Why am I still watching this? Because I had already watched to what I assume is the halfway point, episode 6. I don’t dislike it enough to drop it after already watching half the series. I have time to watch it because the episodes are only 9-12 minutes long each. I do want to see how things end up between the two main characters, even though I’m almost sure it will be typical and have no real resolution. Besides that, I’m watching Ao-chan because the humor occasionally makes me laugh, and I’ve never seen an ecchi romance with the emphasis on the sexual thoughts of the girl rather than the boy. I’m not saying Ao-chan is a show with any real significance, but just a show that has something I’ve never seen.
In episode 7, of course, everyone goes to the beach and we see Ao and that other girl in their swimsuits, and Nijima and that other guy shirtless. Those scenes were short and standard. The series isn’t really about fanservice (focusing on revealing the bodies of characters) as much as it is a sexual comedy. The main part of the episode has Ao and Nijima way out in the water alone, in a situation where Ao thinks they are about to have “a quickie,” while Nijima such no such intention and no idea that’s what Ao is thinking. Nothing happened, of course. Ao’s flat expression of disappointment was pretty funny. The episode was stupid and predictable overall, but did it make me laugh? It did, just a little. Guess I’m stuck with a teenager’s sense of humor.
Episode 8 was not nearly as enjoyable. First, the freaky old man child (Ao’s father) got too much screen time and damn annoying. Second, it was both predictable and gross that Ao’s father added “aphrodisiac” magic (or a drug) to the bento for Nijima, and the way Nijima almost f***ed Ao because of it, but “nobly” stopped himself. Ao is surprised, touched, and falls deeper in love becasue Nijima says he values her over his sexual desires. That’s great, and I do like that Nijima is honest and tries to be considerate, but valuing the girl as more than a sex object should quite frankly be a given for any decent boyfriend, and not something particularly astounding.
Despite being a nice boy, and a likeable character, Nijima has no understanding of what women actually care about, which is consent. If he had asked, Ao would have given her consent in that situation. She is sexually frustrated. “She wants the D.” She can’t study because she can’t stop thinking of f***ing Nijima so much. But Nijima totally ignores her wishes, or rather, never asks about them. He assumes Ao is a “good” girl who has no sexual desires herself. He continually acts like Ao wanting to have sex is a sign that she doesn’t value herself, which is completely wrong.
(The whole show is crawling with the sentiment that women shouldn’t want sex or admit to normal teenage lust, which in turn is the reason why Ao can’t just be honest, and why there are many irritating misunderstandings. That’s not good comedy. If anything, it’s kind of sad.)
Episode 9 was a bit more interesting. For a silly and utterly average ecchi show, it did a good job showing Ao’s very real struggles with studying, and the way Nijima agrees to hold off on a relationship until Ao can qualify for her college of choice. That boy once again proves himself to be good-hearted and sincere, but dense as hell. Other than those two elements, the episode was pretty dull. It followed the pattern of setting up a situation where Ao and Nijima are together, upping the intensity so you think they are either going to officially date or have sex, and then dropping Ao off the cliff of disappointment when Nijima reveals a misunderstanding of the situation or a reluctance to “do anything” with Ao. A standard, boring episode.
(The ending still made me chuckle though.)
Ao-chan Can’t Study isn’t a good show. From a amateur critic’s perspective, it’s awful. At this point, I give the series a 5.2/10, and only because I enjoy it personally. Weaknesses of the show include a boring and trope-filled story, humor that only works half the time, characters that are never developed and/or are just annoying, and an art style that is the definition of average. Relative strengths of Ao-chan include nice music, a few good seiyuu, the halfway decent character of Kijima, humor when it works, and some elements that are slightly unusual for an ecchi series.