Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!
Episode 6

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 6 of
Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ?

A beach episode of Uzaki-chan was bound to happen sooner or later, and unfortunately “Summer! The Beach! I Want to Test My Courage!” fails to do anything other than deliver the exact kind of stale, aimless humor that you'd expect from the show when it isn't trying to go out of the comfort zone of slice-of-life comedy cliché. Jokes are made at the expense of Uzaki's giant breasts, Shinichi is teased for being cowardly while also spending the majority of the episode shirtless (just in case you forgot this lazy, video-game obsessed loner is also somehow very ripped), Ami and Itsuhito get up to their usual meddling, and Uzaki gets groped against her will not once, but twice. Because jokey assault is still a thing that anime insists on doing, for some reason.

None of these jokes are fresh, nor are they particularly endearing, since all they do is reinforce the same basic character traits we've had going since the cast members were introduced: Uzaki is obnoxious, loud, and she has improbably huge boobs; Ami has an almost fetishistic enjoyment in observing her friends' never-ending cycles of vaguely romantic bickering; Itsuhito has basically the same personality as Ami, except he is more straightforwardly about getting his friends in bed; and Shinichi…well, he doesn't really have a personality so much as vaguely defined moods that he cycles through depending on whatever the show needs him to be for its “jokes” to work.

I suppose the fact that all four of the show's main characters are close enough to take a weekend beach trip together is technically some form of character growth, but it isn't because any of them seem remotely like real people who should be friends with each other. Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! simply decided on the archetypes it wanted to use for its jokes and arbitrarily decided they would be friends, because that's how sitcoms usually go. Really, if someone swapped out this cast with characters from any of the other dozens of similar anime/games that Uzaki-chan is cribbing from, and nothing about the script was changed except for character names, I don't think anyone would be able to tell the difference.

Take the centerpiece gag of the whole episode, where Shinichi is set up to play a game of melon pinata, except on his way to hit the watermelon with his stick, Shinichi ends up falling on Uzaki in just such a way that his hand lands underneath her bikini top and onto her boob. I might have been tempted to write something snarky about the “accidental boob grab” joke, like that it is a fundamentally gross bit that has only ever been funny to its target demographic of horny, clueless twelve-year-olds, but I think that would be a disservice to preteens everywhere. No matter how much Uzaki-chan's crude animation would insist, I have to believe that most every preteen on earth understands that human breasts are not paper-thin, hollow flesh sacks that have been filled to the brim with liquid. Nevermind that Shinichi ought to be embarrassed into oblivion for not being able to tell the difference between the rind of a watermelon and the flesh of a living human person's tatas; the way he squeezes Uzaki's boob makes it look like it could literally explode in his hands, and if any of Shinichi's friends care about him at all, they'll intervene before Uzaki or any other unfortunate soul has to suffer through the horror of sleeping with the guy.

The supposed humor of this long-standing bit comes from the absurdity of the situation and the “comic” embarrassment of the woman being molested. Comic absurdity only ever works, though, when the situation in question is rooted in an at least halfway believable scenario, and when the embarrassment isn't at the expense of someone who should by all accounts be in a heap of physical and emotional distress. At least in the stupid comedies of yesteryear, the joke was always that the idiot protagonist got his ass rightfully kicked for violating the girls' personal space. Here, the most comeuppance that Shinichi gets is some passive-aggressive pouting, and even then, the scene where Shinichi ends up groping Uzaki in her sleep again basically implies that it's all okay in the end, because the two are going to end up in love or whatever.

Why did I just spend hundreds of words dissecting a single unfunny joke, you might be asking? Because Uzaki-chan is so often devoid of anything meaningful or original that there isn't much else I feel that I can do. What am I supposed to say about Uzaki getting a part time job at the café, or everyone dunking on Shinichi for being scared of stuff, other than that those scenes sure did happen? Last week presented a version of Uzaki-chan that I actually kind of liked, because it combined the unique qualities of Uzaki's personality and her dynamic with Shinichi to make them seem almost like real characters. Nothing like that is on display here in this beach episode, and its very existence feels less like Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! had a story it wanted to tell, and more like it's simply going down the checklist of anime clichés, because otherwise it would have to actually try, and who on Earth would want to watch a show that did something as silly as that?

Rating:

Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! is currently streaming on Funimation.

James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.


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