The GLORIO Decade: Marlin’s Top Ten Comedies

The decade makes us look back and see how we’ve changed these last ten years. When we started the GLORIO Blog over seven years ago, I was billed as the “romance guy”. I still keep that in remembrance in the many awards of my Year End Post. Yet, I can’t help but notice how my tastes have changed over the decade. While I still enjoy a good romance show, my real passion is for good comedies, the kind of shows you can only get from the unique strengths of animation and Japanese sensibilities. Thus, for my look back I want to show you what I thought were the ten greatest shows, a veritable who’s who of who can be the most absurd gut-bustingly hilarious experience in anime. Enjoy!

10. Kaguya-sama: Love is War

Manga Adaptation by A-1 Pictures
Director: Mamoru Hatakeyama
Air Date: January 12, 2019 – March 30, 2019 (12 Episodes)

Kaguya-sama may benefit a bit from the recency bias, beating out the ludicrously irreverent Ixion Saga DT for the last spot in, but it’s still a quality show that makes the absolute most out of its ridiculous premise. Most rom-coms run into a problem at some point: how do you realistically expect the audience to believe two people attracted to each other would remain oblivious of this fact for so long? Here, the stubbornness of our main duo make it clear: confessing is less a matter of reticence than one of personal pride. By the end of the first season, one could imagine they both know the other might be interested, but they’ve bought so wholeheartedly into this flirty game that they’re perfectly fine with letting it roll with each ridiculous scenario.

9. Space Dandy

Anime Original by Bones
Director: Shinichiro Watanabe et al.
Air Date: January 4, 2014 – September 27, 2014 (26 Episodes)

Iro argued to me that it’s only right that Space Dandy receive a lower ranking than its overall quality might deserve: It’s not a 100% comedy. Still, I would argue it is only by virtue of a handful of unparalleled episodes amid a few duds that it gets on the list in the first place. Space Dandy is a serial feature, and this works to both its advantage and disadvantage. When he’s landing on planet pushy boyfriend or helping out at space prom, it’s some of the best comedy the anime world’s ever seen, but every once in a while you get a boob monster that sours your overall image of the show. Regardless, it deserves a spot on this list for allowing its directors the freedom to go wild.

8. Sabagebu

Manga Adaptation by Pierrot
Director: Masahiko Ohta
Air Date: July 6, 2014 – September 21, 2014 (12 Episodes)

I would have easily given Sabagebu the crown of best black comedy if a certain dark horse from last year didn’t come out of nowhere to take the spot. Presaging its usurper, the show starts with a standard cute-girls-doing-random-club story, not even being the first one to choose airsoft. Quickly you learn it has no intention to be a regular moe show yet somehow still being about airsoft as skit after skit of terrible people being terrible to each other. By the time our squad is dropped into Australia to fight against Mad Max Grandmas, you knew you were watching something special.

7. Binbougami-ga!

Manga Adaptation by Sunrise
Director: Yoichi Fujita
Air Date: July 4, 2012 – September 26, 2012 (13 Episodes)

Sure, I may be remembering this show as much for its great run as for the slam dunk the unadapted ending of the manga was. Still, the original series was a real treat, bringing out a selfish and hilarious side to Kana Hanazawa that we never knew she had. It’s audacious and irreverant, starting out with thick shades of black comedy, eventually settling on a strong gag comedy formula. As the pair of Ichiko and Momiji get closer and closer, the cast unfolds and presages the manga’s later change from gag comedy manga to gag comedy shounen battle manga… Trust me it works. 

6. Hinamatsuri

Manga Adaptation by Feel
Director: Kei Oikawa
Air Date: April 6, 2018 – June 22, 2018 (12 Episodes)

Jel had to remind me of the critical mistake I was making. Something will always slip through the cracks making a list like this, but I couldn’t do poor precious Anzu dirty by leaving her off this list. Hinamatsuri has a heart of black coal and yet still makes you hopeful about the lives of its characters. In a decade of dad animes, this one might have been the realist in the depiction of what having a child is really like: Not a blissful paradise but a constant reckoning of boundaries and mistakes, that still ends up worth it in the end. With a supporting cast of scoundrels and the innocent children that unwittingly get dragged into lives of crime, it’s a deliciously dark ride. While its abrupt ending and poor reception means this show will probably never get the anime ending it deserves, it can still stand tall from all it managed to accomplish.

