Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ?
If anyone was even slightly concerned about last week's cliffhanger, where Uzaki ominously announced that she would no longer be able to hang out with Shinichi, don't worry, the plot point literally gets resolved in a matter of seconds. Uzaki was merely freaking out because summer is drawing to a close, and she has neglected to finish up her big report that is due on the first day back to school. And what's more, it's not even a relevant plot point. You'd think that the episode would maybe pivot to Uzaki and Shinichi being study buddies, or have them deal with the consequences of Uzaki's procrastination in some wacky manner, but nah. She finished the report in-between scenes. It's fine. More than anything, the whole non-issue was an excuse for Uzaki to tease Shinichi about his willingness to do “anything” to help her out of a jam, which is kind of sweet, I guess. But it's a familiar gag, and one that gets repeated to much better effect at the end of the episode.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves, here. The main event of the episode, to the extent that any episode of Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang out even has a “main” event, is that, as a last-ditch gambit to close out the summer, Uzaki wants to get some payback for Shinichi seeing her at her pukey worst the first time she got drunk at his place. After scheming with Ami and Itsuhito, Uzaki lands on a plan that is ethically dubious enough for the show to drop a “Don't Try This at Home, Kids!” warning on-screen: She's going to exploit all of Shinichi's known habits and weaknesses to get him embarrassingly hammered, which will make for a hearty supply of teasing ammo in the future.
Naturally, once Shinichi reaches peak toasty levels, he mumbles “ I love…your cooking…”, which Uzaki only catches the first part of, causing her to nervously drink herself into a stupor. Thankfully, good ol' Itsuhito drops by to make sure everything is okay, which in this case means sneakily arranging so that his two friends and would-be lovebirds end up sharing a futon for the night. The two wake up, are embarrassed, and proceed to drive Ami to cry literal tears of blood with the compounded romantic tension/awkwardness simmering between them. You know, the usual.
”The usual” is honestly the best way to describe this season finale of Uzaki-chan, which continues the show's efforts to be perfectly middle-of-the-road until the very end. Aside from Uzaki and Shinichi's drunk night in, we basically spend the rest of the episode palling around with three other members of the cast. Uzaki's mother and hitherto unseen little brother get a brief cameo. The café boss gets a therapeutic session with a buxom masseuse. There's an extended flashback to Uzaki's first encounter with Shinichi, which is surprisingly uneventful, though it finally illustrates how Shinichi could ever be accused of having a scary look about him, since he apparently was an off-putting guy back in his teen years.
At the end, in a callback to the very first scene of the series, Shinichi accidentally blurts out that Uzaki shouldn't worry about missing out on hang-out time with him, since he's long since come to terms with the fact that they will “always be together”. It's a cuter version of the same bit that's been playing on repeat for most of the season: Uzaki may be a somewhat obnoxious little gremlin, but she's Shinichi's obnoxious little gremlin now. In that sense, “Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out More!” is a perfect encapsulation of the progress the whole series has made since its rocky first episodes: It's not always all that funny, and the clunky production values sure aren't the reason anyone is going to be watching, but it still provides a mostly sweet romantic-comedy about a couple of young adults who really are perfect for each other, in their own stupid way. Compared to a lot of the garbage that anime fans have to put up with every season, there are much worse places for a show to be.
Odds and Ends
• I'm in a somewhat generous mood and feeling like I'd give this season of Uzaki a solid 3/5 overall. The show just got picked up for a second season, too, and I'm guessing that the next go around won't have such growing pains to start out (and hopefully won't get sidetracked by awkward tourism advertisements). I could see Uzaki-chan growing into a series that is honestly “kind of good all-around”, instead of “well-intentioned, but aggressively average, save for one or two standout scenes”.
Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! is currently streaming on Funimation.
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