One of the hurdles a show like Aharen-san has to contend with is how, exactly, to go about adapting the largely disparate chapters of the source manga into coherent episodes. Sure, you could just toss them together in order – maybe provide some eyecatches between skits to delineate them – and call it a day. But that approach can get tiresome pretty quickly in a full-length series, which is why most adaptations for comedies that don’t have an overarching story go the route of rearranging chapters to make each episode a coherent little package. Aharen-san has largely done a good job so far with either bookending episodes with new characters, or just setting up good transitions between each bit to help them flow together. That unfortunately goes away for this episode, and it leaves the whole thing feeling kind of slapdash.
The first half especially suffers, since there aren’t a ton of strong punchlines. Sure, it’s pretty amusing to see Aharen pulling out the Gen 5 LVL 1 Aron trick on Raido, but it doesn’t make the Pokémon GO reference feel any less dated. Similarly, it’s nice to see Aharen through another character’s perspective when she has a run-in with Futaba, but half the skit is repeating jokes from the crane game scene in the premiere. Then there’s the dieting sequence which is mercifully lacking any meanspirited fat jokes, but also comes and goes so quickly – with no explanation for Raido’s sudden weight gain – that it feels totally disconnected to the rest of the episode. Mayyyyybe you could argue that it feeds into the later resolution about Aharen wanting to pay Raido back for all he does to help her, but even that’s a stretch. And since none of these scenes are particularly funny or novel, it makes a lot of this episode kind of a bummer.
Things pick up a bit after that, though, with Raido and Aharen studying for exams. While still not on the level of this show’s A-game, I absolutely busted a gut at the pair trying to study at a cat cafe. The subtle noises Raido was making the whole time had me dying, what can I say? The show’s definitely at its funniest when our leads are together, pushing their absurd ideas forward in tandem like a pair of mirrors pointed at each other, and the relative lack of those sequences explains a lot about the lukewarm comedy of the rest of the episode. If Aharen-san is going to branch out more from that formula, it’ll likely need to introduce new characters to liven things up. The writing has shown its knack for deadpan humor, but when those gags aren’t landing it just feels lifeless.
Outside of jokes, there’s also a morsel of sentiment here, and I’m glad for it. This show leans very heavy on the comedy, but it’s still technically a romcom, and it’s nice to see Aharen and Raido’s relationship build just a little bit here. It’s also sweet that for as much as Aharen appreciates Raido for all he does in reaching out to her, Raido’s just as grateful for her. There’s a sense of camaraderie here that wouldn’t be if this exchange was more one-sided. It’s nothing deep, but a little earnestness goes a long way, and helps shore up an otherwise inconsistent episode. This is the weakest episode of Aharen-san so far, but there’s still something to love.
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