Hanako, an athletically proficient, yet thick-headed student with a weird fashion sense, plays a game with the American transfer student Olivia. However, their vigor irritated their classmate Kasumi who dislikes playing games since she has always been teased by her sister for being bad at them. With a turn of events, it was found out that Kasumi is terrible at English. Thus, she asked her foreign classmate Olivia to help her, but Olivia, who is only born and raised in Japan with foreign parents, can't actually speak English at all! Watch over these three girls' surreal school-life comedy.
Move over, Grand Blue (despite the MAL score) and Hinamatsuri (Spring 2018's best comedy)!
Asobi Asobase is here to take your place not just as AOTS for Summer 2018's super weak BUT strong comedic presence, but also AOTY for the overall yearly comedy genre, and I have the full experience to tell you why this series is damn underrated, and hidden behind it is pure insane high school gag-comedy...AT ITS BEST AND FINEST!
If there was a rating above 10, I would give this series a multiplier 100/10, because this is more than just some mindless AF comedic masterpiece. It's comedic execution will creep you with its
insane amount of gag comedies, obscene figures, face expressions and all-so-you-desire thoughts straight in your face that make you question much! Oh, and the endless amount of references that got us SO DAMN GOOD and satisfying!
Not every episode is perfect, but I'm willing to forgive the little boring moments it has for the never-ending amount of laughs and tears combined freckle down my face as I wait upon every Sunday night for this series to start my week into, and I was never once disappointed, not one bit.
Oh, what is Asobi Asobase about? Sorry, I'm still laughing and crying at the metajokes it contains...I can't breathe...which series SUCCEEDINGLY sells your soul away in a good way in just 3 minutes, that makes you feel like this is something special?
Asobi Asobase not a story in itself, but rather the characters themselves who form the core of the series with their distinct personalities:
Hanako Honda (CV: Hina Kino, Toji no Miko's Sayaka), she is that kind of friend where she wants to desire fame and recognition and the likes by hanging out around normies, just with many screws loose, and her constant insanity striking out as always. Oh, and her weird fashion sense. Together with her assistant butler Maeda, he is the ultimate of ultimates, always helping her out with his shogi butt-beam, super-weird stuff ensues.
Kasumi Nomura (CV: Konomi Kohara, Tsuki ga Kirei's Akane), she gives off the vibe that feels like the outcasted member of the class, and with her serious but scary punk-ass attitude, along with being a study nerd, she is the least of the 3 girls who would stand out, but damn, she's noticeable once we come into her senses, immediately realize she is not all the others would say: calm and elusive on the outside, but determined to follow-through on the inside. Oh, and her illterate struggle of English and her constant bad luck in games.
Olivia (CV: Rika Nagae, Frame Arms Girl's Baselard), she is the oh-so-typical white girl which makes her look like the natural-born foreign exchange student, until you realize that all that is a trick, a demeanor to surprise you: She CANNOT speak a literate word of English, was born in Japan, but the best part about her is that despite her shortcomings, she tries to blend in with no F's given whatsoever. Oh, and her insane otaku of a brother, that despite his appearances, blue eyes blue in similarity, and he's the culmination of gross, smelling high school girls' scents.
"Praise be to raw middle schoolers." - Olivia's fatso Onii-chan
Oh, and not forgetting the side cast:
- The female teacher responsible for the Pastimers Club,
- The general-purpose teacher who confines along with the 3 girls, like licking lied-pee (but is water) and their game antics (with the insane Sailor Moon and DBZ references),
- The Student Council Prez and vice-prez, who literally has no holds barred,
- The Occult Club, who knows what the 2 girls are doing in there, anything they concoct up is always up to no good.
Honestly, the best part about them is the relatively new Seiyuus that take up the roles of the 3 girls, because they are amazing, showcase their talents well and you can tell that they had absolute fun doing this, especially Hanako's VA with her constant screaming and whatnot. Simply nothing short of fantastic from all the characters here.
