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The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, REALLY Love You – Episode 3

Hello folks, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today I figured we’d stop back in with Rentaro and the gang, and see how his sacred mission to acquire one hundred girlfriends is proceeding. Look, it’s not like he’s a cold philanderer or anything; as has been clearly established by the suspiciously convenient worldbuilding, all of those girlfriends are doomed to perpetual unhappiness if he does not find them and date their worries away. It’s a heavy burden, but given Rentaro’s deft navigation of his first two true loves, I have every confidence he’ll be able to manage it.

Rentaro’s woes aside, 100 Girlfriends continues to be an altogether charming, entirely ludicrous riff on romantic comedy convention, persistently innovating on its core joke of “what if we played this fantastical polycule entirely straight, complete with soaring string arrangements accompanying each ridiculous romantic threshold.” It doesn’t seem like there’s much of a larger point beyond the comedy yet, but comedies don’t necessarily need a thematic backbone; the faces are good and the gags are snappy, making it an energetic watch regardless. Let’s see how Rentaro fares with his third destined love!

Episode 3

“The Quiet Princess, the Knight, and the Samurai.” Given we bumped into this latest girlfriend in the library, I assume this title means she’s an avid reader who frames the events of her own life in terms of the stories she loves

And indeed, we open on the story of a princess who “knows her fate is to be alone.” So she clearly has trouble opening up to people, and also uses stories to process her own feelings

A graceful match cut of the princess’ hand leads us back to the library, assuring us that this is indeed the thought process of our new maiden

Man, this is gonna be an awkward conversation. Rentaro decided he wasn’t going to reveal the true nature of his quest in order to ensure his girlfriends didn’t feel like they were being compelled into a relationship, but that consequently means he’s going to have to individually sell ninety-eight more girlfriends on the existing crowd

So we’ve got the profoundly horny go-getter Hakari, gyaru tsundere Karane, and now this shy bookworm. I feel like we’re gonna run out of harem archetypes long before we get anywhere near one hundred of these girls; Rikito Nakamura’s just gonna be hip-firing new archetypes into existence for the last fifty or so

“I didn’t expect to run into another soulmate here and now.” Statistically speaking, even with one hundred to find, it’s unlikely you would have naturally run into any of your soulmates. Though I suppose part of the definition of soulmate could include someone who’s naturally in your periphery, which is a pretty important prerequisite for a romantic relationship

“Tis I, the governor of this land.” Apparently she communicates through quotations from her favorite books. And she’s also a librarian, which seems like it’d make for a tricky combination

She is also preposterously fluffy. The animators are doing an excellent job of conveying how she’s essentially enrobed in her uniform like a giant blanket, while even her hair seems to entirely overwhelm her body

“What’s going on here!? Is it no talking in the library!?” A great deal of Rentaro’s charm comes from how he immediately assumes he’s the odd man out in any new situation, and that whatever’s happening is totally normal. Which is also how many of these relationships work – he meets these girls where they’re at, never dismissing their desires, working hard to make them feel comfortable and included

“She found conversing with people most difficult.” “Sorry, I didn’t realize. Can you help me?” Yep, no challenging her on her difficulty with conversation, just a quick apology for the misunderstanding and onward to treating her normally. I suppose if there is an early theme emerging, it’s mostly in how Rentaro’s “superpower” is just being a decent, considerate person who genuinely wants to make people happy. The story concept would make you assume he’s a lech, but he’s actually the opposite of most harem protagonists: someone who is always putting others before himself, always ensuring everyone is comfortable

“Do you have any recommendations? My favorite genre is romance.” Presumably the thing she wants most, simply being treated the same as anyone else in spite of her difficulty with communication

She lights up upon being asked for suggestions, and begins to scurry around the library in her hamster-like way

“Nah, you picked these out for me, so I want to read them all.” Another key Rentaro power, his utter dedication to reciprocating any and all acts of kindness or affection from the people around him. Nothing ever goes unappreciated by Rentaro

After Rentaro is thwarted by the need for a library card, the new girl offers her own treasured book. A clear gesture of faith, given it’s also her vehicle for language altogether

Her name is Shizuka Yoshimoto

Meanwhile, Rentaro’s first two girlfriends are busy researching recipes to dazzle him with. How is he going to find time to romance all these new girls while keeping his existing girlfriends satisfied? One Rentaro can only do so much!

