Asobi Asobase – workshop of fun – – Mid Season Anime Review
Synopsis: Olivia is a blonde-haired beauty who was born and raised in Japan, but can’t speak any English. Despite always acting serious and as an intellectual, Kasumi is a bespectacled girl with short hair, who also can’t speak English. Finally, there’s the pig-tailed Hanako, who’s cheerful but can’t seem to become a normie. The three middle schoolers end up making a “Players’ Club”?! The ultimately cute, ultimately fun and hilarious teenage girls’ comedy is about to begin! (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Asobi Asobase is a poster child for absurd, bizarre and altogether insane anime comedy. But like so many others Asobi Asobase can sometimes be led astray, delving too deep into its own twisted tone.This manifests in a couple ways: first in the series divulging itself of its mundane, everyday atmosphere into something far more manic and outrageous. Like when we abandoned that set up completely, playing instead with the ideas of alien abduction. Other times the series dives into comedic territory that’s potentially uncomfortable, like focusing on the gender identity of a transgender/crossdressing individual, or toying with Japanese pop-culture Garu stereotypes, a Japanese exclusive phenomenon that could easily be misunderstood without proper cultural context. Even so, these moments are fleeting and only bear mention as otherwise the series produces far more on point content centered on these three girls and their ability to take what should be simply, everyday, mundane pastimes and turn them into outrageous affairs.
Linny: A lot of the humour comes from the girls’ absurd reactions to all sorts of things; from the mundane run of the mill stuff like applying make up, school grades or to the outright insane such as playing a game of hide and seek with a supposedly cursed doll. The facial expressions are really what makes this show stand out, with reaction faces and sequences that could rival some of the best horror anime you’ve watched and, yes, I do mean horror.
Tom: It’s that focus on the run of the mill, the mundane, the everyday, and Asobi Asobase’s ability to add manic insanity to it that makes it so perfectly set against preconceptions (all aided by an opening sequence poised to fool you into thinking Asobi Asobase is little more than Cute Girls Doing Cute Things.) Typically comedy like this can quickly wear thin, losing its luster not even half way through a season. But Asobi Asobase knows how to spice it up, keep things fresh, and outside of perhaps a few missteps, otherwise sticks the landing every week. It even manages to keep from pandering to male sexuality. While the girls do discuss boys, or their own bodies, Asobi Asobase keeps it from devolving into fanservice by focusing on those topics in unexpected ways that tie in perfectly with its overall approach to comedy.
Linny: The three main girls offer a nice mix of absurd personalities. We have Hanako Honda, the oddest of the three. While she comes from a clearly affluent family, it’s one riddled with insanity thanks to a personal butler who shoots laser beams from his butt and a grandfather who works with said butler to create an android boyfriend for Hanako. She’s also the most gullible of the three, often falling prey to whatever nonsense is fed to her. Then there’s mischievous Olivia who literally starts the show pretending to be a complete foreigner when she was raised in Japan all her life and the only foreign thing about her is her DNA. She’s often taking Hanako along on one of her many insane schemes yet also often falling for others herself. Lastly, we have Kasumi, the one who seems the most level headed of all yet has the same capacity to get caught up in bizarre situations and reactions as the other three, often bringing a level of extremely scary and hilarious responses to Hanako and Olivia’s more idiotic escapades. All put together they make for one incredible trio of absurdity.
Tom: I honestly have little to criticize with this series. Asobi Asobase knows what it wants to be, and outside of a gag or two that abandons the concept it set out for itself, is overall a joy week to week. If it can remain as zany, fresh and strong as it feels now, through to the end of the season, I have no problem adding Asobi Asobase to the thin list of candidates for Anime of the Year.
Linny: As Tom mentioned earlier, there are a few gags and plot points in Asobi Asobase that could rub certain people the wrong way, but they’re indeed few and far in between. Otherwise, the show is a non stop riot of laughs with its bizarre comedy that mixes the everyday with the extraordinary. If the screenshots in this review haven’t sold you, then it might not be your type of comedy. But for everyone else who enjoys the crazy, over the top and strange dark humour that anime and manga can produce, Asobi Asobase is definitely a must watch of the season, if not of the year.
Asobi Asobase is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.