Influenced by the events of the last near-month, I am not going to take any chances. I’m going to watch and write on these episodes at a relatively quick pace from now on… even though there’s only a single episode left after this one.
After an incredibly emotional (and ambiguous) end to the prior episode, episode eleven of Aharen-san returns the viewer to the semi-absurd monotony that the series has followed since the beginning. To its credit, some return to normalcy (relative term) could be good after the high-drama detour taken. Still, there’s a strange effect from the result of the main duo’s deepening relationship that imbues this episode (and likely the next) with a coat of alienation.
Episode 11 Synopsis
After establishing themselves as a new couple (by hardly acknowledging it whatsoever), Raidou and Aharen continue their daily lives as normal, though with some out-of-school events, as well. Certain characters take notice of their newfound closeness and try to get confirmation for themselves. Additionally, Raidou and Aharen find new ways to grow physically closer.
Prior to watching this episode, I decided to catch up a tad on the Aharen-san manga, reading eleven chapters I hadn’t previously. In that small sample, it exuded a lot of the charm and humor that has been mostly missing from the anime adaptation. As I discussed in prior episode reviews, the manga allows for a much quicker pace, whereas the anime meanders with the delivery and makes the visual gags and exaggerations outstay their welcome.
Thus, while the anime is admittedly a disappointment, there is more to discover with this series in its parent form. If you’re even mildly intrigued by what you’ve watched of this adaptation, please read the manga for a better representation of what it can provide.
It’s not much better than it already was.
The prior episode had a dramatic angle to its story that was an outlier from the general foundation of the series. Inevitably, that was not to last, and only a single episode later the series has returned to its roots. However, as referenced in the opening paragraphs, there’s a certain context now present behind the activities between the main duo that feels inherently different.
With their bond now advanced to that of “Romantic partners,” some of the things they do together take on a different vibe. For example, this episode has a (mildly suggestive?) segment where Aharen steps on Raidou’s back to massage him. After falling asleep, Aharen is seduced into attempting to kiss him while he sleeps (before being interrupted). It ends with Aharen steaming in embarrassment as she realizes what she had almost done.
This sequence is (somewhat) repeated later on in the episode, setting a precedent for a newfound type of wholesomeness along with the continued absurdity of Raidou’s delusions. These characters were already close; now, there is an underlying sexual tension that is likely to make regular appearances. Is this to the detriment or benefit to the anime? Both, kind of.
The added layer of sexual tension can provide some flexibility in humor and development. Two awkward teenagers, desiring some closeness with people, wanting to navigate the trials of knowing how to love. It’s a cute reality to consider, even in the structure of “haha these students are really weird for twenty-minute increments.” There is the possibility of intimate moments of closeness between the two that can arise now that they have a closer bond.
Alas, the drawback to this is that it will likely come down to “haha Aharen is embarrassed .. she turns red and has steam coming from her face” every time. It’s fairly easy (and general anime fare) to stick to this formula of pushing off more dramatic moments of bonding for the sake of it. Perhaps for… comedy? I don’t find it funny, but others may. Plus, there’s the matter of trying to cram in even more developments into a series that barely knows how to properly introduce anything… like side characters.
Speaking of side characters, there is a little bit more from them in this episode—in particular, two recurring side characters that are more prevalent in the manga, but basically meaningless here. They’re given more room to develop as actual people here, though it doesn’t really amount to much. A few minutes in the second-to-last episode, they have some minimal interaction that implies a desire to grow closer. While nice for them, I still don’t remember their names.
Otherwise, much of the episode remains consistent with the quality of the rest of the series. Animation is whatever, jokes generally miss, and the mood isn’t quite there. Not the worst episode, as this one seems to have some emphasis on Aharen in cute outfits (I guess that’s a compliment). Just nothing really worth talking about in great detail. The best sequence of animation here consisted of Aharen’s feet upon Raidou’s back… hrmm.
I kind of miss episode ten. Not necessarily its entirety, but the nature of its pivotal moments in character development. Well, moment—singular. Episode eleven is skydiving back into the general lull of things from before, plus a gradual emphasis on romantic fluff. Doesn’t do much for the overall, but perhaps the finale will do something… of anything. I don’t know.
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Thank you for your time. Have a great timezone.