「宇崎ちゃんはもっと遊びたい!」 (Uzaki-chan wa Motto Asobitai!)
“Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out More!”
It was easy to see that Uzaki-chan wasn’t going to go the mopey route by giving Uzaki a real reason why she wouldn’t be able to see Sakurai anymore. With the reason being her college book report, the final episode of Uzaki-chan can continue focusing on the goofier aspects of the show’s sense of humor.
It wouldn’t be controversial to say that Sakurai has some horrible friends. Even if it was nice to see Ami give us a little insight on her personal aspirations for taking over the family business, her and Itsuhito continue to disrespect his and Uzaki’s boundaries, playing off their frustration and embarrassment as a cute, coy game that they play to avoid asking each other out. In this episode, they orchestrate a situation where Uzaki can see Sakurai get drunk. But whereas it might’ve been easy to diffuse the creepiness of a “get someone I’m interested in drunk” scenario, they needed to do what they did when Uzaki got drunk by emphasizing that no one was being taken advantage.
But when Uzaki decides to also get drunk, it gave Itsuhito carte blanche to break into Sakurai’s apartment to shove his two drunk friends in a bed together. Needless to say that we’re ending the show with one of its lengthier segments having Sakurai and Uzaki piece together whether one took advantage of the other while they were drunk and if at some point, date rape occurred. It was a weird, glaringly bad segment where Ami also takes her opportunity to put her “ooh-la-la” goggles on as soon as she hears that they got drunk together and woke up in the same bed.
On a brighter note, it was nice to get a little bit of Uzaki and Sakurai’s past with each other in the Swimming Club even if they are still drip-feeding information about their past to us. It was funny to see how Uzaki thought he was intimidating and scary before she got to learn more about him. It felt refreshingly different from what we usually get from Uzaki. We also get a little bit of her home life with some knowledge of what her younger brother is like and why she has a difficult home life with everyone being quick to judge her poor life decisions. It might’ve been a lackluster finale with not much content to sink your teeth in, but it does end smoothly enough that it doesn’t spoil the rest of the show.
I wanted to come out of Uzaki-chan wa Asobitai! liking it more because I enjoyed the premise of it quite a bit. The idea of Uzaki helping her friend Sakurai come out of his shell by forcing him to take part in outdoor activities or dates while putting on an overbearing personality for him sounds like it’d be fun on paper. But one major problem with the show is that the series has an identity crisis during the story’s growing pains. It has shades of romance but never leans into it enough like Takagi-san. There’s some humorous teasing, but it also does very little with that. They aren’t practical jokes like with Takagi-san nor are they mean-spirited ways of twisting the knife-like with Nagatoro. Uzaki’s approach to clowning on Sakurai or falling in love with him are treated like the Diet versions of what those two stories have accomplished. It’s awesome when you do get moments in the anime where they either make Uzaki a masterful troll or a girl in love, but in turn, it makes it all the more apparent that the anime is missing those extra ingredients for it to be truly memorable on its own.
Similarly, its side characters were missed opportunities for the show to have hilarious moments involving them that weren’t one-note and revolved around the same joke of having them also be on-board with pairing up the two. It was pointless to make Ami, the Cafe Owner, and Itsuhito three separate characters because all three characters were exactly the same. It really made me despise the trio and wish that they had more going on than just their matchmaker shtick. Give Ami or Itsuhito some chemistry or give the Cafe Owner his own personality. Anything to make them more bearable. Tsuki was nice, but only because I like mom characters and not because of the one joke that got stuck with her. She had nothing to do by the time they introduced her, and when they do, they only keep her around to make jokes about how she thinks Sakurai wants her. It can be discouraging to see other characters on the screen because of how disappointing their jokes are. It’s one of the few anime where I would rather see the side characters shoved off in the corner while Uzaki and Sakurai get to know each other.
At the same time, the show still had many moments that were cute and hilarious. It was amusing to see Uzaki and Sakurai get under each other’s skins and having the good sense to give both of them a chance to shine. It was an equal opportunity show that allowed Sakurai to have his time in the sun and flex on Uzaki just as she does with him, and for that, I appreciate what Uzaki-chan brings to the table as a comedy about two characters that have chemistry together. It might not have been the most promising new anime of Summer 2020, but it did provide a ton of entertainment in a time when we all really needed something to keep us cheery and lighten the mood. Hopefully, with the upcoming sequel season, they can find a way to do something more with its side characters and strike a better balance between the fun troll vibes and the budding romantic vibes for Uzaki and Sakurai.