Nothing to Fear from the Truth
Scene from: Prison School
Jankenpopp: Not since Atticus Finch has anyone mounted a more passionate plea for mercy before the eyes of the law. When Hachimitsu Private Academy’s first five male students stand accused of violating the terms of their imprisonment, their fate rests upon their answer to a bizarre question: ass or breasts? Beneath the steel gaze of the headmaster, Kiyoshi mounts a stunning defense of the human ass, drawing on science, history, and philosophy to justify the perversion for the posterior. And he succeeds marvelously; in the headmaster’s own words: "Nobody who is an ass man can be all bad." If you weren’t rooting for the boys up to this point, you’ll change your tune in a heartbeat.
HoyvinGlavin64: I haven’t watched Prison School. Something about the style of the show is weirdly terrifying, though I see how that terror can contribute to the humor!
Jankenpopp: The animation is detailed to the point of grotesquerie, which is part of the charm.
Littoface: If only all life’s dilemmas were resolved this way. Also it was ridiculously hard to focus on the words when all I could do was stare at the big guy’s tiny face.
Kami_nomi: That kind of question to male students in a 99% female school makes me think of the oddball questions you get in job interviews－it’s all about how you answer said question that makes all the difference. When I watched Prison School, though, I’m pretty sure I had a smirk on my face before laughing at how Kiyoshi explained it.
Melodius: I didn’t watch Prison School for...possibly obvious reasons. But the way he arrived at and delivered the answer was A+.
HoyvinGlavin64: Don’t do drugs, kids!
Watanabe’s later pure comedy anime Space☆Dandy would be my pick for funniest anime ever, but it’s harder to pick out individual scenes from it (unless the whole second act of the zombie episode counts as a "scene").
Littoface: Bad mushrooms? Those look like the good kind of mushrooms to me. (I mean yes, don’t do drugs.)
Kami_nomi: I just want to know why the hell is Edward not affected by the mushrooms? And those mushrooms better be sold discreetly… (I’m kidding!)
Melodius: I’m actually really confused by this… None of them seem to have eaten any mushrooms even though they all got high. I might be missing some context.
HoyvinGlavin64: They did eat the mushrooms. The video’s somewhat compressed; definitely recommend watching the episode (and all of Bebop)!
Jankenpopp: I couldn’t help but be reminded of Space Dandy when I watched this clip. It’s much wackier than Bebop, of course, but the sheer insanity on display in the plant episode seems like a logical inversion of the mushroom trip, where we’re largely outside observers.
Hori Gets Taken for a Ride
Melodius: Kashima’s antics usually, if not always, have one raising an eyebrow－especially when it comes to Hori. As the prince of the school and a member of the drama club, it’s a given that she’s theatrical. Perhaps a little too theatrical…
Here, watch Kashima decide that if you can’t become their prince, become their steed.
HoyvinGlavin64: I saw most of Nozaki-kun in my college anime club but I don’t particularly remember this episode.
Littoface: I… have no idea what just happened.
Jankenpopp: Some scenes ask questions. Some scenes answer questions. This one just raises questions.
Kami_nomi: I watched this whole series, and question whether this scene happened. Clearly I think funnier scenes occurred (every time Nozaki-kun interacts with his editor who hates him)
The Simple Pleasures In Life
Littoface: I’m a sucker for excellent storytelling and deep characters, but when it comes to laughing out loud it’s the simplest, silliest scenes that hit the spot. Osaka has the best moments: the kind you can watch over and over and just giggle every time.
HoyvinGlavin64: Osaka is the best (though Sakaki’s adventures with biting cats and Chiyo’s "father" are also great).
Littoface: To be fair, Chiyo’s Dad is also in part thanks to Osaka. (Also I honestly didn’t know Osaka's name until I did this entry. It was mentioned maybe once in the series?)
Jankenpopp: I’ve never really understood high school slice-of-life. Antics don’t really make me laugh, but I’ve got a really idiotic sense of humor anyway. On a different but related subject, my friend deceived me into watching the last episode of Azumanga Daioh first.
Littoface: That’s just mean! And I never got into slice of life either, but Azumanga is one of the first anime I watched, and I’ve watched it two more times through since while introducing others to it. <3
Kami_nomi: Jankenpopp, I hope your friend has at least apologized for doing such a terrible thing to you.
On an unrelated note, I really need to watch this anime as a whole instead of parts here and there, clearly.
Melodius: I suppose eating all the sweets from that flour tray would stop all the other teams competing, haha.
