Clean Freak Aoyama-Kun Series Review – It’s a Gag Anime About a Germaphobe Soccer Player: What Do You Really Expect?

Overview:

Aoyama is a brilliant soccer player who also happens to be a germaphobe. When he starts highschool he defies expectations by going to a school that isn’t particularly strong at soccer and there continues to go about his daily life.

Review:

The whole way through the Summer 2017 anime season I kept this show on my watch list. At times that was more to see if I could finish a show that was built around a really basic gag that Aoyama didn’t like to get dirty and everyone around him was clearly crazy. At other times though, this show did manage to make a decent point or be amusing. I think for me, what saved this show from the endless list of comedy shows I have dropped in a heartbeat was that I didn’t hate the main character.

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Comedy anime have a really terrible tendency to make their lead characters truly insufferable to watch. They whine, they are usually loud or run about flailing their arms, they talk a lot, and usually have some fairly repugnant personality traits. Okay, I don’t like comedy so I’m fairly harsh on these characters. Aoyama isn’t like that because the main character, other than his one quirk of cleaning things, is pretty stoic. The idiocy and energy come from the rest of the cast and they are fortunately diluted by being side characters and not appearing all the time.

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That isn’t to say there weren’t those episodes that made me roll my eyes and want to stop watching. Episode 11 (the second last episode) was genuinely painful to get through. And why was it so bad? Because Aoyama barely appeared in it and we were forced to endure the side characters taking the lead on the episode and they were really annoying.

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Basically that’s all for this review. Either you will find the basic set up amusing and enjoy the way the idea of difference and tolerance is discussed through the various over the top set-ups, and occasional cool moments in the last five minutes of soccer games, or you will find the screaming girls chanting for Aoyama sickening to the core and flee the viewing. That said, there are some really good social commentary moments to be found beneath the comedy, though that really isn’t enough to off-set some of the sillier moments the show delivers or the fact that the characters I enjoyed the most seemed to be the ones who were quickly shuffled to the sidelines and the more irritating characters ate up more and more screen time.

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The music works but isn’t exceptional. The visuals similarly do their job but aren’t really particularly good or bad. Though occasionally I wish they hadn’t gone for the simplistic expression on Aoyama’s face because the white eye thing is really kind of creepy. There were a few jokes I could have happily lived without and to be honest this has zero rewatch value because there’s nothing you would have missed the first time and the jokes will not get funnier with retelling.

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Still, I made it to the end. I had a bit of fun with it. If you didn’t check it out at all it may be worth an episode, though likely this is one that will quickly be forgotten.


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Friday’s Feature: Reviewing Mediocre Anime

This is more a personal reflection than an actual feature.

A lot of the Summer shows are ending and I’m left trying to write a series review and I’m finding that for some series I am drawing a blank. Why? Because too many shows this season were not particularly good but they weren’t particularly bad either.

Bad shows are easy to review. Or at least easy to rant about. There’s plenty of issues to pick fault with and discuss and usually plenty of examples. Sometimes there’s even a nice contrast point if the show does something well.

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Hand Shakers was an excellent example. I ended up cutting my review of that series short mostly because it was quite obvious what my opinion of the show was and continuing to tear it apart would have served little purpose. This season I’ve had fun writing my review of Knight’s & Magic which tragically suffers from most of the plot issues of Hand Shakers when you sit back and think about it (though visually Knight’s & Magic is pretty good to look at). That review hit the 1500 words on its first draft and I still need to go run some edits and change a few things.

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Likewise, shows that are fairly strong are pretty easy to review because there’s a genuine reason why you liked it and things to discuss in terms of what it has done well. Again, there may be a point or two that didn’t work so well to contrast with all the positives, but again, it all becomes pretty easy to get your point across.

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For instance, my review of March Comes in Like a Lion is more a gushing love letter to Rei’s character and his journey and that was the cut down and edited version of the review. Similarly, this season I had a great deal of fun thinking about my final review of Princess Principal. By no measure was that anime perfect, and yet it was a great deal of fun to follow along with during the Summer season and there are some really strong points in the show’s favour that can be discussed.

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So what then do you do with a show that you don’t actually have any kind of strong opinion on? It didn’t do anything overly noteworthy in either a good or bad way. It just kind of was. Everything is more or less functional and while it wasn’t exactly inspiring it didn’t make you want to run for the hills either.

