When it comes to romance stories, authors often opt for a plot-driven story instead of a character-driven one. What this often leads to is the creation of fairly forgettable and shallow characters with personalities that don't spread out in a more human fashion. This is especially true for high-school romance dramas.
However, people often forget that what works best for a romance drama is a character-driven story. Without going much into the depth of the internal conflicts of a character, it is easy to not find emotions to attach to a character. And this is a very essential device that an author must use to capture the reader's attention as much as they can for such a genre.
There are many examples of manga which have the same shallow characters that feel like they were developed off of a checklist that someone prescribed. That's never a bad thing to do, if one has a plot that can make use of those traits memorably.
Then there are proper character driven stories that take the time to show us what's going on in the heads of the main characters. Mangaka like Umino Chika and Oshimi Shuzo excel in telling such stories. But comparing their excellence here won't be all that meaningful, mainly because of the major difference in the core genre.
At the core, Real Girl aka 3D Kanojo, is a high-school romance story. And there's probably a million of them, right? That's true. Even the premise of the story about two people, quite opposite in terms of personalities, is not unheard of.
What makes Real Girl different and memorable is that the author took the time to establish each of the characters as being something that is not quite understandable upon first glance. Every aspect of the manga shows us the internal conflicts of the characters in question. It shows us that, just like most of us would in real life, these characters printed on paper also have to sort through all their feelings to come up with decisions that don't necessarily give a definite answer to a question. It shows that that feelings are more complex than a girl and a guy fawning over each other. It shows that the change that people go through in their lifetime are often because of the influence of others. This extends to all the major characters, and not just the protagonists.
And that is what's so good about this high-school romance story. Even though it appears to be the same as many others, there's obviously something more complex going on underneath that makes it different. That is the idea that the entire story is based around. Sure, like any other story, there are moments that shine bright and there are moments that often turn you away, but all in all, it's a story well done.
Being a character-driven story, the story itself progresses with the characters themselves and as such, often shows quite some variation in tonality as it progresses, depending on the emotional conflict that the characters themselves are going through.
The art isn't exceptionally commendable. There's plenty of faults, especially when it comes to showcasing facial expressions. But it's well enough to easily discern the most important characters in the story.
For a high-school romance story that came from a shoujo magazine, Real Girl is truly a memorable experience that doesn't fail to tell a heartwarming love story about two very different people and how they adapt to the time they have together.