Anime original by Studio Gokumi
Mafuyu and three other college students want to be successful manzai comedians, so they go to a high school and… mime a band performance? They spend the rest of the episode thinking it’d be nice to be comedians.
Euri’s verdict: Airbland
This is an anime about manzai comedy created with the involvement of entertainment juggernaut Yoshimoto Kogyo, the company responsible for countless comedians including those found in Gaki no Tsukai, one of my all-time favourite Japanese shows. If you’re making an anime about Japanese comedy and wanted to pull in a real-life agency, Yoshimoto Kogyo would be at the top of your list.
Alas, this first episode sucked. After a brief scene to give our protagonist Mafuyu an interest in manzai, the episode begins with the main four girls on-stage at high school, pretending to play instruments. This isn’t even a comedy thing as they’re just covering for some unknown students, but we’ve got a crowd of high school kids losing their shit over what is later established to be four girls they don’t even know. This “airband” segment, which is how the girls refer to it later, is brought up on more occasions than manzai is during the episode.
All four of the girls have graduated high school. This shouldn’t be a notable point – if you’re going to have a show about manzai groups trying to make a name for themselves, you’d have a hard time making that work if they had school to deal with – but I mention this because you’d never tell just by looking at the characters. If you told me they were middle schoolers, I’d have literally no reason to doubt you. We even get introduced to Mafuyu’s younger sister, who currently attends high school, and I assumed they were twins until I was told otherwise.
But what of the comedy? Early in the episode, Mafuyu performs a skit where she pretends to be Konata Iizumi from Lucky Star doing the voice of Shin-chan, doing the voice of a train station’s platform-doors announcement. It’s deliberately not funny as it’s used later in the episode as a kind of comedy barometer, but this damn skit is both brought up and performed numerous times. I’d lost hope pretty early on for any good gags, but by the end of it I was just hoping this one wouldn’t come back up again. Besides a couple of quips that don’t break the language barrier too well, there’s really nothing to see here.
Also, while Konata being mentioned in a gag feels like an odd pull, it turns out that creator of Lucky Star Kagami Yoshimizu is involved in this show’s production. Given her lack of dialogue in this episode, the jury is still out on whether the green-haired twin-tailed character is another self insert.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this show for me was the sheer number of cameos being teased. You may well figure that the characters shown at the end of the late-opening were real comedians, given the jarring difference in art style between them and the main characters, but slapped in there were BANBANBAN, Spike, Keiko Matsuura and Tee-Up. Curiously, manzai unit Freak! happen to be the older duo at the restaurant the girls work at, despite their comedian status not being mentioned yet.
With dull characters, whack art and zero hook to keep you around for episode two, Maesetsu is a hard sell. A few days ago, I mentioned this (then upcoming) show’s existence to some friends, and commented that with it seemingly being another ‘cute girls do cute things’ anime, the worst it could be is boring. Boring it was, and as someone who has seen enough Japanese comedy over the years that I can appreciate those cameos, I can’t help but find myself pretty disappointed too.