3D Kanojo got off to a fascinating start in the first two episodes, giving us some perspective and a view into our awkward, complicated romantic leads Tsutsui and Igarashi. It was a pretty solid foundation, in my opinion, to base the rest of the show off of, and episodes 3 and 4 have both proved to have not dropped the bar of quality that has been set for the show thus far. While the first two episodes acted as a primer of sorts, episodes three and four focus quite heavily on the ways in which insecurities can develop on all sides of a new, burgeoning romance, how they can complicate issues between partners, and ultimately how people can respond to those issues in healthy, trusting ways.
In an interesting spin, each of the two episodes opens with Tsutsui in a dream state talking with Ezomichi, his magical girl idol. In episode three, the tone is fairly combative; Tsutsui’s dream was initially about Igarashi, but Ezomichi quickly sweeps in and confronts him, since he had referred to Ezomichi previously as, essentially, his waifu. As she gives him the ultimatum of choosing between her and Igarashi, Tsutsui. Despite this start, episode four’s meeting with her is markedly different. Though she is certainly still on the aggressive side, she is not funneling that through a sense of possessiveness. Instead, the sequence begins with Tsutsui struggling with the changes that are coming to light in his life, and he is having a great deal of anxiety over whether or not he’s allowed to be happy. Being an otaku that suddenly has a girlfriend, new acquaintances, and life experiences that he felt that he might never feel, in his own personal perspective, it is definitely feasible to see how Tsutsui might feel as though these are things that are outside of his realm of normalcy. That being said, Ezomichi steps in to berate him for being “so negative,” and tells him that it isn’t wrong for him to be happy for once in his life, now that he has found a bit of happiness.
It’s genuinely fascinating that we see such a strong juxtaposition in how Tsutsui’s visions of Ezomichi shift in this short span of time. If we are to assume that Tsutsui’s dreams mean anything or have any real bearing on his life and mental state (which, given how the show presents these things, I’d say that it is safe for us to answer in the affirmative), the wrestling back-and-forth with himself over his status as an otaku and what that means for him says quite a bit about how his passions influence his life, and how his priorities seem to be trending. It’s clear that his hobbies and interests still pretty solidly lie in the otaku/nerd camp, and it’s quite a strong affinity that he has for them, given Ezomichi’s impassioned demands for Tsutsui’s full, undivided attention. It’s a pretty clear holdover from his initial ideas of what it means to be an otaku, like the sanctity and pride of the “chastity of an otaku,” or that as an otaku, he can’t trust 3D girls, and given his long, storied history with that personal and social status, it isn’t all that odd to consider that it would have a solid grip on him. What is so interesting, then, is that despite that, Ezomichi seems, in the next episode, to completely flip the script and encourage Tsutsui to pursue this further happiness, and to embrace the 3D world. The perspective is an important one for Tsutsui’s overall well-being, and the fact that it comes from one of his idols, who is arguably the symbol of his greatest passions, makes it all the more relevant and important for our boy.
This conversation with Ezomichi in episode four seems somewhat prophetic, or rather prescriptive, for a deep insecurity that Tsutsui expresses at the beginning of episode three – to quote, “Something about changing and getting so happy is scary.” While not only is this a hugely relatable sentiment in general, it is one that is going to largely inform the events of both episodes three and four, though mainly the former. Given his new-found life developments, however, Tsutsui struggles with a number of issues which, upon the simple application of some perspective and communication, are not actually issues. For instance, being with Igarashi means that Tsutsui is spending less time with Yuuto, which Tsutsui assumes makes him an awful friend. In fact, though, Yuuto is thrilled that his bud is getting out and living a life he never thought he would have.
