Please note spoilers are within this rant
Imagine a world where you could, I don’t know. Pay a girl to play games with you. Or better yet, imagine a world where you could pay monthly to see their nudes! Now of course these are things of a far future, but maybe one day we will have such thing, and maybe even Rental Girlfriends? It’s in this wonderful fictional, totally not 2020 world that mega (like no joke) MEGA popular summer anime, Rent-a-Girlfriend, takes place. Now I know most of you are thinking, how could a show based on such a cut and dry idea be so massively popular? And for that, I give you an answer. Chizuru Mizuhara, and outside of that, I honestly, have no idea.
So with the summer line up of 2020. There is the continuation of Re:Zero which honestly should be the only thing anyone is talking about but here we are. With this piece of work topping the charts all over the world. Rent-a-Girlfriend is on paper is a classic harem, about some shumuck that lost his first girlfriend. Leading him down a path of debauchery in which ends with him paying that cash money for a rental.
The story follows this wonderful fellow named Kazuya Kinoshita, the college student turned masturbater extraordinaire after getting canned by his first-time girlfriend Mami Nanami in one of the classic “I love someone else” sorta way. Well, naturally, this destroyed our poor main college protagonist, forcing him to turns to means outside of, well social norm.
Diamond, an app that allows patrons to purchase dates from a list of girls is where Kazuya goes. Choosing 5-star rookie and waifu 2020 (don’t @ me) Chizuru Mizuhara. Chizuru, is a college student and actress in training. She is also a drop-dead bombshell in quite literally any way possible. So look, I’m going to be straight, this show, to me, isn’t that great. I am talking about a low ball 4. I will get into all of that later but just know, going forward, if Mizuhara wasn’t the main heroine, my thoughts would not be near as pleasant.
But I digress. Back to this darling
Mizuhara takes up Kazuya on the date, in which Kazuya has what seems to be a great time, until he gets a little to handsy, and with a crack, Mizuhara puts him in his place. This set a narrative very early on that even though in this cringy idea of renting someone to hang out with you. Mizuhara takes her job seriously and will put professionalism above all else. Being sure to nip some clients if need be. I adore this about her, and I’m not going to lie, my perception of this show, what I was expecting to see, was shattered in that moment. I was thinking a basic run of the mill harem, but instead in the small glimpse I saw a woman. A woman who would end up being caring, kind, ruthless, professional, passionate, and above all else, human. I didn’t think the show would hold course with her, she would fall to some stupid trop and granted there was some, but for the most part she remained the same. A waifu that felt, and cared. Who had no superpowers or weird niche skills. A genuine, adorable, person who wants to bring everyone around her joy, but never at the cost of her self.
This was such a strange turn for me in a show where all the heriones have flaws, but she seemingly had little. So in Rent-a-Girlfriend Mizuhara is the best girl, period, there is no competition and I said that going in before I even met the other two. And as of episode 12 that still rings true. It’s an interesting aspect, it makes me unsure where the show is going to go since its not really playing from normal harem rules. Or at least any I have seen.
On that note, however, lets move on to the clear number 2. Ruka Sarashina. Now don’t get me wrong, this girl is my own personal favorite. Not to be confused with what I think is the best premise as a character. She is a younger rental that first comes into play as girlfriend of Shun Kuribayashi as they double date. In this moment however Ruka approaches Mizuhara and calls her out for what she is, a rental. This creates a lot of tension in the air since Kazuya and Mizuhara are in a bit of pinch when it comes to their grandparents knowing each other and think they are actually dating. This diverges into a surprisingly interesting arc where Ruka has a heart condition in which it is regularly low, and for the first time in her life Kazuya raised it, making her jump to the conclusion that she loves him. In this moment she cuts it off with Shun, quits being a rental, and in a moment blackmails Mizuhara and Kazuya saying that she will keep their rental relationship a secret only if Kazuya dates her. This is followed by a conflict because by this time Kazuya has come to post nut terms that he loves Mizuhara but they decide it is the best for him to DATE RUKA (caps because I will come back to that) The reason I fell for her is her quirks. She is needy and a little controlling but for the most part it is abundantly adorable. Whenever she is on screen I can’t help but to feel bad for her, and she eventually comes to terms with that fact that she can’t force Kazuya to love her. When this happens she takes on a more mature role, wanting to be the girlfriend that he falls in love with and honestly, she does a great job.
Moving on. So the third gal that comes along is honestly just a waste of space and screen time. Sumi Sakurasawa, now why would I say something so harsh about this poor anti-social redhead with bushy eyebrows? Because well, she is an anti-social redhead with bushy eyebrows. So her whole bit is she is cute (I guess?) but she is so socially awkward she became a rental to work on it. The only issues is she can’t talk, like almost at all. Most of the dates she goes on its just men chilling with her as she sits there blushing with her eyes down. In short she is a garbage rental. In order to help her out Mizuhara offers for her to be rented by Kazuya, since all and all he is a pretty good dude and it would be good at training her. This however goes quite poorly since Sumi can’t fucking talk and it all comes to a tip when they run into the fourth darling in this whole series. The pysco ass ex Mami Nanami.
