In some skits, like "I Want to Be Playful Like a Girl" in Episode 4 of Tomo-chan is a Girl!, humor unquestionably takes center stage. This romantic comedy anime is part of the Winter 2023 anime season. Some Tomo-chan subplots focus more on Tomo discovering new modes of expression than they do on her failed romance with the ahodere Jun.

Tomo Aizawa has every right to be both tough and girly as part of her identity because she is a girl of the twenty-first century. Funny enough, though, things frequently go wrong, and Tomo finds it difficult to hug other girls without scaring them off with her intimidating tomboy demeanor. Tomo's use of the term "glomping," a slang term from anime conventions in the 2000s, to describe this to herself was perhaps the funniest of all. In the anime community, art sometimes imitates life, and vice versa at other times.


Tomo Aizawa Is Too Strong for Glomping

Tomo-chan Is a Girl! and the Bizarre Art of Glomping, Anime's Fiercest Hug_0

The skit "I Want to Be Playful Like a Girl," like most Tomo-chan mini-arcs, is all about Tomo's sympathetic but awkward attempt to be tough and girly at the same time. Tomo is fully confident in herself and her ways, but other girls, most of all Misuzu Gundo, only see her outwardly boyish half and often find it intimidating. These girls are more traditionally feminine around each other and freely express themselves, but they typically tiptoe around Tomo or find her scary and run away when her tsundere temper flares up. Tomo therefore only sees her classmates' typical girly side when they're around each other, including playful hugs.

In Episode 4, in class, Tomo watched one female classmate energetically hug her female friend from behind, and Tomo commented to herself, "I wanna try glomping a girl like that, too." For those unfamiliar, glomping is a real-life term for when one anime fan aggressively hugs another, often from a running start, almost like a tackle-hug. Glomping can be an expression of enthusiasm, friendliness and happiness, and in some cases, the glomped person might actually lose their balance or fall over. Most likely, Tomo's female classmates would only tolerate a glomp from another girl and would find a glomp from a boy downright terrifying.

Amusingly, Tomo is more like the boys around her when it comes to physical acts like glomping. She is well-known for her advanced physical abilities and karate, to the point where she can send boys and girls alike running with the mere threat of violence, and the boys in her karate club know they can't match her in combat. Tomo is no doubt the school's strongest girl and one of the strongest students overall, so any girl would fear a Tomo glomp, no matter how friendly it was intended to be. Poor Tomo simply cannot get her turn to playfully glomp a female friend or even a male one, simply because she doesn't know her own strength.


How Real Life Imitates Anime & Vice Versa

Tomo-chan Is a Girl! and the Bizarre Art of Glomping, Anime's Fiercest Hug_1

By now, the divide between fictional anime characters and their real-life fans is more porous than ever, and even if they don't say so, modern anime characters seem vaguely aware that they have real-life fans who watch them. More and more often, anime characters will say or do things that reference the real world's anime fandom, including using slang terms and pop culture references. Typically, fans of any TV show, movie or other franchise may imitate it with cosplay and references in real life, but it cuts both ways. It's anime fans in real life, such as at conventions, who do things like glomp each other or form elevator parties, but anime characters sometimes try it too.

Another rom-com anime title, Don't Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro!, referenced Among Us in Season 1, with the hiyakasudere Hayase Nagatoro calling her senpai "sus" because she always playfully accuses him of being pervy in secret. In Season 2, the characters even used the slang term "Chad." Meanwhile, a subtler example of art imitating life is Yuji Itadori in Jujutsu Kaisen, with Yuji comparing his new curse technique to classic shonen hero moves such as Bleach's bankai, Naruto's Rasengan and Yu Yu Hakusho's Rei Gun. Normally, an anime fan would make these meta comparisons, but Yuji himself did it without JJK being a meta anime like Gintama.

Gintoki making jokes about Bleach and Dragon Ball is one thing, but when "serious" and non-meta heroes like Yuji do it too, it demonstrates how cognizant the anime industry can be of its own success and the community it serves. As a sort of payback for anime fans frequently imitating their favorite characters, the protagonists can now honor the followers who adore them. The least Tomo Aizawa can do is entertain the notion of glomping a friend in the anime convention style if anime fans are going to dress up as their favorite heroes and quote them.