THEM Anime Reviews
Home Reviews Extras Forums
[Crunchyroll promo image]
AKA: Tomo-chan wa Onnanoko!, トモちゃんは女の子!
Genre: Slice-of-life high school comedy
Length: Television series, 13 episodes, 24 minutes each
Distributor: Currently available streaming on crunchyroll.
Content Rating: PG-13 (Violence, some fanservice.)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Aharen-san wa Hakarenai, Haganai, Uzaki-chan Wants to Play.
Notes: Based on the manga by Fumita Yanagida, which ran from 2015 to 2019 in Kodansha's Saizensen seinen magazine.

Tomo-chan is a Girl!


Tomo Aizawa is a tall, loud, bositerous tomboy who's childhood best friends with Junichiro "Jun" Kubota. As they enter high school, though, the two begin to feel feelings for each other they never did before, unsure how to express them amongst themselves. Rounding out the cast is Tomo's best friend, the dark-haired, moody Misuzu Gundou, bubbly British girl Carol Olston, and upperclassman Kousuke Misaki, who is in the same karate club Tomo is in.


Tim: Tomo-chan is a Girl! is one of the more frustrating high school-centered anime I've ever reviewed for T.H.E.M. Anime. It's not that it's a bad show, but what starts off as a goofy, fun slice-of-life show eventually became a chore for me as the cast's development ironically made them more annoying to me. And I'll get into why as we go along in the review.

Stig: I'm going to give Tomo-chan one thing; it's probably the first anime I have watched that puts its gender culture mainly in its own main character's head. Tomo herself isn't exactly the first tomboy-ish character of this kind I've ever seen, but it is the first where nobody seems to give it half a mind except herself. Which is appropriate, I guess, given that the show is very much about insecurities in all of its lovely forms.

Tim: Tomo-chan is a Girl! has a relatively small main cast for a high-school comedy anime, with only four main characters: main lead Tomo, her childhood best friend Jun, Tomo's female best friend Misuzu, and new transfer student Carol. So let's talk about them, shall we?

Up first is Tomo. In most any other series she would be the comic relief tomboy best friend to a more conventional and feminine female lead, not the main character. And yet Tomo is just that. She and her friend Jun stand quite tall in the literal sense, and thankfully the show mostly avoids the whole "wow she's so coooool" vibe that so many high-school series do with tall, powerful female characters. The series is not above showing both her and Jun physically fighting one another as well, something that, again, would be unheard of in most high-school anime shows that aren't shonen fighting. But despite her tomboy looks, Tomo is also quite girly, and really, really in love with Jun. Bad. Really bad. The problem comes in that she and Jun act more like best friends or even siblings than they do a couple. Speaking of...

Jun wasn't always a tall, buff, deadpan, but relatively nice, guy. In fact, childhood flashbacks show he was a lazy, bratty, weak shut-in who played video games when he was little. It was only after he met Tomo and she kept paling him around places, and him taking up karate at her parents' dojo, that he became stronger, faster, and muscular. It's honestly refreshing to see a series where both the male and female leads are more than capable of defending for themselves. We actually do get to see Jun fight a few times in the series, and even when vastly out-numbered, no one in his school can put up much of a fight against him. Despite some squabbles, Jun and Tomo are shown to be very close, good friends, and they work really well off one another.

Third in importance is Misuzu, Tomo's best (female) friend, who she's also known since childhood. Constantly frowning, gloomy, and with her dark blue-purple hair always having a few strands sticking out, she almost looks more like an antagonist/rival for a magical girl series than a main character in a high-school comedy anime. You could almost picture her overlooking a town and saying "these poor, miserable fools don't know what's about to happen". And yet here Misuzu is in this goofy, slice-of-life anime about two childhood best friends. She usually plays the straight man to the others' antics, while raising her voice on occasion.

And lastly is the blonde, bouncy (in more ways than one) British transfer student Carol. The wildcard of the series and the heart, she is the nicest girl in the cast, and tries (with no success) to be Misuzu's friend, even trying to hug or kiss her to open her up. Almost always smiling, with no filter to her thoughts, Carol also happens to share the same voice actress in both the Japanese and English version of Tomo-chan is a Girl!, which is kind of neat, being voiced by bilingual voice actress Sally Amaki.

Tim: I quite liked the cast of Tomo-chan is a Girl! first. It's when the series tries to develop the characters, ironically, that I start to have problems. And to me, the single worst part of the show is how damn slow it goes in doing so.

I had a hard time liking Jun as the series went on. He and Tomo go from being jokey, if not slightly violent, best friends to one another to just plain awkward. And I get it; high school romance is hella awakward. I would know, having my own share of crushes in high school and being a klutz in handling them. It doesn't mean I wanna see it animated, or watch Jun be unintentionally insensitive to Tomo, despite the many, many signals she gives that she loves him.

Not that Tomo is a saint herself. Whenever Jun does tend to show her any physical contact, she almost always punches him for it after. You can even see this in the show's (rather obnoxious) opening animation her doing this. It's no wonder Jun doesn't know how to respond/reply to his thoughts on Tomo, if this is how she acts around him. She just wants to have her cake (cake being, in this case, being friends with Jun) and still want to be his girlfriend, but not tell him just that, leaving to a LOT of misunderstanding between the two.

