Original Name: Asobi Asobase
Season: Summer 2018
In a year where comedy shows gain an unexpected strong showing, somehow a show about 3 cute girls and their pass-timer club emerges as one of the best comedy around. Yep, forget Hinamatsuri, forget Grand Blue, forget Chio-chan, Asobi Asobase delivers some hilarious absurdist laugh-out-loud moments for the ages. It helps that we were in for some trolling even before the series starts. Asobi Asobase is a prime example of a huge disparity between “what the shows is selling us” and “what it is actually about”, and for all the better of it. In all promo arts before its airing, and watching the deceptive OP that introduces the show, one would have assumed they’re about to watch for a comfy CGDCT. The truth is, where are those cute girls in the OP? It consistently displays how nonsensical, degraded our trio are and their situations they find themselves in.
Asobi Asobase’s main source of humor comes from how it introduces the mundane situation, then escalate it and flips the situation over to the most absurd level, usually with the expense of our trio. The jokes often land due to how unpredictable and crass it can get, and it benefits from a bombastic chemistry between the trio, along with the rest of the cast. In fact, in term of “stealing the scene” the supporting cast does a damn fine job with their personality is even bolder than our main girls. We have a shogi captain who goes at great length to teach the trio about “going all out for pass-time games”, we have a senpai who might or might not be a trap (my favorite recurrence gag), we have a girl who is designed like a Japanese classic painting, but she’s a total foil for our Olivia with her great mix of Japanese and English sentences; we have a live-in butler (or whatever role he is) of Hanako whose “special ability” is so bizzare we can’t help but tip our hats for its sheer creativity (it involves shogi as well), and guess what? The best part is that Asobi Asobase is crazy enough to build a proper backstory for his condition that involves alien and touching ass. Yes, Asobi Asobase is that kind of show.
While all the jokes are built in an absurdist manner, Asobi Asobase makes it ten times better with all the crazy reaction shots from the girls. The degraded reactions consistently betray their first cute appearance, making it hilarious in the delivery. Now, to our main three girls. We have Olivia, the non-foreign foreign girl who has a tendency to bend the rules (she’s my favorite character but I ‘d love to see her awfulness more), then we have Kasumi who is the least stand-out, but she possesses many hidden hobbies (chief among them: BL-fanfic story and her afraid towards men – see how contradiction she is) that it becomes a great source of laughter whenever Asobi Asobase delves into it. Finally, the star of the show Hanako (the simplest way to describe her is that she has a few loose screws. Like, seriously) who is basically responsible for all these stupid hijinks, and her rapid mood swing somehow just becomes funnier and funnier as time passes. In addition, not only the voice actress clearly kills it with their performances, I consider the VA of Hanako – Hina Kino a true breakout with her fearless performance that keeps raising the bar to the absurd level. Just listen to the “don’t give a fuck” metal ED to hear her voice screaming. She brings so much energy to this show.
Admittedly, some gags are weaker the others and sometimes it can cross the line between crassly enjoyable and mean-spiritedness (the portrayal of Olivia’s brother nerdiness for example) but that’s the thing because Asobi Asobase is excel at taking us outside of the comfort zone, or to be more precise, the comfort zone that CGDCT genre often doesn’t dare to go. Moreover, while other viewers see this show as “cute girls who is mean to each other”, I don’t really see any mean intent from the girls. While it’s true that most of the times the consequences go out of their hands, it’s also true that they have a blast of a time. And so did we watching and laughing at all the nonsensical hijinks from a show that simply doesn’t give a crap.