Shizuka’s book tells the tale of Princess Io and her knight Kamakura

I appreciate how the scenes of the book’s story are actually animated differently, with more dramatic shading and post-processing lighting effects, as well as less rounded, more realistic character designs. A neat way of creating some separation between the two dramas, as well as visually echoing the tone of this novel’s prose

Also interesting that Shizuka has a voice in her stories, but not in reality

More terrific effects animation accompany some dramatic close-up compositions as Io is protected from a dragon’s breath. Even the boarding has shifted now, switching to partial close-ups to convey a sense of dramatic impact over the show’s generally sitcom-adjacent medium wide shots. Love how much this staff are investing in making Io’s world feel distinct, which in turn echoes Rentaro’s absorption in Shizuka’s beloved story

Ostentatious use of soft focus too, which is indeed a hit in recent self-serious action and fantasy. Nothing apparently makes a scene feel dramatic like blurring everything but the speaker’s face

Love Rentaro sobbing as he gets too wrapped up in the story

Excellent portrayal of a nervous moment for Shizuka, as she opens her bag and reveals the second volume of her story, simultaneous excited to share it and anxious at the thought Rentaro won’t be interested

Her nervous faces are also very good. Extremely lively hair

Her freaking out provides another example of this show’s novel approach to character art, its flat shading and focus on angular extremities. Low drawing count, but excellent, personality-rich individual drawings

Its approach seems like a more effective version of what low-rent “motion comics” like Way of the House Husband are seeking; capturing the specific appeal of the original’s line art and remaining relatively easy to produce, but still offering a convincing animated world

“You always flip the pages and find the right words to say in an instant. You must know that book like the back of your hand.” Recognizing and celebrating Shizuka’s passions and talents

“I am unworthy of such praise.” Shizuka is of course used to being critiqued for her passions and insecurities, not celebrated

“Only the world I saw through here gave me respite.” Little wonder she relates to the isolated princess

And though he doesn’t understand why others would shun her, he immediately recognizes this means a great deal to her, and thus resolves to do something about it. A key lesson in that, coming to respect the feelings of others even when you cannot relate to their origin. Is Rentaro going to teach a generation of readers to be more considerate romantic partners?

Later at the library, Shizuka struggles to reach that “Love, Taiyaki, and Me” volume that prompted her first meeting with Rentaro. A clear visual metaphor, Shizuka attempting to reach beyond her comfort zone, urged on by Rentaro’s encouragement

Several days later, Shizuka at last overlooks Rentaro hanging out with his two girlfriends, and assumes he doesn’t have time for her or for reading

Oof. Brutal flashbacks to Shizuka being shamed and abused for her difficulties with communication. Also a nice composition as we cut back to her reflecting on these memories, crouched and isolated within the austere pillars of the school walkway. The sun filters in from the direction of Rentaro, but Shizuka has turned away, unable to believe she can walk in the sunlight

That lighting motif carries through to the next scene, when Rentaro returns and claims he wants to repay Shizuka, accompanied by cuts to the sunlight filtering in through the window

Oh my god, my boy. Rentaro personally rewrote the entirety of the first volume as a digital file, all so Shizuka could more easily communicate with a text-to-speech app. He is truly a gallant knight!

What’s more, he did it all by typing it into his goddamn phone, the lunatic

“I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it is for you to talk out loud. So I can’t bring myself to push you to do it. But… I did want to make it easier for you to communicate with others, and I hope this helps, even a little.” Understanding that others struggle with different problems than you, even invisible ones, respecting those problems, and working to accommodate them rather than judging them for their differences. Rentaro really is just a standup guy

“It’s not because she’s my soulmate, or because I have to save her life, or anything like that. I truly, genuinely just…” It’s a tricky line to navigate, but really the only way this story will work – genuine, spontaneous love with each new girlfriend

And the explanation to his two prior girlfriends actually turns out okay! Hakari’s into it, at least

And Done

Now that was an excellent episode! After two episodes that focused largely on the inherent ridiculousness of this premise, as well as lampooning various soft targets in the romance and harem genres, it was delightful to learn that 100 Girlfriends can actually pull off some thoughtful, dramatic material as well. Rentaro’s bond with Shizuka felt earned in spite of this show’s natural contrivances, and I was particularly impressed with how the show handled Shizuka’s difficulties with communication. 100 Girlfriends is swiftly demonstrating that, in spite of Rentaro’s natural tendency to find soulmates wherever he glances, his actual strengths are his consideration, attention to the needs and feelings of others, and commitment to making the people he cares about happy and comfortable – you know, all that “just being a good person” stuff that actually makes for a healthy relationship. I’m starting to really believe he’ll make all these lovelorn ladies happy!

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