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When Will Ayumu Make His Move?
Episode 6

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 6 of
When Will Ayumu Make His Move? ?
Community score: 3.9

Have we as a collective fandom been forced to endure thousands of hours of cumulative cringe comedy on account of ridiculous Valentine's Day shenanigans? Yes. Is there any reason to expect a romantic comedy to bypass this time-honored tradition in the future, even if it would make for a more interesting, funny, or cute story in the end? Of course not. If there is choco to be gifted, nothing will stand in an anime's way, and When Will Ayumu Make His Move? is no exception.

Here's the thing, though: For as happy as I am to let a goofy little rom-com play around with decades-old tropes in the name of a cute chocolate exchange, the show still ought to have something up its sleeve to justify the lack of creativity on the story front. Maybe the leads are exceptionally adorable together, or maybe there are some especially funny gags in store for whenever the kids make their fateful attempts to hand another human being a small confectionary treat that may or may not be symbolic of deeper romantic feelings. Hell, maybe the show is just so well produced and directed that there's an inherent satisfaction to watching the story unfold, even if that story decides to play things nice and safe in all other respects. These are the qualities that make holiday episodes like “I Want To Get It From You, Senpai” worth doing in the first place. The problem is that, barring some notable exceptions, When Will Ayumu Make His Move? does not seem to demonstrate any of those qualities, at least not enough to pass muster this week.

I've talked before about the show's inconsistent and frequently janky production values, and while I've been able to overlook (or, at least, tolerate) Ayumu's mediocre visuals so far, this week marked the first time that I simply could not ignore how ugly it is. Character animation is more stiff and awkward than usual, and proportions are frequently off, and since almost every single scene until the final third of the episode is aggressively low energy, it becomes very hard to avoid letting your eyes wander and notice details like how bizarrely shaped Urushi's hands look in certain scenes, or how Ayumu and Takeru's limbs will frequently develop Paper Doll Syndrome and look completely detached from the rest of their bodies. Animation is an art that is equally rooted in visual splendor and technical trickery. Even the prettiest of pictures won't feel right if the creators can't trick the viewers' brains into falling for the illusion of animated motion, and, well, I don't think anyone will ever accuse Ayumu of having the prettiest pictures, either.

For instance, the closest thing that the first half of this episode gets to a successful “joke” is when Urushi faceplants in an attempt to sneak her chocolate gift into Urushi's bag. We've gotten plenty of gags about how Urushi is short and clumsy already, but whatever, we'll take what we can get, right? Except the show manages to completely fumble this most basic of basic-ass jokes by virtue of its terrible direction. There's absolutely no sense of motion or weight to Urushi's movements, and the scene is cut in such a way that it is almost impossible to discern what even happened to her chocolate until Ayumu spots it a second later. It's one of those inexplicable occasions where a pratfall is actually less funny in motion, compared to the completely static images of its manga counterpart.

Still, plenty of anime have gotten away with limited aesthetic appeal, and it is usually because its scripts can cash the checks that its animation cels can't. This, again, is where Ayumu just isn't up to par with its competitors in the genre scene. Last week, I was very pleased that the show finally gave Urushi and Ayumu the opportunity to feel like real, distinct characters that might even share a bit of chemistry with one another. In this Valentine's Day story, though, you get the impression that the exact same scenes could have been performed with featureless sock-puppets in the roles, and nobody would be the wiser. Takeru and Ayumu are, to be blunt, almost completely worthless as leading men, at least in this episode. Their awkwardness in dealing with their would-be girlfriends has extremely rudimentary appeal so far as relatability is concerned, sure, but that just isn't enough, especially since Urushi and Sakurako aren't fountains of overflowing personality themselves.

Look, I don't want to dump on this show like this, and I will admit that the second half of the episode is a lot better than the first. Even though the pacing is completely off, and the poor production still kills a lot of the jokes, I like the whole premise of Takeru and Ayumu being completely flustered at how extremely intimate and distracting their double-date-study-session becomes, what with the girls constantly whispering so close into their ears and all. This right here is the kind of universal rom-com setup that is actually about something, and that alone elevates the material significantly.

Unfortunately, all of that elevation still amounts to only a couple of minutes of decent anime sandwiched in between a dire Valentine's Day special and an absurdly long and completely pointless studying montage. It may save “I Want To Get It From You, Senpai” from feeling like a complete waste of time, but only just barely, and that's about a low a bar of quality to clear as you can find.


When Will Ayumu Make His Move? is currently streaming on HIDIVE.

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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