Mamai-chan, as she is lovingly known as is the sweeet darling heroine we all adore and know. But she isn’t. Honestly, I’m unsure what her angle is, and I can say that I don’t understand it. She dumps Kazuya, only to be very interested in his love life but simultaneously shitting on him. This is weird to me, in a lot of ways, and I’m sure it is to most people who have seen the show. Mamai-chan gets a LOT of shit cause of this. But I am not sure its so black and white. It would be really weird for her to just shit on one person cause they are your ex or a loser. And even more so it would be weird to also, oddly care for them. Mamai-chan has some sort of feeling for Kazuya, we see that early on. As in post break up she is nice, almost protective but we don’t understand why and sadly we won’t understand this season. And this boils to in later episode where she even admits she is not aware why she feels that way about him. This comes to a convergence when she runs into Kazuya on his practice date with Sumi, in which she approaches them as Sumi, using her newfound bravery pushes the idea that they are indeed dating. This makes Mamai-chan rather confused how all a sudden this loser she dumped has all these girls now, leading her to google Sumi’s name only to discover the degenerate world of rentals. Naturally this leads to her finding about Mizuhara and she rents her in the last episode of the season mostly just to shit on the idea that her and Kazuya aren’t a thing and pretty much tells her to buzz off.
This ends in a perplexing way due to that. Kazuya is hanging out at work with his GIRLFRIEND Ruka when he sees the two of them together and goes back to his handy technique of stalking. It pretty much ends on the note of Mizuhara begging Mamai-chan to give him another chances cause she thinks she can make him happy in which ends about how you think it would. A dead stare followed by pretty much stating that was between her and Kazuya and Mizuhara really should mind her own business. Which is kinda fair honestly, it is between the two of them. Granted I am fairly certain Mami-chan would kill him because lets be honest here, there is a few screws loose in that head.
Looking at the world it is about what you expect. General college world where a harem exists, the soundtrack is alright but one thing that really stands out at the start is the animation. The show is BEAUTIFUL and it really comes out in the eyes of the girls. There is a lot of detail when it comes to some of the scenes, and knowing how cost inefficient animating is I don’t even want to know how much time it would take to get some of these scenes together. But it is important to note that the love is definitely represented only in the girls and Kazuya, as some of the side characters are animated and design rather cheaply. I also get annoyed with how much they blush, there is so much blushing, literally all the time. It kinda takes away from the emotion that is suppose to be conveyed when someone blushes, forcing the animation to go over the top with the red lines when they are actually embarrassed. But outside of that I think the best thing about the show is the animation, TMS Entertainment really knocked it out of the park and hope that going into season 2 they keep it up.
So time to address the elephant in the room, the one thing that absolutely killed me about this show and something they double down on in episode 12. So after the whole Mami Mizuhara thing Kazuya waits outside for Mizuhara to come home, thanking her for standing up for him against Mami. This devolves into a commentary about how she is sorry that even after a year she couldn’t get him a girlfriend, but he has one. Ruka is quite literally his girlfriend, they go on dates, he agree that he would date her and she gives him 110%. The show just ices over this fact time and time again. There is even a scene where he is about to confess to her that he wants to be a better boyfriend to her, and try to love her. Only to be distracted by fucking Mami and Mizuhara’s rental date. Ruka time and time again is forced into second place which is fine, if they literally weren’t dating. It makes Kazuya that much more of a scum bag and really got under my skin the times he would blow her off and continue to rent Mizuhara. There is even a scene where she crashes one of their dates and is clearly upset about them still doing the rental thing, UNDERSTANDABLY. I know Ruka isn’t going to win this cluster of a show but at least give her the benefit of doubt, stop leading her on in this manner, either start treating her as the girlfriend she is or man up, cut the ties, and focus on Mizuhara. But we all know that isn’t going to happen, that’s not how these shows go, and I am sure he will continue to be the scum that fails to get it, falls short every time when we think he is actually making progress. This was without a doubt the biggest annoyance I had with the whole series, and I am interested in what they do with that.
When it comes to this series, like I stated, it was the hottest show of the summer and the manga took off as well becoming the best selling in China. Sadly, I’m not really sure why. This show isn’t bad, really, but I don’t think its particularly good. It has 12 episodes and even though it did build some character development you pretty much get the gist of how all of them are going to act episode one and they don’t ever really change. Even Sumi who doesn’t even show up until episode 10 but you immediately figure out what her whole bit is. Mami stays crazy, Mizuhara remains badass and straight forward, Ruka keeps trying too hard. The world as stated isn’t something that great so that leaves me to believe the only reason it took off the way it did, good old degenerates like me.
I think the idea of being able to pay money to hang out with a girl is oddly appealing to 2020 weebs that understand how the internet works. And it is that interest added with the simple fact that show was alright that it kept people watching. I mean it was the only reason I kept watching, it was a train wreck of Kazuya fucking up and every episode I hoped maybe he would get it. Simply put the show is fine, it was worth the watch and I will watch season 2. But I doubt it will ever be more then what we saw in season 1 and personally, I’m okay with that.
All and all I settle this show at a 5-10, and it has the darling Mizuhara to thank for that.
Thanks for reading, hope they enjoyed!