Clean Freak! Aoyama kun
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Clean Freak! Aoyama kun ?
Before this episode, I barely knew who Sakai even was. But in “Sakai-kun's Hairstyle Has Changed,” this background character is suddenly the star of the show. It's an overly simple concept—a minor character changes his look and personality—stretched with obvious effort to fill an entire episode. Every observation, every plot development, is painfully prolonged and commented on to such an extent that it's obvious Clean Freak! Aoyama kun is struggling to fill time. This episode had some winning gags and moments, but overall it felt like a blatant attempt to run out the clock.
Hey, that's not Aoyama the girls are cheering for! Instead, they're rooting for Sakai, a previously unremarkable member of the soccer team who has a dashing new 'do. Previously, Sakai was the least notable member of the goofball trio that includes glasses gentleman Tsukamoto and puppy-faced Yoshioka. But when he transformed his locks to look more like Aoyama's, it's not only that the girls took notice—he got magically better at soccer too, justifying his insufferable new personality quirks. Through numerous examples of Sakai's increasing narcissism, each more hyperbolic than the last, we get a chance to see how everyone on the team is reacting to Sakai's total transformation. Tsukamoto and Yoshioka want him to join the “village of rejects” again, while Zaizen selfishly wants Sakai to be worse than him at soccer—even having a nightmare fantasy about Sakai taking the team to nationals while he cheers on the sideline.
After far too many examples of Sakai being obnoxious, the plot shifts to Zaizen recruiting Moka to help him improve at scoring goals,and another painfully slow progression of events follows. This one is especially contradictory, with Zaizen's dad alternating advice like “there are no shortcuts to victory” and “instead of practicing, let's just bribe the coach.” But sweetly evil Moka has no qualms about going after this captain of industry and his son with her nail bat. They practice until Zaizen is as accurate at scoring as a coin flip (which is still awful).
And for what? The next day, as everyone scores mercilessly against a truly pathetic goalie (I counted five goals, which seems like a lot for one soccer game), Sakai has the audacity to clip back his bangs for a bit, completely alienating his fans as well as the God of Soccer who was making him more talented. It's not that simple since this episode drags everything out, but from then on Sakai is on a downslide, and we return to the status quo. The final line of the episode, from the coach, isn't even a joke—it's a dull observation about how players' positions on the field are going to remain the same after all. Considering nobody experienced any development, I'm wondering why I bothered watching this episode.
If you skip over this episode, the plot of Clean Freak! Aoyama kun remains intact. It was an episode of posturing, repeating jokes that would have worked just fine as single one-liners until I'm sick of them. It had its funny moments, but the total payoff was weak.
Clean Freak! Aoyama kun is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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