「レンタル彼女 -レンカノ-」 (Rentaru kanojo – renkano –)
“Rent-a-Girlfriend”

You know what really completes summer? Beaches, partying, long nights and crazy hangovers good food? Wrong on all accounts. It’s your seasonal romance obviously, because nothing says pure entertainment more than artificial drama and failed love, and here to provide it in spades is Kanojo Okarishimasu. That’s right boys and girls, your typical love story written anew is here for all to see, and we certainly won’t be lacking when it comes to battles of the heart.

As teased back in the RC Preview, Kanojo Okarishimasu is at its core your usual romance story. Kazuya (Horie Shun) is your tried and true male MC who has a healthy male desire for the opposite sex and the main female interest Chizuru (Amamiya Sora) pretty much loathes the guy, at least outside of the kernel of desire quietly rooting itself deep within. The selling point of course, however, is the premise twist—instead of the ubiquitous high school romance dominated by club drama and the usual concerns over graduation and the future, Kanojo Okarishimasu goes a distinctively sanitized post-secondary. Teenage crushes are replaced with a realistic representation of rental girlfriends, a service which does actually exist in Japan where the lonely can find a semblance of interested and connection through a few short clicks and hundred bucks. It seems a weird setting to base a romance story when you get down to brass tacks (potential prostitute-client romantic relationships for example are typically avoided in literature and media for a reason), but there’s no denying the potential; with Japan’s demographics and modern culture there’s a lot of relatable grist for this mill, particularly with Kanojo Okarishimasu going for a more mature setting off the bat. Nothing is ever perfect, but it definitely gets a leg up in this regard.

The main issue with Kanojo Okarishimasu though is the same with most other romances: cheese. Kazuya is case in point here, where maturity is quickly sacrificed in favour of childish antics and the all-too-familiar behaviour around the opposite sex. In the span of minutes we go from shock to cuckoldry and every action in between, with the kid effectively acting on impulse and never really considering what he’s doing. Now to be fair it’s not like some of this is unrelatable; god knows I remember what I was like when I was a freshman. The problem rather is its cringe worthiness—there’s nothing particularly fun or rewarding watching Kazuya go through the motions, it’s just sad. Chizuru’s personality switch too only helps this partially, as while her actions and Amamiya Sora’s voice acting keep matters surprisingly realistic and amusing (very), they are hard-pressed to make up for what you damn well know is a hair pulling implosion coming on down the line. For all of Kanojo Okarishimasu’s fairly unique aspects there’s a lot of sameness resting under the hood, because if you thought grandma-induced dating and Chizuru’s real-life appearance weren’t spoiler enough, just wait until the rest of the female cast (and their circumstances) are properly introduced.

While I don’t know whether Kanojo Okarishimasu will wind up part of my summer blogging just yet, there’s no denying if you’re in need of some romantic drama this season that this will more than provide. Between the number of girls on tap and the potential Kazuya responses, this will be one romance which definitely does not fall far from the tree.

 

OP Sequence

OP: 「センチメートル」 (Senchimeetoru) by The Peggies

Preview

16 Comments

  1. There is something which sets this romcom apart from the rest. It makes it special, but also quite infuriating at times:

    The romantic development between male and female lead is very slow, gradual and as such relatively “realistic”. Unlike other romcoms, the female lead does NOT fall for the male lead inexplicably hard and fast (something which typically annoys the hell out of me). Just the opposite, in fact.

    This is uncommon. But at times it’s also about as rewarding as watching paint dry…

    Mentar
    1. It’s certainly realistic, but I expect it’ll be more annoying than not for this adaptation considering we’re unlikely to see more than a single cour – and with it any serious relationship advancement. From what I’ve read of the manga I’d be surprised if we get anything tangible beyond misunderstanding fuelled drama lol.

  2. Chizuru in “Rental Girlfriend” mode: “Damn it, she’s as angelic as Illustrious!”
    Chizuru in normal mode: “There we go, there’s her inner Aqua!”

