Aoi YukiRyotaro OkiayuMitsuki SaigaBin Shimada
Asobi Asobase
Also known as: Asobi Asobase: Workshop Of Fun
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2018
Director: Seiji Kishi
Writer: Yuuko Kakihara
Original creator: Rin Suzukawa
Actor: Akira Sekine, Aoi Yuki, Bin Shimada, Eishin Fudemura, Haruka Chisuga, Hina Kino, Honoka Inoue, Kaito Ishikawa, Konomi Kohara, Mai Kanazawa, Maki Izawa, Megumi Toda, Mitsuki Saiga, Rika Nagae, Ryoko Maekawa, Ryotaro Okiayu, Shu Uchida, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Yasunori Masutani
Keywords: anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=20583
Website category: Anime 2018
Review date: 20 May 2019
AsobiAsobase
The opening title sequence is every kind of warm, soothing, empty set-up for the genre of "cute girls doing cute things". The end title sequence is screaming heavy metal. This show is a comedy bait-and-switch, pretending to be "A" for ninety seconds per episode before it charges into "B".
It's about three middle school girls in the "playing games" club. Hanako is a hyperactive space case, Kasumi is the rational one in glasses and Olivia is the blonde foreign one who's actually not the English-speaker she pretends to be. So far, so normal. You could build a conventional anime around that. What's different here is that all three are horrible little monsters, who think and talk filth while not really having a clue about anything. Hanako will say, suggest and/or do pretty much any insane incomprehensible offensive thing and might turn inhuman if she loses at anything, e.g. bust size, boyfriend chances, test scores or a shoe-hurling competition. In ep.8, she agrees to kill virgins. Kasumi is sort of evil and scary. Olivia self-destructed by pretending to be an English speaker because she was feeling sadistic, but now can't think of a way of getting out of it even though the answer's easy ("tell people").
Realism isn't a concern, by the way. Most of the show is nothing more than slice-of-shitlord-life, but Hanako has a butler who can fire lasers from his rectum and build lifelike talking androids. (The latter is a mistake, by the way.)
It's a show designed to prove that schoolgirls can be as gross, weird and appalling as anyone else. These three "friends" hang out all the time, but are more than willing to push each other under the metaphorical bus at the first sign of trouble. They cheat. They discuss farts, poos, urine, bacteria, brassieres, breasts, body odour (including apocrine sweat glands), voodoo dolls, rectal laser beams, pubic hair, how to look up someone's skirt and whether or not their classmate has a penis. Hanako accidentally burns down a restaurant through idiocy, while one of the girls' games gets the shogi club president hospitalised. (In fairness, that's only because she was as bad as them.)
This is very funny. What makes it twice as good, incidentally, is that our heroines aren't simply gargoyles. They're gargoyles who are also normal schoolgirls, so they'll freak each other out at the things they themselves are doing and saying. They can go hysterically batshit over something as simple as cutting your hair. (The "gargoyle" thing is also being underlined by some of the more extreme art shifts I've seen in a while. It's as if the animators and the scriptwriters are competing to see who can make these people more appalling. This show draws awesome faces... although I was slightly disturbed by the lack of noses even in the show's default art style. In profile, the girls look like skulls.)
That said, though, you might well think this show sometimes goes too far. If you believe in absolute respect for declared gender identity and things like that, then you might object to one or two episodes. My red line was different, though. The broken English-Japanese spoken by Olivia (and to a lesser extent Fujiwara) caused me so much pain that I nearly ditched the show. Fortunately, though, Olivia gets better quickly. She's unspeakable in ep.1, on the mend in ep.2 and then after that is fine, bar a relapse in ep.9 (in which, absurdly, she still hasn't thought of any of the obvious excuses for being bad at English). The episode itself is laughing at her, admittedly. Hanako's jeering made me laugh fit to bust, but Kasumi could piss right off as far as I was concerned.
The supporting cast is also a laugh (and often closer to civilised norms than the main trio). Higuchi-sensei is lovely, but also a timid pushover who resembles a worried hamster. Our heroines eat her alive. (Not literally.) Maeda the laser-equipped butler is always fun. The school council president is serious and unbending at all times and hence is the show's straight man, but her vice-president in ep.11 is the opposite of her to a scary (and funny) degree.
You've got to admire this show's dedication. It's crossing every line it can, in the name of gross-out comedy. Insensitive, vulgar, clueless about their own cluelessness, disgusting and yet also naive... yeah, it's a laugh. Just don't be put off by Olivia's accent in ep.1.