Which brings me to my current draft reviews of Clean Freak Aoyama-Kun and Fastest Finger First. Both anime pretty much stayed in the ‘okay’ category for the season. Fastest Finger First I had a lot of fun with but have admitted all along is not objectively very good. Clean Freak Aoyama-Kun was a bit more up and down but overall the anime works as a comedy even if it isn’t overly funny (that isn’t actually the end of the world for most comedy).

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All up, my drafts of these two anime barely come to 1000 words (that’s combined) which officially makes them the shortest series reviews I’ve ever written. But even going back through them, I can’t think of anything noteworthy enough to warrant expanding on any particular point.

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And with so many other anime in the same boat this season I’m really wondering what I will do with these reviews. At the moment my plan is to wait a week and re-read them after reading through my reviews of individual episodes and hoping something stands out. Otherwise, I think I’m going to have some very short reviews going out after this season wraps up.

Apparently being mediocre is worse than being bad when it comes down to writing a post about the show. Which makes me think about the next season and which shows I will keep. This season, I kept a lot of average shows because they weren’t bad and I didn’t really have anything better to watch. But maybe it would be more fun to be writing a review now about Classroom of the Elite or even Netsuzou Trap (both of which I considering a binge watch of anyway). Maybe average shows just don’t need to stay on my review line up because after awhile reading that the show has maintained its average tone with average characters and average story-telling is going to be as boring as writing it week after week.

What do you do about reviewing shows that just don’t have that much to talk about?


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Clean Freak Aoyama-Kun Episode 12: Apparently There’s a Reason

Review:

The team are still worried that Aoyama will leave for a better offer, despite every bit of evidence suggesting that Aoyama has no interest in doing so, and Zaizen attempts a heart-to-heart though given his basic personality that goes about as well as expected. We then spend the rest of the episode in another match with the team still aiming for nationals and convinced they need to win because due to a series of assumptions and poor communications, they’ve come to the conclusion it is the anniversary of Zaizen’s mother’s death.

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Anyway, business a usual. Team losing. Aoyama makes a comment that could be seen as quite cutting and cold but manages to get things back on track. Aoyama passes the ball to team mate of the week who needs to shine. Then Aoyama finishes the game.

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And from all this we learn the ‘reason’ Aoyama will stay at Fujimi and it is as vapid and stupid as you would expect given the nature of the show. That said, this episode, while pretty standard, is pretty watchable and reminded me very much of the first episode.

I’ll write up a full series review on this one soon.


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Clean Freak Aoyama-Kun Episode 11: This was Painful

Review:

I know we shouldn’t actually expect much from an episode called “Sakai-Kun’s Hairstyle Has Changed”, but for a show that has defied my worst fears most of the season, this episode was just plain painful to endure. And it was an endurance. Okay, I skipped about three minutes in the second half because I was about to turn the video off and instead just jumped forward hoping that somehow things would improve.

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What was so bad?

Well, we already knew that the mob of mindless females in the fan clubs of the school aren’t exactly screaming great characterisation or great roles for girls but they are such a minor part of the story normally, and there are female characters that actually get characterisation, so it hasn’t been an issue. Until this episode where the mindlessness just really hurt.

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Follow that up by having a truly obnoxious lead character this week, Aoyama almost not appearing in his own show, and a side story about another character trying to improve that ultimately didn’t go anywhere, and this was actually a chore to get to the end of it.

I’m hoping this doesn’t mean I’ve officially run out of tolerance for this show because it has been pleasantly surprising most of the season, but I don’t think I can sit through another episode like this one.


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Tuesday’s Top 5: Shows of Summer 2017 That Weren’t As Bad As Their Synopsis Made Them Sound

This might seem like an odd choice for a list but I’m going to be honest, going into Summer 2017 there were only a few shows that on reading the synopsis made me want to try them and then most of those were unavailable to me. I did get to watch Elegant Yokai Apartment Life and it had the opposite problem of the write up makes it sound more fun that it is. So instead I got to just randomly sample shows that I went into expecting not to really like them very much and in some cases the results have been pleasantly surprising. That’s not to say these are the best shows I’m watching or the best on offer, only that they are actually more fun than I initially thought they would be.

