Given how it works within the romcom genre of anime, 3D Kanojo is an odd show to begin with. It eschews a number of tropes that make so many of the romantic plotlines in those series feel contrived and samey through how it approaches the awkwardness and insecurities of new romance, and in turn makes its characters feel surprisingly relatable. As we reach the midpoint of the season, however, things seem to have gotten a bit muddied in terms of some of the show’s strong track record out of the gate. While episodes 5 + 6 do have their fair share of heartfelt moments that get to the core of what makes this show so good (in my view), it definitely suffers in terms of a few pretty important story plotlines and character-building moments.
Though it was not addressed in the previous post in any great detail, episode four found Tsutsui framed for an act of attempted kidnapping and pedophilia by his peer Mitsuya, which, to be honest, is pretty extreme as far as drama goes for a show like this. As a result of this, Tsutsui became even more isolated by his peer group than before, which, given the circumstances of Tsutsui’s current social status, is a hell of a thing to happen. What’s more than that, Mitsuya, who is the cause of all this chaos in the first place, does seem to be feeling some remorse for the situation, and almost takes to standing up to his friends when they jeer at Tsutsui. Ultimately, he ends up confessing the truth to Tsutsui’s family, clearing his name on that front. Considering how the show has progressed thus far, the way I saw this whole debacle resolving was with Mitsuya finally gathering up some courage and confessing to the class/student body that he had lied about Tsutsui completely. This, however, is not the case.
What actually happens is that Mitsuya’s confession to Tsutsui’s family is the end of the arc. We hit the halfway point of episode five and decide that it’s time to just move on to another story arc. Tsutsui ends up deciding that he is fine with where he is, having people judge him for something that he didn’t do, as long as his family and friends don’t have the wrong idea. Were this any other situation, I wouldn’t have any real issue with this; however, to reiterate, the rumor that has been spread is that Tsutsui literally tried to kidnap a grade-school-aged girl. That’s a far more serious charge than something like, say, having a beef with another student, or secretly being a really bad person behind everyone’s backs, or any number of other possible issues that might arise in a school love comedy. Accusations of pedophilia and kidnapping are on an entirely different level, and the fact that this is let slide, as well as the fact that this seems to not be addressed any further in episodes five or six, is honestly troubling and pretty ridiculous.
This is not to say that I want people to keep bringing up these accusations against Tsutsui for the sake of realism or anything along those lines; I guess it just doesn’t feel right that for the story to progress the way it does with regards to this incident. I suppose, in a way, you cold explain it in that Tsutsui was often looked over or forgotten by his peers, and that the issue would eventually blow over and not be the hot gossip around the school, but again, it’s a pretty serious accusation that one wouldn’t really think would be that easy to forget. Nonetheless, the issue has passed, and that particular arc has been resolved.
I wish I could say that 3D Kanojo goes back to a more mellow feel for the show that the first four episodes (for the most part) provided, but we’re instead beginning to trend more solidly into the misunderstandings-based drama direction, which is disappointing, considering how the show has thus far taken strides to use as few misunderstandings-as-plot-devices as possible. We’ve seen numerous issues arise between Tsutsui and Iroha so far, and they have pretty consistently been quickly resolved through them speaking with one another about the issue at hand. That being said, it does help to give the show some variety, and their romance some believability, for there to be some misunderstandings. It’s difficult to communicate well consistently, especially for two characters who both have a track record of being standoffish and not the most social folks, so it makes sense that the two of them might encounter some difficulties as they arise.
The major point of contention stems from Tsutsui’s insecurities, in a way. While they’re out at a festival together, Tsutsui asks Iroha if she really didn’t think anything of Mitsuya when he asked her out, with his reasoning essentially just being that he was an attractive guy. Iroha ends up taking offense to this, and Tsutsui just doesn’t understand why, thinking that she is mad at him for putting himself down. In reality, what Tsutsui is saying, in Iroha’s eyes, is that he basically thinks that Iroha might fall for a guy just because he’s hot, and that she might drop whoever she’s with if they aren’t attractive enough, which clearly is not the case. What’s worse is that, beyond this, when Tsutsui goes to apologize, he still tries to do so from the wrong perspective; he still doesn’t understand why, and he doesn’t seem to try terribly hard to fully explore other reasons why Iroha might be upset. She even explained at the festival that if she just wanted to date an attractive guy, then she would be dating a really hot guy, and he apparently didn’t pick up on her pretty explicitly spelling it out for him. It’s understandable that, given his social situation, Tsutsui would have a difficult time understanding some aspects of romance and relationships, but he honestly shouldn’t have to have everything explained to him in detail. He should be able to pick up on some of this on his own, and it’s a tad disappointing.
Of course, when a couple is having a spat, that’s the perfect time to introduce another potential love interest, and that comes in the form of the shy, soft-spoken anime nerd Ayado. Through a twist of fate, Ayado and Tsutsui bump into each other, causing Tsutsui to drop a magazine he had bought. She ends up returning it to him and briefly talking about anime before she runs off, seeing that he has a girlfriend as it is. Over the next few days, Tsutsui and Ayado interact and chat quite a bit, mainly in a platonic fashion. Of course, however, in his attempts to be nice to Ayado, who shares his status as a social outcast that has been bullied often, it is interpreted that he might actually be trying to pursue her romantically. By the end of this pair of episodes, Tsutsui and Iroha are still on some rocky terrain as far as their relationship goes, especially with this additional set of misunderstandings to deal with. It’s not my favorite way for a show to advance its plot and get the story moving, but it’s at least serving its purpose. I just hope that this doesn’t signal a dramatic turn for the entire second half of the show.
While I haven’t exactly been deeply impressed by these major strokes the show has been making with this pair of episodes, there has been one detail in the show that has struck me as genuinely interesting. As their relationship has progressed, Tsutsui and Iroha have obviously gotten closer with time. In these episodes, we see that it has progressed to the point where Iroha feels that she truly loves Tsutsui, as we see her actually confess her love to him. However whenever she says “I love you” to him, Tsutsui, without fail, responds with something to the effect of “Okay.” In shows like this, it is not uncommon for a character to shy away from returning an expression of love like this, though they are mainly advances from someone that is engaged in a one-sided love. Here, it is clear that Tsutsui cares about Iroha dearly, but he either hasn’t reached the same degree of love as she has, or he just doesn’t want to, or can’t, admit it yet. In a genre of show where two lovebirds often share their first “I-love-you” together, it’s fascinating to see the show represent a couple that is at different levels of their infatuation with one another, or different degrees of comfort in their relationship.
As much as I’ve loved 3D Kanojo thus far, I really and truly hope that it is able to steer away from these more dramatic, tropey beats that it has been taking its story down recently. There are far more interesting ways for a romance show to introduce drama and tension into a relationship than for it to rely on tropes that we have seen before, especially if the show has done well to avoid them in its outset thus far. I can’t say for certain what lies ahead for the show, but I hope that it’s more than what we’ve seen now.