Lerche is back at it once again for this series, and "Who ya gonna call"? Seiji Kishi, director for Angel Beats!, Tsuki ga Kirei, Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero, that's who! And wow oh wow, just like the big hitters he has, this sleeper, underrated series truly adds to his marvelous directing talent. And I really hands-down applaud studio Lerche this time because of how much insanity is done to propel this series forward, from the key visual PVs and the actual anime adaptation of the manga, it's like "no time and talents were wasted here, not even the slightest"! In my initial review, I've called out the moe-CGDCT aethestics because of the resemblance, but look how far we have come: Only the watercolour art style followed through with the oh-so-funny facial scenes of the characters.
Another area where I will NOT expect to be turned-on so nicely is the music, particularly the OST, which is the main joker aesthetic.
"Anime is saved (YET again)!" - Pipimi, Pop Team Epic. Why the reference thou? Because every episode starts out with the cute and sweet moe OP, letting you know the characters and how they are like on the surface. THAT IS HEAVEN, expectations run wild. By the time the episode starts, and you've been through the insane absurdity, you're NOT spared yet! The God-tier Pop Team Epic reminiscent ED rocks on you the reality, the harshness of it all with the full metalcore vibe. Now THAT IS HELL! Couldn't have asked for a better OST, and one that has surpassed expectations this season, and tuned in from the beginning to the end, never skipping both the OP and ED gives you the full mindf-ing experience.
Asobi Asobase is a wholesome experience not to be missed, its God-tier levels of trickery will mock you hard and bad if you're not prepared for what lies ahead. I'm really glad that I didn't skimp myself out on this masterpiece of a comedy, how shallow the series is, was never once a complaint when you've been damaged this much. Easily the biggest surprise of Summer 2018, and it will confront you all-out on its full comedic-gag force!
At first, I thought this anime will be your typical girl show with no comedic element whatsover. Why did I expected that? The opening. Openings are always the one that summarizes the plot or the composition of the story of an anime. And I was definetely wrong. I actually asked myself "Am I watching this on YouTube right now?" because I got clickbaited really hard.... and I love it. Comedy anime will always be there this season. It is a rule already on the anime industry that at least 1 comedy show will be a talk on the anime community. One of them this season
is "Asobi Asobase".
The plot is not really chronological as each episode is divided by "content" or "parts". This is no issue for comedy shows for the past years as long as it makes the audience laugh out loud. The plot revolves on three stupid but laughable girls named Honda, Hanako (the unbelievably smartest one in academics but idiotic as hell), Olivia (that girl who looks like she mastered English through genetics but mastered Japanese instead), and Nomura Kasumi (The girl that has glasses... and... the one that has the serious face. sometimes). We watch this girl meet each other with misunderstood expectations, thus making the "Pastimers Club" where they engage each other with games... to pass time... (nice logic)... In the Pastimers Club room, we always see them sitting together, thinking of absurd activities to do from playing in an inflatable pool to playing a penalty-ridden game of sugoroku. Of course on every clubs there are chances other clubs will come by and have some absurdity (well in anime only...i bet) to one another. The Occult Club for example with Oka (the girl with the weird eyes and witch hat) had visited the Pastimers Club for some instance, as well as fights for the club room like the Shogi Club. Not to mention the involvement of supporting characters like the Student Council President, Maeda, Chisato Higuchi (club advisor), Olivia's weeb bro, Tsugumi Aozora and many more becomes part of the story's hilarity and madness with each contributing their characteristics to the story making it funny.
