First Look: Tada Never Falls In Love

Alternative title(s): Tada-kun wa Koi o Shinai
Animal Original by Dogakobo
Streaming on HIDIVE

Premise

Dogakobo does their best Tamako Market impersonation… er, Tada is taking pictures of the spring cherry blossoms when he meets a beautiful, free spirited foreign girl named Teresa. I’m pretty sure they’re going to fall in love.

Jel’s verdict: Falling in Like

Ever since 2013’s cult favorite Love Lab, Dogakobo has established their ability to harness silly cartoon animation and stellar comedic timing to make even the most flat premises fun to watch. This style peaked with the instant comedy classic Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, a brilliant combination of Dogakobo’s technical strengths and truly great source material. While most of their shows since then have ranged from bad to average, they always have that spark of animated energy we’ve come to associate with the studio.

So it’s probably no surprise that I enjoyed the more silly, eccentric moments of this episode the most, particularly hanging out in the family coffee shop. Whether it was NYANKO BIG the surly fat cat with his own blog, a random appearance by Duke Togo, or Mamoru Miyano getting kicked in the face, there were certainly some charming bits of unique personality shining through the episode’s otherwise subdued tone.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the quieter moments, or at least that I didn’t think they were handled well. One of the reasons I love director Mitsue Yamazaki (not coincidentally returning from Nozaki-kun along with a lot of other key staff) is that she has proven very capable of handling both the silly and the serious in equal measure. One good example was the scene where Teresa is borrowing the house phone and looks over to see the family altar. In that quick moment Teresa, and us by extension, suddenly understand Tada’s family has gone through some great loss and we instantly know them better. We do love “show don’t tell” storytelling around here, and there was certainly a good amount of that going on.

I think the main problem is that when you boil it down to its core, Tada-kun appears to be a very straightforward romance story that is riddled with anime clichés and coincidences. Of course Tada would randomly bump into Teresa at least three times in the episode, of course there would be a scene where he shares his umbrella, of course her hotel would be right next to the coffee shop, of course she would transfer not just to his school, but his class… the list goes on and on. I don’t think it’s fair to keep comparing this to Nozaki-kun since they are attempting to do different things, but in that show when it brought up anime clichés it was to say “this is dumb and not how people really are”. With Tada-kun they are playing these scenarios out with zero irony. Taken at face value, all those things I just listed are, well… not very interesting.

Even our main couple – a serious, introverted every man and a flaky, outgoing free spirit – are predictable character types that pretty much write themselves. I guess they are likable enough, but I did not have strong feelings for them either way. Seeing as their relationship is going to be the entire foundation of the series, that will have to change moving forward. Maybe as we get to know them better as well as the other admittedly more interesting side characters, things will improve. I actually think there’s a good chance they will, and despite all my complaints I do think this episode was a net positive. I’ll give this another episode or two and hopefully I’ll be proven right.

Iro’s verdict: Not in Love

I think a large part of why everyone liked Nozaki was because its ratio of goofy cast comedy to actual romance was heavily weighted to the comedy side. Tada seems like the opposite, leaning into genre clichés with no irony and no hook. It’s all just… fine. Inoffensive, inconsequential, and leaving me indifferent. Perhaps something will change in the next few weeks, but as it stands, I have little interest in just another teen romance.

Zigg’s Verdict: Photo Can Do

This seems like a very slight, largely predictable romantic comedy in the classic shoujo mould, which is elevated by Dogakobo’s immaculate presentation and animation. There’s no small amount of charm, and I appreciate that the characters all seem sympathetic and well rounded from the off, but it’s difficult to shake the feeling that this will largely follow the usual series of anime cliches until Tada and Teresa either get together in the last episode or, more likely, we’re left in frustrating semi-limbo. I will say NYANKO BIG is perhaps the best character name ever, and also that a serious camera otaku worked on this show, as evidenced by all the lovingly detailed and presumably licensed real-life pieces of photographic equipment which show up (Tada’s Nikon D7200, Teresa’s Panasonic GF7, Kaoru’s Sony RX100, and the gorgeous Nikon F3 which is on the shrine). They even get the 7200’s viewfinder display right! Best anime ever,11/10 etc.

Artemis’ verdict: Middle of the Road

While I didn’t exactly dislike what I saw of Tada-kun, I also came away from the premiere with a feeling of vague disappointment. I’ve long been of the opinion that any work of fiction should be judged purely on its own merits, but it’s hard not to have high expectations of an anime when the studio has set such high standards for itself in the past, and I’m sorry to say that Tada-kun just didn’t deliver on them. It’s not that I was expecting a wonderfully absurdist comedy rather than a more conventional romance per se, but rather that I was expecting something with more uniqueness, creativity, or charm. Instead, I was let down by a bunch of stereotypical clichés which, despite being well-polished, said and did nothing to make them anything more than that. Basically, I was watching something that came across as high quality, but which at the end of the day was absolutely nothing I hadn’t seen literally hundreds of times before. It’s a shame, because I think all the raw elements were still there – they just didn’t play out in any way that was new or entertaining enough to be actually interesting.

2 thoughts on “First Look: Tada Never Falls In Love

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