Tomo-chan Is a Girl! from Winter 2023 stands out among rom-com anime thanks to the special and novel interaction between the title character and her childhood crush, Jun Kubota. Tomo Aizawa has already distinguished herself as a unique character as a competitive and spirited tomgirl, and Jun upends the story with his sincere and motivating feelings for her. As the show goes on, it becomes clear that the layers of their relationship are similar to those of another legendary anime couple.
It's becoming clear that Jun sees Tomo as both his ideal and his rival, a sentiment shared by Naruto and Sasuke. Aside from the hilarious parody of a famous Naruto scene, Tomo-chan Is a Girl! draws some clear parallels between these rom-com rivals and the famous shonen couple. Though these two duos are not identical, their similar dynamics make for a compelling viewing experience that enhances the narrative and challenges the genres of their respective series.
The Complicated Relationships of Friendly Rivals in Tomo-chan and Naruto
Despite the difference in their backgrounds and fictional settings, both Naruto and Sasuke and Tomo and Jun have a multilayered rivalry and friendship. Due to the ninja world's hostile culture and history, Naruto and Sasuke lean in on their intense competitiveness, whereas Tomo and Jun's peaceful days in the real world permit them to have a more wholesome friendship. That being said, a key component to both these dynamics is the source of their rivalry.
When Naruto and Sasuke face off in the Valley of the End, they reveal their friendship and rivalry is what kept both pushing themselves to reach the next level. In Tomo-chan Is a Girl!, Jun admits Tomo's brave example became an ideal for him to reach and surpass, which is identical to Naruto's goal in regard to Sasuke. Though certain nuances of these rivalries may differ, the core sentiments are a match.
If the small details are not enough to show the parallels between these two rivalries, Episode 6 of Tomo-chan goes further and makes a clear parody of Naruto and Sasuke's early fight against Haku. Though it's played off as a joke, the parallels to Naruto's relationship with Sasuke in this scene alone show how similar these two dynamics are. All joking aside, the central focus on rivalries has a critical impact on the series.
The Importance of a Complicated Rivalry in Narrative and Genre
These complicated rivalries are at the core of both Naruto and Tomo-chan. Though there are a lot more obstacles standing in the way of Naruto and Sasuke's relationship, their pride during their childhood stops them from being friends and turns them into rivals. This friction becomes so central to the plot as both characters grow. It adds heavy layers of drama and emotion to the narrative, which is what made Naruto stand out in the shonen genre to begin with.
Similarly, Jun's fixation on achieving his goal of defeating Tomo stands in the way of having a romance with her. He ignores her flirting and romantic charm due to this fixation he has on their rivalry, making him an unexpectedly interesting character to watch. It also serves as a refreshing change of pace for the shojo genre at large. Complex rivalries are found in shonen more often than not, so Tomo and Jun's certainly gives Tomo-chan a different vibe from the typical shojo anime.
There's no telling if the creator was directly inspired by Naruto to have this dynamic or if it is, in fact, mere coincidence or conjecture. Regardless, Tomo-chan Is a Girl!'s central emphasis on rivalry shakes up the shojo formula to create an original series in what has sadly been a rather stale genre, albeit with some gems mixed in. Like the dynamic between Naruto and Sasuke, watching the growth between Tomo and Jun is just one of many reasons to be a fan of this original and exciting series.