Tomo-chan Is a Girl! came into the Winter 2023 season as the 11th most anticipated anime among a plethora of great fantastic series and has since received a ton of positive reviews. But do the positive reviews hold weight? Or do critics make fair points? In this segment of “Overrated, Underrated, or Properly Rated?”, we’re going to break down everything from Tomo-chan Is a Girl!, including the plot, the production, and all the way to the poll numbers and fan-site ratings, just as we did recently with Engage Kiss and Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie, to answer the question — is Tomo-chan Is a Girl! worth watching?
Well, it’s a plot. Two best friends growing up started to have romantic feelings for each other when they both reached high school. It’s generic in a sense, but having Tomo admit her feelings right at the beginning was definitely surprising. While we’ve had a lot of anime in recent years begin to start off as such, it was a fun twist that wasn’t expected with this series coming out of the gate.
Other than that, it was obvious after knowing the manga is already finished how the story would end. But being able to predict the ending is not necessarily a bad thing. Tomo-chan Is a Girl! would be a better story of the two main characters if others weren’t so involved, or if they were just better side characters in general. Having a concrete beginning, middle, and end with no cliffhangers, and the fact it didn’t beat around the bush as other series did in its genre from the Winter 2023 season, is definitely a part of the plot that deserves some praise. The physical humor was a nice change of pace from the rest of the season, but it was for the laughs and never really added much to the plot itself, thus the “com” in rom-com.
The oblivious nature between Tomo and Jun created hysterical moments between the two and the twist of knowing Misuzu and Jun once “dated” was definitely a shock. It could’ve added more drama to the series had they actually been serious about their previous relationship, but learning it was a one-date fluke kind of left a lot to be desired in terms of drama for the story’s sake. But the plot keeping the focus on Tomo and Jun being together was apparent in every episode and was nice for a change that a rom-com didn’t deviate from the two main characters like so many others have in the recent past. However, the moments with Carol using Jun, and Misuzu admittedly using Tomo were definitely unnecessary in a sense.
There’s almost no development at all with the characters who are practically the same from beginning to end. The argument “but it’s only 13 episodes” is a poor excuse for the lack of character development as there are many fantastic single-season anime with characters that have fantastic character development, most recently being Takina from Lycoris Recoil.
Jun and Tomo both grow on viewers and the relationship they had was nice for a change in the modern land of harem anime within the rom-com genre. Tomo-chan Is a Girl! proved that a fun series can be made when just two people who have eyes for each other. But we also got that same exact relationship and no love triangles with Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro Season 2, The Ice Guy and His Cool Female Colleague, and The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten. So that leads me to branch out into the other main characters from the series and that’s where problems arise.
Misuzu and Carol were a good hook for fans at the beginning of the season. Misuzu was going to be the funny introvert to Tomo’s extrovert and oblivious nature and create a nice contrast between best friends. While Carol was awkward at first, she undoubtedly brought some humorous moments to the series that were enjoyable…at first. But then it all collapses with these two when Misuzu admits to herself she’s just using Tomo and doesn’t care (episode 8) and Carol “seduces” Jun to try and make others jealous (episode 9), not caring about how it would make Jun or Tomo feel (also given the fact she never apologized for what she did). She was pretty much that wolf in sheep’s clothing adding nothing of benefit in the end.
Credit can be given to the main cast of the series for keeping things interesting, but at the same time it almost felt like Misuzu and Carol were just there and in the way muddying things up. The Misuzu apology at the end of the series was easy to see coming and low and behold, she apologized…sorta. In the end, Carol and Misuzu both seemed to be two of Tomo’s best friends who contributed absolutely nothing to the overall story besides some laughs, odd feelings, and awkward moments. And in the better series of the rom-com genre, the main characters’ friends usually play a very big role. So the strong point with Tomo-chan Is a Girl! definitely lies with Tomo, Jun, and Tomo’s parents.
There was nothing jaw-dropping about the animation production for Tomo-chan Is a Girl! The series had its nice shots, especially the festival night and some close-up shots of Tomo herself throughout the series. But most of the time it was rather generic. The background art was solid but nothing on the level of, for example, Tsurune Season 2, which also aired during the Winter 2023 season. The character designs outside of Tomo herself are rather plain and nothing too great compared to the others from the Winter 2023 season. But hey, it wasn’t delayed like so many others were during this season, so that’s a production bonus in hindsight.
What should also be given credit for during this series is the amazing emphasis during comedic moments and how well the facial expressions were animated. The timing was only ever-so-slightly awkward once or twice, but for the most part, everything was perfectly timed. There were never really any flaws with production, unlike in The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten, but there weren’t many stand-out moments, even during the finale’s biggest moment. In short, the production was solid overall. It wasn’t spectacular like Tsurune Season 2 but it wasn’t necessarily bad like Revenger was at times either — it was just solid.
However, one awesome side to everything with Tomo-chan Is a Girl!‘s production was voice actress Sally Amaki voicing the role of Carol in both the original version of the series and the English dub as well. An amazingly talented voice actress who was perfectly cast as Carol given the fact her character isn’t from Japan in the first place and had a broken Japanese pronunciation. Rie Takahashi did a stellar job (as usual) voicing Tomo. But anyone who watched Romantic Killer before this series aired could definitely tell she was going to deliver given her role in the series as the main character Anzu. Plus, the opening was pretty good as well and I think that’s a crucial part for an anime that only lasted 13 episodes.
POLLS AND RANKINGS
When we take a look at the numbers for Tomo-chan Is a Girl!, this is how everything stacks up.
- Anime Corner Polls: Tomo-chan Is a Girl! placed in the top 3 of our polls for 10 of the 12 weeks the series aired. In those same 10 weeks, the series ranked 1st twice and ranked 2nd six times. In the two weeks the series wasn’t in the top 3, it placed 4th. The series never once left the top 5 throughout the entire Winter 2023 season constantly beating out big-name series such as Blue Lock, My Hero Academia Season 6, Vinland Saga Season 2, Trigun Stampede, and Bungo Stray Dogs Season 4. It also constantly beat out other anime in its own genre including The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten, Don’t Toy With Me, Nagatoro Season 2, and The Ice Guy and His Cool Female Colleague.
- MyAnimeList: Tomo-chan Is a Girl! currently holds a 7.90/10 rating with over 101k scores (259k members), making it the 6th highest-rated series of the season for the website. Only 5,370 out of 259k members have dropped the series, which is close to the same rate as The Angel Next Door (4,677 dropped out of 202k members) and Tokyo Revengers Season 2 (4,822 dropped out of 256k members).
- Anilist: Tomo-chan Is a Girl! currently holds a 78% rating with over 22k viewers who completed the series and another 20k who are currently watching it, making it tied with Trigun Stampede for the 7th highest-rated series for the season on the site and the 4th most popular. The score progression of Tomo-chan grew slightly as more people watched, giving positive statistics. From episode 2 to the finale, the series jumped from 72% to 78%.
Tomo-chan Is a Girl! is a slightly overrated anime series. The appeal is clear as day (that’s a good thing in this case) and enjoying its different aspects compared to others in the genre is understandable. But beating out other series from the Winter 2023 season in both polls and rating that clearly provided more of a higher quality in overall production, plot, and characters, Tomo-chan ranking as high as it did in our polls, and consecutively, is more of a showing to the rom-com era that has taken over anime alongside isekai than the series actually being of high quality itself. That being said, it doesn’t necessarily deserve bad ratings either.
There are definitely positives to Tomo-chan that critics can’t deny. A positive aspect is that the story was short and sweet. It didn’t need to drag out the obvious feelings between the main girl and guy for multiple seasons like so many other series nowadays do. Rather, the main characters just needed a push. It was, for the most part, concrete in its storytelling from beginning to end and left viewers hooked every week. The series never became boring despite possessing so many common rom-com tropes (beach episode, festival episode, the oblivious main character(s), etc.) and I think that lies within the special relationship Tomo and Jun had and their story itself. But was this series really that good to dominate the polls and ratings? No, it wasn’t.
Nothing was groundbreaking about this series nor did it have many elements to make it shine in its respective genre — it just didn’t. Enjoyable series? Sure. Deserving of its high praise and ratings over more deserving anime? Not so much. So if you are looking for a rom-com anime that you can binge in a day, then yes, you should definitely watch Tomo-chan Is a Girl! However, if you’re looking for something else in the genre that doesn’t include many common tropes and just feels different, then I suggest looking elsewhere.
Overrated, Underrated, Properly Rated Explained
Underrated means not receiving the praise someone or something deserves. One Piece, for example, is not an underrated series. It’s the most successful-selling manga of all time and is regarded by many to be the greatest series in both anime and manga outright. It literally cannot be underrated.
Overrated is simply defined as “rated or valued too highly.” While discussions on series that are overrated become more complicated than underrated, there are still points an argument has to meet to consider an anime overrated.
Properly rated means any accolades the series has accumulated, or lack thereof, are as they should be for said series. Nothing more. Nothing less. It’s where it should be.
Screenshots via Crunchyroll
© Fumita Yanagida, Seikaisha / Tomo-chan Is a Girl! Production Committee