The people/characters of an anime will always contribute to the plot's aim either to make us excited, laugh, thrill or horrify. Asobi Asobase have a wide range of well-done characters, each contributing to the show's aim... which is to be comedic. We have the three main girls of the series. Honda, Hanako, who is the genius as well as the idiot of the group who hates popular girls and such. Oliva, the blonde-hair girl who you think will be part of the cool kids/popular kids group but it turns out she is faking her accent and english and she's just your typical japanese girl. Nomura Kasumi, the only girl in the group that has glasses and probably the most dangerous one as her face gets serious, you are done. But on the other side she writes BL/yaoi novels making this her primary embarassment. These three makes the show very enjoyable. Let us not forget the supporting characters as well. The two teachers, the club advisor and the male teacher have both made some scenes funny. Tsugumi Aozora, whose gender still unknown picked curiosity to the Pastimers and so on some episodes, she was the focus. The Occult Club member Oka having a thrilling and mysterious atmosphere makes the vibe even stronger. Olivia's otaku bro who we thought that will be a handsome looking guy but it turns out it is your typical fat weebo (except his damn eyes were a beauty) and let us not forget Maeda. Maeda the best butler at the service of Honda Hanako that have anal issues.
Ahhh the sound.. The Opening song's soothing, cheerful and playful music "really" introduces us what are we going to expect on the series. Actually, no it doesn't. I love how they made us think that this will just be your typical high-school girl anime because of the opening song but then we stumble to realize how clueless we are as we watch and then we hear the Ending song, instead of having those angel-like voices, it was replaced by demons now and I love it.
When I first look upon the visuals (like when I saw the first episode with the opening), I thought "Oh no.. The art is... not that good i guess?." but as I progress through the episodes, I didn't think of the visuals at all anymore. In fact, the visuals are okay on normal scenes but when the "shock" or "anger" scenes come, we can see how the art changed drastically going higher levels. Not to mention the Opening's heavenly-like visuals was damn false as we go through the episode and then we get a pitch black ED with some line drawings of the three girls. Visuals matches the anime perfectly along with the sound.
Overall thoughts and Enjoyment:
I can't describe how much I enjoyed this series. There is no episode that wil make me giggle or make me laugh so hard. Overall, this anime is highly recommended for those who love the comedy genre like I do. And this is the type of anime that when you have a bad day, you can watch this and just laugh your heart out.
If I told you Summer 2018 was lacking in comedy shows, then that statement itself would sound like a joke. There were several ones including an anime that dealt with gender bender idols, a show that made every journey to school look like a misadventure, and even one with a demon girl dealing violent dropkicks. It wasn’t easy to stand out as much when it comes to comedy. Yet somehow, some way, we have Asobi Asobase that came along like a God-sent gift.
Diving myself into this series felt like entering a world of absolute absurdity. Asobi Asobase is like a deconstruction of the ‘cute girls
doing cute things’ at its finest. And I say this as someone who really enjoy slice of life anime. There’s no complex storytelling and a show like Asobi Asobase knew what it was doing from the very start.
Right off the bat, we are introduced to the trio of main cast – Hanako Honda, Olivia, and Kasumi Nomura. They make up the heart and soul of this show as every episode deals with their daily live adventures. Together, they are the Pastimers Club. As the most energetic girl of the group, Hanako often gets her classmates into playing games at school. These games often ends up being formulated with outrageous rules and ideas. Her classmate Olivia pretends to be an American with broken Japanese in order to fit with the crowd. Finally, Kasumi is the studious girl in the show with a dislike of playing games. With such an oddball cast, you’d wonder how this show can connect with the audience. Well, stop. Don’t think hard about this show because if you do, then there won’t be enjoyment coming from it. Asobi Asobase’s key to selling itself is the absurd humor. Nothing will probably ever make sense in the end and it doesn’t need to be. The games that these girls participate in often have high stakes too such as the loser being having to lick armpits. While this sets up for anticipating who the victor or loser will be, the sheer thrill of getting to the outcome always end up in an outrageously humorous manner.
The main trio does indeed carry most of the show but some of the supporting cast also gets their own moments of fame. Characters like Chisato Higuchi makes a fool of herself despite being a teacher. Oka adds her own taste to occult games to bring out this show’s black comedy. Characters like Tsugumi Azora become a source of feminine jokes because of her appearance. On the contrary, the show also loves to make fun of masculinity with characters like Takayanagi. If you don’t believe me, just look at her face and tell me if she is manly or not. We even have a butler in the show by the name of Maeda who would do anything for Hanako. As you may guess, it leads to hilarious moments like when he shoots beams from his butt. There’s actually more on that list but the general idea is that Asobi Asobase doesn’t care about whether it makes sense or not. It cares about being entertaining.
