First Look: Aharen-san wa Hakarenai

aharen_01-1

Alternative title(s): Aharen-san is Indecipherable
Manga Adaptation by Felix Film
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Despite his stoic appearance, Raido Matsuboshi desperately wants to make friends in high school. He starts with the classmate assigned to sit next him: a tiny, quiet girl who seems impossible to understand. Somehow, the two become fast friends and try to get to know each other.

aharen_01-3

Jel’s verdict: An Easy to Understand Comedy

In a season that features a lot of comedies, I feel like I should start by saying this reminder: Good comedy is always about execution. A fun or unique premise can help, but too often we see comedies try to lean on a good idea without the humor to back it up. You need good writing, good timing, good acting… whatever intangible black magic it takes to make something funny.

If you read any premise summary of Aharen-san, it sounds pretty boring! In fact, if you were to watch a clip out of context, it might also look kind of dull. The two main characters don’t talk much, and the average high school setting means they’re not doing anything new or exciting. But again, it’s all in the execution. This first episode has the intangibles of good comedy. The creators wield the long, awkward silences and misunderstandings like weapons, setting up bursts of hilarious sight gags and other fun, silly moments.

aharen_01-2

Aside from the humor, this first episode is also very “nice” for lack of a better word. Matsuboshi and Aharen are nice people trying to be nice to each other. Their efforts to do this in spite of their awkwardness makes it even sweeter. I was concerned that Aharen’s inability to judge social boundaries was going to be used for cheap sexual jokes (which would probably be OK if she didn’t look like a 6 year old), but they don’t go anywhere near that route, at least not in episode 1.

Since I did bring it up, Aharen’s character design is a bit of a hang up for me, as I suspect it will be for a lot of people. I don’t know why they decided to draw her like a tiny child, and it’s weird because I’m pretty sure this is going to evolve into a romantic comedy. I rolled my eyes at Matsuboshi giving the “she looks just like a doll” monologue at the exact moment I was expecting him to. I’m also cautious about the rest of cast, as the episode ends showing a potentially jealous friend about to enter the mix. Still, I don’t think those are insurmountable problems, and Aharen-san has a lot of potential to be a fun, cute comedy that anyone can enjoy.

Final random side note: we normally use official licensed titles when writing about anime, but for some reason Crunchyroll decided to leave Aharen-san wa Hakarenai untouched. In rare cases I’ve seen them do that and change it later, so maybe that will happen. In any case, we’ll use what they have, just thought I’d mention it so it doesn’t look like we’re being inconsistent.

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