One of the greatest compliments you can pay an anime is to start reading the manga because of it. All the more if you do so during the anime run, which is exactly what’s happened with Aharen-san wa Hakarenai. When a series captivates me this much I’m always curious to see how the manga experience compares (Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! was another good example). And since I’m (sadly) very confident this is going to be a one-and-done adaptation, there’s no real disincentive to read further ahead in the story.
This cast is so damn loveable, and the humor is always on-point – satirizing manga tropes with just the right balance of affection and snark. This week starts with Raidou-kun coming down with an anime cold (that trope itself is parodied here). As a result he appears to everyone else through a shoujo-vision lens (second time in a week we’ve seen that device in anime). This has the effect of having everyone basically fall for him, including his little sister (who’s still just “Little Sister” as far as I remember).
Being the hearty lad he is Raidou recovers quickly, which causes everyone to promptly lose interest in him. But Aharen-san has naturally caught his cold, so Aware-sensei asks him to bring her the day’s handouts (something I’ve never seen actually happen in a Japanese school, by the way). On the way to her house he meets a young girl appraising sushi knives – or are they katana? Raidou constructs his usual elaborate mental malapropism (“she’s Reina from the future, turned killer-for-hire!”), but the explanation is even more obvious than it was with Ren – this is Reina’s little sister, Eru (Hidaka Rina).
In this instance “little” sister is a relative term, as Eru is bigger in most ways. Including her personality, which is brash to the point where she’s a total tsundere. She’s naturally hostile towards Raidou for reasons which become apparent quickly, but – as usual – quickly worn down by his straightforward goodness. I love the fact that the three Aharen siblings are so different in personality despite looking like triplets, and they’re each extremely winning characters in their own right. Eru is obsessed with taking care of her sister, and not without good cause. But she also gives all the stuff she’s bought for her to Raidou (including the Shirorin crane game limited edition) on the grounds that she’ll be happier receiving them from him.
The tuna bit was a great gag (that would run you at least a million Yen at the fish market), and the scenes at the Aharen house are a ridiculous charm-fest. Raidou gives the credit back to Eru because he’s Raidou. And after helping cook dinner he declines to stay, for reasons Eru groks even if Ren and Reina are disappointed. Raidou doesn’t seem surprised when Eru tells him Reina talks about him all the time, and Ren’s answer when Eru expresses shock (in the tub) at the prospect they’re dating is perfect – he’d be thrilled. Why? “Because I like him!” The truth is Raidou is the answer to Eru’s worry about taking care of her sister after she grows up (which prompted another malaprop from Raidou) even if it’s painful for her to admit.
Lastly, Raidou runs into Ren-kun, who’s doing the family shopping as his nee-nee is taking care of his nee-nee (do they have parents?). Ren is a volcano of innocent genki, and his adores Raidou in a very authentic way. He drafts nii-nii to help at the supermarket, and all is going well till Ren discovers that he’s lost the money his sister gave him for the shopping. We get another Raido-ism when Ren talks about what he has to do next (thankfully, I was wrong too – no five-finger discount). Then Nui (I would be remiss in not pointing out that he’s voiced by Terashima Takuma, just like Raidou) shows up like the cavalry, coin purse in
hand mouth, to save the day.
Ren does in fact follow through on his promise to Eru and ask Raidou if he and Reina are going out (though even Ren gets a little embarrassed to ask), but she shows up before Raidou can answer. There’s one more great moment here, as Raidou addresses “Aharen-san” and all three (including Nui) turn to face him, and he decides he should specify “Reina”. This has the expected effect, and makes it clear Reina is all too conscious of the elephant in the room. Let’s hope Eru gets well quickly (those leeks!) because I’m not sure Nui is going to be able to keep order in her absence.