I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m a sucker for short-form comedies.
Shows like Miss Critical Moment, Tonari no Seki-kun, and Galaxy Angel deliver a bite-sized dose of goofiness that’s perfect for setting the mood for a night of binge-watching, or even as a quick way to scratch the anime itch. It should come as little surprise, then, that I’d dive into at least one new miniature comedy this season. The Comic Artist and Assistants, which is based on Hiroyuki’s manga of the same name, looks to deliver the funny, even if it does take the seedy route more often than not.
The Comic Artist and Assistants is a slice-of-life comedy, that revolves around manga artist Aito Yuuki. And, like any manga artist, his life revolves mostly around drawing the latest chapter of his comic to appease his editor, and (hopefully) get paid. Aito’s a bit of a recluse, though. He’s never gone out on a date, and any meaningful contact he’s had with a woman is limited to websites and certain types of publications. This presents a bit of a problem: Aito writes an erotically tinged romance story. So, as one would expect, there’s a fair bit of groping, fondling, and panty flashing that gets inked in his pages. As a manga artist, his access to other people, let alone women, is limited at best.
Fortunately for Aito, though, he has a wonderful assistant. Ashisu Sahoto is a devoted young lady who’s willing to do what it takes to help create the best damn product possible. Whether it’s inking pages or serving as a human grope-model, Ashisu is there to perform her duties. Will it be enough to keep the editor happy when the deadline rolls around, though?
Much like Azumanga Daioh or Lucky Star, The Comic Artist and Assistants presents itself as a series of short skits that build and execute a single gag or joke. At this point, there doesn’t seem to be a major over-arching plot and that’s quite alright. The comedic timing is impeccable, with each sketch running just long enough to get its point across without getting old.
The show’s humor is helped by a cast that’s already showing itself to be quite charismatic. Over the course of a fifteen-minute installment, the three core players were able to establish their motivations, backgrounds, and base character traits. Enough is given to intrigue the viewer, though there is definite room for growth across the series.
At this point, Aito is proudly entrenched in his role as a socially inept pervert. He’s the type who will feel up the store mannequins at Victoria’s Secret, or openly agonize about the ethics of a panty shot versus a full-on panty reveal. His total lack of a filter in social situations inspires others to recoil in horror or, at the very least, offer strange looks and disapproving glares. Ashisu is the suffering assistant, who’s willing to do what it takes for her career… to an extent. Miharu, on the other hand, is possibly the most interesting of the lot. She’s a suffering editor whose dreams are deferred because she has to put up with a perverted jackass of a client. The chemistry between the three is fantastic, as both Ashisa and Miharu play the role of the straight man to Aito’s utterly warped views on reality.
The show is presented in a colorful, attractive visual style that stays firmly rooted in reality. The character designs for the female characters are attractive, while not going as far as to overtly sexualize the characters themselves. Aito, on the other hand, is presented as a generally nondescript and forgettable character, whose outbursts tend to project a negative, even repulsive image. When he despairs, Aito starts crying, complete with the waterfall tears and flowing snot trails. When he’s wistful, Aito will suddenly transport himself to a magical world of nostalgia, as his face bears a disturbing grin and a thousand-yard stare. Reactions to these outbursts are often presented with characters reduced to monotone, leaving just hints of color to truly convey their disturbed reactions.
While it’s still the beginning of the season, The Comic Artist and Assistants is showing real potential to become a must-see. The show’s sense of humor is wonderful, as it combines fantastic timing with visual gags and jokes that are genuinely funny. The visual style is clean and attractive, with attractive character designs and a fantastic use of color.
There are concerns, of course. Going forward, one can only hope that the series doesn’t fall back on the easy joke time and time again, or that the current character dynamics will be disrupted by some forced and clumsy attempts at relationship-building. As it stands at the moment, though, The Comic Artist and Assistants is a delightful, if not unsettling, comedy that’s well worth a look.