Ao-chan Can’t Study! – Anime Review
Synopsis: Ao Horie wants to focus on school instead of pursuing romance, but there’s just one problem: Kijima, her handsome classmate, just confessed his love to her! And to make matters worse, she can’t stop thinking dirty thoughts about him! (Official HIDIVE Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Ao-chan is one of those comedies that presents its humour through absurd reactions and facial expressions. If that’s the kind of comedy that appeals to you, Ao-chan is sure to charm and at the very least, have you walk away with a million and one reaction gif ideas. Pretty much every episode is focused around Ao vehemently denying her own sexual desires while also giving in to them and constantly misunderstanding Kijima’s often innocent requests and intentions.
Tom: As far as visuals go, Ao-Chan is never a looker. It’s par for the course with short-form anime, but Ao-chan rarely impresses, often crafting a ho-hum visual experience that gets the job done in conveying the story and comedy, but lacks visual punch to make it stand out in your memory. On the flip side it never looks awful either, always straddling that line of mediocrity. As Ecchi go, Ao-Chan is actually more approachable for a general audience than is typical. So much of the sex comedy comes from a woman’s perspective, putting Ao-Chan in the role of the one who’s always got her mind in the gutter. Since Kijima likes her back, everything feels above board here, rather than something crafted solely to titillate the male gaze. There’s also few gags revolving around Ao-Chan’s clothes coming undone, or Kijima trying to sneak a peek. In that way Ao-Chan feels like a more honest experience of young lovers desperate to take things further, but too shy to initiate it themselves.
Linny: Indeed, the show has fun showing us just how perverted Ao-chan’s thoughts and assumptions of romantic relationships are thanks to being raised by her father who is a popular and successful erotica author. Every time Kijima makes an innocent request, Ao assumes the most extreme twist on it only to then be crushed when it turns out to be completely innocent and pure. However because this IS the main source of comedy, it can quickly get predictable and repetitive. This is a common attribute of a lot of short form comedies like Ao-chan so it definitely isn’t surprising but it still is likely to cause disappointment or gradual disinterest.
Tom: Because Ao-Chan has a strict adherence to that singular vein of comedy, episodes rarely stray beyond providing a few chuckles. In fact sometimes the gags don’t make a lot of sense, crafted over a punch line that feels stretched beyond its ability to actually provide comedy. What makes Ao-Chan work though, is that her relationship with Kijima actually progresses. Plenty of romantic comedy anime stall the romance, leaving our cast in limbo, never allowing them to actually grow closer. Here each episode furthers Ao-Chan and Kijima’s romantic connection, gradually pulling the two closer and closer, making the journey feel worthwhile even when the comedy itself never evolves.
Linny: Overall, Ao-chan is by no means a spectacular or groundbreaking series but by short form anime standards it provides enough chuckles and a premise that helps it to feel a little fresh and worth the watch for anyone interested in the idea of a slightly Ecchi comedy from a female POV. It’s clear that the series can’t be taken very seriously thanks to its Ecchi content but also because it relies on some tired and unrealistic tropes, like Ao constantly running back to a childhood friend even when said friend makes an open and public move on Kijima specifically because he is Ao’s love interest. As long as you’re braced for the comedy to get stagnant, Ao-chan Can’t Study! might still deserve a spot on your watchlist thanks to its romance of raunchy misunderstandings combined with a chaste love story at the heart of it all.
Tom: Ao-chan is perhaps at its worst when it’s trying to shoehorn in additional characters that just don’t add anything. Ao-Chan has a rival girl from her past (as Linny mentioned above) show up multiple times throughout the story, desperate to drive a wedge between Ao-chan and Kijima, but never succeeds. These moments feel tropey, and seeing as Ao-Chan’s Rival, Miyabi, never gets fleshed out beyond her unimaginative origins, they ultimately add little. Still, for a season practically barren with new, interesting titles, Ao-Chan Can’t Study! is a decent offering. If you’re desperate to at least experience something from the Spring season, Ao-Chan is probably your absolute best pick.