As an apology for being so late last time, this week’s review will be out pretty early… relatively speaking. The episode released yesterday, so while I could have written on it then, I wanted to have my last post settle to give readers a chance to look at it. Two days is long enough, though.
We’re… well, I’m going to assume we’re at the halfway point of Aharen-san‘s anime adaptation. This doesn’t seem like something that would be two-cour, but an official episode count hasn’t been confirmed yet. Currently, it’s been rather disappointing. One of five episodes have shown any potential of living up to its fast-paced, chaotic manga source. Does the sixth episode fare any better? Uhhh… mildly?
Episode 6 Synopsis
Raidou continues to be pestered by the fact that he’s never been able to defeat Aharen in any sort of competition. Thus, the two participate in a number of different competitions. To top it off, a new character enters the fray that promises to shake things up for future episodes.
In terms of what this series has shown so far, episode six is a success. In terms of a general scale of “objectivity” and in comparison to those that do the school-setting absurdist comedy thing well, it’s still fairly mediocre.
To its credit, however, this episode was fairly consistent in its desire to retain a theme of friendly competition. This is something Raidou, specifically, has been referencing the past few episodes—he wants to win against Aharen in something. She, despite her meager appearance, seems to have magnificent aptitude in whatever she puts her mind to.
A good 60-70% of this episode chronicles Raidou’s desire to win in competition, hence its focus on things like ping pong, basketball, bowling, and what have you. Most things have some sort of absurdist twist to them—like Aharen repeatedly slipping underneath Raidou’s legs to score in basketball—that make them more than just “Two friends play sports.” What’s different here is something the prior episodes usually neglect: pacing.
More in tune with the manga, a lot of these situations don’t take up a whole lot of time. Swimming, bowling, basketball, arcade shooting; there are lots of different things going on in this episode for these leads to do. They pick something up, tell the inevitable absurdist circumstance (whether funny or not is preferential), then move on to the next. Nothing ever feels too overstayed, even if the attempts at humor are, personally speaking, duds.
An unfortunate consequence to all of these different scenarios is that the animation suddenly has to step up from more than just casual conversations and funny fantasy imagery. Recall what I said before about the animation quality for Aharen-san being pretty shoddy? It absolutely shows here.
As early as the first few scenes, we’re treated to lazily produced montages of Raidou and Aharen being taught how to swim by Ooshiro. They see her being adequate at swimming, ask her for her assistance, and she agrees. They slide a few stills forward and suddenly the two are okay at swimming. It took all of fifteen seconds (if that). Amazing. Also offered some chances for some interestingly angled shots of the girls in their swimsuits.
It rarely improves, if ever, throughout the course of the episode’s runtime. Most of the action one could derive from watching things like ping pong or basketball, that feature fast-moving balls, don’t feature much in terms of realistic movement. There’s a specific sequence where Aharen and Raidou are bouncing a pong ball back and forth between one another that looks awful. Tis not a pretty sight no matter the activity.
Finally, there is the arrival of a new character: Aharen’s brother, Ren. In truth, I was sort of dreading seeing this character, as I recalled not caring much for him in the manga. This is slightly motivated by the fact that the “joke” of Aharen having a little brother that could basically be her identical twin is too stupid even for me (there’s about a six to seven year age difference). That, and the intention behind the character, at least in the manga, seemed somewhat dubious. Like, fan-service-y.
However, in a strange twist of fate, I didn’t mind him too much. There’s even a post-credits sequence that seems to involve a sort of subtle nod to transgender acceptance that I thought was cute. That aside, his only involvement in the plot of this episode was for Raidou to be confused as to why Aharen is suddenly being so expressive. It’s entirely too early to think that he won’t eventually become more annoying. But that’s my pessimism talking.
If you ignore the generally subpar animation that becomes more noticeable by the abundance of activities present, this episode is all right. Nothing too drastically unamusing or overly long, which has plagued this series from the beginning. If it stayed this way, my current score for it wouldn’t improve any, but it wouldn’t worsen, either. Worthy of evocating a shrug and an audible “Eh.”
Thank you for your time. Have a great timezone.