OP: Nadamesukashi Negotiation 「なだめスかし Negotiation」 by Kano and Oozora Naomi
「宇崎ちゃんは遊びたい!」 (Uzaki-chan wa Asobitai!)
“Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!”
Uzaki-chan wa Asobitai! has the distinction of being the first of the beloved “new-school” comedy manga pantheon to get an anime adaptation. Much like contemporaries within said pantheon like Nagatoro-san, Komi-san, and Tomo-chan, Uzaki-chan takes a simple concept for a relationship between a guy and a girl and flips in upside down in a new, refreshing, and adventurous sort of way.
On the surface, the story of Uzaki-chan wa Asobitai! is almost as old as time in anime-years; take a killjoy boy and have him tear his hair out trying to deal with a cumbersome girl. Seems easy enough right? Well, Uzaki-chan might be within that same church, but in a different pew that gives the series its own sense of personality.
The series’ greatest strength is in utilizing Uzaki Hana (Oozora Naomi) to her fullest extent. While Sakurai Shinichi (Akabane Kenji) is a pretty miserable leading man, Uzaki has more than enough personality to carry the entire show by acting as the thorn in his side. She has a talent for finding what really annoys Sakurai and aims to button-mash his pressure points with ease. Some of the funnier segments in the first episode are how enthusiastic she is at eagerly reminding Sakurai how sad he looks by going to the movie theater or batting cage by himself.
Uzaki’s main talent of being obnoxious might sound like it’d get grating quickly, but the series and the first episode solidifies the chemistry that she has with Sakurai as the perfect match for some good comedy. Uzaki as a whole taps into that inner desire to see just how far she’s able to push Sakurai without him losing his cool and leaving her behind. It’s hilarious how unashamed Uzaki is in her determination to push Sakurai’s buttons. At the same time, she also helps Sakurai have humorous scenes of his own such as his reaction to Uzaki eating all of his karaage, how he ended up interacting with the wildlife during a VR ocean simulator, or the schadenfreude from Uzaki throwing her back out in the batting cage.
But one of the biggest game-changers of Uzaki-chan wa Asobitai! is that its main characters are in the mythical isekai world of college. In a medium where it feels like pulling teeth to get a narrative that explores life after high school, it’s always a fresh breath of air to dive into the untapped well that is college life.
Because it’s at an age of self-discovery, it makes it interesting when a comedy or slice-of-life in college handles themes like isolation and companionship. Topics that might otherwise feel trite if they were from the perspective of high-schoolers feel far more compelling when you’re dealing with characters who are at an age where people make friends for the express purpose of networking.
As a result, Uzaki’s goal to force Sakurai out of his shell comes off less like she’s being an annoying classmate trying to interrupt a boy’s ordinary school life and more like she’s attempting to reconnect with an old friend who has gone his own way since he made it to college. Knowing that Sakurai is familiar with Uzaki in the past and noticed how she changed also provides a launching point for the anime to potentially explore the facets of their past that provide more context as to why she tries to provoke Sakurai and hang out with him as often as she can.
It’s easy to see why Uzaki-chan wa Asobitai! is such an appealing series based on how well the first episode executes its main premise of Uzaki acting as the thorn in Sakurai’s side. Hopefully, they’ll be able to use the college setting to its fullest extent, but so far, it’s off to a great start as one of the funniest new shows to come out of the summer season.
ED: Kokoronokku 「ココロノック」