Anime: Tada Never Falls in Love
Season aired: Spring 2018
Number of episodes: 13
Genres: Romance, Comedy
Thoughts: Doga Kobo, a production company famous for its excellent anime adaptation of Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, has pulled together most of the team and even voice actors for an ambitious original romance anime, Tada Never Falls in Love. Many people had high expectations for the anime. But the question is, did it live up to the standards Doga Kobo had set for itself through Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun?
Before I give you my answer, I shall provide a short synopsis for those who haven’t seen it and are reading this article. Tada Never Falls in Love is a story that follows a silly photography club in high school. One day during beautiful sakura viewing season, Tada, a member of that club, accidentally meets a young foreigner named Teresa from a fictional country named Larsenburg while taking pictures. As fate would have it, Teresa not only lives beside Tada’s family coffee shop, but she also attends the same high school. Adventures, laughs, and romance soon follow.
In my opinion, this was an ambitious anime that had a lot of goals to reach but ends up only reaching one. As a result, I do not think it lives up to the standards that people had been expecting. The first and foremost problem I found is that the anime introduces too many side plots. There are romantic hints between multiple characters. However, none of them end up getting resolved in the end except for the final one. In fact, none of the others were even given development of any sort aside from side laughs. All the side relationships become nothing more than filler to the actual storyline, and in fact, if you actually take them out completely, the story ultimately doesn’t change at all.
Another problem is that the anime introduces nine total characters that seem to be equally important… when, really, it can be narrowed down to just four. Four of them were literally just there to provide comedic scenes, most noticeably the photography club president, Pin-senpai, and the class representative, Hinako (who were also hinted as a possible romantic couple with no closure). What was even more tragic was, despite producing one of the funniest comedy anime in recent years, Doga Kobo was unable to bring the same level of humor to the table with Tada Never Falls in Love. Though there were definitely funny moments that had me laughing out loud, some of the jokes were overused and some were even eye-roll worthy. It was a good funny anime, but it wasn’t a great one.
However, what irked me more than anything else was Teresa’s character and her lack of development. She came to Japan to learn and explore, which I understand. However, throughout the anime, she constantly seems to get away with problems that she creates on her own and barely suffers the consequences for it or learns to become a better person. What especially sealed this fact was the way the anime ended. She essentially gets everything she wants despite the recklessness, selfishness, and the pain she inflicts to those around her because of her actions. By the end of the anime, the only thing I could say about her is that she is a pure and cute character, but isn’t a character that I will likely remember.
The ending was especially disappointing. The last few minutes of the final episode could not have ended any more cliché than other stories out there with a solid kiss sealing the end of the series. It left no room for imagination, and it did not provide anything new or groundbreaking to an old formula that has been overused in the romance genre.
However, where the anime disappointed me in terms of the female characters, it exceeded my expectations on three boys: Ijuin, Tada’s best friend, Charles, Tada’s love rival in a sense, and Tada himself. Ijuin was especially refreshing. Seeming to fit in exactly with every point of a “best friend” trope, he proves himself to actually be essential to the story by being the very reason Tada is given any development in the first place.
But the best surprise of the boys is undoubtedly Charles. Introduced almost immediately as a supposed antagonist, Charles is everything but that. He is charming, kind, patient, and friendly. He might be a love rival to Tada when it comes to Teresa, but in no way is he rude or even competitive with the protagonist. In fact, he proves himself to be a better ally and friend to Tada than even Teresa herself.
Tada, voiced by Yuuichi Nakamura, starts out relatively generic but quickly evolves into a more complex individual. His past tied in with his development throughout the anime (alongside a symbolism of rain and rainbows) is what held this anime together. He is a likable teenager with adolescent problems and growth that transforms him from a boy who is trying to keep things together to a man who can face his problems. Moments of tremendous growth where Tada is forced to face his fears are actually heart-wrenching to an otherwise silly anime, and any moment that pulls at one’s emotions are all because of Tada. It’s his good development that makes Teresa’s character so disappointing, which makes the romance feel unbalanced between the two lovebirds. Tada’s character enhances the anime, but it also makes the audience acutely aware of the problem with its other characters.
The voice actors do, however, do their best in their limited roles. Despite a sudden switch between Umehara and Sugita because of Umehara’s illness, the change was practically seamless. One could only have wished the supporting characters were given more importance for the waste of talents employed. I do have to give a particular shoutout to Takahiro Sakurai whose nuances in Charles’ voice really brought color and dimension into what could’ve been a one-sided character.
The art and animation by themselves are very beautiful. Coupled along with a well-written soundtrack, the actual quality of the anime Doga Kobo provided was well done. It is just a pity that the story and characters fall a little short despite great logistical effort. As a result, I think Tada Never Falls in Love is a good anime, but nothing more. If you love cute romances, this will surely satisfy your needs. But if you are looking for heart-tugging, tear-inducing, whether through laughter or sorrow, addicting romance, you’ll need to search elsewhere.
I am planning to rate all my anime based on the anime rating system that Japanese anime critics use. I will have 5 categories, each with the top score of 10, and then a final multiplier of 2.
Voice acting: 7
FINAL SCORE: 74