5. Asobi Asobase

Manga Adaptation by Lerche
Director: Seiji Kishi
Air Date: July 8, 2018 – September 23, 2018 (12 Episodes)

Where did this come from? Asobi Asobase’s first episode has to be the most well-produced troll in anime history, as we start the show with an OP filled with saccharine sweet character designs lovingly animated and end the episode with the main cast singing a death metal track. With each episode, the show’s black heart gets more and more exposed while also revealing an amazing knack for absurdism. This is the kind of show where you root against everyone and drink in every moment of them getting their comeuppance. Where three terrible personalities vie for who can make the other cry uncle, where the only thing that brings them together is the desire to get rid of incriminating evidence, you get the best black comedy of the decade.

4. Osomatsu-san

Manga Adaptation by Pierrot
Director: Yoichi Fujita
Air Date: October 5, 2015 – March 26, 2018 (50 Episodes)

How do you make a fresh franchise out of a fifty-year old property? How do you make six instantly recognizable personalities out of a set of identical sextuplets? With a smart use of color and craft, Osomatsu-san accomplishes the impossible. With the deft talent of Yoichi Fujita, Pierrot takes this premise and adds a blistering sense of humor that takes advantage of the invented character archetypes and uses them to endlessly lampoon Japanese culture. It doesn’t let itself get bogged down in the real world though, as episodes like Iyami Kart remind you this show’s gag comedy can be equally as hilarious. What may be most impressive is its success: it now stands uncontested as the most successful anime comedy of all time, with a broad appeal that shows there may be more life in the anime world than we realize.

3. Love Lab

Manga Adaptation by Dogakobo
Director: Masahiko Ohta
Air Date: July 5, 2013 – September 27, 2013 (13 Episodes)

What a bolt from the blue. Love Lab is the show that makes you have to at least watch the first episode of every schoolgirl comedy that comes out, nomatter how dumb it looks or side-eye inducing its premise is. With the masterful comedic directing and hyper-fluid animation of Dogakobo in its prime, Love Lab is primarily a physical comedy. It endears you to its screwball main cast, but it shines with each movement Maki makes and each counterpunch Riko returns a spectacle. I remember rewatching this show with a friend and laughing as hard as I ever did. Its effect was so strong on us that Jel still uses Maki’s hug-pillow boyfriend Daki as his chat icon to this day. But Dogakobo wasn’t done quite yet.

2. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun

Manga Adaptation by Dogakobo
Director: Mitsue Yamazaki
Air Date: July 6, 2014 – September 21, 2014 (12 Episodes)

I’m honestly not even sure if I want a second season of this show. The manga is infinitely funny, and I still read it to this day, so there’s no problem of lack of good material. Rather, the slice given in these twelve episodes is the perfect representation of its style and substance, and a modern day Dogakobo, with all the baggage that entails, might not be up to the task of continuing it. Monthly Girl’s Nozaki-kun is what happens when an author is able to craft perfect comedic pairings that also work well when mixed together. Each couple seems to fall into classic stereotypes, and yet they prefer break them with effortless glee, mining them for every joke they can find. And yet, you still want to root for the lovable losers, even though you know that’s not the point. That’s how well they’ve duped you. And so, even at the end of the show, when we get the greatest fake-out of all time, the show treats it as one last opportunity to throw in a joke, this time at your expense.

1. Nichijou

Manga Adaptation by Kyoto Animation
Director: Tatsuya Ishihara
Air Date: April 3, 2011 – September 25 2011 (26 Episodes)

The eternal disagreement will continue to rage in the GLORIO chat for years to come, but for me there is no understanding of comedy without an appreciation of Nichijou. KyoAni brought all the best parts of its directorial flair and detailed animation to a decidedly uncommon looking anime. Pastiche colors and cute schoolgirls belie an absurdist’s dream come true, a world where everything can and will happen, where girls knock out cops to prevent their doujins from being compromised, or sweet vignettes end with a gun hidden in the covers of a book. I recommend it to anyone I can, and it does help that you can recommend it to anyone you want. It’s sentimental but not to a fault, it’s heartwarming without being cloying. Most importantly, it’s wickedly funny and a source of infinite reference, making any situation funnier. It’s by far the funniest show of the decade, heck it might even be the funniest anime of all time. But who knows, maybe the new decade will bring something new to floor me. I’m not terribly optimistic, but if there’s anything I know about anime is that it loves to give me a surprise and leave me rolling on the floor.

4 thoughts on “The GLORIO Decade: Marlin’s Top Ten Comedies

  1. Great list!

    I don’t think it warrants a spot here, but from this past year, I really liked Wasteful Days of High School Girls, which I felt complemented its dark humor with just the right dash of sentimentality. Did you happen to watch it?

    • I think I’m the only one that tried to watch it. I thought the first episode was average at best and didn’t continue with it. Would you say it gets better as it goes on?

  2. I would like to give some honorable mentions to:

    – Tonari no Seki-kun
    – Classicaloid
    – This Art Club Has a Problem

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