HomeAnimeANIME REVIEW | From Bromance to Romance in "Tomo-chan Is a Girl!"

ANIME REVIEW | From Bromance to Romance in "Tomo-chan Is a Girl!"

ANIME REVIEW | From Bromance to Romance in "Tomo-chan Is a Girl!"

What if you fell in love with your best friend? At first, knowing that the person you’re smitten with shares much in common with you would be great. But then, that awkwardness happens. Does your best friend share the same feelings? If not, would revealing that you like-liked them ruin your pitch-perfect friendship? Tomo-chan Is a Girl! presents these conundrums in a comedy that’s as charming as it is laugh-out-loud funny.

Based on Fumita Yanagida’s manga, Tomo-chan Is a Girl! follows the titular tomboy character (Rie Takahashi/Lexi Nieto), who finds herself in love with her childhood bestie Junichiro (Kaito Ishikawa/Ricco Fajardo). However, Tomo fears that Junichiro only sees her as a friend, making her feelings tougher to present. Even telling him that she likes him results in Junichiro responding in friendship than romance, meaning that he’s either very dense or…perhaps something else.

Thankfully, Tomo’s got some good friends in her corner. From the cunning-yet-heartfelt Misuzu (Rina Hidaka/Jad Saxton) to the British transfer student Carol (Sally Amaki), Tomo gets plenty of pointers from her more feminine brethren. That’s not to say Misuzu and Carol do this out of the good of their hearts; they need some entertainment, too! As such, they use every opportunity to both teach Tomo while also making her their play thing.

Although Tomo has a more boyish look, she tries her best to show off a ladylike personality. But no matter what she may attempt, be it wearing a skirt without shorts or trying makeup & a wig, the blushy reactions from Junichiro make their hangouts even more awkward. Much of Tomo-chan Is a Girl! focuses on the trials and errors of these two friends trying to figure out each other’s feelings, even if it’s obvious that both share some sort of love for one another.

When it comes to the comedy, Tomo-chan Is a Girl! hits the jokes hard. From the many misunderstandings between Tomo and her friends to how she handles doing womanly things, every situation on display showcases the struggles of love in high school. Although we’ve seen jokes like this in past anime rom-com, having it focused on a tomboy than the usual girly protagonist adds some new layers to those old gags. How Junichiro slowly comes to terms with his feelings for Tomo also brings some good laughs, as he deals with finally seeing his old friend as the woman she’s always been.

Junichiro and Tomo aren’t the only ones going for the laughs. Misuzu’s deadpan personality punches up her one-liners, especially when she’s itching to insult friend and foe alike. Carol, on the other hand, has the fluffiness of a cloud in every discussion or action she makes. The fact that she’s academically the smartest student in school adds to the joke regarding her street smart airhead personality.

Thankfully, there is some progress in the main story of Tomo-chan Is a Girl! While there’s been no 100% love confession tossed out, a buddy date at a karaoke place and a late-night in-person gaming session awakens something in Junichiro. Tomo might be ahead of the game when it comes to romantic feelings, but it’s clear that Junichiro isn’t far from behind. And the more they hang out, the sooner he’ll realize that he loves his best friend.

Whether it’s in English or Japanese, the voice cast delivers a strong dose of personality as their respective characters. Takahashi has a more lioness sound in her voice as Tomo, while Nieto leans more into the androgynous side of our main heroine. Either fits with the character, especially with the way they emote in various circumstances. Ishikawa and Fajardo do an upstanding job as Junichiro, with both actors balancing macho exteriors with marshmallowy emotions.

Hidaka and Saxton bring Misuzu’s deadpan personality to great heights, knowing when to go all in for a straight man-powered punchline. But out of everyone in the cast, it’s Amaki that impresses the most as Carol. She plays the role in both dubs, but does something different with each one. In Japanese, there’s a cutesy side to Amaki’s Carol; in English, it’s a bit more ditzy and dorky, but not in a way that dumbs her down.

Animated by Lay-duce (O Maidens in Your Savage Season, Release the Spyce), the look of Tomo-chan Is a Girl! certainly has an adorable side to it. Yet when we see Tomo and Junichiro playfully beat each other up, the animation goes all out to emphasize a punch or kick. There is a little stiffness here and there, but nothing that takes away from the visual personality of the series. It also helps that the show’s colorful brightness meshes terrifically with the mood of the show overall.

Soundtrack-wise, Masaru Yokoyama (Scum’s Wish, Interviews with Monster Girls) hits all of the right notes. There’s a country vibe to the songs, one that fits well with the show’s setting and the more wackier situations that occur. Both opening and ending themes play on Tomo’s internal emotions, with opening theme “Kurae! Telepathy” by Maharajan acting as a solid pop rock song. Takahashi, Hidaka, and Amaki takes the reins in the ending “yurukuru*love”, delivering a track that’s endearing and sweet.

Tomo-chan Is a Girl! may not be reinventing the rom-com wheel, but it’s one of the most fun shows of the Winter 2023 season. It knows when to go for the big laughs, while at the same time play with the heartstrings during appropriate times. With the original manga being over since 2019, one is curious to see if the anime will actually finish the story. Whatever the case may be, Tomo-chan Is a Girl! will find a way to entertain lovers of both romance and buddy comedies in many wonderful ways.

Voice Acting: (Japanese dub)/ (English dub)
Final Grade (not an average):

Tomo-chan Is a Girl! can be viewed on Crunchyroll and VRV. It has been licensed by Crunchyroll. Episodes 1-7 were observed for review. Promotional consideration provided by Crunchyroll.

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. Born & bred in Boston, he achieved his biggest dream yet by making the big move to Tokyo, Japan in Summer 2023! For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@b3crew.com. For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com. (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)