By the time you read up to here, the general consensus is probably just accept this for what it is or not. It’s an easy decision as the show isn’t hiding its intentions from the moment the girls appeared on screen. I’m not going to lie though, there are definitely some episodes that stands out more than others. However, each episode contains multiple segments where at least one stands out more than the rest. In some cases, you may end up liking them all equally or hate them altogether. There’s also so many jokes in this show that ranges from many categories to the point where you may think everything may be a parody. Believe it or not, it’s more about making its viewers laugh rather than looking for attention.
What also did catch my attention is the character expressions. Watching Asobi Asobase is like the show literally challenging you to laugh at how characters react. The way characters show their expressions is often exaggerated at very chance it gets. It never takes a step back to showcase how mean the characters can be. Add to their hyperactive personalities and you get absurd humor. As such, praise should definitely be given to studio Lerche for drawing that out. The artwork is also mostly soft with palette coloring. Yet, it’s never hard to take eyes off the Pastimer Club as they stand out above all else that’s going on in every scene. Character designs in the show is delicate with the main cast as teenage girls. Others such as Oka and Takayanagi stand out with their own unique appearances.
Quite frankly, character voicing in the show should also be given exception praise. Every dialogue in the show coming from the main characters sounds like a shtick. It’s almost if the characters are part of a stage performance. The theme songs are also performed by the main characters where every lyric can easily catch your attention. As gimmicky as everything sounds, I have no shadow of a doubt that the show knew what it was doing all along.
Asobi Asobase takes the risk of bringing comedy to levels of being near incomprehensible. It’s much more about “cute girls doing cute things” to what you’re used to. However, be aware. This is definitely not an anime for everyone. If this style of anime selling is not your cup of tea, then definitely turn your head and walk away. But if you’re here to stay, then it’s a showstopper that gives absurdity a new meaning.
(This is Not Your Normal Cute Girls Doing Cute Things [CGDCT])
Before, I begin this review, I just want to state that ‘Asobi Asobase–Workshop of Fun’ is one of the best comedies of Summer 2018 and anybody looking for an outrageous, wacky, and absurd comedy should consider watching this series.
Looking at the promo art, or its thumbnail, one would assume that this series is your typical CGDCT. And, you would be correct, for the opening song only, and then episode one begins and we, immediately, watch Hanako getting slapped in the face by Olivia. That is definitely not CGDCT material, far from it;
so, in other words, the promo art and opening song were a goddamn bait-and-switch. And it worked. What transpires is an outrageous and absurd comedy with a cast of characters that make exaggerated facial expressions, and perform ridiculous and hilarious antics. And what a ride it will be.
There is “no story” per se, but rather a collection of shorts, roughly three to four, crammed into each episode. However, many tiny details about our main characters, e.g., Olivia having terrible B.O., Kasumi being awful in English Literature, and Hanako being really smart in school yet acts like a dumbass, and what they have done, e.g., the rock-paper-scissors game, the shoe launching battle, and determining if Aozora has a penis or not, are referenced and revisited in later episodes.
The real purpose of these shorts is to demonstrate the dynamic chemistry between our three main characters. This is illustrated by their quick-paced and sharp timing of jokes, their ridiculous and hilarious antics, and finally, their inventive ways to set-up a joke and deliver a perfect punchline. There are, of course, many offensive and cruel jokes, such as homophobia, sexual harassment, and some xenophobia, but that’s to be expected in a comedy series such as this.
Other notable things about this series: throughout the series, many pop culture references could be heard or seen, such as Detective Conan, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Pokemon Go, Dragon Ball Z, et cetera. And finally, some episodes will contain next-episode previews that are violently performed with hand puppets.
