Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! - season 2
Uzaki Hana continues to insert herself into Sakurai Shinichi's life, and it's pretty clear to everyone else around them that the two are more into each other than they're either willing or able to admit. So, what is a good friend to do other than maybe giving the two a little push or a hundred.... right?
The first season of Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out actually managed to surprise me with its ability to turn a little social gremlin into a somewhat appealing character. Never mind said character being so ridiculously busty that you'd think she wouldn't be anything other than a long string of boob jokes, yet here I find myself two seasons in and I can't even recall if she wore her "sugoi dekai" sweater at any point in the show because her chest simply hasn't been the focus of the show at all, except maybe in the episode centered around the Uzaki family visiting a local water park and wears swimsuits for most of the episode.
It's doubly so because the second season seems to have a good head on its shoulders about what it means to get into a relationship, as well as acknowledging that other relationship options are always there and available for... well, both of them, really. There is a dual-edged sword about how the show carries itself, however, but I'll get into more of that later. I just want to start off this review saying that the first season actually did a good job of establishing the character that is Uzaki Hana beyond her cup size, and the second season even does a good job at fleshing out the character of Shinichi, who was a bit of a dry piece of wood in the first.
This does for the most part also extend to their respective families and circles of friends... with one exception. And yes, we actually get to meet not only Hana's entire family, but also Shinichi's. We already met Hana's mom and younger sister, however briefly, in season 1, granted, and season 2 seems fairly uninterested in inhibiting Tsuki's (the mom) exaggerated fantastical misunderstandings of Shinichi's intent. I'm a bit uncertain if Hana's brother, Kiri, showed up at all, but he is in this one to be a beacon of insecurity among his vastly more confident members of the Uzaki family. This includes their father, Fujio, who works at a local gym that Shinichi joins at some point. He is the overbearing father who doesn't deal with his daughters growing up and becoming more independent very well, and doubly so with the fact that Hana might very well be looking into getting a boyfriend. (In her own clumsy way.) This leaves us with Yanagi, Hana's 14 year old sister, as the sole level-headed member of the family.
She's also the only member of the family to join team Shinichi x Hana, which includes such varied souls as Shinichi's friend Sakaki Itsuhito, Shinichi and Hana's boss Asai Akihiko and the latter's daughter, Ami. Out of the four, Itsuhito is probably the one who pushes the relationship for the least selfish reasons; he is Shinichi's friend, he notices that the two is a good fit for some reason, and like the rest of them, he clearly notices that Hana is more interested in Shinichi that her pride allows her to say out loud. As levelheaded as she is, Yanagi is more into this for her own entertainment, and she will stir the kettle if it'll amuse her. But she is at least not directly malicious about it, as she too wants to see the two start a relationship. Akihiko and his daughter are two people who seems to be into this more for their personal entertainment, but Akihiko is at least willing to be a lot more hands-off than everyone else, and his advice is sound. His daughter, Ami, however, is the biggest source of contention for me. She is, basically, the creepiest and most self-serving of the lot, acting like so many contemporary male perverts from other shows. In the show's defense, she doesn't often get what she wants, and she's also just as often called out on her misbehavior even if she does. She's still a character you have to endure, though, so I hope you find seemingly irredemable perverts funny.
Ami aside, Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out does actually have some comedy chops worth mentioning. As frustrating as Hana's arrogance and Shinichi's indecisiveness could be, the others reaction to everything happening is still mostly amusing. The fact that Shinichi joins a gym and bonds with Hana's father is all the more amusing because Fujio is entirely unaware that the target for his daughter's affection is right there in his gym. Itsuhito's exhasperation is especially on point, and the show does a pretty good job at giving its characters hilarious expressions despite the limited animation. The only mystery that even the second season don't embellish on is how Hana ended up developing her current personality, as the flashback from high school paints her as a vastly more shy and quiet one.
As for the main goal of the show, it's going to be difficult to embellish on this without spoiling anything, but while the audience might appreciate the steps the show takes in moving its core players into position, the end of this season still feels like a bit of a copout and a letdown. It wouldn't have been so bad if this season had done so much buildup leading to a moment that didn't exactly play out like it should have. It feels particularly unfulfilling given how much the side characters were pushing for this moment, especially in light of the fact that Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out is more than happy to call out both Shinichi and Hana over how they handle themselves. It's an interesting inversion of the main issue I had with the later seasons of You're Under Arrest and their main couple, Ken and Miyuki, because in Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out, the supporting cast do at least have the courtesy not to invade the two when they're out on what could charitably be considered a date. (As opposed to the aforementioned You're Under Arrest segments, where any dates would start out fine, only to be ruined by the uninvited peanut gallery and their interference, followed by said gallery's -- mostly spearheaded by Natsumi -- absolute refusal to see they're the problem. Every single time!)
And sadly, the visuals haven't improved much. It's at its strongest when you get comedy faces, even if that means Ami's... less admirable episodes, or that damned cat. By and large, you get the same kind of cheap animation you had in the first season, and I did notice how weird the characters move from time to time, or even just how they stand around as if they're held up by a coat hangers. The character designs look OK, so this isn't something that's going to be apparent from screenshots alone, but I do still wonder what kind of improvements a better animation budget could have brought to Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out.
I gave Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out season 1 a three star rating back when I reviewed it. It was a tentative rating -- I dwelled on either two or three, because I wasn't sure where the show planned on going. I eventually decided on three in good faith, on the assumption that the show would improve its dating game and comedy act, and weirdly enough, it has. Not that Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out is a masterpiece by any means, but it has had a surpringly good head on its shoulders when it comes to its characters and their respective flaws as a means to drive the comedy rather than relying on the ol' "falling into breast grab" jokes that plague lesser shows. The show still has its share of missed opportunities, the biggest being the ending, but by and large, I'd say the show has at least earned its three star in full. I honestly hope the show gets another season, I really do.
Going stronger, the main downside being a copout ending that is bound to leave you feeling somewhat unfulfilled. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: There is some mild fanservice at times between the astoundingly developed Uzaki women, but nothing too untowards, even when it comes to its youngest member, the 14 year old Yanagi. Uzaki household mom, Tsuki, also tends to have some slightly steamy fantasies, which is probably still a product of her diet of TV entertainment. By and large, children could probably watch this, no problem, even if the relationship issues that is the main bread and butter of this show would fly right over their heads. At most, the show just does these pans from Hana's face to her chest, which hilariously happens even when she's wearing winter clothing. (Like a winter coat.)
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! - season 2 © 2022 ENGI.
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