Clean Freak! Aoyama kun
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Clean Freak! Aoyama kun ?
The show is Clean Freak! Aoyama kun, but I keep getting Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto instead. This week, Aoyama solves other people's problems while continuing to keep the details of his own life pristinely concealed. Based on this episode alone, I don't know how I would even differentiate Aoyama from Sakamoto to somebody who had seen neither show. They both feature a handsome, mysterious protagonist who is seemingly talented at everything. And for both characters, the bulk of the episode doesn't focus on them, but on the way they influence the lives of the people around them. This goofy high school comedy adventure that's less about the characters than about their increasingly wacky hijinks could fit seamlessly into either show. We've abandoned all pretense of character development, but even so, I'll be darned if these silly jokes aren't hitting their marks. It may be generic, but it's still quite funny.
Who is Aoyama? Don't watch “Aoyama kun Has Many Secrets” if you're trying to find out. Instead of prying into Aoyama's life, we learn about two of his friends who happen to be dealing with dating woes. When the goofballs on the soccer team attempt to follow Aoyama home, they get a curveball instead: Aoyama is at his childhood friend Ibuki Seigo's place, cooking him dinner to make up for losing a bet. Still, the reason Aoyama keeps losing in one-on-one matches to Seigo isn't the story here—there's zero chance Aoyama would allow himself to eat food cooked by anyone else. Instead, the slow-burn topic of the episode is Aoyama's attempt to resolve Seigo and Kozue's relationship with hilariously bad advice.
As the cast keeps ballooning, episodes are always packed with familiar faces. Every scene has at least three characters shoved into it—usually in chibi form. As this series has progressed, it's increasingly relied on super-deformed style to portray this silly cast, which is a fitting design choice for a group of characters that increasingly act as sketchy caricatures of themselves. Everyone's got their own shtick to bring out on cue, and when the jokes are good, this makes the result laugh-a-minute. (When the jokes aren't sticking the landing, the show stinks of trying too hard.) As Aoyama offers poor advice for Seigo to win back Kozue, the ever-observing ensemble cast keeps this story lively.
It's fun to be sure, but there's definitely something missing. Nothing about Aoyama's personality has led us to believe he'd be a poor advice-giver until now. I think the joke might be that he's good at everything except for this? The advice is funny because it's super-literal and doesn't factor in the nuances of human relationships. Could it be that since Aoyama is always alone, he doesn't read people well? If that were the case, I'd expect the show to spell that out for me, since they've routinely spelled out much more obvious things (normally using Aoyama's mouthy video game alter ego to outright vocalize his inner thoughts), so this feels like an afterthought. On top of that, clueless Seigo and responsible Kozue could be any generic high school couple. This episode rides on established character tropes to tell a story that's 10% plot and 90% goofy jokes. Even so, I can't look too poorly on an episode that made me laugh.
Clean Freak! Aoyama kun is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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