Tomo-chan is a girl who wastes no time. It’s her first year of high school and the cherry trees are still in full bloom when she confesses her love to Jun! Only, as it turns out, Tomo-chan has done nothing but waste time, as she’s been in love with her best friend for time immemorial. For his part, he still doesn’t see her as a girl. Just how much he doesn’t see her as a girl is up for debate during the first half of the episode, as the two’s comedic dialogue and slapstick interactions fail to clarify whether or not he realizes that she is, biologically speaking, female. It takes a hostile intervention from a third party, childhood friend Misuzu (who gives off strong evil genius vibes), to get Jun to acknowledge that he knows Tomo is a girl, but he remains committed to treating her like one of the guys, even if it does get him punched in the head every time he touches her in a “sports bros” kind of way. Meanwhile, there are a few other guys on the scene who are very aware of Tomo’s gender (she has a good, ahem, build), like the excitable Tanabe and cool pretty boy senpai Misaki, captain of the boys’ karate club to which Tomo belongs at school (she was too powerful for the girls’ club; they are now petrified of her). But Tomo has eyes only for Jun. How can she make him see her as potential girlfriend material, without compromising who she is? Let the hilarious antics and comedy of errors ensue!
I expected this to be a hoot and boy, does it ever deliver! While the humor does rely a fair amount on gender stereotypes, it manages to do so in an affirming way, steering clear of sexist territory and crudity. Even the most uncensored character, Tanabe, is neither pervy nor disrespectful in his curiosity about Tomo and Jun’s relationship, which is a welcome change from a great deal of anime. Tomo is genuinely charming with her paradoxical self-confidence in who she is, and bashfulness around matters of the heart. A wholesome character arc in the making! Meanwhile, Jun’s apparent obliviousness to Tomo’s romantic potential (and intent) is more nuanced than first it seems, as his pally words and manner belie a hint of insecurity about losing his best friend. Here is promise of yet another rich character arc! And saving the best for last, there’s also Misuzu, the long-suffering friend of the pair, who at some point transmogrified into the mortal enemy of Jun, and has called dibs on being the only person with the right to mess with the two. And mess with them she does, to hilarious effect! She seems to be the most self-aware of the trio, and is certainly the most mysterious. The character designs are strong and the animation, appropriately full of energy. The voice acting is superlative, with special mention going to Rie Takahashi as Tomo (hard to believe she also voices Emilia in Re:Zero!) and the two gyarus who try to intimidate Tomo and learn pretty quickly to think better of it. All in all, this promises to be a delightfully entertaining series, with the potential for a lot of heart too. Sign me up!
Tomo-chan is a Girl! is streaming on Crunchyroll.