Flash Review – Rent-A-Girlfriend (Vol. 1-2)

The romantic life of Kazuya Kinoshita isn’t the most enviable of romantic lives. He has yet to enjoy the naked company of a woman at the age of twenty, and his first girlfriend breaks up with him after a month of dating to go bang some other guy. Emotionally distraught, Kazuya orders himself one Chizuru Mizuhara as his rental girlfriend, and his life takes a turn for the inside-out from there.

The Frustrating Protagonist:

Watching Kazuya is like watching someone knock over a vase and try to expiate by hammering nails into his feet. He tells horrible lies, doesn’t stick up for himself, and is one of those types who doesn’t know how to tell someone no. Hardly a scene went by where I wasn’t yelling, “The hell are you doing, you bloody buffoon?” But I would be delusive if I didn’t admit that some tiny part of me was sympathetic to his romantic woes.

The Bitchy Babes:

There must be some character trend going on in Japanese where the heroine appears at first luminescent blush to be proof that angels do walk this earth, only for that mask to slip when she pries out the protagonist’s two front teeth and shoves them up his nostrils after he pisses her off, because Chizuru splurts from the same vein as Aoi Hinami and Touka Ike. Kazuya’s ex is no ball of sunshine, either, and even though I’d build a fifty meter wall between us in real life to keep out her manipulative tendencies, there’s a sadistic joy at seeing her let loose to use Kazuya’s heartstrings to make him her marionette.

The Social Phenomenon:

Being able to rent a human being to fill in whatever familial or romantic role is an intriguing social service, but I can only give the manga kudos for acknowledging it rather than exploring it. Exploring it would require taking a deep dive into the psychology and livelihood of clients and clienteles and raising questions on the ethics and morals of this contemporary service, but with how the manga sets itself up, it’s just the ignition used to have a pretty lady hold Kazuya up in a back alley so that she can take his V-card.

The Verdict:

This manga lets a huge opportunity pass by by letting the rent-a-girlfriend service become a backdrop, and Chizuru is the only decently likable character in this romantic drama, but it has a way of keeping the hot water boiling, and there’re few things I enjoy more than seeing water boil over and scald a person’s feet. Though I would like to see less of the future drama to come from Kazuya sticking his hand in said boiling water.

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