“It’s your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly and don’t take yourself too seriously, pretty soon, you can find the humor in our everyday lives, and sometimes it can be a lifesaver.” –Betty White
After summer draws to a close, Hana and Shinichi’s friendship slowly begins moving forward after Hana realises that Shinichi has never called her by her given name before. Although she manages to convince Shinichi to address her by her given name, Shinichi ends up revealing that Hana’s special to him, and the embarrassment of this leads him to seek out a means of stress relief. He ends up starting a membership at the local gym and meets Fujio, a trainer who’s impressed with Shinichi’s drive and physical prowess. Unbeknownst to Fujio, Shinichi is also Hana’s senior. Over the course of Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω, both Hana and Shinichi end up walking a tightrope: it seems that every last person believes that the pair are a good match for one another, and as a result, the pair end up struggling with these conflicting feelings. By Christmas, Hana decides to invite Shinichi over, and Fujio is shocked that he’s the senior Hana had been talking about. After Shinichi gets hammered, he expresses a more candid view of things, indicating beneath his tough exterior, he’s appreciative of everything Hana does for him, and during the New Year’s shrine visit, Shinichi agrees to hang out with Hana more in the new year. This is Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω (I believe the ω is pronounced “double” and is meant to represent a mischievous smile rather than a lowercased “omega”), the second season to the 2020 anime. The first season had been an amusing, if unremarkable tale of an extrovert forcibly adding some life into an introvert’s life; as Hana hauls Shinichi everywhere with her, he comes to begin enjoying the adventures even if he would never outwardly admit it. However, as Shinichi spends more time with Hana, who had admired him since their secondary school days, Shinichi himself begins to develop feelings for his annoying and persistent junior, in spite of himself. It is here in Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω that things become more engaging to watch, as the pair struggle with their growing feelings for one another.
While the relationship development is a central part of Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω, what makes this second season especially notable is its use of dramatic irony to create an impressive build-up. Throughout Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω, audiences are given a full view of what’s happening, whereas Shinichi, Hana, and the people around them, have a more limited picture of things. The matter of when everyone discovers the truth is never a question, but instead, the build-up and an anticipation for how everyone reacts once the truth is in the open drives much of the humour. This is most apparent with Fujio: after Shinichi signs up for a full membership and trains to take his mind of Hana, he occasionally shares his concerns with Fujio. Fujio is unaware that Shinichi happens to be the same person that’s been on Hana’s mind, and Hana’s conversations at home suggest that despite her protests otherwise, she does have feelings for Shinichi, too. Fujio is torn between supporting Hana and wanting to fight this unknown senior. There are a few moments in Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω where Shinichi and Fujio come close to discovering the truth, but the series masterfully saves this for the end. Eventually, this comes to pass when Hana invites Shinichi over for Christmas, and although Fujio struggles to master his thoughts, he ultimately decides that after seeing everything, Shinichi is someone worth respecting. Despite the outrageously funny events that occur as a result of this misunderstanding, Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω is a show where the anticipation can be equally as enjoyable as the moment itself: because the characters have their own distinct traits, imagining how they’d react to the truth drives the user’s engagement in a given moment on top of providing an immensely satisfying payoff once the beans are out. This aspect makes Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω stronger than its predecessor, and once the tension is released, Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω is able to walk viewers to a more cathartic ending. Both Hana and Shinichi agree to continue hanging out and doing things at their own pace, wrapping up this second season in a satisfactory manner.
Screenshots and Commentary
- The last time I wrote about Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!, it was late August 2020, and I’d concluded that the series had been strictly average, neither excelling nor disappointing, and certainly not doing anywhere nearly enough with its premise to warrant a weeks-long rage-fuelled smear campaign against the Japanese Red Cross Society. The reason why the first season had been unremarkable had been because the episodes didn’t seem to be bound by a common goal, consisting of misunderstandings that drove humour on a per-episode basis.
