Original Run: July 10, 2020 - September 25, 2020 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life Based on the Series Created By: Take
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out. Reader discretion is advised.***
Since starting college, Shinichi Sakurai (voiced by Kenji Akabane) has enjoyed a solitary life. He is so content in his ways that he doesn’t think much about being reunited with his old high school junior, Hana Uzaki (voiced by Naomi Oozora). Hana, on the other hand, sees things differently.
Hana has always admired Shinichi and is shocked to see him putting so little effort into anything. She steels herself to change that.
Like a storm, Hana smashes her way into Shinichi’s day-to-day existence. Thanks to her efforts, the two become inseparable. At first, this constantly loud, pushy, and often obnoxious girl infuriates Shinichi. However, after some time, Shinichi can’t imagine what it would be like without Uzaki at his side.
From the get-go, Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out (Uzaki-chan) was worrying. There was something – or rather, two very large, incredibly bouncy, and impossible to ignore somethings – I thought would dominate this show’s entire atmosphere and content. Sure enough, this series wasted little time in utilizing its most prominent – assets.
Then there came a shift.
I’m not sure when it happened, but there was a point where I realized I might have been too quick to judge. As this show progressed, it was evident; what I was watching wasn’t all that bad. By the end, I had done a near one-eighty. Uzaki-chan was surprisingly good.
This series got better as it went along; so, I must insist you give it time to grow.
Uzaki-chan managed to counterbalance some of its more prominent/distracting features by investing a ton of energy into two critical aspects.
The first was how this series wasn’t a high school slice-of-life. The characters were adults*, and I hope you can imagine how much of a difference that made.
*Calling these characters “adults” is slightly misleading. As of this post’s writing and the release of this season, the legal age of adulthood in Japan is 20. A 2018 law changed the legal adulthood age to 18, but it does not come into effect until April 2022. Thus, until episode seven, Hana Uzaki was 19 years old, still legally a minor under 2020 Japanese law. It is also important to note that the new law does not affect the Japanese drinking age of 20 years old.*
This small change allowed Uzaki-chan to explore concepts and get away with actions that would have been cringey in a typical slice-of-life comedy. Undergrad university has enough of that high school air to be familiar to fans of the genre while still being open enough to accommodate a much larger world.
For instance, episode seven solidified my liking of this show. Here, the titular Uzaki invited Shinichi Sakurai to join her in celebrating her 20th birthday. In Japan, turning 20 signifies a child’s transition into adulthood. The occasion is marked with many local and family celebrations, most occurring on Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi) in January.
Twenty is also the legal drinking age in Japan, and that is what we’re focusing on with Uzaki-chan.
Uzaki and Shinichi go into a bar, and Uzaki has her first experience with alcohol. Drinking parties and large quantities of liquor consumption is nothing new in anime. But to see someone celebrate their 20th birthday in such a manner, this was a first for me, and this show handled it incredibly well (and accurately).
My favorite part came when Uzaki learned that although a night of drinking can be a lot of fun, it can also come at a very steep price.
Still, the real highlight of this episode wasn’t what happened but rather, what it meant.
Through humor and drunken silliness, Uzaki and Shinichi grew closer. Scenes like the one in the bar and the one the morning after Uzaki’s birthday illustrated the two leads’ relationship. They bickered, spat, and teased each other, but there was no denying how close they were. After all, Uzaki didn’t invite anyone else to celebrate her birthday; she chose to spend the day with Shinichi.
The second of the mentioned two critical aspects were Uzaki and Shinichi themselves.
To an extent, Uzaki and Shinichi reminded me of Takagi and Nishikada (respectively) from Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san. Like Takagi was with Nishikada, Uzaki’s teasing of Shinichi was relentless. However, there was one significant difference – Shinichi was not Nishikada. Unlike the latter, Shinichi could not only fire back against Uzaki, but he could also turn the tables and come out ahead.
This fairer playing field was much more fun to watch, and we got plenty of great (often hilarious) back-and-forths. Conversely, it made the whole will-they-won’t-they dynamic between Uzaki and Shinichi far more meaningful.
Additionally, we need to give credit to Uzaki. Whenever I have come across an energetic, happy-go-lucky character, they have tended to be on the dimmer side. I don’t want to say they have been dumb, but many were oblivious to their surroundings; that, and they would never turn off.
Uzaki was different.
Although she had an endless amount of energy, it was only ever that – energy. There were reasons behind her actions, and she rarely did anything without a purpose. She wasn’t random, like many other characters who are as bombastic as she was. Plus, Uzaki’s loud, ultra-casual attitude was reserved only for Shinichi. Uzaki could be calm and mature when she chose to be.
Also, and this was unexpected, there were times when Uzaki’s personality and character were more dominant than the two massive melons on her chest.
WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT CAT!? Seriously, what the f@#$ was the deal with that cat? I actually don’t have a problem with the cat, but I couldn’t think of another place to mention it. It was weird, but, like, in a fantastic sort of way. Again, not a criticism; it just felt like this was the more appropriate section.
Before I move on, know that I did like this show; I am going to recommend it. However, I will be taking this opportunity to make a point.
First, let me say that Uzaki-chan, though good, did have many of the problems that plague slice-of-life comedies:
- Jokes were over-explained.
- The louder someone is doesn’t make them funnier.
- Misunderstandings were often absurd.
- People spoke in unintended innuendoes rather than everyday speech.
Although these aspects did exist, they did not overburden Uzaki-chan and can mostly be ignored. This show couldn’t escape the influence of slice-of-life tropes entirely, but it did a fantastic job of mitigating them.
With all that said, the size of Uzaki’s chest was stupid, distracting, and did nothing to add to this series’ charm. Anime – and to the same extent, manga – needs to understand that sex appeal can only take you so far. As a rule of thumb, if you take the fanservice out, is a show still worth watching? If the answer is yes, then I’m hard-pressed to find fault with it.
Except, I’m saying that’s difficult to do, not impossible.
In the case of Uzuki-chan, Uzuki had the personality not to need any visual aids; but had them she did. In the beginning, it was hard to take her seriously. It also didn’t help that the show made it a point to accentuate her equipment at every opportunity, and it was not subtle. It felt like this was to be the whole of her character.
To my astonishment, that ended up not being the case, and Uzaki successfully established herself as a memorable character through her demeanor, actions, and attitude. I mean, yeah, her breast were still always noticeable; their unbelievable size and physics made sure of that. Thus, mitigating them to the degree this series did was astonishing.
Too bad it doesn’t change how employing fanservice like this is playing with fire.
This series was an utter surprise, and it was the right kind, too.
Yes, there were a few utterly ridiculous aspects. However, there was so much more to counteract them. This show was funny, it had great characters, and it delivered a charm that helped it stand out.
Although it’s not what I thought I would be saying when watching episode one, Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out has earned a recommendation.
But these are my thoughts; what are yours? Have you seen this show; how would you advise Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!? Leave a comment below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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