It occurs to me that, outside of some visual gags, I haven’t spoken much about the actual imagery and production of Aharen-san very much. Mostly that’s because I haven’t had much to say – this is a show which mostly functions on effective timing and scripting more than anything, and the occasional flourish like Raido and Reina’s tiktok dances is so rare it’s hard to bring up regularly. But I have to give this show’s creators props for their filmmaking acumen. They’ve successfully created the anime romcom equivalent of the Kuleshov Effect, as I spent the entirety of this episode trying to derive meaning from these two doofuses’ stone-cold expressions, and came away learning more about myself than anything else.
Seriously. I knew this was coming. I knew they were going to string us all along for at least another episode to try and figure out what happened on that camping trip. But this bastard of a show went from being rude to outright taunting me here, sending our leads on a full-on date at the mall while never losing its poker face. Hell, even Sato and Ishikawa are stuck trying to figure it out, hunting for any clue as to whether Raido and Reina are a thing, or just acting like normal. The monsters making this know exactly what they’re doing and they’re practically rubbing it in your face for 20 minutes. Reina even notes multiple times that Oshiro isn’t around, just so you know for certain that something came up and has gotten our titanic spy girl in a tizzy. Hell, the literal children comment on our pair’s apparent romantic status just for that extra bit of teasing. This is no longer anime. It’s animated cruelty.
Oh, right, I guess there were some other skits too. They were pretty alright. The igloo segment was that unique level of Aharen-san absurdity, but it’s also a bit that could have been put into nearly any episode without standing out, which leaves it feeling a little disjointed. Meanwhile the stretching bit was…weird. Maybe that’s just me still having mental scars from Akebi’s Sailor Uniform, but any lingering shot of feet weirds me out. It never turned into outright fanservice – though good lord were there some accidental(?) innuendo in the dialogue – but overall it went on just too long for my taste.
Really, outside of me scouring every frame for an answer to our romantic mystery like a lovestruck Danganronpa protagonist, the winner of this episode was just the inclusion of a Beyblade parody. Between this and the fidget spinner bit, Aharen-san most definitely has its finger on the pulse of 2017, and I’ll admit the old English opening theme started echoing through my brain when everyone suddenly pulled out their custom Blade Spinners. My one demerit comes from never actually getting to see them in action, as I can already imagine how great Raido narrating over a full-on Bey Battle parody would be. Alas, we have to settle for both the boys losing while Futaba and Reina reign(a) supreme.
Finally there’s that after-credits scene, where it seems Oshiro has steeled her resolve to take on Raido once and for all. And after following this boy for 11 episodes, he’d best pick a god and start praying, because Raido could not fight his way out of a paper bag. He has quite literally lost to small children and animals multiple times. If Oshiro is serious then Reina will be scraping what’s left of our male lead off the sidewalk by this time next week. May God have mercy on his soul her. Everyone prepare for a bloodbath and funeral next week.
Aharen-san wa Hakarenai is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.