Clean Freak! Aoyama kun
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Clean Freak! Aoyama kun ?
You won't be surprised to hear that Clean Freak! Aoyama kun has expanded its topical range yet again this week. With the addition of a stoic new character, this episode doubles down on the romance and shifts the setting off school grounds to, of all places, the zoo. Indeed, a zoo is a perfect metaphor for “Umeya-kun is Very Patient,” an episode that combines a rapidly multiplying cast of comedic characters all in one place. Still, it's a bit like trying to squeeze your entire zoo visit into 20 minutes—stretched too thin to be fulfilling.
Once again, this episode starts off with an introduction. Umeya-kun is a judo champ—but he's about to throw all that talent away for a chance to get closer to the apple of his eye, Gotou Moka. Conveniently, Umeya is just as skilled at soccer as he is at judo, but he quickly learns that isn't going to help him compete against Aoyama in Moka's eyes. Instead, he decides to help Moka clean for Aoyama, and when that's not enough, to set her up with Aoyama by arranging a zoo date for the three of them. That's when the peanut gallery gets involved. The idiot trio on the soccer team mistakenly think that gentle giant Umeya has a skeevy plan to break Moka's heart. Meanwhile, the judo coach is going to stalk his former champ until he gets him back. Toss in last episode's Odagiri and her friend, who just happen to be at the zoo by coincidence, and it's a big mess of motivations and love interests that leads to one big silly group encounter.
Like with Odagiri and Aoyama's relationship last episode, the entire plot hinges on Tsukamoto's wacky misunderstanding of what's really going on. It was always obvious to the viewer (if only from the title) that Umeya is simply playing the long game by hooking up Moka and Aoyama. Sure it's not a great plan, but he's easy to read considering he was introduced just a few minutes ago and seems too two-dimensional to have any surprises in store. I feel the same way about Odagiri, who hasn't had any epiphanies that might have changed her feelings about Aoyama, so the show's teasing in this direction isn't going to work. This is wackiness for wackiness' sake—a wild swan chase on the lake at the zoo that acts as the culmination of one misunderstanding after another. And in the end, there's no real conclusion. We don't even leave the zoo or see its aftermath.
At this point, I have to ask what the selling point of Clean Freak! Aoyama kun is supposed to be. Its weaknesses are certainly apparent—it keeps spreading itself too thin, it fails to develop its rapidly growing cast, and it can't pick a single topic, setting, or sport—but this episode also showcased its strengths. At its best, Clean Freak! Aoyama kun has a knack for observing and parodying the many topics it pulls inspiration from—sports shows to high school slice-of-life to romcom anime. From a gracious suitor bordering on self-sabotage to a heroine with a bat full of nails and a stalker mentality to her love interest who simply doesn't care, Aoyama-kun takes the standard love triangle recipe and blends it with a serious dose of weird. This show can be very strange and lots of fun, but it's trying too hard to be everything to everyone, and that doesn't give it enough time or space to shine.
Clean Freak! Aoyama kun is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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