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A few weeks ago, I got an email from someone who suggested an anime and told me that this series is “one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen, you must watch it.” While I’m grateful for any anime suggestions I come across, I’m curious because when I’ve read the name of the show, I couldn’t recall hearing about it. Albeit, it’s not surprising since dozens of shows come out each and every three months. Its more than likely over a quarter of them will be unknown to people.
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Aho-Girl is a 2017 Comedy, Slice of Life anime series by studio diomedea. Although their most significant creation came out almost a decade ago, it doesn’t mean they are incapable of success. Entering this series would be a more difficult challenge then I originally planned for, especially when I discovered that the literal translation of the series name means “Stupid Girl.” Though I’ve been pleasantly surprised about some anime series upon reading about them in the past, I cautiously treaded ahead with any new series that was suggested. While I wholeheartedly believe that comedy anime is the hardest genre to reach audiences outside of its host country, comedy is subjective. However, not all comedies are the same, and while some may be terrible in one genre may be tremendously high in others.
The story behind Aho-Girl is your run-of-the-mill Slice of Life stories, which revolve around a school setting. The story follows the everyday life of high school girl Yoshiko Hanabatake, who is known to be stupid academically and socially. Somehow she manages to consistently score zeroes on all of her tests and consumes an indefinite amount of bananas, causing even her own mother to lose all hope for her. Unfortunately, there’s only one person who is up to the task of keeping her insanity in check: childhood – and sometimes one-sided – friend Akuru “A-kun” Akutsu.
While the series can be summed up in one paragraph, it may feel like I missed some crucial details… there wasn’t. Considering that each episode only had twelve minutes to do whatever they needed, it is usually a negative aspect of the series. However, if a series can properly use those short twelve minutes to create something beautiful, then the rewards are astronomical. The story itself is yet straightforward to follow mainly due to there isn’t one, and if you’re going into this series hoping for story-based comedy, then you’ll be sadly disappointed.
The “comedy” in this series is mediocre, and to be frank, nothing was funny about this series. The comedy wasn’t missing, nor was it even strange; it was just dull and hard to find amusing within the scope of the series. Perhaps this is due to cultural differences, or maybe also being outside of their targeted audience, but whatever the reason is, it clearly shows that the jokes and gags weren’t funny. While it could be said that the amount of time per episode could’ve played a factor in this problem is ignorant due to having a series like Aiura. While the Aiura wasn’t a perfect show, the comedy was a thousand times better, and they only had four minutes per episode.
Throughout the series, it was painfully clear that although the story was nonexistent, the art style was wasted on this series. Although I do give it credit to sticking with sticking to the source materials design, the finished product is dull. While some may find this art style pleasant and appealing, I cannot ascertain if this style is a plus or a negative to the series itself. It doesn’t offer anything new or exciting to the viewer, nor does it shy away from typical series art styles. The art style is simply “there,” and it appears to be alright within itself. Unlike series with a unique appearance, this one simply goes for the lowest form of art, meaning for the masses, and easily comprehended.
However, having a low art style isn’t a negative within itself, but the animation production within this series saves itself. It rewards the viewer who doesn’t skip openings with a catchy song, and different animation with each opportunity. Outside of the surprisingly above average intro, there are clear ecchi connotations that are shouldered into every episode. While I personally didn’t enjoy the ecchi underlining meanings/jokes, some may be entertained by the cartoonish production. The creators clearly tried to stick with the “standard” big doe-eyed anime girls, but with this cartoonish lifeless anime style, it doesn’t work.
While the series isn’t anything to become an instant classic, the characters, however, entertaining. At the very least, they’re lukewarm together, take Yoshiko Hanabatake, for example, she’s an idiot. However, she’s mischievous and a very cheerful high school girl who can’t get a single point on a test to save her life. While she isn’t driven to do well in school, she excels in energy to get things she years for. While she isn’t insensitive to other people, she is unable to read people’s emotions towards her – mainly annoyance – and often mistakes for the desire to play.
Akuru Akutsu, the literal polar opposite of Yoshiko. Akuru is a smart, sharp, and reclusive high school student who is continuously annoyed with Yoshiko’s antics. Although he is unable to study with Yoshiko being next door, he desperately tries to at any means, even giving up having a social life to have time to study.
The one character viewers will potentially feel sorry for is Sayaka Sumino. She’s the typical level-headed female who becomes the straight-man in the series. She often moderates the interactions between Yoshiko and others and worries about being boring. She is a delicate person, especially when others point out her small chest. Even though after a while, she starts to lose her patience and loses it. Which potentially causes viewers to gain a new look towards her.
The last character that just adds to the nuance of Aho-Girl is Fuki Iincho, whose name means different things. If it’s in the manga, the name is Head Monitor, but in the anime, it is Disciplinary Committee President. However, what her literal translation is “Morals Chairman.” She’s your typical “insert elected title here” character, and when it comes to Akuru, she immediately loses all aspects of who she is. While she is relatively smart academically, placing in the top five of her class, she is just as weird as Yoshiko at times. The only real difference between them outside of academics is that Fuki is better at hiding it – although not entirely.
While the main problem with this series outside of the lack of comedy is there is absolutely no story. Having no story mixed with reoccurring visual gags that lands less often than not is the worst part of this series. Unfortunately, the best part of this series is the characters, which isn’t saying much because if there isn’t a story to progress their development, they’re just going nowhere. Comedy is very subjective and is even harder to do when it crosses languages, mainly due to cultural differences. Though I will admit, I had a few unintended laughs when Akuru punches Yoshiko, mainly due to her being annoying and having no reason to be there other than being loud and obnoxious.
If some find this entertaining, then that’s fine. However, I truly believe this series was a terrible mistake and has no reason to be watched. The comedy wasn’t funny, there was no story, the characters are decent though you can’t sell a series solely on characters alone. If you want to watch a better anime that has better comedy and a shorter time frame, please spend your time watching Aiura, or paint dry.
Cody Senpai is the creator of BakaNow, an anime review website that specializes in spoiler-free reviews for everyone. He is an avid anime watcher who has traveled to Japan numerous times to not only experience the culture and history but also to build friendships with people through a common interest. He is an avid animation fanatic from birth and even went on to major in communication to help share the importance of the stories we love to watch and listen to. Cody lives in Denver, Colorado and loves to do anything adventurous.