Tada Never Falls in Love
Episode 8

by Rose Bridges,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Tada Never Falls in Love ?

It took eight episodes, but I think I'm officially sick of making excuses for Tada Never Falls in Love. There's still a lot of good here, and it's hard not to be optimistic with such gorgeous aesthetics and a talented staff behind it. But I'm officially sick of watching this show squander its opportunities, and few episodes demonstrate that as well as this one.

It doesn't help that it came on the heels of two stronger episodes. Episode 6 was the first to show any real movement in the main plot of Teresa and Tada's romance since the premiere. It also finally confirmed that Teresa was indeed royalty. They were low bars to clear, but it was worth something. Episode 7 was another goofy diversion, but it featured the show's most entertaining (and adorable!) character, the fat cat Nyanko Big. It also didn't abandon the main story completely; while Nyanko Big was off being an absolute unit, Tada and Teresa's reactions to the incident revealed their newfound feelings for each other. Episode 8 seemed to promise more build-up, but it only started paying off about 2/3 of the way into its runtime.

Before that, we get another silly "school club goes on an adventure" episode. Now, don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed these types of episodes in other anime. Japanese summer festivals and other field trips are pretty much unavoidable in any high school show with a large enough cast, but what separates those shows from Tada Never Falls in Love is how I felt about the characters. "Group shenanigans" are only fun if you care about the people in that group, so you can see how they act in a new situation, away from the regiments of school life. This structure is a staple of slice of life and romance anime for a reason.

The problem is that Tada Never Falls in Love still hasn't given us much reason to love these characters. It really wouldn't take a lot; even comedies that have one personality trait per character can succeed at these goof-off episodes if the humor is strong enough. Tada Never Falls in Love tries this, but the uniqueness of each character is so weirdly specific that it's hard to draw humor out of putting them in a new situation. Hajime continues to be frustrating and creepy in his nonstop gushing about gravure idols, especially because the object of his affection is not-so-secretly right there. Why does she like him, again? I would find his obsession with her alter ego while failing to notice her in-person off-putting, to say the least. As for our main characters, they continue to do what they do best: be inoffensively bland.

The bigger problem lies in this episode's pacing problems. Tada Never Falls in Love doesn't have any more room to waste on expendable nonsense plots, not when it frontloaded its runtime with them, making it easy to forget how promising its central romance seemed in that first episode. I can forgive these diversions if they're as fun as Nyanko Big's episode last week, and if they find ways to tie back in the central relationship's development. But this episode just kept going back to familiar wells of light comedy and lighter drama—and the results were unmemorable.

At least there's still a significant Tada and Teresa scene near the end. It doesn't completely work, because Teresa's childhood memory of making Alec cry doesn't seem like it's remotely on the same level of Tada losing his parents. The emotions are real enough to force some kind of epiphany for Alec, at least. Teresa also seems to be more aware of the true nature of her feelings for Tada too. It's nice that the show finally got there, but the lead-up material wasn't really worth all that dawdling.

Once again, what happens in the episode's last seconds is more interesting than anything that came before. Charles returns to Larsenberg, and Alec promises to tell Teresa some important secret—presumably about Charles or their relationship. Tada Never Falls in Love would do wise to put more emphasis on that story next week. Procrastinating with supporting character antics has really diluted this show's focus. In its spiritual predecessor, Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, the supporting characters were more fun and clearly defined in their relationships, and the main duo had settled into a will-they-or-won't-they tension quickly. Tada Never Falls in Love has barely had room to build that tension between its too-perfect leads, because it kept choosing to spend time away from them. Sometimes shows are better for delaying viewer wish fulfillment, but this one just needs to give the people what they want already.

Rating: C+

Tada Never Falls in Love is currently streaming on HIDIVE.

Rose is a Ph.D. student in musicology, who recently released a book about the music of Cowboy Bebop. You can also follow her on her Twitter.

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