- When the first season ended, I learnt that a second season was in the works, allowing the story to continue. In retrospect, the slower first season was meant to establish the dynamic between Shinichi and Hana, and while it did take a little longer to convey something that was apparent right from the start, ensuring the exposition was complete meant that by the time of Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω, the story is able to hit the ground running and explore the progression of things between Shinichi and Hana.
- At the same time, Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω also manages to utilise both existing and new characters alike to create a story that spans several episodes, in turn giving each individual episode a more substantial role in the context of the season. For instance, after a post-secondary culture festival sees Hana and Shinichi participate in a variety of events as a couple might, the pair end up checking out a fortune-telling stall at the behest of their friends.
- In the previous season, things would’ve quickly returned to the status quo after a reading suggests that Shinichi and Hana are compatible with one another. However, here in Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω, the outcome of this session leaves Shinichi a little shaken, and Hana herself is similarly ruffled even as she tries to play it cool with Shinichi. The lingering feelings of uncertainty and awkwardness actually persist throughout Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω, and this gives the series a chance to develop the relationship between Shinichi and Hana far more than the first season had.
- The end result of this is that, as misunderstandings mount, the build-up becomes larger, and this creates anticipation for what’s coming. At the same time, Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω also maintains comedy throughout individual episodes to ensure that, even as things inch towards something more substantial, every individual episode still manages to create humour in shorter moments. By covering off both bases, Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω is able to capitalise on the fact that viewers are already familiar enough with things so that new developments can now be explored.
- I imagine that Ami’s character stands in for the viewers, who would wish that Shinichi and Hana would be a little more forward about how they feel. Her perversions notwithstanding, Ami is an interesting character, and her interactions with Itsuhiro initially come about as a result of the pair’s shared interest in seeing Hana become closer with Shinichi. One potential side effect here is that Ami and Itsuhiro might end up becoming closer themselves, although with Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!‘s focus on Shinichi and Hana, this may not occur. As an aside, Ami is voiced by Ayana Taketatsu, whom I know best as K-On!‘s Azu-nyan and The Quintessential Quintuplets‘ Nino Nakano.
- As Shinichi realises he needs to up his cooking game, he seeks out help from both Hana and Tsuki. They’re happy to teach him, and his focus eventually allows him to produce udon of a high standard, as well as getting a handle on how to make karaage. The experience also sees Shinichi becoming comfortable with addressing Hana’s mother as Tsuki – this bit ends up frustrating Hana, who wonders why Shinichi’s still calling her by her family name. On the topic of voice actresses, Saori Hayami plays Tsuki; I’d thought that Tsuki sounded a little similar to Spy × Family‘s Yor.
- Eventually, Shinichi explains that there’s something special about Hana that makes it difficult to call her by first name. Outwardly, Hana is ecstatic and acts smug about things, but at the same time, she’s also a little rattled. Later that evening, Shinichi wonders why he was so blunt about things, and stress ends up building in him. When he receives a gym membership trial, Shinichi immediately takes it up, feeling that hitting the gym and lifting weights might be a good way to take his mind off things.
- At the gym, Shinichi meets trainer Fujio, a well-built fellow who encourages him during the bench press. Eyeballing things, Shinichi is lifting the equivalent of two plates here (45+25+10+10 pounds), for a total of 225 pounds. This is an impressive number, especially considering Shinichi’s just walked in to the gym, although I note that back when I was a university, I was lifting in the presence of athletes who did two plates for warmup. At the time, I lifted weights simply as a means of taking my mind off organic chemistry and data structures, but over the years, lifting weights has become a bit of a casual hobby for me, and I still continue to lift, although my goal is to maintain general fitness rather than push my weights further.
- Fujio ends up being a welcome addition to Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω – his over-the-top reactions to everything, coupled with a generally affable personality, makes him a fun character to have on-screen, and I was particularly fond of how Fujio’s shown to be taking things too seriously. Portraying this side of Fujio sets the expectations for what would happen when he discovers Hana’s been referring to Shinichi; at the gym, Shinichi sometimes voices his concern to Fujio, who does his best to help him out, and dramatic irony comes from the anticipation of seeing all hell break loose once the truth does come out.
