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Aharen-san wa Hakarenai
Episode 8

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Aharen-san wa Hakarenai ?
Community score: 4.3

It's funny. The week after I complained that Aharen-san's ensemble cast weren't really pulling their weight, it decides to not only bring back two of its better secondary characters, but lets one of them basically become the star of the show. Momo-chan-sensei (as she will be known as from here on out) didn't leave a huge impression after her introduction, and since then she hasn't really appeared, but she comes roaring back in with a truly MVP performance. I take back what I said at the start of these reviews about Raido being the biggest doofus in this show. That title can only belong to this ship-crazy teacher, who's likely to hospitalize herself with terminal levels of Squee.

Granted, if you think about it too hard, it's a bit uncomfortable to see an adult teacher firing projectile nosebleeds while seeing her students...not even flirt, so much as interact at all. But like much of this show's comedy, the delivery is so absurd that you kind of have to do all the work to make it feel untoward. Momo-chan-sensei isn't imagining her underage wards doing anything steamy or tawdry – her brain is instead hard-wired for bizarre romance anime cliches like tripping on a banana peel into a first kiss, and that's too ridiculous to take seriously. Also props for immediately assuming oshiro is in love with Reina, not Raido – she'd be just as off the mark in either direction, but it's nice to know Momo-chan-sensei doesn't discriminate in her delusions.

And those delusions make for some of the best sight gags in the whole show so far. Part of that is just the charm of seeing these straight-faced goofballs acting wholly out of character after weeks of seeing who they really are. Raido and Reina playacting as Yusuke and Keiko from Yū Yū Hakusho is both adorable and surreal even before you get to Raido “smoking” a banana. Nothing on this Earth could have prepared me for the sheer cursed energy of Gakuen Handsome Raido in the buff. But perhaps the best gag of Momo-chan-sensei's half of this episode is the one that goes totally unaddressed. Despite having a Terminal Shipper Brain that constantly imagines cliché anime romance scenarios, she's totally oblivious to how her and Miyahara-sensei are basically one confession away from dating themselves. I guess sometimes to closer you are to something, the harder it is to see. Here's hoping Momo-chan-sensei doesn't die of blood loss before one of them can pop the question.

From there we slide back into the show's typical wheelhouse, though this time it's at that most hallowed of anime events: the fireworks festival. Ishikawa and Sato sadly fail to stand out on their second appearance, but their presence allows for some solid silliness from our main duo feat. oshiro. And while there's still some jokes about Raido overestimating himself, there's fun twists in how he's not competing with Aharen, but trying to optimize their festival totally-not-a-date. The boy just believes in himself and his friends so much, and it's infectious enough that for a second I entirely forgot about Reina being comically bad at judging distance. Raido's himbo energy was powerful enough to block out the very conceit of this show from my brain for a moment. He is gunning to reclaim that Top Dumbass throne.

But besides all the gags, we actually make a brief pit stop to polish up the Rom half of this Romantic Comedy. It's not anything super deep – Raido helping Reina see the fireworks clearly for the first time is about as predictable a setup as you can get – but that doesn't make it any less sweet to see. The heart of this main duo has always been their desire to help each other out as best they can, and that earnest sentiment being the catalyst for this episode's schmaltziness makes it all work. The moment where Reina hesitates to take Raido's hand, for the first time realizing the (lack of) distance between the two of them, is a quiet but inspired moment to end the episode on. Altogether this is everything good about Aharen-san firing on all cylinders, and an exemplar episode for this series.


Aharen-san wa Hakarenai is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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