Rent A Girlfriend: Season 1 – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

While “Rent A Girlfriend” began with the possibility of being more than another male fantasy anime, it shifts to being what was expected.

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NetworkCrunchyroll
Creator(s)Miyajima Reiji
Genre(s)Comedy, Romance, Young Adult, Animation, Non-English
Noted Cast
KazuyaHorie Shun
Chizuru MizuharaAmamiya Sora
MamiYuuki Aoi
KibeAkasaka Masayuki
KuriKajiwara Gakuto
Grandma KinoshitaNozawa Yukari
RukaTouyama Nao
SumiTakahashi Rie

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Season Summary

20-year-old Kazuya has just recently been dumped by his first girlfriend Mami, and this leads to him using an escort service to rent a girlfriend. Said girl is Chizuru Mizuhara, who is sweet and all, but doesn’t necessarily heal or ease Kazuya’s issues with being dumped. Thus, he leaves a negative review and gets to see who Mizuhara really is.

But, what complicates things is Kazuya and Mizuhara learn they go to the same school, live next to each other, and their grandmothers know one another. That last bit is the most important for their grandmothers discover they are together and so there is hope for marriage, grandkids, and with both Mizuhara and Kazuya loving their grandparents, so complicates them telling their loved ones the truth. Thus prolonging Kazuya getting a real girlfriend and him going broke to maintain the ruse to his family, and eventually friends, Mizuhara is his girl.

Review

Highlights

Knowing There Could Have Been More Done With Kazuya

Kazuya (Horie Shun) walking to class.
Kazuya (Horie Shun)

With some exceptions, Kazuya is generally portrayed as a good guy. He loves, respect, and desires the admiration of his family, isn’t averse to working, and is kind to people and even plants. So, with that in mind, him needing a rental girlfriend could have been used in a multitude of ways. Be it teaching him how to talk to girls, be a good boyfriend, get over his ex, back with her, and the list goes on. For even as it seems Kazuya is catching feelings for Mizuhara, there is this desire for the boy to seem happy since he might be as bland as most male protagonists in romances, but he is a good person.

The Show Often Calling Out Kazuya’s Bad Behavior

Well, outside of his tendency to stalk Mizuhara. Yeah, at least twice, he stalks her, and while the second time you can partly understand, the first time was purely out of jealousy and showing how creepy Kazuya has the potential to be. But rather than justify his actions, through cartoonish displays, the shows points out what Kazuya is doing is wrong and shames the action. Thus, for any impressionable people who see themselves in Kazuya, it is reminded that his actions are not appropriate and shouldn’t be done.

On The Fence

Mami

Mami questioning why she is fixated on Kazuya?

The issue with Mami is you can see more could have been done with her. She is twisted, as are her friends, and it is clear she doesn’t want Kazuya happy, but why? That’s not told to us. Rather, we watch her say hateful things, try to mess with Kazuya’s head, then disappear for multiple episodes. Also, when confronted about if she still likes Kazuya and why they broke up, we don’t get an answer. Rather, this seemingly is getting pushed off to a second season[1].

The Use of Kazuya’s Friends & Family

Kazuya’s friends and family are used to build him up, and in return, they don’t get much out of the deal. Yes, Kibe and Kuri get moments to shine, and Grandma Kinoshita does get to talk about her husband and becomes a notable character. However, it’s rare to see them as people beyond their relationship to Kazuya, and when it comes to Kazuya’s parents, who are they is an utter mystery.

Never mind, we don’t really get a chance to see how Kazuya’s friends see him get reconciled with how his family sees him. For with his family’s often negative perception of him, compared to his friends seeing him as a good person, just a bit weird, while they have their place, they don’t truly fulfill their purpose or have a fleshed-out existence.

The Other Rental Girlfriends

Sumi comes so late in the season not much is done beyond just letting us know she exists and with Ruka, being that she actually wants Kazuya, seeing him ignore her for the hope of Mizuhara gets frustrating. Especially as you come to realize Mizuhara doesn’t have any real interest in Kazuya. Does she find him nice, maybe a good friend, yes. However, the idea of dating him is more so an assumption on your part, maybe Kazuya’s as well, than anything Mizuhara makes into a clear possibility.

You Don’t Often Root For Mizuhara & Kazuya To Get Together

Because of that, you don’t see them as end game, and it makes Kazuya being so stuck on her one of the main challenges in ultimately enjoying this show in its later half. For at that point, you see Ruka wanting him, Sumi seems like a good option, and with there being no push for Kazuya and Mizuhara to end things, it seems like they could go on forever. Granted, she gets a gig which could end her role as a rental girlfriend, but when that gig would require her to end things is anyone’s guess, and so you can imagine Kazuya being a fool for much longer than the year the season takes up.

Overall

Rating: Mixed (Stick Around)

Chizuru thinking to herself.

With a second season announced, the writer(s) could very well take note of what didn’t work in the first season and improve it with the second. However, with the way season 1 ended, it would need one hell of a preview to win back people disappointed in how the first ended. So while there is nowhere to go but up, we’re at the point where “Rent A Girlfriend” would need more than potential but show actual results.

[1] https://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2020/09/25-1/rent-a-girlfriend-season-2-announced


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