Episode 18 – Rent-A-Girlfriend Season 2

One of the many frustrating aspects of Rent-A-Girlfriend is that, despite having a prime tailor-made for wacky hijinks, it almost never capitalizes on any of that. Where any other rom-com or harem series would indulge in crazy misunderstandings, rapid-fire jokes, or just some good ol’ fashioned comedic banter, RAG is content to pad things out with Kazuya internally freaking out while the rest of the world stands still in Awkward Silence, waiting patiently for him to stop shouting inside his head. Such is the case with “Booze & Girlfriend” as we circle around to Chizuru in the Girlfriend Batting Order for a remarkably unventful mixer at a bar.

Really though, am I crazy in thinking there’s way more room for actual jokes than the show ever tries for here? You have the setup that Kazuya and his group of terrible friends all wind up drinking together with Chizuru’s college friend group, and the sheer absurdity of the girl’s Clark Kent disguise should be fodder for some kind of wackiness. Maybe Kazuya and Chizuru have to nonverbally communicate and run interference for each other throughout the night, or we make a running joke about how clueless the guys are to not see through her paper-thin secret identity. But instead the show acts like Chizuru wearing her different hair and putting on glasses is genuinely enough to trick people, one of whom has been on a full-length date with her. What’s more, there are only a couple of punchlines of any kind before we move into the doldrums of these barely present characters playing drinking games, and the episode’s misguided attempt at drama with Kazuya sacrificing his liver to keep Chizuru from having to chug some beer.

If that sounds like an incredibly weak hook, that’s because it is. Maybe I just know too many who have been holding their liquor like boats since high school, but the idea that Kazuya needs to “rescue” Chizuru from drinking a couple pins is a weird move to me. It feels like a hastily thrown-together scenario that started with the goal of “Kazuya does a selfless thing to earn Affection Points with his lady love” and worked backwards from there. For one, she never asks for his help or even signals that she’s in trouble, so it’s entirely an assumption in Kazuya’s crush-addled brain that he needs to save her. For two, purposefully screwing up the drinking games so he gets plastered is perhaps the least interesting way to go about this. If Kazuya is already offering help without being asked, why not have him directly stand up to their friend group and say they shouldn’t make the lightweight overdrink? That would at least invite some friction with the other characters and have Kazuya behaving in a way that takes some actual backbone. After all, isn’t his whole protracted character arc supposed to be about learning to deal with uncomfortable or embarrassing head-on situations, rather than lying and self-deprecating to avoid them?

Instead, we get Kazuya mildly making a doofus out of himself among friends who already treat him like cracked asphalt, then spend several minutes throwing a drunken pity party inside his own head. And boy, if it was annoying to hear Kazuya beat himself up over things he actually did wrong, it’s insufferable to hear it over stuff he didn’t have any control in. He didn’t set up this party, did his (relative) best to keep Chizuru’s secret, and in retrospect his presence probably helped keep it under wraps more than anything. Sure, it’s an awkward night, but if the show is going to make Chizuru forgiving him over the shit he pulls synonymous with her falling for him, at least let him actually fuck up. But hey, Kazuya would never miss an excuse to extol Chizuru’s virtues over his failings, so we spend the waning minutes of this episode watching him cry, complain, and spew chunks before mercifully passing out, all amounting to another token moment of Chizuru assuaging his guilt.

We’ve entered a pretty defined holding pattern now, swapping from girl to girl each episode and accomplishing little of note, and I can safely say Chizuru episodes have become the most tiresome to get through. At least with Ruka or Sumi, the episodes haven’t been built entirely around Kazuya’s incessant monologues, and while I know we’ll never actually get any development from Mami, the show holding that football out in front of me is at least something to focus on. Chizuru’s dedicated episodes this season have uniformly been the most tedious, repetitive, and anti-entertaining of the lot, so I’m calling it here: Chizuru is Worst Girl. Do not @ me.


Rent-A-Girlfriend Season 2 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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