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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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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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 2 + 3: Cute Bat, Crazy Girl

Review Episode 2:

Part of the reason I don’t like comedy all that much is because jokes get progressively less funny with the retelling and when you can see the punch line coming. Aoyama-Kun hits us with some gags that you can see coming from a mile away and, in one case, the near half episode that they dragged out the joke until the inevitable conclusion was kind of painful even if there were some interesting parts along the way.

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Despite many of the jokes not really working for me, I still find this show kind of interesting even while I’m mostly just kind of marking time and waiting for it to get to the next thing. Aoyama-Kun is an interesting enough protagonist, though perhaps calling him the protagonist is wrong in this instance given he’s the least active participant in the story. The action revolves around his existence and he is more a spectator upon the weirdness that surrounds him.

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I kind of liked the inclusion of the female manager and at least she’s openly stalking Aoyama now instead of hiding in the background. That was kind of getting old and I’m only two episodes into it.

Review Episode 3:

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The first part of this episode bored me to tears. Partly because guy who likes to show his abs off from the first episode showed up again and then there was some random food eating contest while Aoyama sat and polished the cutlery. It was all so incredibly pointless and even the other characters admitted that so it just felt like filler and not particularly inspired filler.

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The second half of the episode we got to watch another match and Aoyama is really kind of cool to watch. Completely unrealistic, but cool. You can almost understand his horde or fans when you see him on the field. This second half was much more entertaining even if it was pretty predictable what the outcome of both the match and Aoyama’s team-mates attempt to hug him at the end.

That’s probably another thing I need to mention. Three episodes in and I cannot remember a single name other than Aoyama’s and that’s because it’s in the title and someone screams it almost every five minutes. Every other character is just kind of there. So, still watching this but it really is a forgettable experience all up.


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Clean Freak Aoyama Kun Episode 1: This Is Going To Get Old Fast

Overview:

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!

– From Crunchyroll.

Review:

I’m thinking the only reason I didn’t drop this the third time a girl gushed over Aoyama’s classroom cleaning was because I tried this after two other shows that I dropped mid-episode 1. By comparison this was watchable but hardly what I would describe as good.

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While there are some moments that made me smile and a couple of moments on the soccer field that are kind of cool, so far Aoyama as a main character has left me feeling rather indifferent due to lack of any apparent personality other than not liking germs and wanting to play soccer and the other soccer players just seem to have one note personalities so far. Maybe this will all get fleshed out and this might become something  that is kind of okay but I kind of feel like this one is going to set into a fairly standard routine of what will become increasingly stale comedy.

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I’m not dropping it yet but I don’t see me sticking out a whole season unless there’s a serious improvement.


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Days Series Review

Overview:

Tsukishi Tsukamoto doesn’t really have friends and doesn’t really have much going on but he’s a nice guy. One day, after starting high school, Kazama invites him on a whim to play and soon after Tsukamoto decides he wants to join the Seiseki Soccer team. Problem is, they are a really good team and Tsukamoto has never played before. Can raw enthusiasm and determination really help him overcome his weaknesses and allow him to become part of the team? I reviewed this week to week if you want to check out those thoughts.

Review:

I’d be lying if I said the story of Days isn’t trite and overly generic drivel that’s been the basis of about a million stories before. I’m not even a fan of sports movies and shows and even I know the one about the loser who becomes the star player of the team. Something about hard work overcoming all difficulties or some such nonsense that writers seem to think is inspiring. Not that some people don’t have their hard work rewarded but there are plenty of others who will put in the time and effort and still get a big fat nothing for their efforts.

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Despite this set up which sounds like it should make me want to roll my eyes right outside of my skull, and a main character who normally I would call a pathetic doormat and find truly irritating, and being based on a sport I could not care less about, I really enjoyed watching Days. I found it genuinely charming and at times vaguely inspirational until my usual cynical self kicked in. That didn’t stop me wanting to call out with Tsukamoto as he cheered on his team mates and it didn’t stop me smiling when he finally intercepted the ball or realised what he should be doing on the field and it didn’t stop me nearly crying when he failed and felt the utter and complete devastation of that failure. It also didn’t stop that big cheesy grin spreading over my face when he got right back up again and continued to try his hardest.

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It would be great if  I could say that there was a single concrete reason for this show working for me and yet that would also be a lie. There are pacing issues, animation issues, at times characterization is an issue as someone we barely know is suddenly important and you’re left rummaging through your head for any information you remember about them (large cast of soccer players from main team and competitors). From any objective standpoint this show is average at best.

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But maybe that’s enough. It’s a story we all know so they don’t waste time trying to be clever about the premise. There are no real unexpected twists and turns in the story and while there is a large cast this works in the show’s favour as we never really get sick of any one character and even those with obnoxious personalities aren’t around long enough to bring down the overall show.

Besides, there are some fun characters in this show. Mizuki (the Captain), the other first year players, Kimishita, the manager, and many of the opponents really shine in their moments before fading back into the background. This is Tsukamoto’s story and we are seldom allowed to forget that but that doesn’t stop us learning about these characters and falling in love with them as Tsukamoto really wants to be included in their world.

The animation isn’t amazing but were we tuning in to watch animated soccer or were we watching Tsukamoto and how he develops as a character. There’s a clear correlation between his improvement on the field and his mental state and yet even at the end he is riddled with insecurities about whether he ‘deserves’ to be part of the team.

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Probably my real criticism of this show would be Kazama. He is the one who leads Tsukamoto into the world of soccer and at times it looks like his journey should be significant as well but we get so few glances at this other side of the story. Kazama is talented and confident but has some real issues with trusting a team. He’s the opposite of Tsukamoto and giving their stories equal time so the moments where they intersect and help each other could have had more meaning. Instead Kazama ends up almost like a fairy god-mother hovering around the edges of the story and giving Tsukamoto the tiniest of pushes when needed. The one moment of conflict between the two was resolved almost instantly. This is probably the weakest part of the series in my opinion.

So if you want to watch a trite (wondrous) journey of a wimpy (driven) character going from nothing to vaguely competent but still developing this first season of Days will probably be a fun watch. It’s full of warmth and heart and by the end you really will support this team in their push for Nationals – which of course we still need season 2 to find out what happens next.

Yep, season 1 leaves us without even knowing if they got to Nationals. I expected them to qualify and then if we got another season to see the Nationals but instead we still have the finals to qualify to go before we get there. Fortunately season 2 has already been announced and this one I’ll be continuing because as much as this review probably seems needlessly critical, this show made me smile and made me care about whether the ball went into the net at least for twenty minutes each week.