Hey. Wanna know a secret? Don’t tell anyone, but I adore a good romantic comedy. The impossible plots. The artificial escalation of stakes. The feel-good endings. I love it all and there isn’t a thing you can do to stop me. Which might be why I’ve enjoyed Rent-A-Girlfriend so much. The highlight of the recent anime season, Rent-A-Girlfriend has everything that I want in the genre, with the added bonus of having writing that is far better than it deserves and excellent production values.
Rent-A-Girlfriend: Our Review
In case you haven’t seen it, Rent-A-Girlfriend is a comedy series based around Kazuya, a college student who is a bit of a loser and is reeling from breaking up with his girlfriend, Mami. He decides to rent a girlfriend (hence the title) to alleviate some of his loneliness and depression. However, through a series of increasingly improbable happenings, he accidentally introduces this rental girlfriend, Chizuru, to his grandmother, who become smitten with the young woman, forcing the two to continue to pretend to date to keep up appearances. Chizuru, being the kind person she is, agrees to help Kazuya until he finds a real girlfriend to boost his confidence.
She’s still gonna charge him for it, though. Girl’s gotta get paid and all.
It’s an improbable set up that the show milks to fit in just about any trope you can think of. Christmas episode? Yep. Hot springs? Of course. Beach episode? We get that too (and you know how much I love a beach episode). Eventually, other girls force their ways into Kazuya’s life, forming an unlikely and dysfunctional harem around him.
This is a harem where one woman doesn’t want the harem to exist, one wants the harem to exist but without her, one wants everyone else out of the harem, and one is trying to figure out where the harem is.
There is a healthy amount of fan-service in the show. Between the above tropes and the occasionally creative camera angle, Rent-A-Girlfriend certainly knows how to get your attention. But it never goes full ecchi, despite some questionable scenes. Like most teen comedies, it tells a story about relationships in a way that only anime can.
Rent-A-Girlfriend does the thing anime loves to do, which is lead you in with the comedy and become surprisingly deep and heartfelt toward the end. Kazuya is a young man who struggles to see his own self-worth, accepting his terrible treatment at the hands of his ex-girlfriend without question. Even when Mami is shown to be a terrible person, berating him and putting him down in front of his friends, he relies on Chizuru to stick up for him. He lets her string him along because he thinks that is the best he deserves.
Of course, his inability to just be honest with anyone, including himself, is the reason for much of the shenanigans in the show. And where would we be without shenanigans? And though Kazuya does treat some of the women in his life poorly, he knows that he should do better and tries at times. He’s just an idiot kid in a lot of ways, trying to figure out who he is and avoid the perceived stigma of being single throughout his college years, and it shows in his behaviour.
There were very few low points in this show for me. The animation is as good as you’d expect from a popular show like this and fit with the fast-paced humour they wanted to use. The opening song is poppy and fun and will happily get itself stuck in your head at the slightest provocation. The writing embraces the absurdity of the show’s premise and runs with it, with jokes coming at you at a quick enough pace that you don’t really have a chance to question it.
Probably my one complaint is that one of the girls, Sumi, is introduced so late in the season that she doesn’t really get a chance to contribute anything aside from being adorable and shy. She features in the opening and closing animations, but only shows up for a single episode this season. Hopefully she’ll have more of a chance to shine during season two.
With that second season of Rent-A-Girlfriend already announced, we shouldn’t have to wait too long to figure out if Kazuya is able to get his act together and figure out which of the four women in his life he wants to be with. My money and heart are on Chizuru, but who knows what silly stuff that boy is going to get up to going forward? Either way, this is a funny show with a lot of heart that you should catch when you have a chance.
Rent-A-Girlfriend is available now on Crunchroll. The subtitled version has just wrapped and the dub is currently airing.