Anime Unscripted is one of the mainstays of Anime Boston. The event, which is headed by AnimeCons.com‘s Patrick Delahanty and Chibi Project regular Jekka Cormier, is the con’s own version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, with Patrick and Jekka playing the host, and four guests taking the roles of the improv stars. This year, Brina Palencia, Chris Ayres, J Michael Tatum, and Sean Schemmel took the center stage and ran through the event’s main segments. The four displayed an impressive improv chops, as they tackled the events thrown at them. The event was filled with crass humor and stupid jokes, but it was undeniably fun. While it was difficult to determine an outright “best” segment, the strongest were unedeniably the Dating Game, The Balcony, and Newscasters.
The Dating Game, which is a parody of the game show of the same name, kicked off the show and quickly spiraled to levels of insanity. Palencia served as the “lucky bachelorette” as she questioned each of the eligible bachelors. This year, the roles of the potential suitors were filled as follows:
- Sean Schemmel: Charlie Sheen
- J. Michael Tatum: Stuck in his One Piece Role (Lord Eneru)
- Chris Ayres: Homeless Man Looking For a Job
Sean Schemmel played his given role of an over-the-top Charlie Sheen figure to a T, as he busted out insults and wisecracks at a mile a minute. Both Ayres’s presentation as a homeless person looking for work, and J. Michael Tatum’s schtick as a man stuck in his One Piece role served were both amusing, but seemed to be more present as roles for Schemmel to play off of through the sketch. Tatum’s role as Lord Eneru was particularly fun to watch, and seemed to relish belting out one-liners like “I would fill [my enemy] with lightning!” Ayres seemed to have fun with his role, though his performance didn’t stand out as much as the other two members.
Newscasters, which placed Schemmel in the role of the straight-man anchorperson. The other three members were placed into the following roles:
- Brina Palencia: Co-anchor; Puritan that believes a cast member is a witch
- J. Michael Tatum: Sports; Auditioning for Dancing with the Stars
- Chris Ayres: Weather; Fighting off a zombie invasion
Palencia stole the event, as she continued to belt out superstitious rants and accusations. Her blaming of violence in the Middle East on “magical witch powers” and telling viewers to adopt puppies or they’d be sacrificed were brilliantly timed, and prompted a surprisingly pointed portrayal from Schemmel. The two worked wonderfully together, as jabs were fired between them, and Schemmel portrayed an excellent straight man going into a nervous breakdown. Ayres provided fun backup, as his panicked portrayal grew increasingly dark, and included lines like “it’s gonna be raining blood!”, and the ever-relevant “this is my BOOMSTICK!” In comparison, Tatum’s more low-key act seemed to be a bit of a disappointment in comparison, as he drifted and danced (literally) through his schtick.
The final major highlight, The Balcony, placed Palencia and Ayres in the roles of two movie critics, who tell the style ans plot of a nonexistent popular flick. Tatum and Schemmel were tasked with the duty of bringing this false film to life, as the panel progressed. What began as a musical murder mystery, moved to being a tragic masculine romance, littered with duets. Of course, this wasn’t all: the “film” was apparently a remake of a Swedish original, which was also acted out by Tatum and Schemmel.
Not every sketch was a hit, though. In particular, the “Professor Know It All” segment, in which Palencia, Ayres, and Tatum played the role of a “three-headed professor”, fell flat on many of the jokes, and a number of comedic moments just felt wasted. The questions had tons of potential for humorous outcomes, but it just seems like the three didn’t capitalize on them. The superheroes event had a similar problem, in the sense that a lot of comedic potential was squandered with fairly lame jokes that felt forced.
Aside from a few “non-starters” in the lineup, this year’s Anime Unscripted was another roaring success. Hopefully, the event can be refined further for next year’s event, and the events that didn’t work this year can be reworked, or trimmed for a more consistent experience.