Life Pro Tip: When in distress, rent a girlfriend
Love is complicated. Love is weird. Love is awkward. Love is hard. For the main protagonist of Rent-a-Girlfriend, love seems unattainable. After his girlfriend of one month leaves him, he decides to rent a girlfriend out of desperation. A move that he, himself, recognizes as pathetic and kinda pointless. Despite that, he goes through with this futile romantic exercise. His date is the lovely Ichinose Chizuru, who shows him how great having a girlfriend can be. Later on, while reading some reviews about the girlfriend service that Chizuru offers, he realizes that he’s not special in any way. They shared no moments and no connections were formed. Out of spite, he gives her a bad review and decides to repeat their date so as to give her a piece of his mind. As you can tell, Rent-a-Girlfriend has all the classic elements of a romcom. We have the pathetic protagonist, the beautiful woman and a series of developments that are simply too unreal and yet kind of plausible.
This might have been a lengthy introduction but I just want to get one point across. This is a romantic comedy. It’s not meant to be a masterpiece. Don’t have very high expectations for it and you won’t be disappointed. In case you are not interested in this sort of thing, just look away.
Having only seen the first episode, I would say that this seems up to par as far as romcoms are concerned. As a matter of fact, I would say that the story or at least the premise of the story is pretty interesting. Although, slightly outlandish if you are not Japanese, that is. Let me explain. The whole concept of ‘rent a girlfriend’ might seem odd to most of us. However, in some Eastern countries (Japan, China, etc), renting a girlfriend or a boyfriend, or even a whole family is a service that can be found. Obviously, renting a girlfriend does not imply sex or anything of the sort. It’s merely paying for someone’s time so you can have a realistic (within reason) experience. People are lonely. Not only the Japanese, many of us are lonely. Depression, feeling unwanted, self doubt, shyness are perhaps feelings that are familiar to many of us. We do our best to help ourselves. For Kinoshita Kazuya, renting a girlfriend was an attempt to help himself. Or at least find some closure.
I have not read the source material. Yet I realize that at some point down the line, this might turn into a harem. Perhaps, this will come sooner than expected. I would also understand if some of you might find the ‘goofiness’ of the main character a bit too much. Perhaps a bit cringe-worthy. He’s a bit of a virgin and I’m not talking about technicalities. He has this wizard-in-the-making vibe. Since I’ve only watched the first episode, I’m not really set on the comedy. It’s like 50% romcom, 50% lewd? We’ll see.
Setting all that aside and in the interest of fairness, I must recognize that even if this doesn’t turn out great, the initial concept of the story is very good. The way I see things, some creators are blessed with a good idea but they don’t do their best with developing it. In my opinion, Rent-a-Girlfriend was a good idea. How this idea was advanced remains to be seen.