Original Run: July 2, 2022 - September 17, 2022 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Comedy, Romance Based on the Series Created By: Reiji Miyajima
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Rent-a-Girlfriend Season 2. Reader discretion is advised.***
Kazuya Kinoshita and Chizuru Ichinose (voiced respectively by Shun Horie and Sora Amamiya) have been continuing their arraignment as a false couple. Chizuru’s side job as a rentable girlfriend makes her and Kazuya’s relationship a bit unusual. However, Kazuya genuinely wants Chizuru to succeed in her goals and is willing to help in whatever way he can.
In doing so, Kazuya began forming true romantic feelings for Chizuru. This has only caused more headaches than anything else. Still, Kazuya believes that Chizuru only sees him as a client and doesn’t expect anything more to happen between them.
Little does Kazuya realize that Chizuru is having trouble distinguishing the business side of their arrangement from some more.
At some point between the release of this review and my review of Rent-a-Girlfriend Season 1 (Rent-a-Girlfriend 1), I got it into my head that I didn’t like this series. I’m not sure how that happened, but upon rereading the aforementioned previous review, such a sentiment didn’t appear to be the case.
Sure, I had problems with Rent-a-Girlfriend 1, and I ultimately didn’t recommend it. Except, I made it quite clear I had high hope for its (then) announced sequel. I will have to take past-me’s word on that because going into Rent-a-Girlfriend 2, there was very – and I mean VERY – little I remember about this show.
Perhaps it was due to my lack of memory and low expectations; I came out of this season two thinking it wasn’t all that bad.
Granted, I am not a converted fan; the Rent-a-Girlfriend franchise hasn’t become something I greatly anticipate. As I will, hopefully, explain in the second half of this review, this season had plenty of issues. And since (spoilers) I won’t be recommending this installment either, I have no reason to doubt my disappointment towards season one.
Be that as it may, we need to give credit where credit is due. For instance, in the season one review, I said this about Chizuru Ichinose:
“[By] a wide margin, she was my least favorite of the four (main female characters). As your classic tsundere…Chizuru played her character type well enough. The reason I never could connect with her like the other female leads had more to do with how the show used her rather than Chizuru herself…
Chizuru was the typical victim of story progression. Suppose a character needs to move the narrative forward. Even if it goes against other establishments, they will do what has to be done in the name of the overall story.”
-Rent-a-Girlfriend ⬢ A Little Bit Of Promise But Ultimately Hollow
I bring that up because Chizuru was a much more interesting character in season two; this installment did a far better job rounding out her personality. Her different traits – cold maturity, forced neutrality, general modesty – Rent-a-Girlfriend 2 took the time to explore where they came from and why Chizuru was who she was.
To that same extent, Ruka Sarashina (voiced by Nao Touyama) had her share of thoughtful moments. If nothing else, you could feel her frustration with Chizuru and Kazuya Kinoshita’s relationship. After all, Kazuya had – apparently (I, legit, completely forgot about this) – agreed to date Ruka for real. Thus, when Ruka found herself in situations where Kazuya asked her to lie about what she believed she had, this show didn’t brush it aside.
There was a point this season where Ruka reached her limit. While she crossed a line – Kazuya had made it clear he thought allowing Ruka to get closer could lead to massive regret on her part – it wasn’t hard to see how she got to that point.
Heck, Rent-a-Girlfriend 2 even did a commendable effort at turning Kazuya into a much more likable character.
Don’t get me wrong, his timidness remained irritating. Still, Kazuya made valiant attempts to come clean and say what was “actually” going on between him and Chizuru. Sure, the plot got in the way, and Kazuya never got the chance to go through with it. But the act alone was enough. Unlike season one, Kazuya wasn’t a drag on this installment. In fact, I’ll go one step further:
Unlike in season one, I found myself caring about Kazuya and Chizuru’s relationship in Rent-a-Girlfriend 2.
In many ways, this season served to iron out the cluster that was its predecessor. Unfortunately, that did come at a cost.
Although there may be ways to rationalize it, a rent-a-girlfriend agency still doesn’t sit well with me. It was weird the first season, and it wasn’t any less so in the second. It also doesn’t help that, thanks to Ruka, at least some of the prospective girlfriends are high schoolers.
You can cling to the age-of-consent-is-younger-in-Japan argument all you want. I, on the other hand, can’t help but find the whole thing a little creepy. Therefore, regardless of whether this franchise can pull itself together, its core gimmick will always be a negative to me.
All that aside, Rent-a-Girlfriend 2 should have been a chance to clean up where its predecessor left off. In some ways, that is precisely what happened. The problem was, this season barely had anything resembling forward progression.
It is good that Kazuya, Chizuru, and their relationship saw much-needed growth. However, the point they ended up at should have occurred back in season one. Season two should have been a chance for this story to give its characters more depth. Instead, this franchise finally gave a reason to care about them.
Thus, it’s not hard to see this series in a too-little-too-late light.
In getting where our primary protagonist needed to be, Rent-a-Girlfriend 2 needed to forgo other aspects. In particular, Sumi Sakurasawa and Mami Nanami (voiced respectively by Rie Takahashi and Aoi Yuuki) found themselves on the sidelines.
For Sumi, this wasn’t much different from how she was in season one. Besides being adorable, she has had little impact on the story. Never mind that the show insists she is as relevant as Chizuru and Ruka through its opening and ending credits.
And then there was Mami.
Looking back at my season one review, I named Mami my favorite character of the show. Sadly, that character who caught my attention back then was nowhere to be found this season.
Rent-a-Girlfriend 2 did just enough to remind you that Mami will, presumably, have some sort of role to play down the road. Mami does seem hellbent on ensuring Kazuya and Chizuru don’t form a meaningful relationship. Why that is her goal is something this season could have explored.
Except, this series can’t keep kicking the can down the road. It already did that at the end of season one. If Rent-a-Girlfriend is waiting for season three to finally get to something worthwhile, I’m sorry, but that ship has sailed.
I don’t remember season one well enough to say which installment I thought was better. However, given the amount of work season two had to do to reach where its predecessor should have gotten to says a lot about the series as a whole.
This franchise has failed to forge a name for itself. Whatever good ideas it might have started out with came under strain thanks to a first installment that felt overcrowded and a second that was playing catch up.
It would appear that a third season is in the works. But for it to have any chance of saving this series, it needs to be something truly spectacular. And to be frank, my confidence in that happening is not high.
Rent-a-Girlfriend Season 2 is one you can skip.
But these are my thoughts; what are yours? Have you seen this show; how would you advise Rent-a-Girlfriend Season 2? Leave a comment below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
If you liked what you have read, follow Anime Hajime on our social media sites to never miss a post or update. Also, please share this review across the internet to help add to the discussion.
If you wish to add your voice to Anime Hajime, why not consider writing for us? Check out our Write For Anime Hajime page if you want to contribute. We welcome your style.
For Anime Hajime, I’m Odyssey, and I’ll see you next time.