Aoyama-Kun Is Silly with a Surprising Amount of Depth
I’m trying to expand my anime horizons, so I’m working my way through some series on Crunchyroll and I stumbled across Clean Freak! Aoyama-Kun. Honestly I have seen all twelve episodes and I have no idea what I just watched, but damn if I didn’t enjoy it.
Aoyama-Kun follows the various misadventures of a high school soccer team where the star player – the titular Aoyama – is a germophobe. He cleans everything obsessively and refuses to touch anyone or anything without gloves on, yet he is still one of the best soccer players in Japan. I find that I really like sports anime, which is one of the reasons this show initially appealed to me, but I don’t think Aoyama-Kun counts as a sports anime. Despite the fact that they’re all soccer players, there is very little actual soccer being played. Instead, you get treated to little stories about all the members of the team, but mostly Aoyama.
The team is a motley crew of quirky characters. In addition to the supremely talented and popular Aoyama, Zaizen can only score with headers, Tsukamoto is obsessed with his butt, Umeya abruptly quits judo and joins the soccer team because he’s in love with the team manager, Gotou, and Gotou is absolutely, totally, creepily obsessed with Aoyama. Most of the team members get their own episodes and they get surprisingly deep: Tsukamoto turned to humor after being bullied as a child, Zaizen has serious family issues, and Umeya selflessly stays back and tries to help Gotou get Aoyama’s attention. For the most part, though, this is a comedy, and the touching scenes often end with a joke or a funny twist.
I think the best thing about Aoyama-Kun is how it treats Aoyama himself. Perhaps it’s detrimental to not show the negative aspects of having a mental illness, but as someone with anxiety, I personally love seeing Aoyama be so loved and successful and open about his disorder. There is an episode early in the series that contrasts his experience with that of Narita, another germophobe in Aoyama’s class. Narita hides his condition and is therefore removed from his classmates, escaping into an online role-playing game. Aoyama, however, is honest with his classmates and still thrives. His condition isn’t a deterrent or something to be mocked – he has a freaking fan club. There are occasional setbacks – his play suffers if he gets dirty, which he is usually (hilariously) able to avoid – but for the most part he is a fully functioning member of society. Oh, and he has this condition.
This series has a little something for everyone. It’s a little more Free! than, say, Kuroko’s Basketball, in the sense that the focus is more on the characters than the sport, but there are quite a few soccer scenes for all my fellow sports anime fans. There’s also plenty of humor, a little romance, some touching family moments, and even a little bit of mystery. Mostly, it’s silly and endearing, with plots like Ozaki the secret mangaka who bases a villain on Aoyama and then gets annoyed when everyone loves him.
With only twelve episodes (so far), it’s easy to binge, and if you’re looking for something fun and a little ridiculous, I highly recommend Aoyama-Kun.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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