Anyway, I’d love to know if there’s a show that has surprised you this Summer season by not being dreadful.

Please note: Probably only limited spoilers below.

Honourable mention this week to Princess Principal. Not only is it one of my favourite shows of the season, it is one that from the short synopsis I read and the character designs I was pretty positive I was going to drop, not because it sounded bad, but because it just didn’t sound or look like something I would enjoy. So glad I watched the first episode because it was great fun.

Number 5: 18if

After going to sleep like normal, Haruto Tsukishiro wakes up to discover something unbelievable—he’s stuck in dream world! Here, witches plague the dreamscape and are more than dreamy figments—they’re the trapped souls of young women who’ve rejected reality and are afflicted by the “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome.”

The above is the Crunchyroll synopsis and reading that it just screams that this is something to be avoided. Stuck in a dream world? Okay, here’s another chance for a writer to just be totally random for no reason. Oh, there are witches who are actually the trapped souls of young women? Suffering from a syndrome named after a fairy tale character. It all just seemed far too much like a desperate cry for attention and to be honest with each episode featuring a unique art style and tone you could be forgiven for thinking this entire story is just a project being made by an over-zealous art class full of students that all just want their turn at creating someone for Haruto to rescue. Despite that, it actually hasn’t been a bad watch. There’s been quite a bit of heart in some of the stories and there’s been enough cohesion with Haruto to carry us from story to story without too much confusion. Admittedly, this could still end very badly or not at all if they don’t bother to get to some sort of more definitive point before the season draws to a close.

Number 4: Gamers

“Would you like to be with me… in the Gamers Club?” Amano Keita is a perfectly mediocre loner with no particular distinguishing features other than his love for games. One day, his school’s prettiest girl and Gamer Club President Tendo Karen suddenly calls out to him. That moment changes Keita’s life forever, as he now finds himself in the midst of a romcom with beautiful girl gamers… or, well, that’s how it usually goes. Not with him, however.

As much as I like games and gaming, this anime didn’t exactly scream that it was something I wanted to watch. Everything about the synopsis is cliché and high school, club anime about loner boy getting targeted by the school’s ‘prettiest girl’ to join a club just didn’t seem like something I was going to get into. And the first episode more or less confirmed those fears and then it didn’t. Gamers managed to turn the trite and overused scenario on its head and admittedly it has marched us through a lot of tropes and clichés the way it manages to continue to defy audience expectations while remaining watchable is pretty amazing. The narrative is completely shot at this point because of all the twists they keep building in but it doesn’t really matter because I’m just caught up with these odd characters and their odd but charming interactions.

Number 3: Fastest Finger First

Bunzou High School is welcoming its new first-year students. One of them, Koshiyama Shiki, is chosen to participate against his will in an impromptu fast-buzzing quiz meet by the president of the Quiz Bowl Circle. As a quiet boy who loves reading and doesn’t want to stand out, Shiki is overwhelmed, but his classmate, Fukami Mari, is able to hit the buzzer and answer questions before the full question is given.

Once again, high school club with quiet boy getting dragged into things. What actually drew me to this one is that it was about quizzes and I really enjoy them so I ignored all my trepidations and took on the first episode. While I can’t say that this has truly defied any of my expectations, it is really quite watchable and mostly that is because of Koshiyama as the protagonist. He might be a quiet kid who doesn’t like standing out but there’s more to him than just that and he’s actually proving to be a reasonably well rounded protagonist. Does that make the show particularly good? Not really. Unless you like quizzes there really isn’t a lot to get into with the story. However, given what my initial thoughts were when reading that synopsis I’ve ended up finding this fairly okay.

Number 2: Clean Freak Aoyama-Kun

Aoyama kun is a hot, young soccer prodigy who plays midfielder for the National U-16 Soccer Team. But he’s also an extreme germaphobe! The TV anime adaptation of “Keppeki Danshi! Aoyama kun!” (Clean Freak!! Aoyama kun) portrays the friendships he forms and the challenges he overcomes in a “spotless” coming-of-age story!