And then there's Misuzu. When Stig and I started watching the series, I liked her blunt, deadpan, mean-spirited tone. But in the beginning it was mostly harmless stabs. As the series goes on, her words carry more meaning and vitriol. The nadir of her attitude shows up in the full-length episode revolved Carol and Kousuke's relationship, where she is at her absolute worst to Carol (and she's already pretty mean to her to begin with); even SHE knows she screwed up big-time. (It's the only time in the entire series Misuzu honestly feels bad for something she said/did, even apologizing for it.) She's also a complete bitch to Tatsumi, the only boy in the school with a crush on her, threatening him with violence simply because he's a bit annoying about his crush on her. And then there's the reveal that she's the catalyst for almost everything revolving around Jun and Tomo's relationship, which I can't get into due to spoilers. By the end of the series I was so annoyed with Misuzu, any attempts to make her character look better came off less as development and more as last-minute writing to patch her and Tomo's relationship back together when they (inevitably) have a falling. (Because that's a trope all high-school anime need to do at some point; the breakup.)

Even Tomo's father - a kinda goofy, but really strong karate master who taught Jun karate - isn't safe from going from charming at first to irritating. Not to give much away, but the entire last episode of the series is about Jun fighting Tomo's old man, and his failing over and over again to do so...until Jun gets help from someone along the way. Tomo's father comes off less like a character and more of a final end boss for a video game in the finale. It's not funny, it's not fun, and it just goes on far too long for my liking. It also makes both Jun and Tomo's dad look like jackasses, once you learn why they're fighting to begin with. If the show had ended one episode earlier, it would've been SO much better.

Woo, that was a lot of words. I'm gonna hand the mic back over to Stig now.

Stig: I don't really have much to add on characters except that I kinda disagree a bit on Tim's characterization of Jun, but only over the fact that he calls Jun lazy for just sitting and playing videogames. The thing is, we don't really know what Jun's childhood was like before Tomo barged in and - surprisingly respectfully - invaded his personal space. Having loud brash characters barge into quieter personalities and completely upending their lives has never been a favorite of mine, but Tomo chose to instead spend that time learning what Jun likes and take the bonding activities from there, which just goes to show she was also an awesome kid in addition to being a great teenager. More than anything, Jun is an introvert, and this doesn't really change when he grows up, as shown by the fact that his social circle is still not very large, but nevertheless very appreciated...even if that also means Mizusu becomes a bit of a Karma Houdini. Then again, it's not for me to decide who Tomo and Jun - never mind Carol - decides to forgive. What does make it a bit more difficult in hindsight is his attitude towards what it means to be a boyfriend, which is entirely tied to the absurdity that was the final episode. Which I can't say anything about because of spoilers. Which is aggravating, to say the least.

On a lighter note, the show even does a good job with Carol and her boyfriend, Misaki, in the sense that - unlike Jun and his seemingly brotherly affection towards Tomo - Misaki makes the mistake of placing Carol on a pedestal. Although Carol's general behavior is odd, to say the least, their eventual resolution is actually no less sweet than Jun and Tomo's, and I appreciate how the show basically says that getting together also means sorting out and dealing with wrong impressions on what your partner is and what you need to do for them once you figure this out, and that includes me. I honestly thought she was kind of a dingbat at first, but the show clearly portrays her as much smarter and more perceptive than you'd assume despite her behavior being very genuine, and through that I gained a newfound respect for her as the show trundled along.

Visually, I don't really recall the show being particularly good or bad, which probably means it was decent enough. It's a lively enough show with all the slapstick violence going around, and the character designs are generally distinct and attractive enough to give each character their personalities. The dub was even pretty good, with Tomo's English dub doing a great job of giving her the somewhat husky voice of a girl who's not really trying to sound girly, but without attempting to "sound male". (Whatever that would mean.) It's colorful and fun, and that's really what matters the most.

Tim: My earlier choice of words might lead you to believe I hated Tomo-chan is a Girl!. I don't. It's just when the show got annoying, it got really annoying. I still watched it every week, after all, and if I didn't like it I sure wouldn't have finished it. And when the cast does gel well together, they can be sweet and loving characters. But like KonoSuba, it wants to try to be both charming and funny at the same time, and the tone of the show isn't suited for that. Still, I can't say I was ever bored by the series even at its nadir, and the lack of certain annoying archetypes far too common in this genre -perverted best friends, random animal sidekicks, bratty kid characters, or Surprise Siblings (TM) - results in a more focused show than most of the genre.

Plus, and I must stress this again, Tomo-chan is a Girl! actually has an ENDING. The show actually tells an entire story in 13 episodes; it's still refreshing in this day and age to be able to watch something and just finish it. Everything that needed to be wrapped up does, and nothing's left dangling. Thank you, staff of Tomo-chan is a Girl! for not leaving anything behind for a sequel season/OAV/movie.

Stig: The problems with justifying a rating is that most of my - well, our - misgivings about the show rests solely on its ending. What I can say, however, is that I felt the show had a good head on its shoulders about what it wanted to say about Tomo, about Jun, and about how they shouldn't really need to change their personalities to deepen their relationship. I don't have a problem with how Jun is the one who needed the most time to come to terms with this, and how he eventually did.

And then in the last episode, Tomo's father came and took a big solid dump on all of that in the most unnecessary of ways. So...yeah, three stars sounds about right.

A lot of good, some bad. Maybe just skip the last episode, or parts of it. It just ends on such a headshaking note altogether.Stig Høgset and Tim Jones

Recommended Audience: There is some fanservice, as Tomo has grown quite curvy over the years growing up, and Jun certainly noticed. The violence is almost solely slapstick, even when the local thugs get involved, so there's probably no reason to get concerned over that.

Version(s) Viewed: stream, English dub (Stig), Japanese with English subtitles (Tim)
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Tomo-chan is a Girl! © 2023 Fumita Yanagida / Seikai-sha / Tomo-chan is a Girl! Production Committee
© 1996-2015 THEM Anime Reviews. All rights reserved.