Aho Girl – 03

It’s a jam-packed Aho Girl with another not one or two or three but four separate stories, starting with a different opening in which the Disciplinary Committee President (DCP) slowly pans into the shot from the right leering at A-kun, until Yoshiko slowly pans in from the left.

From there, Yoshiko’s mom meets Sayaka, and is immediately suspicious she’ll steal A-kun from her daughter (and by extension, her). Thus she uses two pairs of handcuffs (she normally uses on her husband) and tries to get Sayaka to show them her panties, which will determine what kind of girl she is.

When A-kun threatens violence on Yoshiko and her mom, Sayaka surrenders, and when she finally reveals her panties to the women, they’re so white and pure Mom tells A-kun he’s free to be friends with her: she’s no threat.

Part Deux is another “kids in the playground” segment, with Yoshiko wanting to play and the kids preferring if she just studies, since she needs to get a job at some point. I will never tire of their mature, pragmatic banter.

Then a big white dog shows up—a huge white dog—and Yoshiko protects the little ‘uns…by attempting to ride him. There’s a poetry to her being dragged across the dirt telling the jaded kids to “hold fast to their dreams” as she holds fast to the dog, eventually ending up holding him in the air with her legs.

It’s a stray dog, so naturally Yoshiko intends to keep him, so she can keep riding him, and to the kids’ surprise, she seems to have trained him. The girl even calls Yoshiko “kinda amazing”, which immediately concerns her friends.

Following the dog rodeo, Yoshiko suddenly sounds a lot more bright and sophisticated when talking about her one true love of bananas. Her interest piqued by a bold upstart domestic banana farmer, Satou-san, and the taste is so good she bowls’ over backwards, revealing her panties once more.

The sophistocation quickly fades away when she proposes to run to Satou’s farm to meet him, and Sayaka must tag along…to the tune of 100km. Stopping to buy a drink, Sayaka very unwisely sends Yoshiko into a store that sells far more than just drinks, and the phrase “a fool and her money are soon parted” is elegantly yet devastatingly illustrated. The ugly, dull, expensive, yet not not adorable town mascots of “Middle of Nowhere” were a nice touch.

They finally reach the farm, and Yoshiko draws Satou into a perhaps not appropriate hug for an old man who is a complete stranger. Still, Yoshiko seems convinced she knows the man’s soul intimately after tasting his exquisite banana (that sounds wrong but it’s factually accurate). Then it’s up to Sayaka to get on all fours and beg for train fare home. I can’t blame her for not wanting to sprint another 100km home.

In Numero Quatro things get a little frisky and a little dark, as Yoshiko, seeing A-kun is down from not scoring a full 100 on any of his tests (say what you will about her, she’s good at nice round zeros), and decides to cheer him up…the same way her mom cheers her dad up some nights. Oh dear…

Yoshiko is truly an idiot, but she pays attention when she wants to, and was clearly taking very precise visual notes, judging from the attention to detail in which she handcuffs A-kun, talks to him like he’s a baby with an insufferably cutesy tone while stripping. A-kun is not, for a single moment, turned on by the display, and indeed, looks like he’d rather be anywhere else in the world. I’m sure Yoshiko’s mom would be sad to see him that way!

His sister, on the other hand, manages to walk in just after he’d gotten on his feet and delivered a tremendous knock-out drop kick to Yoshiko, and in the very moment he’s lifting her skirt with his teeth to fetch the key from her panties. Poor Ruri! On the one hand, she shouldn’t have to see that. On the other, well…Yoshiko really shouldn’t have to ever see her parents’ foreplay.

Aho Girl – 02

This week Aho Girl continued to deliver strong comedy bang for the buck, relying on a single, central premise (Yoshiko is an idiot) but applying that idiocy in a diverse array of unexpected ways.

First Yoshiko wanders off and plays with children, who think she’s cool until A-kun arrives to burst their bubble. It’s an act where Yoshiko exhibits her rare glimmers of brilliance (both in building a boss sand castle and lamenting that the kids’ hopes were already “lost and broken by modern society”, her failed swing attack makes deft use of both slapstick and observational comedy.

In another little dig at modern society, Yoshiko gradually convinces a rough-looking delinquent to stop pawing Sayaka and play with her, a “fellow idiot” instead, believing she sees him for what he really is: a sensitive, misunderstood young man just trying to make it in the world.

Turns out A-kun’s sister Ruri is also capable of scoring zeros on tests, but not for lack of studying, for which his high-scoring brother can’t hide his shame, and leads Ruri to tell him she hates him and latch onto Sayaka instead, who worries about the girl’s future.

Finally, A-kun has an admirer, and it’s the disciplinary committee president, who despite her button-down, strict manner, is concealing all manner of lewd and lascivious thoughts, especially when A-kun invites her (quite innocently) to search him (for contraband), which she takes to mean violate her regulations. She ends up banging her head on a locker trying to jump him, but promises “it isn’t over”.

Aho Girl – 01 (First Impressions)

Aho Girl or “Clueless Girl” is about all of the ways Hanabatake Yoshiko is an idiot, as seen from the perspective of her neighbor and long-suffering caretaker Akutsu Akuru. In under thirteen minutes of airtime, A-kun and others call her an idiot thirteen times and he assaults her a half-dozen more as punishment for being so idiotic.

If that sounds really one-note, it’s because it is. However this double act in which A-kun is the straight and Yoshiko is the foil sort of succeeds for two reasons: despite her idiocy Yoshiko has a great deal of performative range (thanks to her seiyu, a game Yuuki Aoi) and the bits and jokes are numerous and frequent, leaving scant time to stop and ask yourself why you’re watching.

Love Lab – 01

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The popular school tomboy Kurahashi Riko has become bored with school life, until she walks in on the also-popular student council president Maki Natsuo making out with a dutch wife. Riko gets caught up in Natsuo’s skits and schemes dealing with training for a romantic relationship. The training includes the toast-in-mouth bump and the handkerchief drop, but while Natsuo is supremely capable girl, she often goes too far with the training, to Riko’s chagrin. Still, she agrees to keep advising her and they become buddies.

Having seen so very many of these school comedies in which a handful of students start a club about nothing and banter for most of the episodes, something like Love Lab has to offer something different in order for us to stick with it for this very busy Summer season. And we’re not going to lie; this wasn’t awful, and we found ourselves laughing at the comedy and ridiculous action on numerous occasions, even if it somewhat heavily relies on swift escalation, randomness and sheer absurdity. But that kinda stuff is often up our alley, so we didn’t really mind.

Like Kill Me Baby!, we’re dealing with a classic double act: Maki Natsuo is the erratic, eccentric comic, while Riko is the straight man, who often comments on the strangeness and inappropriateness of the former’s behavior. This series differs in three key places: the comedy is less random and simplistic, focusing on the subject of love; both characters are actually immensely popular at their school for different reasons (Maki’s a princess, Riko’s a badass); and the animation is really top-notch (rare for these kinds of series), which when combined with the crackling dialogue and quick pacing, compels us to keep watching, at least for now; we’re suckers for pretty series.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)