I’m reading a lot of ongoing manga. According to MyAnimeList, I’m reading ten ongoing manga, with three more that have completed, but are still being scanlated. Truth be told, while my anime-watching days are at a much more peaceful state compared to years past, manga has been something I’ve kept up on regularly. Some of these manga I enjoy so much that I feel the need to write on them while they’re still in production, like with when I wrote a piece on Komi-san. (Wow, has it really been over a year since I wrote that?!) Today’s topic is on a manga that, all things considered, might trump my adoration for the former.
Aharen-san is a girl who doesn’t know any personal boundaries. When associating with anyone, she constantly gets way up close, physically clings onto them, and stares deep into their soul without flinching. Our male lead, Raidou, is conveniently accepting of this personal quirk, but not without some initial hesitation. The story begins with Raidou getting to know this strange girl, while also incorporating some tactics to help with her “condition.” After a little while, this premise is completely dropped and everything goes straight to Hell. Just how I like it.
I overexaggerate to some degree (as is my nature), but Aharen-san is one of the kookiest manga I’ve ever read that wasn’t entirely based within a gag/satirical light. One could absolutely find a series more bonkers; Aharen-san manages to combine the relatable aspects of school life and awkwardness surrounding sprouting friendship with an unpredictable crutch that is the two lead characters. What has been stated about Aharen’s lack of boundaries and Raidou’s tolerance of it is only the start of an intriguing direction this manga takes—whether this is good or bad is up to you.
I’ve purposefully said very little about the male lead, Raidou. Based on what I’ve described of him, what do you think he’s like? Docile, but accepting? Nervous and fidgety? Blushes tremendously whenever Aharen gets anywhere near him? I’m sure you imagined this to some degree. It is with udder glee that I am to inform any ignorant readers that this is not the case at all. Raidou is, one could argue, weirder than Aharen, especially in later chapters. The strength of the manga comes from the blunt chemistry these two share as a comedic duo, with Aharen partaking in weirdly intimate things and Raidou observing it completely objectively. Both characters often are drawn with completely blank expressions that hide their inner feelings, making everything vaguely cynical, which makes the humor all the more effective.
A lot of it comes from misunderstandings, which is commonplace, but the active imagination of Raidou makes everything so blissfully weird. Aharen is constantly hiding her face? Raidou believes that she recently got into a scuffle with a tiger and wants to hide the jagged scars from the world. Aharen can’t focus in class? She’s not getting enough sleep due to the multi-billion dollar corporation she runs suddenly coming under fire for money-laundering schemes. (These are fake, but similar scenarios.) Of course, the end of the chapter confirms that he’s being ridiculous and properly explains the situation. It is that imagination, however, that makes him, and the manga, so charming.
This also ends up being the major issue with the manga. The repetition attributed to the formula of “Aharen does something unusual (for her) → Raidou thinks up something absurd → Aharen is actually experiencing normal things” makes some chapters feel dull to the whole of the manga’s appeal, as it has shown to have some heart to it. Aharen-san, much like Komi-san, also features some wholesome intimacy between the two leads and their dependency of one another. While Komi and Tadano are still fairly awkward with one another on a deeper emotional level, Raidou and Aharen’s relationship is benefited from a residual comfort built up from Aharen’s tendencies to be close to him at all times. These two are practically born for one another, seeing as they’re both weirdos. Because of this, it’s easy to root for them as a ship, especially when they understand the emotional connection they share, evidenced in isolated moments of clarity and affection.
Repetition aside, there are also various obstacles that Aharen-san faces in its direction. Occasionally, it wants to be funny; occasionally, it wants to be wholesome; occasionally, it wants to create a warm environment for Aharen to flourish as a person. There’s a lot that I feel this author wants to do, but it all drowns itself in a flurry of misdirection that’s not aided by forward momentum. Each chapter ranges from 13 to 20 pages, normally, so there also isn’t much time to establish a joke and roll with it, particularly because this isn’t a 4-koma. That said, there’s a lot to like with this manga—it just won’t be found in every consecutive chapter. Some may prefer the comedy, some may prefer the wholesomeness. I like both, though the rate of both is fairly uneven.
Where Komi-san (since I wrote that post) has gone somewhat off the rails with its increasing amount of filler and seven-hundred characters, Aharen-san is a little more consistent in what I think makes it satisfying to read. The chemistry between the two leads is always the strongest point, and the manga never lets you forget it. For that alone, I think it’s recommendable. Though only at 59 chapters at this point, a lot has occurred between these two goofballs and those who have braved their frenzied shenanigans. If that sounds good, be sure to give it a go. Aharen may even thank you by shaking your hand with her face inches away from your own.
If you’d like to see more reviews like this, feel free to look at my full list of manga reviews!
Thank you for your time. Have a great day.