Real Girl (3D彼女 リアルガール) is the Spring 2018 anime adaptation of the original shōjo, romantic comedy manga series by Mao Nanami. It was produced by Hoods Entertainment and directed by Takashi Naoya. I first came across the show one night while browsing through HIDIVE’s catalogue. I immediately added it to my watchlist because of how cute it sounded and how much it reminded me of Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku based off the snippet. My goal had been to watch it over Spring or Summer, and since Summer shall be coming to an end in about a month, I figured I should see it sooner rather than later.
Real Girl follows a teen boy named Tsutsui Hikari, who is constantly called gross and bullied for being an otaku. Because of his terrible real-life experiences, he’s never been interested in 3D girls before. Enter a quiet yet spunky girl named Iroha Igarashi. When both students show up late to school one morning, they get assigned pool cleaning duty after school. Upon this brief encounter, Iroha and Tsutsui keep running into each other by happenstance, with each interaction showing Tsutsui that not all real-life girls are shallow, superficial assholes, and that maybe there is one out there worth falling in love with.
If I could sum up my initial musings—based off the first episode only—into one word it would be quirky. If I add a few more then it’s quirky and delightfully hilarious. One segment in and I found myself laughing and smiling with a lot of oohing and awing at the adorable bickering for good measure. I enjoyed myself so much that I sincerely wish I didn’t wait so bloody long to watch it. The contrasts between the boy and girl are curious, the animation is so beautiful, the music uplifting, and the overall vibe fantastically sweet.
Tsutsui can be a slightly irritating character at first. Because he’s always been treated like complete and total crap, he has these emotional walls up and automatically, which causes him to go on the defence when in the presence of a normal looking human, such as Iroha. She is very pretty with long, flowing hair and big, bright eyes; a typical specimen to partake in bullying shenanigans. Yet, she completely catches him off guard with her blunt sassiness and then (later on) deep appreciation for an act of kindness that Tsutsui shows her. She, in turn, shows him that there are good hearted people in the world, and he proves that not all guys are jerks trying to get under her skirt. Their awkwardness and differences are actually quite similar, and it was fun watching it all collide in superbly charming ways. (Also, I’d like to take a moment and say that Iroha’s sharp tongue is the best fucking thing.)
All of this is marvellously exemplified by the stunning animation style. It’s incredibly whimsical and dainty with thin lines, bright and radiant colour palettes (mostly of pinkish, purplish, and blueish shades), and breath-taking watercolour backgrounds and scenery. The environments actually reminded me a lot of Tada Never Falls in Love, which is another one of my favourite newer romance anime titles, and it was a huge element that drew me into the folds of that serial.
The musical score is also cheery and uplifting with lively piano/keyboard notes interspersed with the xylophone. It matches the visual aesthetics and the bubbly interchanges between Iroha and Tsutsui so wonderfully.
All in all, the first episode of Real Girl was a total blast. I am looking forward to watching how these two shall grow together as friends and (possibly) lovers, how they will help each other as well as help themselves and maybe even the people around them. Honestly, Real Girl seems like the inspiring and endearing anime that I have been craving for the last couple of weeks, just without realising it. Keeping my fingers tightly crossed that it won’t end up becoming a disappointment or let-down by the end.