I frankly enjoyed the second episode of Rent-a-Girlfriend considerably less than the first though oddly enough, it has similar pros and cons. Chizuru is very likable. Kazuya not so much. It just so happens that both those elements are much more pronounced in this episode so mileage will vary if that makes it more enjoyable or less.
The thing that bothers me most is that in this episode, there’s a very clear moment where the story could actually end right there and now. After finding out that Chizuru attends the same college and lives right next door to him (talk about coincidence), Kazuya is about to get visited by his grandmother who’s hoping to see Chizuru again. Rather than to the sensible thing that he promised, telling his grandmother that he and Chizuru broke up, Kazuya instead tries to ask Chizuru to pretend to his girlfriend one more time. Can’t say I blame Chizuru for initially refusing, it’s not only a breach of her contract but she’s right in that Kazuya is more likely better off being honest with his grandmother.
Since this would lead to the show being over in two episodes, Chizuru eventually relents and enters Girlfriend Mode. On top of that, she agrees to pretend for one hour every Wednesday when Kazuya visits his grandmother. I get this decision for narrative’s sake but it does feel frustrating since Chizuru really is onto something here. I at the very least get Chizuru’s decision. She’s touched that Kazuya’s grandmother thinks very highly of her and she also can’t help but feel bad for Kazuya, both of which might say something about how she views herself.
After that, things go a little downhill. On the way home from the weekly hospital visit, Kazuya and Chizuru bump into the former’s best friends. The best friends are in disbelief that Kazuya “has” a new girlfriend and Kazuya can’t resist the urge to rub in their face. To make matters worse, Kazuya’s friends invite the couple to a mixer and against Chizuru’s objections, Kazuya agrees to go because of course he does. I don’t know if I’m supposed to feel for Chizuru as she deals with her “boyfriend” making bad decision after bad decision but I honestly do. Props to her for still committing to the job and not breaking character once.
To be fair though, Kazuya isn’t the most punchable person in the scene. That honor goes to his best friends who have this unfunny routine of giving Kazuya romantic advice while being far too self-conscious over their virginity. The less I write about this, the better.
I suppose karma strikes back at Kazuya since present at the mixer is his ex, Mami (Aoi Yuuki). Right off the bat, it’s clear that this girl is going to be problematic. She doesn’t seem to think too highly of Kazuya and is well aware of the power she has over him, toying with his attraction towards her and making him feel bad about himself. And given Kazuya’s stupidity, he’d easily fall to any of her manipulations. By no means, is she likable in the normal sense.
At the same time, there’s something really interesting about her. Despite what she thinks of Kazuya, she’s clearly quite jealous at the fact that he already has a new girlfriend, one who’s just as attractive as she is if not more. The scene where Mami constantly talks shit about Kazuya serves less to insult him but rather to make him look unappealing to Chizuru in the hopes that she’ll break up with him. It makes it all the more interesting when Chizuru actually stands up for her “boyfriend”, even said “boyfriend” is too chicken to do so himself. On one side, you have the legitimate ex who thinks lowly of our protagonist. On the other, you have the fake girlfriend who may not particularly like our protagonist but nevertheless thinks he deserves better.
If nothing else, Mami will at least be a fun character for Aoi Yuuki to play as. Yuuki is such a great voice actor and she has terrific range. Someone as moody and deceptive as Mami is a perfect fit for her.
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