Have you been watching Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out this season? It’s a fun show about a loner college student named Sakurai and his obnoxious, but well-meaning kouhai Uzaki who makes it her personal mission to get him to enjoy life a little more. Nothing particularly original here, but the comedic antics are entertaining and the dynamic between Sakurai and Uzaki is much more genuinely sweet than you might expect it to be. Still, is that really enough to make it the fourth most watched anime (besides sequels) on MyAnimeList for all of Summer 2020? Sure, the pandemic means that there isn’t much competition right now, but how did it manage to get so much attention?
It turns out that this little show has an ace up its sleeve, and that’s taking advantage of moral controversy. Let’s delve deeper to see how Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out proves that there’s no such thing as bad publicity!
There are two main controversies associated with this series, both focusing on oversexualization. First is that the titular Uzaki-chan is a petite girl with big anime eyes and even bigger anime breasts. She’s a 19-year-old college student, so the complaints aren’t about her age (for once), but social media seems to have latched onto her as a symbol of everything that’s wrong with female character designs in anime. She’s unrealistic! Nobody has such huge boobs and eyes while being so tiny everywhere else! Of course, some people online have demonstrated that they have a similar body type, and this is hardly the most egregious example of unrealistic proportions in the medium (see Fairy Tail, Highschool of the Dead, Queen’s Blade, etc.).
The other controversy has to do with a 2019 Japanese Red Cross ad that featured Uzaki standing in a sexualized pose and saying, “Senpai! Have you still never donated blood? Perhaps... you’re scared of needles?” Whether or not this ad is appropriate for general audiences is debatable, but the Red Cross did eventually take it down after backlash from both the West and the Japanese public. Interestingly, this actually made Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out more popular and possibly contributed to the greenlighting of the anime.
The Actual Show
The Red Cross incident took place before the anime was released, and most of the hubbub about Uzaki’s character design happened around when the first few episodes came out. Naturally, this drew in more people who wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and what they found was a pretty innocent little show about two friends bickering and having fun together. Uzaki’s boobs are used as a source of humor and slight sexualization within the anime itself, but she rarely wears revealing outfits and isn’t really portrayed as a sex object in the same way that many ecchi girls are. The showrunners are happy to ride the wave of controversy as free advertising, but the actual show is pretty tame. For those who haven’t seen the anime and yet continue to treat it as a paragon of moral degeneracy, a quote from Uzaki herself sums up the reaction from fans: “You can hate whatever you want, but don’t diss what someone else likes.”
Overall, the controversies surrounding Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out seem like much ado about nothing. There are so many other things to direct internet rage at – toxic portrayals of women in other anime, Japan’s oversexualization of women in advertising and lax attitude towards sexual harassment in general, etc. So... maybe it’s time to leave Uzaki alone. After all, the more controversy she stirs up, the more powerful she becomes...
What did you think of our overview? What’s your stance on the Uzaki-chan debate? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!