When Character Popularity Polls Take Its Toll
Kami_nomi: Actually choosing the funniest scene in most anime is pretty tough; attempting to choose the funniest scene in Gintama is practically impossible. But I knew for sure a Gintama scene was going to be included in this list, and...it’s actually the opening to the anime. It’s not a normal OP though: this is what happens when your popularity is determined by callous Shonen Jump readers－you have characters angry about their rankings, and they’ll do whatever it takes to be #1...which apparently includes killing the author, and then forcing Sunrise to use what little budget that was taken from them to make the worst opening animation you’ll ever see in anime without question. Needless to say, you now know why the PTA complains about this series.
Melodius: You’ve got to appreciate a series that will go to such lengths to make fun of itself.
Jankenpopp: I love fourth-wall humor like this, I really do. "One + One = Ed" from Ed, Edd n Eddy is still one of my favorite episodes of any cartoon. I just find it a daunting prospect to get into something as massive and as dependent on knowledge of Japanese culture (pop and otherwise) as Gintama.
Kami_nomi: I’ll just add that I didn’t have that much knowledge of Japanese culture, aside from big stuff like Gundam and Dragon Ball Z, Jankenpopp. But I read a preview chapter of Gintama from an old print edition of U.S Shonen Jump, and I was crying by the end. I don’t think it’s like a Joshiraku or Nekogami Yaoyorozu where they you might need some JP culture knowledge, but if you know enough anime, it’ll be ok. Well, maybe. But I thought it was worth just jumping in from preview; I have yet to be disappointed since.
HoyvinGlavin64: I haven’t been able to take the deep dive into Gintama, but I have been loving Mr. Osomatsu, which is from one of the directors of Gintama and I’ve heard described as Gintama for people scared by Gintama’s episode count.”
Littoface: Without context that’s just ridiculous. With context... It’s even more ridiculous. I honestly never heard about Gintama until now and now I’m wondering if I’m missing out.
Jankenpopp: Everyone laughs at different things, but I can’t bring myself to watch Gintama. My housemate keeps trying to tell me it’s the funniest thing in the world, but “if you don’t care about character introductions, skip the first fifty episodes” is a bad way to recommend a show. Also, I’ve always found it annoying that five of our top ten shows on MAL are various incarnations of Gintama. Or were, until Erased came along.
HoyvinGlavin64: Clearly we have all made terrible decisions. How can we make a list of funny anime without Erased? From an objective standpoint, it deserves to rank up there with the likes of Grave of the Fireflies and the Shou Tucker episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist as the most comedically genius anime of all time. … OK, I don’t think I can drag this joke on much longer. (I know, sarcasm: very original!)
Melodius: Humour is very individual. A lot of the scenes above would probably be funnier to those who are familiar with the respective series than to someone looking at them for the first time (like me, apparently).
Littoface: What a mixed bag we have here. From the ridiculous to the silly, I definitely prefer the subtler humor of Cowboy Bebop to the more in-your-face brand. Context is really a must for most of these scenes, though.
Kami_nomi: There are definitely anime out there that are pretty funny that could’ve been on this list (Nichibros, Fumoffu), but the choices made here are a mix of new and old, and all pretty much do their jobs on making people laugh. A lot.
About the Writers
Jankenpopp: My first experience debating anime was at age seven, when I told my parents "DBZ isn’t that violent because the fighting is really fast." Nowadays I’m into anything plot-heavy and depressing, although I love a good fight show. Gratuitousness welcome. When I’m not watching anime I write and edit for other sites. When I’m not doing that I work at the Container Store. When I’m not doing that I dabble in distance walking and cosplay.
HoyvinGlavin64: I’ve been a fan of anime since Spirited Away blew my mind 14 years ago. I’ve written film and anime criticism for various websites and graduated from the Bard College film program last spring, where I somehow convinced Neil Gaiman to act in my senior project, “The Making of a Superhero Musical.” This month at Anime Boston I’ll be running a panel on anime directors.
melodius: A media enthusiast based in Australia. I’ve been an anime fan since late high school and that love hasn’t abated over the years. My favourite genres of anime are the psychological thriller and slapstick comedy, but I enjoy anything with a good plot or characterisation.
Littoface: I’m a fan of obscure anime you’ve probably never heard of. I write freelance on websites like MAL (when my crazy hyper 3-year old lets me). I wear many hats in life, but none fit particularly well.
Kami_nomi: I began life as an anti-social genius, but somehow this extended to starting an anime and manga blog. After literally relying on TV to watch most anime, once I got my own laptop and started a blog, I took the media that I liked more seriously, and do what I can to support it.