Aharen-san wa Hakarenai
Since he didn't have any friends in middle school, Raido vows he will make some in high school, but the first person he approaches, that he sits beside in class, is Reina Aharen, a tiny girl who rarely speaks, and when she DOES talk her voice is whisper-quiet. Can the impassive Raido and the shy, nearly speechless Aharen hit it off?
I must really love offbeat comedies featuring eccentric female leads. I mean, first Mysterious Girlfriend X, then Takagi-san, and now THIS.
The approach here is fairly novel: since Aharen barely speaks, much of the show's story is conveyed through pantomime, physical humor, and (sometimes outrageous) sight gags, combined with Raido's off-the-wall speculations about what's going on with Aharen; his imagination can conjure the most outrageous scenarios out of every little detail of what she does. Raido's demeanor may be deadpan, but what's going on inside his head is often hysterically absurd. (But the show's reality is sometimes just as absurd; for example, when Aharen embarks on a project, we'll say she often goes ALL-OUT.) There are plenty of running gags, and Crunchy viewers, in their Comments, have noted myriad visual references to other anime; since I caught pretty much none of those references, I must hang my head in shame about my lack of a sufficiently broad knowledge of the genre, despite having written so much on it. One other thing about Raido that's interesting: illness turns him bishonen, which is a good trick.
The supporting cast is rather entertaining too:
Oshiro is a tall girl who nevertheless has a timid, nervous manner (until driven over the edge, anyway), but who has strong protective feelings toward Aharen (they've known each other a long time); her compromise between these conflicting impulses is to spy on Aharen and Raido, sometimes hiding in the most unlikely places (but Aharen's always able to spot her somehow.) I didn't care for her that much at first, but she has some useful skills, and over time she kind of grew on me.
Aharen's Siblings are a brother named Ren, and a sister named Eru; they're peculiarly LIKE, and also peculiarly UNLIKE, Aharen- and to say more would spoil too much.
Nui is Aharen's dog. I don't know what his breed is, but he's definitely a Retriever.
Ishikawa (male) and Sato (female) are two classmates and friends of Raido and Aharen, and are among the few "normal" (i.e., relatively sane) regulars in the cast. Ishikawa would clearly like to get closer to Sato, but she does not quite seem ready or willing to go there (yet.)
Futaba is a tsundere child who somehow got the idea that Aharen is trying to steal HER boyfriend.
Ms. Tobaru and Ms. Miyahira are teachers. Ms. Tobaru has nosebleeds (more like nose GEYSERS of blood) whenever she sees Raido and Aharen being (apparently) affectionate toward each other. (She uses the word "esteem" for this, which doesn't seem quite right; according to some of Crunchy's commenters, the word used in other translations is "poignancy", which doesn't seem quite right for this either.) I felt this gag didn't stand up to repetition as well as some others (like I said, the show thrives on running gags), but when Ms. Miyahira, her friend (and the person who frequently checks up on her) found her in bed looking like a murder victim (after a session of dreaming about Aharen and Raido), it's one of those jokes that's so bizarrely excessive that you can't help laughing about it. (AND can't help feeling guilty about laughing about it, but there it is.) I guess the water bottle, AND oxygen bottle, that Ms. Miyahira keeps in her purse for Ms. Tobaru-related emergencies, might not have been enough here, but don't worry; she DOES survive. She even survives the one event that I was sure WOULD do her in. (Ms. Tobaru's imagination, by the way, can get as outlandish as Raido's.)
Raido's Sister, like Kyon's in Haruhi, doesn't even have a NAME (yet). She's not featured much in THIS part of the story, and seems another one of the few "normal" folks in the cast.
But remember the "Rom" part of "Rom-Com"? Yes, there IS romance here, and it's surprisingly sweet, in spite of the difficulties one would expect in a couple where BOTH parties have communication issues. (It grows the BEST way, out of a symbiotic friendship.)
One other thing: as of the time I'm writing this, there's a line that reads in the subtitles: "The winner has to do what the loser says." I DO believe it's supposed to be the other way round. The error may have been corrected by the time you read this, though. I don't believe any of the Crunchy commenters caught this.
In the end, it's an excellent blend of humor and (mostly subtle!) romance, and leaves you with a warm and satisfied feeling. And what could be better than THAT? The Recs are ones that Crunchy's commenters came up with, so I'm indebted to their knowledge. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Mature situations, I suppose. Poor Raido gets threatened with deadly weapons a few times, and some people find aspects of the dialogue in a trip to the infirmary to be suggestive, though it's perfectly possible to read those lines completely innocently. (I did, myself. But I'm SO naive. ) Let's go PG.
Version(s) Viewed: Crunchyroll video stream
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Aharen-san wa Hakarenai © 2022 Felix Film
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