A story’s setting is rarely the most important thing. Generally speaking, characters and plot take center stage over the world itself. But in certain cases, the setting can pose a bit of a problem for the story itself. A problem that most rom-com stories fall into.
Which is why Rent-A-Girlfriend is such a breath of fresh air.
Now, Rent-A-Girlfriend isn’t my favorite rom-com anime of all time. Far from it. I enjoy it, don’t get me wrong. Chizuru is the best girl of the year so far, the animation is pretty good, and it’s given me a few chuckles here and there. But in terms of actual romantic drama, it doesn’t do a whole lot for me. Especially since the main character is kinda the biggest loser ever.
But that’s actually a good thing. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Want to participate in a little experiment with me? Okay, here’s what you do. Step one: close your eyes. Don’t do it yet, you need those to read. Do it when I say when. And when I say when and you close them, I want you to think of a romance anime. It can be your favorite or your least favorite, it doesn’t matter. Just pick one. Take ten seconds and pick one.
Ready? Okay. Do it now.
Alright. You got your show? Good. Keep it in your head. Keep it in mind and answer me this: does it have any of the following things in it?
- Excessive fan service (boobs and naked ladies, mostly)
- Risqué sexual situations
- Horny people, all the time
Now, follow-up question: does that show take place in high school? If no, congratulations! You’ve avoided being placed on a government watchlist! I envy you…
That isn’t to say that none of those things happen in high school. That’s where those things tend to start for most people. But for a viewing experience, it can be a little… uncomfortable at times. Especially given how extreme these situations can get; remember, this is anime.
And now, let’s get back to Rent-A-Girlfriend.
This story is horny as fuck, bro. The main character often fantasizes about straight-up sex and he and his friends talk about it in vivid detail. On top of that, it’s got all the aforementioned beats, and those that aren’t there now are practically inevitable. Thankfully, it does two things that make it much less uncomfortable to watch as an adult.
One: it isn’t set in a god damn high school. All these losers are in college. They’re all taking their first steps into proper adulthood. None of them are running around in school uniforms or getting scolded by their homeroom teachers or their parents. These characters are proper adults. Young ones, sure, but adults nonetheless.
Two: it isn’t excessively, cartoonishly sexualized, like other anime. Yes, the characters are indisputably horny. But they’re much more realistic. Characters fantasizing about sex and masturbating is common, but it is exactly what a college student would do.
It gives the story a more realistic tone. It isn’t so completely absurd that it becomes impossible to connect with. Nor is it so titillating that it becomes uncomfortable and annoying. It feels like a story about college students and romance rather than a series of cliche beats and excessive fan service.
Whether the story is great or not is still yet to be seen. There’s more than enough time left for it to fall flat on its face. That, or it will end up becoming something amazing. Who knows?
At least it won’t make me feel like a