The second season of Rent-A-Girlfriend aired in summer (2022) the first season aired in 2020. While I did watch both seasons, the second season did not make either my 2022 anime year in review or my additional awards articles. There is a reason for this. Despite sometimes-decent production values, it is not a good show. Rent-A-Girlfriend is what I would describe as a watchable bad show. It is self-indulgent and inane, but never quite in a way that has deterred me from seeing it through to the bitter end. Now it is receiving a third season this July. I will probably watch just out of inertia (I have come so far…). The second season did end in a way that could theoretically signal something marginally better in the third, but in light of the fact that the first 24 episodes were a struggle and the second season was largely inferior to the first (which was not exactly a 2020 anime of the year candidate in its own right), my expectations are low.

What is this distinctively named show about? It follows Kazuya Kinoshita, an ordinary 20-year old college student with no particularly praiseworthy qualities. He decides to partake in a rent-a-girlfriend service while moping about being dumped by his first girlfriend after about one month of dating. Through a series of coincidences, happenstance, and misunderstandings, he and the rental girlfriend, Chizuru Mizuhara, find their lives intertwined (as luck would have it, they go to the same school and turn out to be next-door neighbors).  The show mostly centers on their strange relationship and Kazuya’s gradually falling in love with Chizuru (who is showing subtle signs of developing her own feelings where we are now).  Lurking in the background are Kazuya’s ex-girlfriend (not a nice lady), a former rental girlfriend who is inexplicably in love with him and very annoying about it, and another rental girlfriend who is actually sweet and genuinely cares for Kazuya (so that will never happen).

It is possible to do something interesting with Rent-A-Girlfriend’s initial set-up, and it occasionally shows flashes of wanting to do just that. It is held back by Kazuya’s lack of character development and general unpleasantness (he also yells too much when he is not being a lout) and Chizuru’s growing indecisiveness.  I am alright with the existence of Kazuya’s toxic ex (Mami), but his clingy aspiring girlfriend (Ruruka) is forced and should not exist.  It also leans way too heavily on misunderstandings, which is not a good long-term foundation for a story (to say the least). As I noted, the second season ended in a way that opens up the possibility for some degree of redemption in the third season if (A) Kazuya genuinely grows up, (B) Chizuru decides what she actually wants to do, and (C) side-plots (Ruruka) are shoved aside, but nothing about the first two seasons makes me hold my breath.

Bring it  on. Let’s see how far we can watch this.