I could go for some inferno ramen.
What is there to say about 3D Kanojo Real Girl? After two episodes I had it pretty much pegged, with the adaptation rush undermining the drama because the flow was all peaks and no valleys (which makes it exhausting, because the tension isn’t allowed to build), and the animation issues never got better. If a romance anime fan were to ask me whether they should watch this anime, I would ask them one question: How old are you? Or really, how far are you in your dating life? Because to me, with this show, that question is everything.
Because perhaps the biggest problem with this anime is that I’m too old for it. That’s not a problem with it! But it is a problem with the match between viewer (me) and anime, which makes it hard for me to judge it. I’ve simply been too far past this stage in my dating life for too long, and the unvarnished presentation of this anime—with most of the fun slice-of-life events carved out and the drama taking up 95%+ of the run-time—is just so blasted awkward! I thought I was past this part of my life, and now I’m getting flashbacks! This isn’t one of those anime that explores both the good and bad parts of adolescence, it’s just exploring the stuff I’d rather leave behind. It’s tough.
On top of that, it can get really tropey. Now, tropes are not bad (trope!), but the final mini-arc in particular had my eyes a-rollin’, with the non-blood related little brother who thinks he has any say-so on who his older sister dates, like he owns her or something—ugh. Or the many, many times there were misunderstandings that should have been easy to debunk if people just talked, which is par for the course for romance anime and totally fine! It’s just that, with all of the fun character-y stuff shaved away so the plot could progress, there was no shield between us and the eye-rolling annoyance. Sometimes the tropes were too much, but other times they were just naked. Adaptation decay strikes again.
Really though, the biggest thing is your reaction to Tsutsui. If he’s someone you can really identify with, or a character type you’re interested in exploring, this series has some real value. Ditto for Iroha, and the others to a lesser degree. To me though, Tsutsui is the crux, because if his complete lack of social awareness or interpersonal abilities is annoying for you, episodes can turn into a slog. I don’t much identify with Tsutsui anymore, so that’s closer to where I ended up—I liked him and the others enough to never resent them, but I had to blast through the second half of the series in a day to catch up. For someone who really identifies with Tsutsui’s, Iroha’s, Ito’s, or the others’ struggles, though, 3D Kanojo has something for you. That just isn’t me.
Which is what makes it so hard for me to judge this. I can confidently say it’s too rushed and the animation is shifty; that alone is going to keep it out of my Top 17 Romances of 2018 (an annual list I publish nowhere). I just can’t tell you whether it’s troped out beyond all redemption and/or speaks to an under-served point of view. I want to grab these kids by the noses and rattle their skulls until some sense dribbles out. I already dealt with all this melodramatic crap! I don’t want to live it again! Also, is it just me or is fiction the only time when young relationships move too slowly? Usually young’uns go way too fast! Them and their music television *grumble grumble*
The funny thing is, my favorite part of the series might have been the final scene in the ramen shop. After the drama with two girls crushing on one boy, two boys crushing on one girl, a boy crushing on a girl who’s crushing on another boy who has a girlfriend, and all the other melodramatic permutations thereof, seeing these still-likable characters flex their personalities and enjoy some ramen together was fun. I wish there had been more of that, and less of the drama, so I could judge this series more confidently. We didn’t even find out what happens when Iroha leaves! If they’re not going to get to that, what was the point in all that rush?
My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for updates. At stephenwgee.com, the latest post: Risk Tolerance in the Creative Life.