    Where did all those cherry blossoms come from?!
    Kazuya’s grandma: “By the way, you two… Have you had sex already?” I dunno why, but that felt like the highlight of the episode. Perhaps it’s how the grandma is so open about sexuality, or perhaps how Chizuru managed to improvise to “keep up appearances”/”save face”, or perhaps it’s because I’m too acquainted with that constant feeling of pressure from older family members to “find a girl and settle down” during every family reunion? (Asian families…hooray… /s)
    – OK, I take it back… Kazuya and Chizuru’s discussion on that park bench was pretty profound. (At least before Chizuru slaps Kazuya back to his senses/reality.)
    Glasses, twin pigtails… The cursed numbers… Oh no…” Re:Zero‘s second season hasn’t played “Call of the Witch” yet, yet I’m already hearing the all-too-familiar “OOUEEEHUUUUU…OOUEEEHEEEH…”
    – If this will be the type of rom-com where the male lead will go through some cringe-y, facepalm-inducing moments before getting some semblance of character development… Well, truth be told, there could be worse choices. (*Flashbacks to Gigguk’s reaction to the manga ending of DomeKano.*)

    Incognito
  3. For a 1st episode the lack of animations was disappointing and doesn’t instill confidence for the next episode.
    Did he masturbate after his ntr fantasies? And grandmother was similarly gross with her sex remark. Seems to run in the family.
    Cute The Peggies though with those little dances of the girls.

    boingman
    1. Lack of animation isn’t too surprising IMO, this is adaptation-wise a paint-by-numbers romance where the focus is primarily on art and reactions (in this case Kazuya’s array of shock faces). As for the ntr I think that’s better left not thought about 😛

  4. Watching Kazuya at the start was painful. Even if it was a blind date that you don’t like, that’s no way to treat a date. I don’t think it was the best time for him to rent a girlfriend.

    Chizuru’s a real pro. Actually tried to improve the experience after that vague low rating review. Not sure how much research she does, but have to wonder how she keeps track of her clients.

    theirs
    1. Oh yeah, the only reason he rented her was pretty much impulse and a desire for distraction. It’s why on the second date he treated her like that as rationality and regret started to rear their heads.

      As for Chizuru it wouldn’t be hard to track her clients. My limited understanding of the system is the renter details what they want to do during the date (e.g. time, location, activities) when booking so the girl knows what she’ll be up to. This gives her some time to prepare, which anyone shrewd like Chizuru will utilize to ensure that renter turns into a repeat customer.

    1. The MC stays one-dimensional (or at least reverts back to his horn dog roots more often then I’d like) for quite a while in this story. We’re only going to get the slapstick humor and “how am I going to get out of this one” moments with a single cour. Honestly, it would probably be the same for two cours.

      The characters in the manga are at a much better point in terms of development. The other girls are still cardboard cutouts of tropes, but at least we learn Chizuru’s motivations and witness the growth of both of them..

      7godeohs
    2. From what I heard/read about Mami Nanami though, I can’t help but want to compare her to Shield Hero‘s Malty Melromarc. (Malty was already an absolute b!tch–and still is.) I dunno if I’ll have some sense of sympathy for Mami once she reveals her circumstances, but I’ll let the season run its course before making a verdict.

      Incognito
  5. A day in the life of Rental Girlfriend’s mangaka:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3rKrTehORY&

    What’s interesting is that Rental Girlfriend’s his most popular and bestselling title to date (15 volumes and ongoing), esp. when you consider Miyajima’s last major work, Mononote, an action series about an Edo-period mercenary with mismatched hands, only lasted 3 volumes by comparison (and I think it was cancelled).

    (Not including his debut work, AKB49, because he was only the artist.)

    zztop
    1. Is that the video by Paolo fromTOKYO? (Sweet. Actually got to know Kanojo, Okarishimasu long before the anime premiere thanks to that.)

      I’ll probably end up shaking my head, facepalming and downright cringing at the actions of some of KanoKari‘s (if that shorthand title is correct) characters, but I gotta respect the mangaka‘s work ethic (especially cleaning the studio toilet early in the morning before his assistants arrive). 07 Also, he draws his characters in pretty stylish clothes as well, something I’m glad the anime adaptation picked up on.

      And since there’s already a mention of Japan’s “Rental Companion” business, I distinctly recall Joey “The Anime Man” renting a mom at the height of the OkaSuki hype:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVpMVNc-vuE

      Incognito

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