Seasonal Showcase — Rent-A-Girlfriend Makes Me Want to Scream (But I Love It Anyway) [Summer 2020: Week 3]

As I scroll down my Twitter feed during any given season, I’m always curious to see what the current “discourse” is about any given show. Usually, this results in me reading a lot of points about shows that don’t necessarily agree with, but I can empathize with the reasoning in some way or another. 

This season, that show is Rent-A-Girlfriend. While the majority of people that I’ve discussed the show with are in love with the show, mostly for its scream-inducing moments and absurd rom-com elements, others aren’t necessarily into how Kazuya acts during the anime. While I feel that without Kazuya being like this, the show’s conflicts and discussions about different relationship dynamics wouldn’t be able to be had, I still respect the opinions of others not being able to stomach that behavior for 24 minutes each week. 

Pictured: Me (right) looking at the Rent-A-Girlfriend anime (left) as it continues its tyraid

However, I think this previous week’s episode of Rent-A-Girlfriend allowed the show to really show its true colors as to why Kazuya is insufferable, dense, and (almost) whiny as he is, and I think it put into perspective as to what the show will dig into in the future.

Of course, I’m referring to the introduction of Mami as a character. We got to see some of her traits in episode 2 during the meet-up scene with Kazuya, his friends, and Chizuru, but just as meeting someone for the first time in real life makes it difficult to fully realize their personality, it was equally difficult to understand what Mami was driving had, despite whatever vibes that may have been gotten from that episode. Episode 3 opens the door to what the show is going to be discussing in the future, which I think is rather interesting for a romance anime to delve into as its rather unique among other anime of its kind. This conflict is introduced by Mami as a character, but not just as a romantic rival for Chizuru to bounce off of as other love triangle shows tend to utilize other members of their female cast.

The conflict that Mami introduces into the show is, at its core, a romantic one, but also adds more tangible texture to the story beyond that, as in episode 3 her toxic behavior in relationships and sheer possessive qualities of Kazuya are brought to the forefront of the discussion. It makes me wonder if the show is going to further question the ideas of “What exactly does a romantic relationship really consist of, and what exactly do we value from one?”. With Kazuya being as wishy-washy as he is, not knowing the answer to either of those questions himself, it makes for a perfect protagonist when it comes to involving these concepts into the show’s main line of plot points.

Mami’s introduction as this sort of highly manipulative, yet possessive character that Kazuya sees as an ideal partner in some ways introduces an interesting dynamic into the conflict of the story, especially when it begins to call into questions of her motives in creating what is bound to be a chain of catastrophic events. Currently, Mami is acting as the cornerstone character of jealousy and envy, being that she broke up with Kazuya and cascaded this whole thing to begin with, but also doesn’t want him to be with anyone else and even going as far as doing things to break him and Chizuru up despite the falsehoods of that relationship as well.

In short, I think that Mami’s character makes me want to scream at the sudden mess that episode 3 has created, solely because of my understanding that it’s not at all farfetched for the dynamics of her personality and actions to be ones of realism. Even though the whole “girlfriend rental” service part with Chizuru isn’t exactly the pinnacle of being real, the point being that using hyper-fantastical scenarios to make points about real-life situations is one of the reasons that anime can have so much emotion behind it (even if that emotion for this show is screaming at the computer screen non-stop for 24 minutes). It’s one of the reasons that while I was excited about this show airing in the beginning after all, however, I could have never predicted it to turn out the way that it did.

Me, as this trainwreck of a show continues onward. Grimacing, yet I can’t turn away from it

While we still have several episodes to go in Rent-A-Girlfriend, I will continue to watch through this show with these concepts in mind, and perhaps that if you had mixed feelings about the show or how its characters were depicted, then this at least shows that seemingly “trashy concept” anime can still have a wide array of merits to them, even if conceptually the show can seem to have questionable motives at first glance.

Even if this doesn’t change your opinion on the show though, you can at least appreciate it from afar as I continue to scream about this show as it airs every Friday.

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