While, the animations and character designs are adequate and nothing to write home about, its art style, on the other hand, is amazing. The series usual boasts light pastel colors with detailed background designs, mirroring typical CGDCT series. Other times, it will feature dark colors with shadowy eyes and distorted faces set to a bleak background, mirroring typical horror series.
But, even better than its art style are the numerous facial expressions that the characters exhibit. In the opening song and in some scenes, the girls will appear cute and innocent, but that doesn’t last long. These girls will make the most exaggerated and distorted facial expressions I’ve ever seen, expressing a wide range of emotions not typically seen in a CGDCT series, such as grimace, distress, shock, anger, disgust, boredom, smugness, and surprise. There were also many moments where the character’s facial expressions alone made me laugh for a good solid minute, and any series that is able to make me do that gets an ‘A+’ in my book.
The sound design is one of ‘Asobi Asobase–Workshop of Fun’s’ greatest strengths. From its excellent voice acting to its ironic background music moments to its misleading opening song and its stark contrasting heavy metal ending song, everything fits together and has a purpose.
The opening song is your typical J-Pop that features soft and calming vocals from our voice actresses with pianos and drums to accompany it, while the visuals depicts our main characters as heartfelt, gracious, and pure while wearing white clothing, set to a flowery background. This is intentional and is trying to lure us, the viewers, into believing that this series is your typical CGDCT series.
And upon finishing any episode, the viewers are treated to a heavy metal ending song that features high pitched hollering and cries, unpleasant lyrics, and lots of fast-paced drumming and guitar strumming, while the chalky visuals depict our main characters looking angry and yelling. This reflects what the series is really about – a bunch of girls acting not so cute and not doing cute things.
And finally, our voice actresses, whose careers are just starting, are doing an amazing and excellent job at bring our main characters to life. Hanako’s voice actress, Hina Kino, desires a special mention, as her performances, i.e., able to change voices/tones, yell, scream, shriek, etc, all within the same episode, has been astonishing from the very beginning of episode 1.
The main focus of this series revolves around our three main characters: Hanako Honda, Kasumi Nomura, and Olivia. They each possess unique and fascinating personalities that work seamlessly together; in fact, without these three main characters we would not have this series in the first place.
- Hanako Honda, voiced by Hina Kino, is a hyperactive and hardworking girl, who excels in sports and in her studies. However, she lack common sense, often having ridiculous thoughts and suggesting crazy antics, and is jealous of the normies and popular kids. She is also rich and has a butler named Maeda.
- Kasumi Nomura, voiced by Konomi Kohara, is a girl who appears to be quiet and studious, but is actually struggling in English. She is completely obsessed with trying to learn English that it becomes somewhat creepy and disturbing. She also likes to write BL fiction.
- Olivia, voiced by Rika Nagae, is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl who appears to be non-Japanese and knows English, but is actually terrible in it and is really born in Japan; In fact, she can hardly speak a word of English. She also has a massive B.O. problem, which is a running joke in the series.
More impressively is how these characters break the stereotypical/trope model of many previous anime series, and exaggerates them for greater comedy effect. It should also be noted that all three of our main characters can be mean-spirited and cruel in their own ways, and is expressed on their faces, still they manage to even that mean-spiritedness with some kindhearted gestures.
There are, of course, many secondary characters, such as the Student Council President, Chisato Higuchi, and Maeda, that play a crucial role in furthering the comedy in this series. And they, themselves, have a unique and interesting personality, instead of being a one-or two dimensional character.
Most people know that comedy and humor are subjective; some people may laugh at the jokes and skits, and others may not even crack a smile. In this case, I laughed and smiled a lot. I laughed at even the most offensive and downright cruel jokes. I enjoyed the characters with their exaggerated facial expressions and their mean-spirited yet warm personalities. I enjoyed watching their ridiculous and hilarious antics. And finally, I enjoyed listening to Hanako’s voice actress yelling and screaming like a madman, and the Babymetal-esque ending song is just perfect for this series. Overall, a very funny and enjoyable series.