Rent-A-Girlfriend Season 2
by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 20 of
Rent-A-Girlfriend (TV 2) ?
Community score: 3.2
Alright everybody, it's a Chizuru episode, so you know what that means. Pour yourself a cool drink, grab your sturdiest plastic lawn chair, and plop yourself down outside your front yard – it's time to watch grass grow for about 20 minutes. No need to silence your phones, and feel free to take bathroom breaks whenever you want. I promise you won't miss anything important here.
I'll be real with you, I'm at a loss right now. I really don't like being constantly negative towards the shows I write about. Even when a show is bad or offensive or insultingly incompetent, I like to dig into the why in all of that, and figure out what a text is trying to accomplish, where it went wrong. But RAG season 2 has rarely offered anything worth actually dissecting that it hasn't already done a hundred times, and I'm just not a good enough writer to find new ways to say “Kazuya and Chizuru have no chemistry and their romance never progresses. Also I'm sick of hearing about how god damn pretty Chizuru is.” for this long.
Because that's all this episode is. Kazuya rents Chizuru for a day, they go on a date, do stereotypical anime date things, and then go home with nothing about their relationship having changed. There are occasionally jokes about how awkward Kazuya is because he's so enamored with her, and for about a minute there's a singular shenanigan where they have to hide from somebody they know, but otherwise it could just as easily be a scene from the other half-dozen Chizuru episodes we already have. That would be fine if they at least had chemistry, or were capable of having a coherent conversation like actual humans, but instead it's just Kazuya proposing increasingly stock Anime Date scenarios, then freaking out over whether he's crossed a line, like a John getting self-conscious because he asked a sex worker to try doggy style, but a million times more insufferable.
Some of my favorite moments in romance anime are just seeing a couple hang out, goof around, and generally enjoy eachother's company, because that's one of the bedrocks of any healthy relationship. But in RAG, Kazuya's entire relationship with Chizuru is internally marveling at her beauty, wondering if he's pissed her off, and then being overjoyed when she isn't. There's never any sense of why he likes her in-particular other than how beautiful she is, and that means there's no sense of actual romance here. The only twist to this episode is that Kazuya requests they go out in high school uniforms, which is more sad than it is comedic. Like it's not even a fetish. Kazuya's just so caught up in this imaginary idea of teenage romance that he wants to rewrite his actual school memories with an imaginary version where he had a hot girlfriend. Which is just...jeez. If this is your dream as a college freshman, then please stay asleep for a while longer, dude.
To be fair, there are at least a couple of moments that I liked this episode. Ruka actually apologizes for her shit stirring last episode, and while Kazuya is a little too forgiving about it, it's the closest thing they've had to an actual conversation all season, so I'll take it. It was also nice to hear Chizuru talk about her experience with rental dating some more, now that she's apparently sticking with the gig for the foreseeable future. That perspective, of somebody who's paid to approximate intimacy for others, was the most intriguing part of this show when it started, so getting a peak into how she feels about the whole thing is the most interesting Chizuru has been in ages. It doesn't amount to much, and by now the whole “rent” part of the show's title is as vestigial as an appendix, but it's something.
Neither are enough to make this a worthwhile use of anyone's time, though. Even for this show's glacial approach to progress, there's just not anything to latch onto.. The romance is dead eyed, the jokes are slow and repetitive, and anything resembling a unique hook has long been left in the dust.
One the plus side, I think the grass is a whole picometer taller now!
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