The 2023 Winter anime season promises to be exciting, with both returning titles and exciting new additions. Tomo-chan is a girl among them! It surely stands out for its novel premise and fascinating exploration of adolescent relationships and the role that gender plays in it.
The animation, produced by Aniplex and INSPION Edge, will premiere on January 5. The anime's official Twitter account released a new PV a few days ago, offering the viewers a taste of Tomo's fight to be reciprocated. In the video, Tomo admits to having feelings for her childhood best friend and appears to seek advice from her closest friends – a cast of characters who are certain to make matters worse for her.
Tomo-chan Is a Girl!'s 's Secret Gender Discourse
Shortly after entering high school, Tomo confesses her feelings to her friend Jun, who doesn’t realize it's a love confession at all. Blind to her advances, the PV shows Jun playfully poking Tomo and being overall very intimate with her, as he would be with any of his male friends. Tomo’s embarrassment and frustration are evident, and she defends herself in the only way she knows how -- she resorts to violence.
Around the titular character, a crowd of friends seems to be summoned for advice. In the PV, when Tomo asks them what to do with Jun, their answers vary from "I’m not interested in my classmates" to "He doesn’t see you as a girl" in a series of very unhelpful exchanges. The side characters, from what can be gathered from the new PV, are mainly written for comedic purposes. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see whether any of them can influence Tomo enough to stir the story in new directions.
Tomo-chan Is a Girl!'s 's Unspoken Gender Discourse
Exploiting humor and hijinks, Tomo-chan Is a Girl! cleverly pushes forward a deeper discourse on gender. Tomo is a typical tomboy -- deviating from gender norms, she grows up with tastes and interests normally associated with masculinity. The PV, despite its attempt at comedy, cannot hide Tomo’s struggle to reconcile her feminine and masculine sides. She is brash, violent and physical, yet she also desires to be seen as a girl and to be desired and loved as one.
At the end of the PV, Jun admits that "Things are boring without [Tomo] by [his] side." His apparently harmless sentence gives the anime an opportunity to explore the role of gender in teenage friendship, especially in relation to Japanese society’s expectations. Jun seems to value his friendship with Tomo as much as she longs for his love, but it seems impossible for Tomo to become enough of a 'girl' for her wish to come true. Can boys and girls be friends? Does one need to change who they are to be loved? Tomo-chan Is a Girl! seems ready to tackle these questions -- and more. Following in the steps of new anime, such as Romantic Killer, that are not afraid to push boundaries, Tomo-chan Is a Girl! could be the next milestone in the fight for better representation.
Tomo-chan Is a Girl! is set to stream on Crunchyroll.