***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai. Reader discretion is advised.***
Mitsuyoshi Tada (voiced by Yuichi Nakamura) is an avid photographer. While out looking for his next great shot, Mitsuyoshi comes across the most breathtaking thing he has ever seen through his camera’s lens. Like a dream, he meets the beautiful Teresa Wagner (voiced by Manaka Iwami).
This fateful encounter brings with itself a lot of coincidences. Teresa has come to Japan as a foreign exchange student from the European country of Larsenburg. Not only will she be attending the same school as Mitsuyoshi, but Teresa will also be staying at the apartment complex next to Mitsuyohsi’s small, family-owned coffee shop.
Due to this, Mitsuyoshi and Teresa grow close.
However, these two tend not to say what is really going on in their minds. For Mitsuyoshi, he has always kept his emotions closed off. For Teresa, she appears to be keeping a rather large secret, and it is a secret that will greatly affect how far her relationship with Mitsuyoshi can go.
I thought I had a full grasp of what Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai (TKS) would be like when I sat down to watch it. After all, this was merely a new romantic-comedy anime to go along with the already long list of other romantic-comedy anime.
Despite my early predictions, I’m not saying I went into this series thinking it was doomed to fail. Just because a story might play it by-the-book, that doesn’t mean anything regarding potential quality. Like coloring in a coloring book, there is something cathartic about staying within the lines. But like anything else, be it coloring or storytelling, the outcome of the final product rests entirely in the hands of the people holding the crayon.
Provided the right choices get made, a project that appeared bound by limitations can become special.
What I’m trying to get at is, I ended up really liking TKS. This show impressed me quite a bit. I will be the first to admit that this series never even attempted to go wild with its presentation. It was never overly artistic. Through and through, this was still a romantic-comedy story.
However, TKS took the elements you would expect to see and used them in ways that were unexpected.
For instance, the comedy half of this romantic-comedy was great, and as such, it made the romantic half all the more enjoyable. This series was a lot funnier than I thought it was ever going to be, and this show got me on board with its sense of humor from its very first joke.
If you are an obvious foreigner in Japan, the most effective way to catch a Japanese person off guard is to speak Japanese to them. It often doesn’t matter how garbage or fluent your Japanese ability is, some Japanese people might need a second to accept that a non-Japanese person, particularly a Westerner, took the time to learn their language.
If you’re watching TKS and have never been to Japan, then this joke probably won’t mean much to you. But since I am speaking as someone who has experienced this exact situation many, many times – occasionally to my annoyance – seeing this as the opening gag was a strong signal that the people behind this series had a decent idea about what they were doing.
From this start to the end of the final episode, TKS effectively employed a comedy that helped elevate this show’s enjoyment factor. This series’ humor was funny because it was humanizing.
Does a word like “humanizing” mean TKS lacked silliness? Not at all, and this show had no qualms about being goofy. Episode three, for example, was mostly told from the point-of-view of the main character’s cat, Nyanko Big (voiced by Akio Otsuka*).
*Note: Nyanko Big’s usual cat noises were voiced by Ms. Ari Ozawa. It was only Nyanko Big’s inner voice that was provided by Mr. Otsuka.
When I realized episode three would focus on the cat, I was ready to hate it. To my shock, TKS managed to use this episode to add a ton of personality, not only to its story, but more importantly, to its characters. Plus, Nyanko Big’s own antics were not just tolerable, they were also surprisingly entertaining.
Returning to the humanizing nature of TKS’ comedy, this was the factor that made this show’s best feature, its characters, fantastic. Since this series didn’t try to reinvent the wheel, it, instead, spent most of its efforts getting to know its cast. A cast that was not small.
TKS was only thirteen-episodes long, and yet, if found multiple ways to give each of its characters their fair share of screen time. Not everyone in this show had enough to their personality to be the main protagonist of their own series, but it was always easy to feel something for someone whenever anything happened.
Not only that, this group was sharp. Even with a natural dose of obliviousness in certain situations, most of these characters were quick to realize whenever someone was acting strangely. It was almost as if much of this cast had been friends for years, and thus, they would notice whenever someone they had known for so long was not being their usual self.
While several people in TKS were skilled at reading the room, no one was better at this than Alexandra “Alec” Magritte (voiced by Shino Shimoji), the best friend of main female character Teresa. Alec’s level of awareness was an amazing sight to witness, and this is why she was my favorite character of the show.
With a strong character pool, TKS didn’t focus all its efforts on the main story. Regardless of how problematic that may sound, I am going to argue that this was a massive positive for this show. Although I enjoyed it, I also recognize that there wasn’t much to the main story. There was nowhere near enough material to fill a full thirteen episodes without something getting dragged out.
