Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! – 1st Episode Review
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Synopsis: University student Shinichi Sakurai is comfortable being an introverted loner and doesn’t care what others think. Buxom underclassmen Hana Uzaki doesn’t understand this one bit. A tornado of joy, she’s taken it upon herself to make him more social. Starting to enjoy her company, he’d concede that they’re friends. Can it be possible to have as much fun with another person as he would by himself? (Official Funimation Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! is a mix of light ecchi content, low key comedy, and an easy-going Slice of Life atmosphere that makes it one of the more laid back offerings this Summer. The entire premise is as simple as the synopsis above makes it sound; Sakurai finds his introverted lifestyle imposed upon as the bubbly Hana Uzaki insists on following him around in whatever activities he has planned for the day. What follows is a series of scenes where Uzaki forces her way into Sakurai’s loner lifestyle, often with comedic consequences.
While Uzaki-chan has been listed as an ecchi on a number of different anime tracking services, don’t go in expecting a wealth of perverted content. In fact, Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! might be just end up the most chaste ecchi this season. Much of the more pervy content hinges on Uzaki’s well endowed chest, and while there are a few jokes that are clearly meant to titillate, they’re actually fewer and farther between than you would suspect. That said, it’s not like Uzaki-chan is something you’ll want to watch with a group of your best buds, either. One gag in particular, where Uzaki-chan ends up moaning up a storm from simply sitting in a massage chair, is going to push the limits of your comfort if enjoyed outside of a solo watch. Because the ecchi content is so light though it’s hard to recommend the series as some kind of perverts dream watch. Despite sequences like Uzaki-chan’s inappropriate moaning, the show more so hammers home that easy-going comedy vibe.
The thrust of the series is set on Sakurai’s life being imposed upon by Uzaki’s bubbly, overbearing persona and as Comedies go Uzaki-chan does actually have breath to its goofs. It’s not uncommon for comedy anime to take one central joke and beat it to death in the first episode itself, with little variety otherwise. Here, Uzaki-chan has a number of fun, silly ongoing gags to play with. While the central premise hinges on Uzaki being more of a nuisance to Sakurai, that manifests in a few different ways, like Uzaki shouting double entendre in public, teasing Sakurai about his loner lifestyle, being oblivious and innocent to how attractive she is, etc. This gives Uzaki-chan enough variety to ensure that the central premise doesn’t immediately become overdone. However, Uzaki-chan still has an odd way of going about its comedy. Most of the humor is segmented, meaning that goofs like Uzaki-chan being too attractive for Sakurai are all done in a row. Next there’ll be a bunch of gags centered on Uzaki being oblivious, or a bunch of gags of Uzaki teasing Sakurai’s loner lifestyle. The only gag that’s peppered throughout is Uzaki’s propensity for saying double entendre in public. This creates an awkward atmosphere where the show will hammer home a joke right up till it gets stale, and only then switch to something else. It might still work if the comedic timing wasn’t so off. In an effort to sell the easy-going, slice of life atmosphere, Uzaki-chan often underplays its comedy. The voice actors performances can feel subdued, or the gag feels dragged out where a more quick, rapid fire timing might better bring the laughs, etc. It’s all still generally amusing, and is sure to bring a smile, but it lacks the kind of bombasity that would evoke more than mild amusement.
It’s here I wonder if Uzaki-chan’s appeal hinges on your feelings for Uzaki herself. I think whether you find Uzaki appealing as a lead, or attractive as a character, is going to heavily influence your feelings on the series’ as a whole. If Uzaki-chan’s charm is something you find endearing, or pins her as a girl of your fantasies (There’s no denying that Uzaki is part of growing trend of female manga characters who are designed to appeal to male readers who enjoy lively women that light-heartedly tease them,) then Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! is going to work for you all the more. If you’re not so enamored with Uzaki’s persona? Well, then Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! is likely to feel a lot more like a dud than a hit.
Ultimately I think Uzaki-Chan Wants to Hang Out! holds promise, but isn’t something I can recommend just yet. The easy-going slice of life atmosphere has its fandom, and I think the comedy, if switched up a little more and not so segmented, could keep Uzaki-chan a fun, light, and easy going watch. I also think if the series isn’t going to truly embrace its ecchi side it might be better for it to have jettisoned that content entirely as the moaning gag feels like the one place where the series goes from something most adult anime fans can enjoy, to something off putting to most anyone but the ecchi crowd (though, I will say it is nice to have an ecchi lead who is actually of legal age for once, especially for the kind of ogling this series is asking us to do.) One last thing before I close out the review and that’s not to listen to Funimation’s genre categories listed. Funimation notes the series as a romance, but unless it takes a sharp turn in a future episode, that sense of romance is near non-existent. Sure, it’s clear that Uzaki’s obsession with Sakurai is one based out of a crush she had for him in High School, but it’s such a minor component, hardly serviced even once in the first episode, that I struggle to see how anyone could view this as an honest to god romance. No, Uzaki-chan is best enjoyed by easy-going slice of life fans who enjoy lowkey comedy, teasing and just a dash of pervy.
Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! is available for streaming via Funimation.