Seriously? It is a story about a ‘hot’ soccer player who is a germaphobe and in case that isn’t enough to make your eyes roll right out your head at the sheer gimmicky nature of that match up we then get an incredibly tacky pun dropped into the synopsis just for fun. There was absolutely nothing about that write up that made this seem like it would appeal and to be honest, there’s nothing about the show that really should given its basically an episodic comedy that has a cast of overly zany characters that each seem to get one episode in the spotlight where their extreme dysfunction takes centre stage as we circle around Aoyama and then we move on. Despite that, I’ve been finding this anime oddly charming. Not every joke is a winner and some episodes are more tiresome than others, but overall, Aoyama has been kind of interesting and part of that is probably because despite the cheap jokes and gimmicks, for the most part it seems to respect people with conditions. There are a lot of tacky jokes in the series but Aoyama’s need to clean has for the most part been treated as a setting rather than the target of the humour.

Number 1: In Another World With My Smartphone

After dying as a result of God’s mistake, the main character finds himself in a parallel world, where he begins his second life. His only possessions are the body that God gave back to him and a smartphone that works even in this new world. As he meets all kinds of new people and forges new friendships, he ends up learning the secret to this world. He inherits the legacy of an ancient civilization and works together with the kings of some very laid-back countries on his carefree travels through this new world.

Right from the title you know what this show is giving you. It is another self-aware isekai story about an overpowered protagonist trapped in another world. Gimmick to throw in is he gets to take his phone with him and somehow it works. There’s really no reason at all this anime should have appealed to me and yet there’s just something about how it delivers its tropes that manages to entertain. It seldom crosses into overly cringe worthy territory and even though the last couple of episodes have started to become a little repetitive, due to Touya being all but an unstoppable force of nature at this point, there’s still plenty to make me smile about this show. Nope, it has no depth and it isn’t trying to actually make itself distinct or a satire on the genre or anything else. What it does is simply remember why these clichés became cliches and what makes them fun. It delivers lines that in most shows would all but be followed with a nudge to the audience to let us know that they are aware it is an overused line in an absolutely serious manner. Just as it delivers cloth dissolving slimes without a hint of shame. All and all, of all the shows I tried without really expecting anything from them, this one is the one I’ve ended up having the most fun with. Again, not exactly the best anime of the season but nowhere near as terrible as it could have been from that synopsis.

Over to you, which show this Summer did you find to be oddly not terrible after reading a synopsis that kind of made you wonder why you were even pressing play?


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Clean Freak Aoyama-Kun Episode 10: He’s a Mystery

Review:

This episode starts basically enough with the guys on the soccer team realising they know nothing about Aoyama and so tailing him. It seems like the set up for a pretty formulaic follow Aoyama around and then have some ridiculous twist ending and that’s all. Then we end up at the ab-guy’s school where some character who apparently played in the national team with Aoyama has just transferred and we spend the rest o the episode with Aoyama ‘helping’ said guy make up with his not-girlfriend because he insulted her cooking.

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Actually, it makes more sense than that while watching it, but to be honest the story deviates quite a lot from Aoyama’s team trying to find out where he lives with only Zaizen even sticking it out until the end of the episode as the other characters just kind of vanish.

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All and all, this was a pretty average episode for a show that has remained pleasant but not exceptional.


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Clean Freak Aoyama-Kun Episode 9: Training Camps and Tests of Courage

Review:

While this show has been surprisingly entertaining, it has never actually been good, and this week I found myself finally groaning more than smiling at the forced attempts at humour. That isn’t to say this show got any worse, it is more that while I appreciated it this far, I’ve finally had enough of more or less the same punch lines over and over again. The fact that it took 9 episodes for me to get to this point is pretty novel in and of itself.

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Basically the soccer club, and every other random side character, go to a training camp hosted by rich boy’s family so of course everything is just a little bit off. Each of the characters do their usual bit and really everything just rolls along. However, the overall absurdity of a training camp in a dome custom built as well as the reactions of some of the characters just pushed me into groan territory and mostly I didn’t have fun watching this week.

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Of course, the biggest low point was the test of courage where inevitably Aoyama ends up cleaning up the ‘haunted’ building. It just isn’t funny at this point and none of the other character’s antics managed to lift it.

Actually, that’s probably the biggest issue this episode. We’re not focussed on a single side character but rather just get splatters of lots of cast members and without that focus the show just kind of feels like a bunch of poorly delivered and thinly connected gags.  Here’s hoping next week is a bit more fun.


