High school is a weird time. It’s awkward and no one knows what they’re doing, but everyone’s just trying to make friends and fit in. And that’s exactly what Matsuboshi Raidou intended to do, starting with the classmate seated right beside him, Reina Aharen. Sadly, the path to friendship is fraught with difficulty given that Reina herself is also awkward in the very same way: that is, she can’t gauge how to be friendly enough to befriend someone. Hell, she’s so timid that trying to understand her is hard enough.
Lucky for her, Raidou is undeterred and steadfast as they come, and thus begins a beautiful journey as these two oddballs navigate the complexities of friendship, communication, and personal space together.
So if something relaxing, cosy, and amusing sounds just about right and you’re considering giving Aharen-San a try, stay tuned for our review!
Sit Back and Relax
From action-packed gore, and heartbreaking dramas, to passionate romances, the world of anime is chock-full of high-octane, attention-demanding content. However, sometimes, none of us have the bandwidth to cope with such intense (albeit, good) programming; and in these moments a little slice-of-life does the soul good. As such, this season’s new slice-of-life anime, Aharen-san wa Hakarenai, is a good watch when all you want is some downtime. With its slow-winding depiction of everyday school life, its stoic and easy-going characters, and its overall chill atmosphere, Aharen-San is sure to elicit a chuckle and some feel-good vibes.
Tugs on the Heart Strings
Like most school anime, Aharen-San echoes the fun but tumultuous youth we’ve all experienced (at least in part). With painfully shy characters who have difficulty wading through social interactions like Reina and Raidou, Aharen-San is so emotionally relatable and awkward (not to mention awkwardly emotional), that one can’t help but empathise. However, unlike the nightmares associated with social anxiety and navigating adolescent relationships, Aharen-San throws on those rose-tinted glasses with Reina and Raidou’s admirably (and repeatedly) valiant attempts at friendship. How could one possibly help but be moved by such pure intentions, pure attempts, and honestly, pure failures?
Low-key but OTT
One would expect a slice-of-life anime to be pretty low-key. However, one has yet to see the very extra Aharen-San. In all their attempts to forge a path to friendship, it’s only natural for there to be misunderstandings down the road. One would assume open communication would fix that, but with our communication-challenged duo, of course, the road less travelled is worn down to its bones. For every obstacle that pops up in front of them, Reina and Raidou somehow successfully complicate the situation in unfathomably ridiculous ways. Cue the gags. So many ridiculous gags. If the OTT approach is your kind of comedy, then you’re definitely in luck because this one has it to the max.
An Old Dog with Old Tricks
While we did look at all the positives of Aharen-San, we feel we must point out where it falls short of the mark. With last year’s Komi Can’t Communicate taking the genre by storm with its poignancy, compelling nature, well-timed comedy, and loyalty to its thematic relevance (not to mention its god-level art), newcomers to the genre definitely had their work cut out. And while Aharen-San seems to be on the same bandwidth, its often repetitive structure can cause one’s attention to wander. While slice-of-life is meant to be low stress, it doesn’t mean a show can be low on fresh takes and thematic direction. And while Aharen-san does have a seemingly impressive range of gag comedy (it's absurd really), the core issues addressed stay the same with no real compelling growth in story or character. Until it’s rushed at the very end with the plot grasping at some type of form (no spoilers, so we can’t tell you what type). So with a pacing issue, a rushed plot (at least at the end), and a formulaic structure at its core, it’s understandable for one to take a break or drop this anime altogether.
So if anime and chill seem to be more your vibe, we suggest settling in for the evening with Aharen-san. No stress, no mess, and your expectations will always be met. However, while we do suggest giving it a try if you enjoy the genre, this anime may not be everyone’s cup of tea. And if the gimmicks get old and you want a well-rounded storyline rather than something mindless to blow off steam with, maybe you’re better off subbing this out of your watchlist.
So what are your thoughts on Aharen-San? Did you love it or leave it? Do you disagree with our take on it? Let us know in the comments below!