- Fujio’s muscular physique and Shinichi’s athletic build are an integral part of Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω‘s humour, and things become especially amusing once Kiri hits the gym, thinking he’ll be the fittest person there, only to be utterly decimated by some of the older members, and Shinichi himself. The first season had drawn humour from Hana’s figure, creating some questionable moments, but by Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω, the series makes it clear that no one is immune to some degree of light-hearted humiliation. Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!‘s most vocal critics have gone on to other pastures, of course, and I am glad that this season, controversy has been absent from the proceedings.
- Prior to Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!‘s first season, a blogger had posted a tweet decrying a harmless poster Red Cross Japan Society had used to promote their blood drives. Said tweet immediately resulted in a backlash against the individual who made it, but to them, the response had become positive proof that there was merit in their moral absolutism – Japanese values, they argued, largely remain unknown to foreigners because of a language barrier, and that progressive identity politics are universal. The resulting controversy was heated, with proponents and opponents spending an inordinate time on trying to show the other side that they were wrong.
- In the end, by committing any time to the controversy at all, both sides ended up being the losers. On the other hand, the blogger who started the controversy wound up as the sole winner because the resulting attention was able to put them on the map. In appealing to individuals who are quick to react to any perceived slight, the tactic of taking advantage of a controversy to drive views to one’s blog or publication is an effective one. However, this is one blogging approach I do not condone or endorse – building one’s brand by capitalising on controversy and acting as though one cares about a given issue is dishonest approach towards building an online presence.
- For me, controversies have no bearing on what I make of something: Modern Warfare 2‘s infamous “No Russian” level is one such instance, and while it left the media with a field day, when the time had come for me to actually step into Joseph Allen’s shoes and observe Vladimir Makarov’s terror attack on an Russian airport, I simply chose to walk around and not fire my weapons. That one mission hadn’t particularly stood out of me in a game where the message had been about how a small group of individuals with the right mindset could still overcome seemingly-impossible odds.
- In the case of Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!, the anime itself ended up being an unremarkable story of how an extrovert inserts herself into an introvert’s life and, slowly but surely, allows him to experience more in his world while at the same time, also showing her why boundaries exist. Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω, on the other hand, introduces new elements into the story and drives it down the path of a romance comedy: the first season had been quite basic because it sought to fully introduce the lead characters and their traits, but once everyone’s personalities have been established, the story can really begin exploring everyone’s circumstances.
- Similarly to any system, whether it be in engineering, natural sciences or society, any time additional variables are added, complexity increases dramatically. Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω brings Hana’s siblings to the table, and of everyone, Yanagi is the most interest in taking a shot at Hana and her love live. Because it’s not her reputation on the line, Yanagi is very forward about things, and she’s able to push Hana’s buttons in a way that Shinichi cannot. This does lead to moments where Hana becomes embarrassed, especially when Yanagi also becomes a patron at the Asai’s café.
- There is, in short, a method to the madness within Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω, and it is for this reason that I’m glad that for this second season, I was afforded a chance to watch things in relative peace. With a given series, I’ve found that if I become too involved in discussions where participants do not have any intention of listening or learning, I would be left with an unpleasant experience of that anime even if the series had been excellent. This occurred with Girls und Panzer a decade earlier, when a handful of individuals believed that the Nishizumi Style purportedly embodied the spirit of “true” martial arts by being ruthless, when in reality, the Nishizumi Style and its practitioners simply value the idea of “忍” (strength through resilience and perseverance).
- The resulting arguments at AnimeSuki was quite wearing and permanently left me with an unpleasant reminder of the flame war whenever I watched Girls und Panzer, even though the anime itself is technically excellent and thematically solid. Since then, I’ve chosen to sit out discussions and watch anime at my own pace, which has resulted in a superior experience. In the case of Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω, I found a rather amusing series that I enjoyed watching each week, and at the end of the day, this is the approach I prefer to take in watching my shows.
