Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ?
“Tsuki Uzaki Wants a Thrill?” takes the potentially interesting development of Shinichi meeting Uzaki's mother for the first time and boils it down to a joke that is so straightforward and predictable that the episode has little graphics that pop-up to remind you of the trope: Due to a combination of Shinichi being a doofus and Tsuki overhearing a number of conveniently vague conversations, Uzaki's mother falls victim to a comedically inaccurate misunderstanding. Specifically, she gets it into her head that Shinichi might be a bit of a cougar hunter; not only that, but she becomes increasingly convinced that her own daughter is in on Shinichi's lecherous plot to seduce the whole of the Uzaki clan.
This isn't the first time Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! has gone back to the well of “someone overhears our protagonists doing or talking about something perfectly innocent, but they think the two are being incredibly perverted.” It's not a terrible bit to lean on, if I'm being honest, and the specific conversations that get the matron Uzaki so befuddled are kind of amusing: Tsuki first thinks that Shinichi and her daughter are openly objectifying her voluptuous bosom and propositioning her for future sexual encounters, when in reality Shinichi just wants to snuggle Uzaki's cat. Later, when Tsuki visits the café and hears Uzaki and Shinichi talking about their ravenous love of well-aged coffee beans, she figures the two are once again plotting about her.
The one thing this episode does well is that, for maybe the first time, it does more than the absolute bare minimum to show how others see Shinichi as being creepy and off-putting, what with his awkward way of speaking and his sunken-in eyes. So I get why Tsuki might start to get the wrong idea of things, though the jokes still suffer from being, well, not all that funny. I think a lot of that has to do with Tsuki herself being a very boring character; she doesn't seem to possess any of the rambunctious verve that her daughter wields on an everyday basis. I'm certainly glad we don't have two Hana Uzakis to deal with — the show has only just recently figured out how to make just the one bearable — but we've got to get a little bit more to work with than “generally quiet and nice”.
This assessment of Tsuki is what leads to the episode's other sketch of the week, where Uzaki gets annoyed at Shinichi seeming to favor her mom's personality over her own, so she adopts a cloyingly maternal attitude at work the next day, which Shinichi finds absolutely unbearable. It's an okay setup to an obvious punchline, and it feels even more wasted when last week's episode already made a big to-do about Shinichi really liking Uzaki's loud and abrasive nature. We didn't need to see it happen again, and it feels like the only reason the scene exists at all is to set up next week's story, where Uzaki and Shinichi win a vacation to Tottori prefecture.The whole thing is a strange and awkward way to end the episode: The random arrival of the kid that gets all miffed about Uzaki and Shinichi's lover's quarrel; the sudden shift from the show's usually bland CG backgrounds to what I can only assume are barely filtered-over photographs of the actual Tottori airport; the random cliffhanger of the pair being followed by two strangers (Ami and her dad, maybe?). Even though I feel like “Tsuki Uzaki Wants a Thrill?” was a step down for the show compared to previous weeks, I'm always down for episodes that teach me more about local Japanese culture, so maybe this trip to Tottori will pan out next time.
Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! is currently streaming on Funimation.
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