Maesetsu! Opening Act – 1st Episode Review
Synopsis: When four hardworking friends pair up to chase their dream of becoming professional stand-up comedians, they quickly find out that being funny is seriously difficult! Join Fubuki, Mafuyu, Rin, Nayuta, and the rest of their hilarious pals as they overcome obstacles on the journey to achieving their ultimate goal: performing live at the Namba Grand Kagetsu! (Official Funimation Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Maesetsu! Opening Act seeks to offer up the comedic antics of a group of four aspiring, stand-up comedians as they go from unpolished amateurs to rising stars. Unfortunately, Maesetsu! Opening Act is just as bad at comedy as its fledgling leads, making for an awkward, bland, and outright painfully dull experience.
The episode opens with a starry-eyed child Mafuyu watching a stand-up duo perform. She pines to do that herself one day and thus we flash forward to what seems to be her debut as part of a stand up troupe of high school girls– only for the crew to instead break out into an airband performance, which acts as this episode’s replacement for the opening credits. While defying expectations is one form of comedy, this switcheroo lacks character or charm, as we simply watch the animation lazily repeat itself again and again, changing up between a long shot, mid shot, and close-ups of our four leads, over and over, with hardly any variation. It makes for one hell of a bland beginning.
Once we’re past a surprisingly dull first few minutes, Mafuyu makes an actual attempt at stand-up comedy, performing an impression of an anime character doing an impression of an anime character, doing an impression of a train platform announcement (I assume anyway, the show explains this bit later in the episode but I think the referential humor still went over my head.) The joke not only ends up bombing with the in-show audience, but becomes an albatross around the show’s neck as Maesetsu! brings this lame joke up again and again, never managing to move past it.
And this is where Maesetsu! really falls apart. Outside of offering us a pseudo ‘origin’ tale for how Mafuyu and her blue-haired, be-speckled best friend Fubuki first started pairing up as a comedy duo, the show cannot help itself with returning to the airband ‘gag’ and the impression gag over and over. It’s not like the girls keep performing airband, or the impression gag non stop, but we never really stop talking about either. Every time you think the show might move onto something else, like showing us how a ‘rival’ comedy duo outshines our girls, or perhaps seeing Mafuyu, Fubuki and the others test out material on each other, we return right to Mafuyu’s frustration at having had to perform airband rather than comedy. When it’s not referencing that moment again it’s Mafuyu harping on and on about her lame impression gag that apparently always bombs with anyone.
To be fair, the show uses that lame impression as a constant vehicle for exploring Mafuyu’s never say die attitude. Mafuyu, as we learn, was merely a class goof with Fubuki. Based off their classmates reactions to their spur of the moment improv, the two decided they wanted to try and make comedy their aspirational livelihood. Mafuyu apparently has performed her lame impression gag every step of the way. Mafuyu being obsessed with such a clunker of a joke could be an endearing character trait, if the show was otherwise wrapped in additional comedy that absolutely nailed it. The problem is near every scene is otherwise incredibly bland. Dialogue lacks impact, characters feel too dull and grounded, and what little comedy that is sprinkled in feels either too subtle or are jokes that require some understanding of Japanese culture or are perhaps a play on words that Western audiences aren’t going to be able to appreciate. That said, even if it was a tad more general, this light dusting of comedy isn’t enough to save the production otherwise.
My knee-jerk reaction was to consider Maesetsu! Opening Act another ‘cute girls doing cute things’ show where the real appeal is reserved for fans of moe anime characters, watching along as their favorite saccharine bubbles of adorableness bounce around in their attempts at, well, whatever the show has its cute girls doing. Trouble is, I actually struggle to see any of our four leads as that particularly brand of cute (Noted though, two of the girls go almost entirely unintroduced so maybe they hit this mark a bit better.) Instead these characters take the comedy so seriously, and lack the more traditional, bubbly moe personas, that I can’t even see the show working as that. Ultimately I think Maesetsu! Opening Act is a hard pass for the Fall. It simply doesn’t work as a comedy, and isn’t filled with nearly enough sugary moe content to be a niche offering for moe lovers.
Maesetsu! Opening Act is available for streaming via Funimation.com