Forget your FLCL sequels and your Pop Team Epics; if you want an anime that is part slice of life and part Whiskey Tango Foxtrot levels of surrealism and vulgarity, you should watch Asobi Asobase. The anime has started its run since August and has yet to let up since.
And it all begins with the most innocuous anime OP.
What’s it about? The series centers on the hyperactive Hanako, Japanese mix student Olivia, and female otaku Kasumi, second-year students and only three members of the Pastimers Club, a not-officially-recognized group at an all-girl middle school. The club has very ambiguous goals, usually consisting of whatever so-called “pastimes” the girls happen to think up.
These pastimes include a hardcore version of Rock Paper Scissors…
…a numbers game where the loser has to smell their opponent’s armpits….
…and building a robot that teaches them the wrong kind of English.
To say that Asobi Asobase is a messed-up show is putting it mildly. The kicker of this “family friendly gem” is that it takes the trappings of an innocent school girls and slice of life series and then puts in a ton of mean-spirited twists and turns.
With 2018’s sensibilities and PC-ness, I’m happy that a show like this displays its insanity streak and surreal humour. It also tries its damnest in crafting the ugliest facial expressions for the show’s heroines whenever they land the punchline or pull off one of their dumb tricks.
The premise is simple enough, with some side characters that brighten up the trio’s lives. We have the meek teacher Chisato who somehow gets blackmailed into being an advisor for the Pastime Club, the Student Council President who looks shy and quiet but has a stern disposition, and the androgynous Tsugumi Aozora whom the club is going to great lengths to determine if she’s a he.
Yeap, it’s all wacky, mean-spirited, and absurdly amusing humour right there all fleshed out in spades. The crazy thing is that Asobi Asobase builds it up instead of relying on the random jokes-a-minute stylings from shows like Pop Team Epic.
Most gags and setups are structured in a way that it escalates and its punchline/message hits you when you least expect it. The sex education segment -where the girls are discussing where babies come from to how skittish the teachers are in handling the situation- is a perfect example of the show’s well-crafted structure.
We’re not sure how many episodes are left for this series, but I do hope the team behind Asobi Asobase still maintain their current winning streak. Honestly, I haven’t been impressed with a slice-of-life series since Azumanga Daioh.
Carry on with your shenanigans, little girls. And please deliver more screencap-worthy gems like this one: