The second anime premiere that I attended following the bar-raising Trigun Stampede was an anime adaptation of a manga that’s the polar opposite of Trigun in almost every way. Instead of a wanted bounty hunter with a bounty on his head, our protagonist is a tomboy high school student. Tomo-Chan Is A Girl! was one of my favorite manga series released in the past decade. Usually, I’m not so lucky to see a manga series that I enjoyed have its own anime adaptation, so this was excellent news for me. Having the chance to see the two-episode premiere was even greater.
Debuting at Anime NYC 2022, this anime falls under the genre of “romantic comedy,” where the recipient of someone’s love is as oblivious as a basketball player on a soccer field. In this case, Tomo, our protagonist, is madly in love with her childhood friend, Jun. One day when she finally works up the courage to confess her feelings for him, he denies her. Not because he didn’t feel the same way, but because Jun had thought of Tomo as “one of the bros.”
Tomo is a tomboy taken to great extremes, having been raised in a martial arts family, being naturally athletic, and taught karate since a young age. It’s shown since Jun and Tomo were childhood friends, Jun never saw Tomo as a girl. As they got older this infuriated Tomo, with her best friend, Gundo, being the one to help bridge Jun and Tomo together.
Gundo in many ways is a master manipulator of both Tomo and Jun, alongside many others within the school purely for her entertainment. She does genuinely care for those who are willing to put up with her despite her personality. As such, some of the things she does is within "grey area" territory but you can know to trust her! Or can you...
While Jun is a bit of a goofball at first for thinking this way of Tomo, there’s an understandable reason behind his way of thinking. Gundo knows this firsthand as she tries to pry his brain and admit firsthand that he likes Tomo in return. Despite this, Tomo-chan herself is a very likable character both within and outside of the series. Her outward appearance gives her a formidable presence at first. From a distance, her masculine features cause even the girls to swoon, a trait Gundo jokingly states as being a “ladykiller.”
In actuality, Tomo-chan is a friendly individual who feels jovial whenever she’s entrusted with scenarios that would prove her womanhood. An example of this is when two girls come to her for love advice, feeling elation at seeing that they came to her for romance than something different. The only person she’s openly violent towards is, coincidentally, her love interest, as is the case with most romcoms.
The pacing of the episodes was rapid, emulating the original manga’s four-panel format. The core difference between a traditional manga panel and a four-panel is that due to the limitations of panels, the story is told in a far quicker manner with fewer images per page. Therefore the pages read like individual jokes with the final panel being the “punchline.” Translated into anime, it’s generally a hit or a miss, especially with the more niche references.
All of the comedy in Tomo-Chan Is A Girl! is properly timed and paced. This leads me to my conclusion, as I feel the anime adaptation keeps up with the spirit of the manga. Tomo-chan, voiced by Rie Takahashi, speaks with a rough Kansai-esque dialect to accentuate her boyish charm. Takahashi, better known as the voice of Megumin from Konosuba and Mash from the Fate series proves her range in vocals is incredible. Tomo-Chan Is A Girl was a great introduction to what will be one of my most watched this coming season and I can’t recommend the manga enough.