of a less conventional romantic comedy, that won’t fail to entertain. But as with any anime originals, the lack of a successful source materials means there are no guarantee to fall back upon, meaning a wild card factor is at play. However, there’s nothing quite like staking such a heavy bet, on the potential of something unknown and getting your hunches absolutely spot on. *cough* Tsuki ga Kirei *cough*.
I’ve also taken a personal liking to the non-generic Asian Male – White Female pairing, which isn’t very typical in anime. While I still expect a straight up romance comedy, that won’t bother exploring societal perspectives on these types of interracial relationships, I retain hopes that my expectations might be met.
Now, the springtime of youth is upon us, and I’m itching to blog a romance show. What are we waiting for? Let’s get started!
P.S. In Doga Kobo we trust.
Throughout 2017, the romance shows I watched were situated in rural areas or sleepy suburbs. Tada-kun (2018) distinguishes itself from the crowd, being firmly set in the roaring Tokyo metropolis that’s full of hustle and bustle. Both types of romance offer different things, and neither hold an inherent advantage, much like town mouse and country mouse. Yet having lived in London most of my life, the city is admittedly where I feel most at home.
To be honest, I was thoroughly charmed by what I saw. Within the first few seconds, I was totally awestruck by stunning backgrounds and exquisite choices of musical direction. So much so, that I let out an audible gasps of fangasming. The choreography was entirely on point, and everything meshed together a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle falling into place. Moving away from the high streets, we settle into a comfy and quiet coffee shop, tucked away from the hubbub. In other words, a refreshing oasis hidden in the middle of Tokyo’s urban jungle.
Our male protagonist is the owner’s grandson, Tada Mitsuyoshi (Nakamura Yuichi), a stoic person who likes photography. Snapping shots of sakura blossoms outside of the Imperial Palace, he chances upon Teresa Wagner (Iwami Manaka). They meet under the sakura blossoms, which prompts a standard procedure between tourist and locals. He offers to help take a picture, which he does, only she wanders off before he can return her memory card. Fortunately, they quickly meet again when her handkerchief blows onto his face, and he takes her back to the coffee shop for a bite to eat. Needless to say, everyone is charmed by her beauty. And conveniently, she will be living in the hotel next door, while attending Tada’s highschool as a transfer student.
Alongside her eccentric quirks, my favourite being her love for Rainbow Samurai, the anime goes to great lengths suggesting that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to this ditzy girl. I have a hard time believing that Teresa is your run of the mill weeb, who simply came to Japan as a transfer student from Larsenburg (no translation error, and probably a fictitious nation that is loosely based on a European country). I don’t see a reason why royals wouldn’t choose an elite private school for their children, but I won’t rule out the chance that she comes from a distinguished family. After all, anything is possible in anime.
There were a lot of positive takeaways from this first episode. Both humour and slice of life were elements that were smoothly executed, and I’m thrilled that Rainbow Samurai will become a recurring gag, while we get a regular fix of comfy coffee shop goodness.
Nevertheless, there were some things I could not overlook, and I have questions about where things are inevitably headed. There might be a slight problem with human characterisation, and I’m not referring to our supporting cast being generic stereotypes. The tsundere hothead and narcissistic ouji make for a more dynamic pair, and starting off on the wrong foot, their interactions are fraught with violence that’s intended for laughs. But ultimately, I’m having difficulties connecting with both Tada and Teresa, specifically due to their one dimensional personalities. Also, it says a lot when I have a preference towards the cat, who completely rocks compared to them.
My feelings were mixed on the romantic aspect, which didn’t really help. Frankly, I thought the first encounter between our protagonists sucked. Additionally, I couldn’t seem to detect any real chemistry between our two leads, or even a hint of attraction between the two. In fact, it’s reminiscent of Gekkan Shoujo, where you couldn’t feel any real sparks between the couples in spite of their antics. However, Tada-kun lacks adequate comedic interactions to compensate for this lack of romantic fulfilment, even if some moments got me chuckling.
That said, I’m currently sold on the underlying idea. If I had to guess, the series will work on deconstructing the notion that ‘Tada-kun never falls in love’. He will most certainly fall in love, and when he does, it will be glorious. And do I want a conclusive pairing between Tada and Teresa, where they start dating, and doing couple stuff? Hell yeah! And I hope that Doga Kobo have the guts to go for it.
But so far, I think that one episode is far too early to make a decisive judgement. Based on the OP theme’s foreshadowing, there’s a lot of context behind these characters, and why they behave the way they do. For me, things will largely come down to establishing a concrete premise, then balancing the genres accordingly. If Tada-kun wants to style itself as a love story, have less gags, and more character development + meaningful interactions. If they commit more to humour, then vice versa. I have no doubts that this can become a consistent source of entertainment either ways. But there’s genuine potential, that I would like to see realised, lest I be disappointed if it were to fall short. As such, I’ll be keenly waiting for the next episode or two. So expect me to return for some more coverage, while I figure out what exactly we have on our hands. Thanks for reading, and see you next week!
ED: 「ラブソング」 (Love Song) by Teresa Wagner (CV: Manaka Iwami)