The Comic Artist & His Assistants (Cert 15)
2 Discs (Distributor: Animatsu Entertainment) Running time: 167 minutes approx.
For once the title of this comedy series tells you pretty much all you need to know about its subject matter with no ambiguity or metaphor. I say “pretty much” however because there is one rather salient point about the comic artist which has been omitted as the opening segment of the first episode explicitly demonstrates.
The artist in question is Yuki Aito whose story Hajiratte Cafe Latte (HajiCafe for short) is being serialised in Shonen Gongon magazine. He is very skilled at his artwork and he just wants to be loved and bring happiness to the people around him. Aito is also a colossal pervert with a panty fetish.
HajiCafe’s lead character is a girl called Moemi who is either flashing her underwear or looking at others which is why it is dropping in the weekly ratings. Aito gets too distracted to meet his deadlines which is why he has been assigned assistants who are all female, as are the editorial team from Gongon.
Congratulations if you have already figured out where this series is going because you are almost certainly correct. In the aforementioned opening scene, Aito wonders how to draw an accidental boob grab but having zero experience with girls (quelle surprise) Aito brazenly begs his long suffering but tolerant assistant Sahoto Ashisu if he can practice on her.
Starting as it means to go on, The Comic Artist & His Assistants is twelve 13 minute episodes (and 6 shorter OVAs in the extras) of your basic harem comedy based around the usual smutty misunderstandings, horny male wish fulfilment and feisty females who take one step forward and three steps back for feminism, with the occasional insight into the inner workings of the manga industry.
While this show will never be mistaken for the enlightening, in depth and frankly superior series also exploring the rise of a mangaka Bakuman, it does somehow manage to entertain in a guilty pleasure sort of way. To be fair much of the humour is derived from the reactions and rejections of the female cast members, all of whom represent the usual tropes albeit with the odd quirky twist, while Aito himself is either living every man’s dream or is a totem of everything wrong with is chaps.
Providing the shameless fan service (which shockingly involves no nudity whatsoever) and male bashing violence alongside Sahoto, are ditzy newbie assistant Rinna Fuwa, a busty babe who is a big fan of Aito’s but can’t draw to save her life yet this isn’t a problem because she is cute (so says the actual script); editor Mihari Otosuna, Aito’s childhood friend and long time crush; Sena Kuori, a highly skilled but temperamental artist in her own right and resident lolicon; and Matome Minano, Gongon’s Editor-In-Chief who looks about 7 years-old.
Between them they cover all the familiar ground of the harem comedy genre from experiencing an awkward moment alone with Aito, to having body complex issues due to the variance in bust sizes, enjoying a genuine moment of seriousness as the deadline looms near and of course slapping the holy hell out of their perverted male colleague. Oh and there is also a cat called Mewbra, who Aito adopts as his mascot but is revealed to be an excellent artist!
Most of the material is typically bawdy and prurient as you may expect but it keeps within the boundaries of acceptable for the most part. The only times it ever gets a bit too close for comfort is when Sena is trapped in a lift with Aito and needs to the toilet, with the only solution being the empty water bottle Aito has; and scenes involving Sahoto’s thirteen year-old sister Sahono which are too creepy for words and rather inappropriate to boot.
The biggest problem this show has gong against it is trying to divine whether it is supposed to be a satire or not. Because Aito is so obsessed with panties, and to a lesser extent boobs, there is a lingering though at the back of our minds that maybe he was designed to mock manga creators who specialise in fan service. Throw in the fact his love life is non-existent and the oblivious way in which he openly discusses the virtues of the female undergarment with the ladies, one is almost convinced of its sardonic merit.
However, created by the single monikered Hiroyuki, this started life as a four-panel comic strip – explaining the multi arc mini-episode format – aimed at teenage boys so the juvenile approach to the subject matter is hardly a surprise. Equally since it gives teens all they could wish for in excess, the subtleties of this being a caustic commentary on prurient manga would be lost on such easily corruptible minds.
So the joke is therefore on whom? I suppose this is left open to interpretation or perhaps I am over thinking what is essentially meant to be fan service heaven for panty lovers of the anime fandom. If so, one cannot argue that this show delivers in spades which will prove to be the divisive selling point – how much enjoyment or mileage one gets out of this series will be down purely to the tolerance towards the incessant panty references both visual and verbal.
Despite its base mentality and questionable content the animation and artwork is surprisingly good for a show of this nature, bucking the trend of short episode series being equally minimal in their production values. Another unexpected treat is how time is also given to explore the backgrounds of Sahoto and Mihari to provide a rare moment of depth amidst the ribald craziness.
Recommending a title like The Comic Artist & His Assistants isn’t so easy as explained above, making this harmless fun for some while tiresome smut for others. The most flattering compliment I can pay this show is that it could have been worse.
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animations
Episode 12 Closing Karaoke Version
Rating – ** ½
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