- While Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω is hardly the first anime to portray the idea of two friends who are practically a couple in all but name (and lack the grit or interest in taking things up a notch), the series does do a good enough job with the characters and their situations so that one develops a curiosity to see what happens next. It is perhaps a little unfair to laugh at the situations Shinichi and Hana find themselves in, but at the same time, it is the case that, like most stories, if the pair had been a little more communicative, Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! would’ve ended in one volume.
- It’s always easy to prescribe actions for characters because as a third party, viewers are privy to information the characters don’t have, and moreover, because it’s not the viewer’s asses on the line, one can think about a variety of choices one might make in the characters’ shoes and not worry about the consequences. If one were to take a step back and see things from the characters’ standpoint, one might end up being a little more cautious. Here, Shinichi returns home for the holidays to visit his family and is surprised he’s now got a younger sister.
- While Shinichi had implied his relationship with his parents weren’t the best in the world, as a family, it feels like everyone’s getting along well enough, and that Shinichi’s reluctance to come home had actually resulted from poor communications. The later episodes give viewers a chance to see Shinichi’s parents, and it turns out his father runs a judo dōjō. Despite Shinichi’s physical prowess, his father still schools him during sparring, and it turns out Shinichi’s father is in excellent shape, similar to Fujio. Ironically, Shinichi’s mother is to be even stronger than his father, and she uses this to force the pair to come to dinner at one point.
- Eventually, Shinichi’s father does suggest to him that if he’s as close to Hana as he imagines, then the time has come to be forward about things, rather than potentially misleading her. Shinichi reluctantly agrees, but he also believes that bring forward might not be as easy as it looks. Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω might be a romance comedy, but the series does have its moments where the realities of relationships are portrayed in a thoughtful manner. Of course, any time Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω begins to show this side of things, the tension in a moment winds up breaking owing to Hana’s tactlessness.
- This does work in Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω‘s favour, since it shows that perhaps, Hana and Shinichi aren’t quite ready to take things to the next level yet: Shinichi is still unsure of his feelings, while Hana’s a bit immature and enjoys teasing Shinichi a little too much, interrupting any progress they might make. This still here is probably the best example of Hana’s smug :3 smile, which is what I believe to be the reason why Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!‘s second season uses the omega symbol: unlike “w”, the round lines of “ω” more closely resemble Hana’s favourite facial expression.
- After a series of misunderstandings, Hana is finally able to invite Shinichi to meet her family during the Christmas break, and it is here that Fujio finally learns the truth. This moment had been something Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω had been building up to since Shinichi took up the gym membership and met Fujio, and Fujio himself is shocked beyond words. Tensions do ease off as the evening wears on, and while Fujio is generally overprotective of his children, he also spots that Shinichi is quite respectable, having lifted with him for a nontrivial amount of time.
- Fujio’s reaction thus ends up being precisely what viewers would anticipate: although an outburst would be most conducive for a few laughs, the reality is that Fujio’s come to know Shinichi quite well, and the comedy here thus comes from him doing his utmost to remain composed. In the end, he is mostly successful, but decides he needs some air and sets off for the convenience store to pick some stuff up. Meanwhile, as Shinichi becomes increasingly hammered, Hana is able to get some truthful answers out of him about their friendship, before a series of misunderstandings lead the Uzakis to try and remove his clothes.
- For Shinichi, being inebriated also means he forgets what happens, so when Ami ends up showing him photos of what had happened, Shinichi is mortified. Hana herself wonders why Ami is so insistent on paying for the photos, and it hits me that throughout Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω, Ami and her father’s seen a reduced presence as other characters are introduced. I do remember finding it funny that the pair would break out rice and slowly eat it whenever things between Hana and Shinichi heated up. This visual gag returns briefly in Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω for kicks.
