So. Bit of an idiot, that boy, eh?
I’m not really sure what all I was expecting, here. The premise of two social outcasts finding comfort in one another is inherently interesting to me (more so than a social outcast and a social butterfly, anyway). But I didn’t really know what to make of this from the description, alone. The lead character, Tsutsui, is an otaku and harshly criticized for it. This makes him jaded and bitter towards people. Of course, this leads to a lack of social skills, but also a demeanor that’s pretty disdainful towards others – girls in particular. He’s not a bad person, as one comes to find out, but he’s definitely not the best-adjusted guy. My point is that I can see how one might take him as not being especially bright (socially, that is) and even unlikable, given how he responds to certain things.
Iroha, I like. If only because of her very blunt manner of speaking. Her introduction isn’t especially flattering. It paints her as being rather superficial and flighty. But a later scene actually injects a bit more personality to her. Her bluntness is one thing, but she seems to have honed her manner of speech into an art… or, more specifically, a martial art. She uses it to pretty handily defend Tsutsui and his friend. She’s also pretty nice to them, unlike… well… everyone else. This likely comes from her also being an outcast and just not caring. Either way, her being nice to him is what first gets those gears turning in his head.
The series of events that leads to them agreeing to date are fairly… interesting. She has a reputation for being “easy,” though the validity of that statement is (at this point) a bit suspect. Regardless, it comes into play when Tsutsui catches her in the hallway with some guy. But before he can react, another guy shows up, angry that she’s two-timing him. Though she points out that she’s dating neither guy. One of them bails and the other tries to drag her off somewhere. But, taking a page from Deku’s book, Tsutsui’s legs start moving before he can process what he’s doing and he intervenes. In the process he gets into a fight, fully knowing he’s going to get rolled over, just to buy her a chance to run. It’s actually pretty admirable… exceeept…
It turns out that he did, in fact, lose. Actually, it seems like he was outright KO’d. But Iroha is still there when he comes to. So Tsutsui ‘saving’ her is a bit of a misleading line. I’m not entirely certain how she got out of that. Or why absolutely no one was around to… you know… stop the fight… or see to it that he got to the nurse. It seemed like he’d been there a while. The sun was going down by the time he woke up. These are small things, but still relevant to the fluidity of the scene, overall. Though I do actually like how this scene ended in regards to his response to it all. After it’s all over, he tells Iroha to leave. Not spitefully or anything. It’s more like he’s confused and scared and needs the alone time to figure it out. He even sheds a tear over everything going on in his head at the moment. It’s sappy and melodramatic, but it does illustrate his perspective pretty well.
What I didn’t particularly care for was the very next scene, where Iroha asks him out in the middle of what I assume is homeroom. His initial train of thought, before he knows what she wants, is fine. It’s vulnerable internal monologue that further shows just how fragile he is emotionally. But his rejection of her request comes off as a bit… forced. I get that all he wanted was to get her to go away because her mere presence was stressing him out. But his harshness seemed a bit unwarranted. I suppose one could say that he panicked, but his accusing her of trying to take advantage of him after she’s been nothing but nice to him was just offputting.
Later, he’s leaving the hospital (getting treated for his injuries from the fight, no doubt) when he spots her, crying on a bench. Given the location, I sort of assume that she was there either for herself or someone else and recently heard something rather disconcerting. I doubt she was there for him. Either way, upon catching her, he decides to follow her. Because… you know… that’s not creepy at all. I get the lack of social skills and being too afraid to approach her, especially after that awkward situation the other day. But this was a bit… stalker-y. And he followed her around for pretty much the duration of her day.
This is later justified (kind of) by an interaction at a bookstore that also seemed like a bit much. I’m beginning to think this is one of those universes where the lead characters just have targets painted onto their backsides because neither of these two seems capable of catching a break without the other. That being said, this also seemed like a case of situational stupidity for Iroha, because there was a very easy way out of this situation. She’s accused of stealing something. She didn’t. Yet she resists the store clerk asking to see in her bag and the like. The entire ordeal would have been easily avoided if she just opened the bag and let the woman see. She even goes on to dump the contents of the bag on the floor. So… why make a whole episode out of it? One that very nearly got the police involved?
Tsutsui takes it upon himself to get involved, coming to her defense by basically revealing that he’d been following her. Which… again… would probably be creepy to anyone else. But I guess she finds it endearing or whatever. Either way, he gives a detailed listing of her whereabouts and activity up to this point, which gets the clerk to back off. So now Iroha, having gotten herself into a dumb situation, is perfectly free to go on as she pleases. Again, I know what they were going for. But the execution was rather sloppy and hamfisted.
He goes on to give her an umbrella, seeing as it’s since started to rain. There’s actually a line in their exchange that I like. When he asked her why she was crying, she parrots something he said earlier. “Even if you make that face, it doesn’t mean you’ll get what you want.” It’s a nice, bittersweet line about life. Sometimes you can cry until you don’t have any tears left, but it won’t necessarily get you anything. It’s a very basic idea, but I just like the wording of the line. I don’t really know why.
Anyway, his giving her an umbrella gets him sick, so he’s late to school the next day. Thus he’s punished with having to clean the pool. But Iroha is also late, so she offers to just do the whole thing for him. Oh. But first, she offers to take the cold away for him by kissing him. Won’t lie. It was cute.
Though it leaves him weak after she leaves. He gets a bit of a pep talk from his friend afterwards. Then he has a revelation and throws out his pride to do something he should’ve done a while ago. He rushes to the pool where he finds Iroha and, of course, he asks her out. Interestingly, they just hug after he asks. And not one of those “shut up” hugs where one of them is rambling and whatnot, so the other stops them with a hug. She just stands there and holds out her arms, waiting for him to come to her. It’s another little moment that I like because it’s a lot more showing in terms of his development from the beginning of the episode, having decided to take these steps on his own. But it’s right after this that we learn she’ll be transferring schools, halfway through the year. So… yeah. There’s the hook that’s no doubt there to add some form of drama, later.
All in all, the first episode of this was a mixed bag. It had a lot of good little moments that help elevate it. But there are also a lot of really bizarre storytelling choices that just hold it back. It’s another series that opens on the relationship between the leads, which I enjoy. The lead character is flawed in a relatively believable way. The real weaknesses of the episode, though, are essentially padding. Put plainly, the story does that thing where a problem would realistically resolve itself far too quickly for the arc to fill an entire 24-minute episode. So a lot of the story winds up stalling itself out in ways that stretch the story’s believability and overall narrative flow. Furthermore, the world almost seems like it’s being a little selectively cruel towards Tsutsui and Iroha, which can actually break immersion, in the long run.
I’d say this one was Easy Viewing, more or less. It did enough well for me to say as much. If you’re looking for another romantic series with a bit more of a comedic edge, I’d say to check out Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii. It’s a lot more exaggerated and silly, but it’s highly enjoyable because of it.
If you want to keep up with Tsutsui and Iroha, 3D Kanojo: Real Girl streams on HiDive. That’s all I’ve got for ya here. As always, thanks for reading, folks. Keep up the awesome.