Episode 7

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 7 of
Rent-A-Girlfriend ?

It's finally happened. After seven episodes of fake dates, real dates, life-or-death situations, and constantly dogpiling lies, there's actually a girl who genuinely wants to go out with Kazuya. It had to happen eventually – you just can't construct an entire romcom around your protagonist being totally repellent forever. But that brings up the question of just why Ruka would fall in love with this dude. Like sure, Kazuya has exhibited at least a few moments of being a decent person and made strides to overcome his nastier side, but even for harem protags the bar is set a little higher than “bare-minimum of public decency” right?

The answer to that question takes a while to arrive. First Kazuya makes the worst first impression possible, with the patented Accidental Boob Grab because anime guys just cannot resist passively holding their open hands out at chest height. I'm beginning to think it's some kind of muscular condition that comes along with the position. But after that he makes a sincere, pleading bid to get Ruka to keep quiet about Chizuru being a rental girlfriend, if not for his sake then at least to keep his not-girlfriend's secret safe for her. In typical Kazuya fashion it's embarrassing as all hell, but also a moment of sincerity where all the half-truths and fake dating plotlines fade away and he's able to be up front with someone. And oddly enough it's that moment that makes Ruka think he's so cool.

Well, that and a lifetime of baggage. Exactly what brought Ruka around is kept a mystery for most of the episode, but a special ED video gives us the lowdown: Ruka's grown up with a condition that causes bradycardia, and spent most of her life searching out stimuli that could thrill her heart the way everyone else talks about. But be it roller coasters, video games, or even rental dates, it just never happened...until that moment with Kazuya. Now I'm not a doctor and far be it for a fan of TokiDoki to give advice on heart conditions, but I suspect the tumble down a flight of stairs they had immediately before that might have something to do with it. Regardless, the thrill of that moment leads Ruka to approach Kazuya again, searching for more intimacy by trying to blackmail him into dating her, since she's (rightly) convinced he's fallen for Chizuru and (wrongly) believes they're banging while off the clock.

Credit where it's due, Kazuya for once doesn't jump at the chance to date a cute girl, instead taking the mature route of...letting Chizuru handle the negotiations. It's at least another step in the right direction, and the ensuing argument and chase-down are some of the funniest moments of RAG yet, especially thanks to the wonderful array of faces they pull out of Chizuru as she exasperatedly navigates this whole mess. And Kazuya even decides to come clean to Kuri about this whole thing after his friend flees in embarrassment when it comes out that he was also renting dates! If he keeps this up he might even be a decent person to hang out with by the end of the season. For now though, he'll be trying out a questionable “trial run” of dating Ruka for real, which I'm almost certain will go south at lightning speed, but if it's as funny as this episode I'll be fine watching it happen.

It's the laughs that make this all work, really. Much of what happens here is still contrived and cartoonish, but so long as its tempered by solid comedy I can roll with it for a long time. Plus Ruka's just a fun addition to the cast, especially with her oscillating bouts of smugness and stupid sincerity, with Chizuru being the perfect straightwoman to all her nonsense. For all its ups-and-downs, RAG has managed to land the comedy half of RomCom, so now it's time to see how it can handle the romance.


Rent-A-Girlfriend is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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