- However, when the chips are down, like Fujio and Shinichi’s father, Ami’s father also has some valuable insight to offer. During the New Year’s shrine visit, he nudges Shinichi forward with his words. Ultimately, for Shinichi, whether he chooses to do anything is now squarely on his shoulders, and I imagine that for him, he does wish to return Hana’s kindness. Were it not for her tendency to break the moment with her irreverence, things might’ve been easier, but at the same time, Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω makes it clear that, despite his words suggesting otherwise, Shinichi does value Hana. This leaves Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω in an excellent spot with its ending, but not everyone will agree with this.
- I do wish people would be a bit more mature in how they present their disapproval of things. One AnimeSuki member claimed that “there’s nowhere else for this series to go” and since “[the story] kind of fails if they don’t do anything with it”, the “ending alone tanked the season”. I disagree strongly with these sentiments: the ending sets the stage for Shinichi and Hana to ease into things at their own pace. Moreover, I’ve always had a dislike for arguments that are namby-pamby: “‘kind of’ failing” shows a complete lack of conviction in one’s opinions and creates a passive-aggressive “you should agree with me” tone. Similarly, allowing a single moment to taint one’s experience is to dismiss everything else the series had done up until the ending.
- While I am left with wondering if this individual has any personal experiences with relationships that drive their opinion (they were the same person who decried the Yuru Camp△ Movie for leaving Rin and the others single), I will not be responding to them: I am one or two rebuttals away from a permanent ban, and the users there clearly show no interest in perspectives that aren’t in alignment with the forum’s more well-heeded members. Of course, if said individual wishes to challenge my claims, I welcome them to do so here: unlike relentlessflame, who considers counterarguments against popular AnimeSuki users to be a “personal attack”, I typically listen to people so long as they don’t fall back upon insults.
- I’d consider Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω a B+ (3.3 of 4.0, or 8 of 10 points); the second season is more focused than its predecessor and capitalises on the fact that the lead characters’ eccentricities and traits are already known to make things a little more wild. The end result is that each episode brought a smile to my face, and this was reason enough for me to have a good time with things. While Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω isn’t going to have the best artwork, most immersive story or top aural engineering, sometimes, it is sufficient for an anime to bring me a few laughs in a world where people take everything too seriously. With this, the only post I’ve got left is a talk on The Witch From Mercury: I’m two episodes behind and plan on writing about the first half come February. I imagine that, even more so than Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω, I’ll be stepping on a few toes.
Although Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω is an enjoyable experience, the Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! series continues to exist in the shadow of a controversy dating back two years, when a second-rate blog took advantage of a dispute surrounding an advertisement the Japanese Red Cross Society had produced in order to promote a blood drive initiative. The resulting debates online resulted in a decrease in blood donations for the Japanese Red Cross Society, but it also created intrigue in Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! as people became curious to know what this series had been about. When the first season aired, however, viewers found a the story to be unremarkable, the art to be strictly average, and where the overall experience was quite dull. This sharply contrasted to expectations of a series that dared to challenge the viewers’ beliefs or world-views: this blog had made it appear that Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! was a series that promoted harmful thinking, and viewers coming in found this wasn’t the case at all. Expectations created by the controversy thus diminished interest Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! despite being the very same thing that generated interest in an otherwise run-of-the-mill series. The lesson here is that when things become overblown on the internet, it becomes difficult to gain a good measure of whether or not an anime is worth watching, and folks who end up checking a series out as a result of controversy will likely end up disappointed, especially if the work in question is outside of their area of interest and was originally intended as little more than a comedy. Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! is an unexceptional series overall, albeit one with sincerity and heart: the series certainly doesn’t touch on any sensitive topics enough to warrant a full-scale campaign of hate, but it does succeeds in eliciting a few laughs, and when everything is said and done, it’s sufficient that Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! manages to utilise its characters and their circumstances to drive comedy, with Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! ω surpassing its predecessor in this area to create an experience that I found worth watching on a weekly basis.