First Look: Asobi Asobase – workshop of fun –

Manga Adaptation by Lerche
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Kasumi is failing English so she turns to Olivia, an American classmate, for help. Somehow this leads to a series of escalating misunderstandings and challenges that end with the two girls and another classmate forming a club about traditional Japanese games.

Jel’s verdict: The Good Kind of Ugly

Don’t let the pretty promo art fool you: Asobi Asobase is a loud and crass “girls behaving badly” comedy that makes little attempt to be cute or coy. The three main girls are bratty and selfish and constantly trying to get a leg up on each other. Most importantly, they put out a steady stream of ugly, extreme reaction shots and troll faces that I look forward to flooding my twitter timeline for the next few weeks.

I’m all for comedies about terrible people doing terrible things, so no complaints there. My main issue is in the presentation. The soft, pastel art style does not match the content. In theory that could be an interesting subversion of the typical sweet slice of life show you’d see that style used on, but the technical execution isn’t good enough to make it work. The big reaction faces and other dynamic moments feel flat and muted as they try to blend in with the rest of the show. It’s the kind of thing that might not sound that important reading about it, but if you watch the show you immediately understand.

I’m also concerned that maybe Asobi Asobase is too low stakes to be truly great over time. To use GLORIO cult favorite Sabagebu as the gold standard for horrible people doing horrible things anime comedy, that show had its ridiculous gun battles to keep things weird and interesting. I’m not sure where this show is going to get that from. That all said, this first episode was pretty entertaining and I’m willing to give it a chance.

Extra screenshot as an example of the weird mix of wacky anime faces and the soft art style:

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