ANIME REVIEW | Bonding Via Adorable Stupidity With "Aharen-san"
Misunderstandings are a core concept of comedy. But the way they best work is when there isn’t a single person smart enough to correct it. Something that could easily be solved with a mere sentence could instead explode into a major conundrum if everyone in a story shared a single brain cell. That’s why a series like Aharen-san wa Hakareni (translated as “Ms. Aharen is Indecipherable") works in the magically funny ways it does.
Based on the manga by Asato Mizu, Aharen-san wa Hakarenai begins with the misunderstood student Raido (Takuma Terashima). Because of his size and lack of communication, many students don’t make an effort to talk to him. However, Raido merely has a hard time making friends, so he wishes to make an effort his high school year to reach out to his fellow classmates. His first target: Reina Aharen (Inori Minase), a classmate with a small stature and an even smaller voice.
In fact, Aharen’s voice is so minuscule that Raido can’t even hear it at first. As such, the poor guy thinks that Aharen is ignoring him. Turns out, Aharen has her own fair share of problems making friends, as she was shunned for being too clingy and awkward. Together, Raido and Aharen make their way through high school while getting a better understanding of one another.
There’s a certain pattern that takes place throughout Aharen-san wa Hakarenai. It begins with Raido misreading a situation, mostly involving Aharen. His imagination runs wild with certain ideas, such as Aharen joining a metal band after coming to class with bad bed head or her possibly crowd-surfing over her classmates to get a school lunch. But it almost always winds up being the most simplest of reasons for whenever a situation feels off for Raido.
The same can be said regarding Aharen, who has trouble handing the most easiest of situations. Using eye drops, putting on lip balm, and even telling Raido that his pant zipper is open become epic challenges for the short high schooler. As the problems drag on, the situations become more ridiculous, to the point where it reaches nonsensical levels of silly! And it’s not just these two who have their issues.
Childhood friend Mitsuki Oshiro (M.A.O) has a bigger social anxiety problem than Aharen and Raido combined. Her wanting to protect Aharen while being too shy to get close results in some great visual gags, be it her hiding in the classroom floorboards to Aharen using comically long chopsticks to feed her. Their teacher Ms. Tobaru (Kana Hanazawa) also has a problem with an overactive imagination, as every dumb thing Aharen and Raido do together comes off as lovey-dovey in her eyes. (The fact that she hasn’t died yet from hypovolemic shock from her nosebleeds is kind of a miracle!)
But it’s the antics of Aharen and Raido that make Aharen-san wa Hakarenai a truly enjoyable experience. Communicating via rapping, conquering arcade crane games, and failing at every kind of sport imaginable brings forth one hilarious visual after another. Moments where Aharen acts out of character — such as her attempts to go viral with her own dance routine — deliver more punchlines than one could count. Needless to say, this anime knows how to be funny on so many different levels!
It helps when you have the show’s main duo voiced with great bravado. Both Minase and Terashima have very monotone voices as Aharen and Raido, with nary a sign of personality found in them. Yet even with such minimal range, the two deliver plenty of emotion in a very giggle-inducing way. Because of this, it elevates their performances to cute levels, with moments such as the summer festival and the study session delivering some truly heartwarming moments.
Animated by Felix Film (Otherside Picnic), Aharen-san wa Hakarenai has a somewhat faded look with its color scheme. But it makes up for it with its comedic animation, as evident by scenes involving swimming and dancing. It’s not the best-looking series of Spring 2022, but it does its job well regarding its comedic presentation.
The duo of Satoru Kousaki (BEASTARS, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) and MONACA (Anne-Happy) take a more stripped-down approach with its soundtrack. Its simple melodies aren’t much on their own, but they do a phenomenal job with adding an extra exclamation point to a joke. J-POP trio TrySail bring plenty of joy to the opening theme “Hanarenai Kyori”, while HaKoniwalily’s closer “Kyori-Kan” ends each episode with a sense of sweetness. However, neither song could compare to Minase’s third episode contribution “AHAREN HEART”, with its heart-melting lyrics and viral-worthy dance!
Aharen-san wa Hakarenai shows that stupid is as stupid does, even in regards to the matters of the heart. With that being said, this anime is as genuinely sweet as it is silly. The misunderstandings may be blown way out of proportion, but that just means the punchline delivered will hit harder than you’d even expect it! Simply put, Aharen-san wa Hakarenai is a delight, with Raido and Aharen being a coupling gift straight from the anime rom-com gods.
Voice Acting: (Japanese dub)
Final Grade (not an average):