20 year old undergraduate Kazuya has just been dumped and unable to get over his ex-girlfriend Mami, he decides to use some of the tuition money his parents gave him to spend a day with a rented girlfriend of his choice, Chizuru Mizuhara "Ichinose". However, during their "date" he receives a call that his dear grandmother had collapsed and with time still left, his "girlfriend" joins him for the hospital visit. What's worse, her grandmother was also friends with Chizuru's own grandmother. Kazu's family were overwhelmed he finally found himself a girl and unable to find the right time to reveal the truth, Kazu finds himself continuing to pay for Chizuru's pretend girlfriend services.
In Japan you've got services like these but it's nothing as seedy as escorts as it's mostly lonely people wanting some company to do something such as play a video game together. Believe it or not, there are even rent-a-family services which people can rent a pretend family member such as a mum for people who have moved far away and miss some home cooked food.
So anyway, usually I avoid the harem shows since they're filled with fan service but watched this because of the hype thinking there's more to it. It starts off quite miserable despite being a romcom as you can imagine. It's appalling to see Kazu spend his tuition expenses on such services in S1 but at least we see him growing up a bit later. Some viewers have even come to call him "Kuzu" instead, "trash" in Japanese. You'd think Kazu would break clean and stop paying for a "girlfriend" but it just never happens as your usual coincidences and misunderstandings stop it from ever happening. Kazu's ex Mami going around with a smug look and stirring up trouble doesn't help but she plays a great villainess role.
Obviously the coincidences are more harem oriented than your usual romance show which in this case is Chizuru going to the exact same university and living next door to Kazu's apartment. A number of other girls all fall for him for some other silly reason as harem shows go like Ruka going after any guy that can make her heart rate surpass 90bpm. One of the girls Sumi is kind of like Komi-san which is odd when she's working under a rent-a-girlfriend agency but, shows you how serious the show is.
And that's fairly much the loop. Kazu is always on the verge of getting over his ex but then his "urges" lead him to become indecisive and pursuing someone new despite his friend Yoshiaki Kibe trying to help him move on. It has a few relatable scenes but these are few in number. Kazu just never improves despite showing the potential to.
To the show's credit, the fan service isn't the non-stop kind with your usual suspect scenes although when Kazu is fantasising about girls it can be quite explicit along with his oogling. There's little to say about the art although I noticed there's always these white scratch lines on them. There's a hand gesture dance similar to Wotakoi but much shorter in the OP too. The soundtrack sounds like its from a video game and it does feel like watching a JRPG sometimes like the dating sim part of Persona where events happen as Kazu goes about raising his affection points with characters.
S1 had a pretty good ending to it leaving not too much of a cliffhangar but enough to challenge Kazu and Chizuru's ongoing act.
S2 Mami continues being the villainess, even more so when things are looking up for Kazu. S2 gives you a brief recap before picking up right where S1 left off with a pretty serious slice-of-life tone. It quickly returns to Kazu's usual fan service heavy dillusions but we see some development between Kazu and Chizuru. It ends pretty well shifting the focus onto Chizuru and the next stage of the story but it's ruined by a brief moment of Kazu's usual wild imagination.
You'll find the S2 ending features the Sompo Insurance Japan building in Shinjuku that also appears in Shinkai's Your Name and Suzume.
S3 kicks right off with a fan service bath scene and introduces a new girl geek, Mini Yaemori as Kazu tries to crowdfund to help Chizuru. Mini also happens to attend the same uni and live in the same apartment block of course. She's quite a nice addition to the show because she ends up being the one that clears up all the uncertainties between the main relationships. There's less renting involved as the characters work towards the single big goal and you gotta admire the extreme lengths Kazu goes for Chizuru but he just can't get away from his wild imaginations so, it continues to be one of those shows that could have been better off without the fan service. Plenty of conveniently pointed camera angles. Some quite explicit; at least with sound anyway.
It's also good to see Kazu finally get a rival to give him another push since he never had one for two whole seasons.
There's an awful amount of background captioning so have fun trying to read it all if you're relying on subs. Chizuru has a lot of talkign with one eye open which feels odd and no hand gesture dances in the OP this time.
Episode 8 onwards the ending changes as you're hit with a bunch of tear jerking moments you'd probably not expect from a fan service filled show. We just might get another short season with the teaser it threw in but somehow it doesn't look like the rental service relation is going to end soon considering the story's title.
It's a fantasy harem show where all the girls just throw themselves at the same guy so 'nuf said. Just not the mindless scene after scene of fan service kind.