But he also finds himself getting insecure around Igarashi as he is beginning to think about her far more often. He wonders, for instance, if it is okay for him to be daydreaming about her, and if it’s even okay for him to tell her about these things. This eventually comes to a head when Igarashi confronts him numerous times as he seems to be avoiding her, and he shakes it off by saying that nothing is wrong. While she leaves him to his own devices, she does, in so many words, tell him that he has to communicate with her if they want to sort anything out. In her words, saying that he’s sorry doesn’t tell her anything about what’s bothering him. Ultimately, after a confrontation with another student, Arisa (who soon becomes a new friend of both of them), Tsutsui finally flat-out apologizes for avoiding her, and does explain that he had been nervous about being so happy with these new changes in their lives, and how he’s been massively insecure about it. Through this open dialogue, they’re able to actually reconcile their issues and get things back to what was normal for them.
This idea of open communication is revisited in another incident in the following episode. After being confronted by another classmate, Mitsuya, who wants to “take Igarashi for himself,” Tsutsui considers whether or not it’s even okay for Igarashi to be dating him, and feels that he isn’t worthy to have her; that she should be with someone else who is so much better than him. He even says this directly to her on more than one occasion. However, she is absolutely not having it, even after Mitsuya frames Tsutsui and says that he tried to kidnap his younger sister. Beyond this, even when she is not able to convince him that he is adequate on his own terms, she finds another avenue of persuasion. As a gentle reminder to him, and it is one that would behoove anyone to remember, nobody is perfect, and we all have our own faults and hangups. So when she tells him that he should just say that he wants to be with her, and that she will have to take both him and his faults, it seems, at the end of the episode, that he is taken with the idea, and that though it has not “cured” him of those fears, per se, it’s definitely given him some food for thought. In all, Tsutsui certainly had a great bit to consider in these weird new steps of his relationship with Igarashi.
Speaking of whom, Igarashi also seemed to have struggled a great deal with insecurities in their relationship, though certainly not as much as Tsutsui. The only truly major issue stemmed from seeing Tsutsui about to have his hair cut after school by a female classmate a few days into his avoidance of her. For Igarashi, who is often unattached to people, she found herself getting exceedingly jealous, going as far as to say that Tsutsui was her person, though she did realize soon after that that was a bit of an extreme way of expressing that particular feeling of hers. Beyond that, she wondered how that would affect the way that Tsutsui would see her, though by the end of this, and through talking with one another, they both realized their great depths of insecurity and anxiety, and it was, in large part, assuaged.
Aside from this, the episodes do address a few other important issues, one such being loving someone that is a hugely toxic person. Not long after Tsutsui and co. become close with Arisa after the haircut debacle, they discover that she is in love with a seemingly nice guy, Shun. Shun, however, is most definitely not a good dude. He has, for example, openly told other people that he just dates her because she has money, that she’s stupid and just an object, and all manner of other things. It’s interesting, though, because Arisa realizes this, and acknowledges that even though she knows that he isn’t a good person, she still has feelings for him. After a pretty solid thrashing by Igarashi, however, Shun ends up breaking up with Arisa, who, though saddened and unhappy, does realize that in large part, this was ultimately for the best.
Beyond the major thematic elements of these episodes, episode four also gives us our first bit of overarching drama with the aforementioned framing by Mitsuya, as well as Tsutsui’s reflection on what he calls his dark times. With Tsutsui even further ostracized by his class, who all easily believe that he would try to kidnap a young girl, we find him in a pretty bad place. However, it is through these troubles that he discovers just how much Igarashi cares for him when she says that she’ll stay with him no matter how much he puts himself down, or how imperfect he says that he is. Though we’re left with a cliffhanger, and the issue is still unresolved by the end of the episode, I am sure that we’re going to be back to business as usual in the following episodes.
We’re seeing a pretty solid level of emotional depth and varied perspectives on romance from 3D Kanojo thus far, and I’m continually interested and impressed by what the show continues to bring to the table. Considering we’re only at episode four and we’ve already hit what is honestly a fairly bleak point of drama here, I’m curious to see in what way they could ramp up any potential future drama in the show. However, I feel that the show would be playing its strongest points in staying with just navigating the awkwardness that comes with new love. Only time will tell what the show has in store for us, so here’s hoping that it continues to live up to the standards that it has set so far.