Rent-A-Girlfriend Season 2
by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 17 of
Rent-A-Girlfriend (TV 2) ?
Community score: 3.7
It's no secret that this season has been slow. Like, glacially slow. Molasses in an igloo slow. So to stave off fatigue during the opening of this episode, I came up with a new passtime: The Rent-A-Girlfriend Drinking Game! Now we here at ANN do not condone endangering your life or health in any way, but I can guarantee you this game will be the safest ever played. First, get yourself some fine whiskey of your choosing, and line up a row of shots before loading up an episode of RAG. Every time Kazuya and Chizuru have a scene together that DOESN'T feature him internally monologuing about how attractive, amazing, or amazingly attractive she is, toss back a shot. I promise you'll come out stone-cold sober every week, but now you'll have incentive to pay attention during what is easily the most monotonous, rote, ungodly boring feature of this show.
Thankfully, once the obligatory and interminable scene of Chizuru thinking Kazuya boned Ruka is over, things actually pick up for once. Mostly that's because we finally get a return of Sumi, the best character in this show. And I don't say that out of any waifu loyalty or anything – Sumi is just the most engaging girl at this point, because she's the only one with a coherent personal goal that is actually advanced through her interactions with Kazuya. And she's also the only one he seems capable of having a conversation with, which means their scenes together have the most natural rapport of any dynamic in this show, despite one half of them almost never speaking. It's the closest Kazuya ever comes to having a healthy, friendly relationship with any woman in this story, so seeing them spend time together is easily the least annoying or tedious material of this season so far.
It's thanks to that rapport that we also get the first bit of semi-pertinent character focus for Kazuya in who knows how long. Specifically it's the moment when he laments that getting a present for her is probably meaningless, since she's so far out of his league that nothing he can think of could measure up to her. That habit of putting the women around him – and specifically Chizuru since he fell for her – on a pedestal is a key part of Kazuya's biggest hang-ups, and what he needs to get past if he wants to have an actual healthy relationship with anyone. He's internalized the idea that he's a fundamentally rotten, worthless person who doesn't deserve and can never attain affection from the women (and it's always women) he idolizes. It's become a go-to for basically anyone who talks about RAG to call Kazuya trash, but that's mostly because of the constant bullshit he pulls for the sake of keeping this story's tires spinning in the air for untold eons. Speaking objectively, he's a flawed person with a lot of shit to get over or unlearn, but he is not fundamentally undeserving of love – and if he ever learned that he'd probably have a way better time relating to Chizuru as a person rather than an untouchable Goddess who deigns to condescend to his level out of holy grace.
There's actually a similar bit in the (very horny) manga Saki the Succubus Hungers Tonight, which focuses on the male lead having to break out of his own self-loathing in order to have a healthy romantic and sexual relationship with the titular love interest. But of course, that was a five-volume series with a definitive ending and a decidedly more adult view of both sex and romance than RAG will ever express. So instead of actually reckoning with Kazuya's self-hatred or the inhuman awe he views Chizuru with, we paper over the problem with a story of him getting her a heartfelt birthday gift after seeing her in a power rangers live show. Which I guess shouldn't be surprising – if this show was actually interested in tackling the actual aspects of the characters that drive how they behave, it would have done so by now. Viewed from a distance, it's still about the least infuriating thing he's done all season, and in another story might even be a cute bit of romance-building, but here it's just a way to ignore the more fundamental problems preventing any of these characters from growing.
So in the end, while I didn't threaten my liver with alcohol poisoning, I did still end up making my own entertainment for this episode by imagining a version of RAG that actually cares about its characters beyond their ability to keep the marketing machine rolling. Is it possible that some day this show will pop the clutch and actually get its ass in gear to develop these characters or address what decent ideas it has? Sure, in the same way it's possible a random bit of space debris could fall to earth, survive atmospheric re-entry, and crash directly into my house to kill me. In other words, a possibility so astronomically slim it's not really worth entertaining.
Rent-A-Girlfriend Season 2 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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