About a week or so ago, I finally decided to try out this ‘Crunchyroll’ Website that I keep seeing adverts for. If you want to know why I put it off for so long, it was because I was under the impression that I needed to pay to use the site – whilst that is technically true, it is only for premium members that want early access to new episodes or the vast amounts of manga they have reserved for premium users. Oh, and it also disables adverts and gives you the option of watching in HD and some other features.
Anyway, not having been prominent in the anime scene for a while, I found myself being rather confused by a vast majority of the shows presented to me. Whilst I know of Naruto Shippuden, Bleach and other such popular shows, most of Crunchyroll’s content was rather alien to me. However, there was one show that, based on the title alone, I figured I’d be able to get into.
The Comic Artist and His Assistants is, in a nutshell, exactly what it says on the tin – a glimpse into the daily life of Manga-Ka Yuki Aito (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka) and his interactions with his assistant Sahoto Ashisu (Saori Hayame) and editor Mihari Otosuna (Arisa Noto). As time goes by, two other assistants join Aito in his work in the form of bubbly fangirl Rinna Fuwa (Yuka Iguchi) and ‘super Assistant’ Sena Kuroi (Rie Kugimiya). Each ten minute episode focuses around a series of incidents, often focusing on Aito getting into awkward situations with his assistants.
Over the 12 episodes of the series run, there is no set story beyond the backdrop of Aito working on his Manga - Hajiratte Cafe Latte – and attempting to meet his monthly deadlines. Unfortunately, Aito has a habit of getting easily distracted and his work gets slowed to a halt whilst he goofs around, usually doing something perverted.
The first thing you will begin to notice about the show is that the characters are usually expressed with a singular personality trait rising to the foreground. For Aito this is his perverted personality and love of panties. This is taken so far in the extreme that Aito not only collects panties, but his entire manga is centred on panty shots. Panties are his passion, and woe upon anyone that has to bear witness to this.
That is not to say Aito is a bad person, he’s simply the result of a mad obsession. In the brief moments where his perverted side is not in control, Aito is a decent human being that honestly cares about people and manga. Unfortunately, this is a rare side indeed, but it is noted that he would never cause any of his assistants harm, and never attempts to take advantage of his all-female staff.
The rest of the characters fare similarly. Ashisu is presented as a tolerant but stern woman, Mihari responds to violence when embarrassed, Fuwa is adorable and bouncy (in many ways) and Kuroi is arrogant and quick to anger. You may find these personality traits similar. If so, then you’ve worked out that the foundation is the same as any Harem anime. Just without the romance or sex and a tendency to mock itself.
That last part is the greatest assist of the show. Aito is an extension of the usual Harem anime protagonist, and a mockery of it. His perversion is constantly mocked and is presented as abnormal, with characters repeatedly informing him that life is not like an anime or game, providing him with constant reality checks. It’s actually a rather welcoming sight. Aito’s perversion is something that stops him from ever getting close to forming an actual human relationship beyond his work relationships.
As the episodes go by (more specifically, about half way through the series), the show begins to go into detailing out the two most interesting characters –Ashisu and Mihari. We see how they met Aito and how they came to work with him, as well as flesh out the characters relationship with the artist. The episode dealing with Mihari and Aito’s original working relationship is probably the best in the series (even if it does cause a continuity error). Unfortunately, Rinna and Sena don’t get as much development. I don’t even think Rinna got anything beyond her initial personality.
The show is principally comedy, with only the occasional episode being more serious or romantic (the MIhari/ Aito working relationship being one of the few). The shows humour initially is focused more on mocking certain aspects of manga and anime culture, whether by pointing out that the relationships are much different to reality, or in regards to the idea of cute mascot characters. One short segment focuses on a rather amusing discussion on which type of panty shot is the best – full exposure, a brief glimpse or none at all.
The show also has a large amount of humour based on awkward circumstance and the sheer oddity of Aito as he attempts to interact with people. These sequences have a tendency to fall into the more tried and tested Harem anime jokes, but the show usually pulls them off decently, although nothing particularly new is accomplished. It is these moment s where the show feels at its least imaginative, with the audience knowing exactly what the punchline will be.
As I mentioned before back in the personality section, the female characters are all drawn off of a basic template. Each girl represents a specific fetish or ‘type’, with Mihari being a flat-chested business woman with short hair, Sena looking like a child and being a sadist and Rena being a well-endowed woman that strips into a bunny girl outfit. Ashisu represents the idea of a normal woman in this situation, although later episodes paint her as being domineering and sadistic. Occasional side characters also fit into this, such as the chief editor looking like a very young girl with a fascination with Ashisu’s breasts.
That last sentence was a little creepy. Unfortunately, there are several other instances where the show leans into questionable material, such as a lengthy sequence of a drunk Sena being naked. I will remind you that she looks (and can act) like a child. It’s a very awkward sequence from the point of view of an audience, although the show (and Wikipedia) assure us that the character is 19. Doesn’t stop it from being creepy.
I will praise the show on the fact that it manages to make each character visually distinct in every area, something that some anime seem to struggle with. The animation itself is decent enough, though there is rarely anything exceptionally taxing or challenging visually. I will note that the opening sequence doesn’t particularly make much sense in context with the content of the show.
As a whole, there is nothing exceptionally wrong with the show, but at the same time, there isn’t much which is noteworthy. When the show mocks anime and manga traditions and systems, it becomes more than its parts. However, it will almost immediately fall back into traditional Harem routine. Perhaps the greatest praise I can give the show is that it never results in romance, making it an exception to the genre. Since the show is only short, it makes for something amusing to watch, though it is, at the end of the day, nothing particularly great.
At the time of writing, the series only has a Japanese dub with English subs. Also, Ashisu is refereed to by her last name rather than her first as that's how shes refereed to in the show.