Due to this, when this series did return to its main storyline – the relationship between main characters, Mitsuyoshi and Teresa – there was always a sense of progression and never any stagnation.
Naturally, this only worked because the multiple side-storylines of TKS were compelling, and none of them overstayed their welcome.
Like any good show, you don’t realize you’re being ensnared while watching TKS. It’s not until everything is coming together do you notice how invested you are in what is happening. The last few episodes of this series had my complete attention. Everything had led up to a particular moment, and it was all paying off in spades.
TKS brought everything full circle; even if it wasn’t in the subtlest of ways. Although this series was a bit heavy-handed in its methods, every character quirk and every bit of foreshadowing had a role to play in this show’s endgame. It was nice to see how far this story had actually gone.
Of the anime from the 2018 Spring season I have seen so far, TKS is up there with the best of them. This was a series where I made a lot of confident predictions. I was positive I would be able to roadmap everything that would occur in this show, down to the smallest detail. I’m so happy that most of my predictions were wrong.
Oh, and before I forget. There was one more great thing about TKS: it was a very well-animated. Talk about a nice little bonus.
What was with all the Japanese?
Before you all start thinking I have gone insane, let me explain what I mean by that.
There was something that was constantly bothering me while I was watching TKS. This show had firmly established that both Teresa and Alec were foreigners. However, you would never be able to tell that if you only ever heard them speak.
I have no problem accepting that Teresa and Alec were super fluent in Japanese. I’m even okay with letting go of the fact that they had no accent in their voices and that they sounded exactly like native speakers. Disregarding all that, the thing I found to be extremely odd was that Teresa and Alec always spoke Japanese. It didn’t matter if there was no one around and they were only talking to each other, these two never uttered a single word in their native language.
I understand that Teresa and Alec were from the fictional country of Larsenburg. As such, I can’t blame this show for not going out of its way to come up with its own fake language. I mean, who has that kind of time?
Nevertheless, and correct me if I’m wrong, I don’t believe there are many places in Europe where the dominant form of communication is Japanese.
To make this even stranger, there was even a flashback which showed Teresa and Alec as children, in Larsenburg, AND THEY WERE STILL SPEAKING JAPANESE.
Had this series just used simple English, French, German, or literally any of the many European languages, it would have added to the illusion that Teresa and Alec were the foreigners this story claimed they were.
I get that doing this would have added a ton of extra effort I’m sure was better spent elsewhere. However, TKS kept calling attention to this. Therefore, it was impossible to simply ignore.
Now to be fair, this show did end up giving us its version of “native” English, and it was one-hundred-percent the god-awful anime English that is extremely grating to listen to. Thus, if I had to pick between these two extremes, I guess I do prefer that Teresa and Alec only spoke Japanese.
Although I said this was something that bothered me, it never came close to irritating me to the point where I couldn’t find this show enjoyable. If this was the worst thing TKS had to offer, I think it’s fair to say we got off rather lucky. Too bad this wasn’t the worst thing.
There was something else that happened in this show that I want to discuss, but I can’t discuss since it would require me venturing way too far into spoiler territory. Unfortunately for me, this is also something I have to bring up. Thus, I apologize for the ensuing ambiguity.
At a certain point in TKS, something happened, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. And I’m not sure how I feel about it because I know precisely how I should feel about it. This was something I should hate despite me not hating it, except that I actually do hate it even though I really don’t hate it.
Did that make any sense? Of course not, and that’s precisely the problem I am running into. Merely trying to wrap my head around what this show did is hurting my brain.
From the 2018 Winter season, there was a series called Kokkoku. Not to re-review that entire show, it was ninety-five percent awesome. However, there was something in that remaining five percent that totally undid everything that occurred in that story. Pretty much the same thing happened here in TKS. Fortunately, there was one critical difference.
The thing Kokkoku did was maddening and it sort of, completely destroyed an otherwise great show. TKS, on the other hand, didn’t end up doing that despite pulling the exact same BS move.
With TKS, I at least got something pleasant out of its cheapness. In Kokkoku I only got angry. Again, I think it’s fair to say we got off rather lucky here.
I had a great time with this show. It was a lot more fun than I expected.
As a romantic-comedy, it was both extremely funny, as well as wonderfully heartwarming. Although it didn’t venture beyond what most people usually associate with this genre, this story still managed to have a lot of creativity in a very familiar space.
There were a ton of great characters in this show, there was never a dull moment, everything was beautiful to look at, and I can easily say that it was completely satisfying when it was all over.
If you get the chance, Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai is a series you should definitely check out.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.
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