Original Run: April 6, 2019 - June 22, 2019 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Comedy, Romance Based on the Series Created By: Ren Kawahara
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Ao-chan Can’t Study. Reader discretion is advised.***
Ao Horie (voiced by Azumi Waki) has never liked her name. It was given to her by her father, a successful erotica novelist, and it was inspired by the sound a girl makes when achieving an orgasm. As you might guess, that isn’t something a person would want others to know.
For years, Ao has dedicated herself to her studies. She hopes that by doing so, she can attend a high ranking university and leave her father once and for all. Unfortunately, Ao has given herself no time to pursue other interests her fellow high schoolers engage in. Mainly, friendships and romances. Even more problematic, Ao is convinced everyone has only one thing on their mind – SEX.
For that reason, Ao is horrified when her classmate, Takumi Kijima (voiced by Junta Terashima) confesses his love for her. After years of self-imposed isolation, Ao is incapable of seeing anything other than ulterior motives in Takumi’s words. However, she will soon realize that her own feelings and desires might not be as “innocent” as she thought.
Ao-chan Can’t Study (Ao-chan) wasn’t great. Then again, I can’t say it was terrible either. After all, it made sense, it was coherent, and in general, it looked quite nice. Nevertheless, it still wasn’t great.
This was one of those series that could have only worked as a short-form anime. Had each episode been a standard twenty-four minutes (totaling a little less than a six-hour watch with no breaks), I think this review might have been far harsher. Fortunately, that was not the case. As a result, I believe this offers me a better opportunity to give a proper critique of this show’s positive elements.
That being said, I now find myself in an awkward position. There was really nothing about Ao-chan, positively speaking, that stood out to me.
Well, I suppose that’s not entirely true. There was something to this series that does deserve a mention.
Let’s think about it for a second. This was a show with a pretty female protagonist who was weirded out by and was grossly misinformed about relationships. Particularly sexual relations with males. I have seen this type of anime before, and most, if not all, have proven to rely on substantial amounts of fanservice.
Of course, I’m not suggesting Ao-chan was fanservice-free. I never thought it would be, nor will I ever bet money on a series like this to pass up such an easy target. What did surprise me, though, was how reasonable Ao-chan ended up being in this regard.
Yes, there was the occasional unlikely mishap. However, nothing ever disobeyed the laws of physics or reason. A slight breeze didn’t instantly disintegrate everyone’s clothes, and a simple weak handshake didn’t snowball into near accidental penetration.
Instead, everything that did happen in this show had a clear cause.
If you’re thinking I’m reaching for nothing, believe it or not, I am actually going somewhere with this.
Ao-chan was an anime that knew the difference between having flashy, super cringy, hyper-sexualized fanservice, and having sex be a plot point. The two ideas are not the same. There is nothing wrong with a show focusing on the subject of sex and what role it plays in a romantic relationship. More specifically, and here is the angle this series was leaning on, how does sex factor into a possible romance if one or both parties have never had it?
Therefore, when you see Ao-chan as a series about a self-sheltered girl afraid of becoming a deviant like her erotica-writing father, don’t assume (like I did) there will only be anime boobies. Instead, expect an overexaggerated but no less relatable comedy about a fresh-faced couple exploring the nuances of their relationship.
Granted, that is assuming you can get past Ao-chan’s brand of obnoxiousness.
I want to ask you something. What happens when you don’t like the characters of a show that is solely reliant on its characters being the primary selling point? You get Ao-chan, that’s what happens.
The biggest problem with this series was its characters. This was a group that let misunderstandings build up and fester. Everyone assumed they had the full picture. Thus, no one ever felt the urge to say what it was they were actually thinking. There was so much back and forth, back and forth, and yet, very little forward progress was ever made.
For example, the amount of ignorance titular Ao had towards sex – as well as all social interactions in general – would have been and should have been pitiful. Unfortunately, this show was a comedy. Therefore, the degree to which she misread almost every interaction became the reoccurring joke of the series. And it was a joke that stopped being funny fast.
Ao’s personality wasn’t cute. It wasn’t charming. It wasn’t even likable. She was so quick to berate others and put herself higher than the people around her. To be fair, you could argue Ao’s behavior was natural given who raised her. I mean, her father named her after a sex pun (it makes sense in Japanese, trust me). Nevertheless, its hard to feel sorry for someone when they immediately translate “Good morning” into “Let’s sleep together, oh my god, why are we not already sleeping together?”
And I don’t want to lay the blame solely at Ao’s feet.
None of the characters – or, at least, none of the main ones – were all that spectacular. Takumi couldn’t take a hint when Ao was clearly uninterested in him. Ao’s supposed only friend, Miyabi Takaoka (voiced by Juri Kimura), was willing to sleep with Takumi out of spite. Ao’s aforementioned father was a creepy old perv who saw no issues with actively trying to get his daughter laid.
This was not a cast that could get the laughter rolling.
Calling back to something I said earlier in the review, there was no way Ao-chan would have worked as a standard-length anime. It was hard not to get frustrated when every episode was half the usual length. Can you imagine how brutal this series would have been to sit through it the runtime was doubled?
No, thank you.
This was not a good show.
Although I am happy to give this series the credit it deserves for knowing the difference between mindless fanservice and sex, I really wish I could find one more thing I liked about it. Sadly, I can’t.
This was a character-based anime where the characters fell flat. Everyone was either prudish, dense, self-centered, or creepy. How is a person supposed to find any interest in a show when there is no one interesting within it to guide the way?
For that reason, Ao-chan Can’t Study is a series you can skip.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? How would you advise Ao-chan Can’t Study? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.