Rent-A-Girlfriend is currently broadcasting its third season of anime, which is sure to be keeping the fans happy! And if that wasn’t enough, Kodansha continues to bring the original manga out in print. Today I’m here to take a look at Volumes 17 and 18 to find out if the series continues to be an entertaining read as it approaches its 20th instalment.
When we last saw Kazuya and Mizuhara, they were in the final stages of filming the movie they crowdfunded. Although it meant taking an overnight trip alone and annoying Kazuya’s girlfriend Ruka, our protagonist is happy with the final product and now it just needs editing in preparation for its debut on the big screen!
With the premiere only days away, Kazuya, Mizuhara and her grandmother have come to check out the venue where the film will be shown for the first time. Finally, Mizuhara’s dream of showing her grandmother a film in which she’s played the lead role is about to come true, but as we all know reality can be cruel and while they’re at the cinema, her grandmother collapses.
After being she’s been rushed back to the hospital, it soon becomes apparent that she won’t survive long enough to make it to the screening. Mizuhara is devastated; not just because of how close they were to achieving her dream, but also because she’s about to lose her last living family member. Kazuya, meanwhile, wants to do everything he can to support her, but he has no idea what he can do.
And he’s burdened with the guilt that he and Mizuhara have been lying about their relationship, pretending to be a loving boyfriend/girlfriend. And he wonders if it wouldn’t be better just to come clean now while they still have the chance. When all’s said and done, will Mizuhara be able to live with the guilt if she doesn’t tell the truth now?
Volume 18 opens with a direct continuation of this storyline, with things still up in the air for our heroine’s grandmother. Kazuya meanwhile finally figures out something he can do to support her at this difficult time and puts a plan into motion that will leave her with fewer regrets in these difficult hours.
Of course, it’s not just Mizuhara who is upset about her grandmother; many members of our cast have a relationship with her and are devastated by the news. Kazuya might be putting his all into being there for Mizuhara, but he’s also in need of support during this difficult time. When Kazuya’s at his lowest you can always count on those around him to cheer him up and this time that job falls to Sumi. Although she struggles to convey her intentions to him, she drags Kazuya on a trip to the beach and shows him all the things she does to cheer herself up.
With Volume 20 looming, it’s no surprise that Rent-A-Girlfriend author Reiji Miyajima has begun to conclude the story of Mizuhara’s grandmother as well as the film project. These storylines have been going on for so long that now they’re reaching the end and I’m glad that Miyajima is writing them with the sensitivity and emotional weight they deserve.
I will be one of the first people to playfully refer to Rent-A-Girlfriend as trash. It’s a drama akin to a soap opera with characters who aren’t always likeable and often leave you wishing they didn’t make such stupid decisions. But there’s something about this series that keeps you turning the page, eager to see what they’ll get up to next and somewhere along the line, you realise that you care about these characters, certainly when it comes to Mizuhara who is one of the better-written members of the cast. And that’s where these scenes hold the appropriate amount of emotional power because we care and because if you’ve been through a similar situation, you can easily sympathise with what she’s going through.
Rent-A-Girlfriend Volumes 17 and 18 come to the West thanks to Kodansha and continue to be translated by Kevin Gifford with lettering by Paige Pumphrey. Both releases read well with no issues to note. Volumes 19 and 20 have already been released in English with the next release being #21 in October. In Japan the series is currently at Volume 32, so still plenty more of this one in the future. As mentioned earlier a third season of the anime is currently airing and can be found on Crunchyroll.
Overall, it’s not often I would say Rent-A-Girlfriend is well written, but these two volumes prove excellent as they swap the silly comedy and harem antics for something much more heartfelt. It’s never going to be perfect, but this is a strong conclusion for some storylines we’ve been following since the beginning of the series.
Our review copy from Kodansha was supplied by Diamond Book Distributors UK