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Clean Freak Aoyama-Kun Episodes 7 + 8: Is That Supposed To Be A Serious Development?

Review Episode 7:

Probably the biggest issue I have with shows like this is I miss the point sometimes of whether they are attempting to be serious or not. The introduction of a girl who can touch Aoyama introduces a new insight into his character given Aoyama suddenly starts experimenting with things outside of his very clear comfort zone. This actually could be considered an interesting character point or could be an interesting plot development. Or it could just be another gag and I’m not really sure which way I was supposed to take it.

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Certainly the reaction of his fan club, classmates, and team mates was supposed to be a joke, though it was seldom funny. The excessive reactions and despair over Aoyama maybe actually liking someone was just a little bit depressing as was the boys basketball club member’s assumed ownership over the affections of the girl.

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Still, this episode does at last manage to integrate classes, other clubs, and a soccer game into a single episode so maybe the elements of this show that have so far seemed quite disconnected are starting to merge now that we have quite a number of recurring characters who all have heavily integrated existences.

That said, not really a good episode by any means but still watchable.

Review Episode 8:

Um… Well, we get a new character who has apparently quit the judo club because he has a fruitless crush on Gotou.

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His former captain is thrilled.

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And then he sets Aoyama and Gotou up on a date and helps Gotou out to ensure she has a chance to get her feelings across.

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Wait? He did what?

That’s the punchline of this episode. He’s happy as long as she’s happy and apparently so long as he one day ends up buried next to her because he can play the long game and wait.

I do not even know what I am supposed to make of that, but I do know that whoever was animating orange arrows had a lot of work this episode.


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Clean Freak Aoyama-Kun Episode 6: It’s Dangerous Trying to Please Everyone

Review:

This week the episode focusses on Ozaki, who is apparently writing a manga. He introduces a character based on Aoyama but becomes upset by that character’s popularity when he’d tried to make him the villain. As he attempts to sabotage the character, the manga loses popularity and he is forced to try to turn things around even as his overall dislike of Aoyama continues.

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I actually really enjoyed this episode. I found Ozaki’s frustration at the audience reaction to his story quite amusing and the way he interpreted the world around him and translated it into his stories was also kind of entertaining. Though, the most amusing thing is that by the end of the episode, despite watching Aoyama for a large part of this episode, Ozaki still doesn’t understand Aoyama. Admittedly, most of the school doesn’t as they all kind of project their own ideas onto him and Aoyama is too detached to either notice or care, but in Ozaki’s case he has seriously caused a problem for himself by trying to write a character based on a person he just doesn’t get.

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So not so much cleaning or soccer this week (though both make a brief appearance just so we are reassured the writers did not forget their own gimmicks). I remain pleasantly surprised by how watchable this is but it still isn’t all that great.


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Clean Freak Aoyama-Kun Episodes 4 + 5: They’re Multiplying

Review Episode 4:

With the exception of one ball being used as a projectile weapon inside a game world, there was absolutely zero soccer involved in this episode. Instead we mostly follow the internal thoughts of a guy named Narita who apparently is also a clean freak but has chosen to try to conceal the fact and keep things around him clean through subterfuge.

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Not sure exactly what the point of this episode was other than showing the contrast of how people in the class treat Aoyama when they know he’s a clean freak compared to the almost daily trauma they inflict on the guy they don’t know about. And the random cooking competition mid-episode was just that: totally random.

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Despite everything going on, Aoyama remains his usual self although we do get a glimpse of what he might be like in a world without germs in the few instances we see his virtual avatar inside the game. Again, not sure what the point is but it wasn’t exactly unpleasant to watch either.

Review Episode 5:

Well, we’re back to playing soccer and now one of the idiots on the team gets a focus. Apparently he was bullied in middle school and… you know, his story’s kind of boring and I never really did care about his character before this episode and nothing during the episode really turned that around.

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There’s a whole message about teams winning or losing together and then there’s a power of friendship thing going on. Basically, wrap up any feel good message and drop it into the story with a few cheap jokes (though I didn’t mind when the guy randomly turned into a cat in the toilet and destroyed the toilet paper roll).

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I will point out that Aoyama’s fans remain as annoying as ever and to be honest I don’t know how he puts up with that on a daily basis. But at least we will never forget the title character’s name.

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This one is wearing a little thin for me at this point.


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