I’m excited to be back and to write about some soccer! I’ve been itching for something to fill the void DAYS left in my life, and I think Clean Freak! Aoyama-kun will scratch that itch perfectly. I wasn’t sure what I was in for this week, but stick around for this review of Episode 1. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun with Aoyama!
Japanese Title: 青山くんはキレイ好き
On the surface, the plot appears to be pretty simple. Aoyama is a major germophobe. He’s a first-year at Fujimi High School and has all of the attention of his classmates. He’s super hot and super talented. However, his crippling fear of germs makes him obsessively clean. He cleans everything! It also presents a problem when he’s playing soccer. Aoyama is a gifted player, but can only play with rubber gloves and tries to avoid touching anyone on the field. Before Aoyama arrived to Fujimi, the star player was Kaoru Zaizen. I’m fairly certain the story will be about the two of them building a strong team through a balance of their abilities and faults.
This week’s specific plot revolves around Zaizen’s annoyance with Aoyama and how the two come together to beat a skillful rival team.
This series is billed as a comedy, and it’s actually funny! I’m impressed, a lot of the time I may internally smile – but I found several laugh-out-loud moments in this episode alone. The secret to good sports comedy is to keep the action pacing, while allowing jokes to come naturally. Without the action, it can get boring!
Episode 1 begins like many other sports anime series. There’s a big play at a future big game. The build up is there – and our star player takes the game winning shot. This same convention was used in DAYS Episode 1, but for DAYS it was meant to highlight the journey that Tsukamoto would have to go through to be able to compete. In Clean Freak! Aoyama-kun, the entire intro is a setup for a punchline and some quick character development. My first highlight comes after the game winning shot – keep an eye out, it’s pretty funny.
The second highlight is the rival team’s captain. He’s over-the-top and prone to long speeches. He’s also perfectly cast. You know when you’re watching something new, and there’s that silky smooth villainous voice that shows up? Hey, you recognize that voice actor. I did too. The rival team’s captain, named Takechi, is absolutely ridiculous. His first appearance confronting Aoyama and trying to convince him to join the rival team is gold. He dives into a long speech, and because the voice actor is Koyasu Takehito, you get drawn in. Koyasu is a well known voice actor – most recently heralded for his work as Dio Brando in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. Takechi’s character aura is basically the same as if Dio were a high school soccer star. Watch out for his abs in the conclusion of the speech. Aoyama is definitely not impressed, but I was literally dying.
Themes & Trivia
This series is being worked on by Studio Hibari and is incredibly well polished with fluid animation and an all-star voice cast. Aoyama-kun is a sports satire, but it looks like it’s going to be one that doesn’t skimp on the sports. It has a similar vibe to Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamotowith an art style close to Yuri On Ice,and if you’re a fan of either (or both!) you should definitely check it out.
I’m always skeptical about going into a series with no prior knowledge of it. I’ve somehow found myself involved in soccer anime recently, and I’ve really enjoyed them. After DAYS, I wasn’t certain I’d find something that’d get me involved, but Aoyama-kun’s got me hooked. There’s a lot of great things going on in this show. It’s got the self-awareness of silliness that Sakamoto had, the machismo of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and a handsome protagonist with cleaning abilities to rival Attack on Titan’s Levi.
I’m not a huge fan of the massive amount of chibi art in the series. I find it to be lazy, but – I’ll accept it if that means the animation in scenes that require it is solid. So far, in the action sequences, there’s been no CGI like in DAYSand Yuri on Ice and I really appreciate that. The quality of the animation is top-notch, so I’ve got pretty high expectations as far as that goes for the rest of the season.
Finally, I’d like to comment on the closing theme which I think is one of the best I’ve heard in years. In the first 10 seconds of the theme, I leaned over to the person I was watching the episode with and said (very matter of factly *pushes glasses up*): ‘This sounds exactly like an homage to 70s space opera anime.’ I was thrilled when the animation’s style suddenly changed to pay homage to that era. I wiped away a tear from my eye and have been humming the tune ever since.
We’re gonna make it. This is going to be gold.
Yo, you should be watching Aoyama-kun!
Yo, get off your sports anime high horse. This series is going to be gold. It’s going to collect fans from all across genres, and if Yuri on Ice and an obscure sport like figure skating could get a massive cult following – you don’t want to miss out on being one of the OG Aoyama-kun fans out there.