Something that’s been bouncing around in my brain since this show started is what, if anything, the people around Raido and Aharen think of their strange little friendship. After all, these kids are getting up to weird shit in the middle of class on a near-daily basis, so it stands to reason somebody would take notice of the two quiet kids in the back building pillow forts out of their desks, right? I assumed that was just something the show was glossing over for the sake of getting more gags in, the better to not get bogged down in explaining the inherent humor of its jokes, but it would seem Aharen-san was just holding its cards close to its chest before it revealed Tobaru-sensei.
Teacher characters in these shows typically work as the disciplinarian. You know, the ones who catch the over-reacting character right after the punchline and reprimand them for being distracted at school. (For example, the teacher was basically the third most prominent character at the start of Teasing Master Takagi-san.) But since our central couple are too quiet to actually disturb the class, Tobaru instead winds up as an audience surrogate, reacting to their antics from afar but unable to call them out because they’re technically not causing any disturbance. Of course she’s also a named character in this show, with a wacky quirk of her own as a classical literature nerd, so she somehow sees echoes of ancient, cordial courtships in these two kids’ slapstick routine. It’s honestly pretty cute, and reminds me of teachers I’m friends with who like to tell stories about their students’ obvious crushes on each other.
Though that gag in and of itself isn’t all that strong, so thankfully the show moves on from her introduction pretty swiftly. That’s something I appreciate with the show in general, really. With material like this there’s risk of dragging out bits past their breaking point to fill time, but Aharen-san continues to move at a breezy pace, so the painfully cringy (on purpose!) segment about Aharen and Raido communicating through freestyle rapping doesn’t outstay its welcome. We get in, we get some amazing fashion choices courtesy of Raido’s imagination, hear some decently funny bars from our leads, and then we get out before anyone starts having Hypnosis Mic war flashbacks.
Speaking of flashbacks, if you needed any hint that the original manga started running in 2017, look no further than the goddamn Fidget Spinner sequence that comes right after. There’s not a more perfect media time capsule than seeing that green hunk of plastic and ball bearings flick back and forth across the screen, and I’m ashamed to admit that just the image of our leads holding the thing had me cracking up. It’s like when Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card had Tomoyo using a drone camera – something about the absurdity of seeing these cute little anime characters interacting with something I so heavily associate with overexcited kids in a toy aisle just had me in stitches. I can’t really explain it, but they found the dopamine button in my brain and hit it real hard. Again, it lasts just long to enough to get some good jokes in and then moves on, and the episode is better for it.
Things do slow down in the final segment, as the introduction of some little kids characters just feels a little rote. There’s still some funny gags, thanks to Raido’s bizarre worry about “wild beasts” and losing to a grade schooler at Reversi. But overall seeing these two deal with bratty kids just isn’t as interesting compared to when they’re getting up to nonsense on their own. We do at least end things with a good gag about Aharen riding her mighty steed (read: big dog) to close it all out, but Aharen-san is at its best when it’s delivering deadpan absurdity. Arguing with little kids is something I could get from a bunch of different comedies, and I’d much rather see Tobaro or Oshiro return before these kids.
Aharen-san wa Hakarenai is currently streaming on