I would like to say first and foremost - fuck this show. Don't watch it. Its mean spirited, morally empty and without a message.
You know anthology shows like The Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents usually give a scenario where you are waiting for a character to "get theirs" or to see where a single mistake can lead you. The setups and endings are different - you could be following a character you want to see succeed or one you want to see fail, and the supernatural aspects they sometimes encounter vary wildly and the shows make good use of plot twists to throw you off the trail.
The issue with The Laughing Salesman is that it does none of that. Let me explain to you every single episode - every single story, of which there are two in each episode - of The Laughing Salesman.
All people in this world - young and old, male and female - are lonely at heart. My name is Moguro, they call me the Laughing Salesman but I'm no ordinary salesman I deal in peoples hearts, oh no I don't need a single yen the best thing is to see the face of a satisfied customer
Introducing our Japanese worker bee who will be ruined for no reason, ****-san
Something goes wrong
Moguro appears and does his shtick then gives them a device that solves the issue, warning them that if they misuse it or use it to much there will be consequences. Or sometimes he causes the issue himself?
Heres where you might see some variation! The customer either misuses it or is led into scenarios where they have to use it.
PUNISHMENT TIME DOOOOOOOOM
Uneven punishments that usually don't fit the scale of the crime or have an ironic Sisyphean nature to them
And thats it. The issue is that the show never bothers to stray from these tight confines. It is usually not a fulfilling show to watch either, as good people - some who Moguro purposefully creates a situation for them to be trapped into so he can punish them for misusing something he gave them to solve the problem he made - get punished through no fault of their own and for no moral reason. There are stories where the person is pretty shitty and gets whats coming, but I can't think of a single one where they would have ended up at that point without Moguro.
So is the issue that its far too depressing, bleak, pessimistic and fatalistic? Yeah a little bit. But I think the issue is more along the lines of the show just being not very good. Aside from the strong visual direction (aside from flashing to pictures of Hell all the time. Stop doing that its the opposite of clever.) I wouldn't classify this as a good show. It has plenty of things about it that seem interesting and I spent the majority of the season trying to decide if it had some deep commentary on Japanese society, fate or Bystander Syndrome locked in there but I really don't think so - its just a mean spirited show with no human soul. This is in no small part due to the series mascot - the ever smiling, fat and mysterious Laughing Salesman, Moguro. Moguro isn't a human, angel, demon or god. He's not anything. He's just a force, I guess. No story in this happens without his direct intervention, and he seems to have reality bending powers that require the viewer to just roll with it. Want a natural story about a fall from grace? Well fuck off because Moguro's only method of tricking people is to design most of the failure from the ground up. These people aren't bad, even the ones with bad tendencies or those who abuse the power because Moguro is always the one behind it all. Nothing happens without Moguro. Since he is essentially the narrator, I would say he is similar to the Cryptkeeper but with more direct impact on the story. But since none of these stories would happen without Moguro its like...whats the point here? Trying to make a statement about fatalism? Why have the direct hand of Moguro unnaturally steer people in the wrong direction then? Free will? None of these outcomes would have come together without Moguro setting them into a situation which causes the things to happen, and one of these people choose this. Moguro just leads them there, by force or foul play if necessary. If someone denies his requests he will just steal their purse or some shit and runaway until they listen and are connived into a scenario of shit. Its just...ugh. Have a message. The message is never "misuse of power is wrong" or "this is the morally wrong thing to do" its "Haha here is Salaryman Takamoto-san, drink this water that makes you feel better about your shitty life. But don't drink too much or else you'll be punished, probably in a way that doesn't reflect the theme of the episode at all BECAUSE WE HAVE NO THEME."
You know whats scarier then the Devil? The fact that there is no Devil, and humans don't need the help of any evil creature to be evil themselves.
I spit on this show.