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The Summer 2024 Anime Preview Guide
Mayonaka Punch

How would you rate episode 1 of
Mayonaka Punch ?
Community score: 4.1



What is this?

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Masaki is a member of the NewTuber group "Harakiri Sisters," who gets fired because of a certain incident. Aiming for a comeback, Masaki meets Live. The two girls have different goals, but together, they make a high-tension comeback and aim to reach 1 million subscribers on NewTube.

Mayonaka Punch is an original anime series by "Dōga Tōkō Shōjo" (Video Submission Girls); Shū Honma is directing the series at P.A. Works with scriptwriter Hideaki Shirasaka. The anime series is streaming on Crunchyroll on Mondays.


How was the first episode?

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Richard Eisenbeis
Rating:

When it comes down to it, Mayonaka Punch suffers from a lack of vital information. Masaki is a YouTuber who has had a falling out with her roommates/friends/co-creators. We see that the straw that broke the camel's back was that Masaki punched one of them while they were all doing a livestream, making the whole group look horribly bad. During the subsequent apology stream, we get the supposed reason for her outburst: frustration about the number of views, complaints about their video content, and differences in attitude towards work. The problem is, we're only getting one side of what happened—and it's not Masaki's.

It's clear that Masaki thinks she did nothing wrong—her friends have betrayed her and her audience turned on her. But we never see or hear what she believes happened, like her reason for punching her friend. We don't know if she really was set up or if she is the cause of her problems and is just in denial. Without this context, it's hard to root for her. We just don't know if she's this story's hero or villain.

Now, does this make her unsympathetic? Not entirely. People who have never been dog-piled on by an internet hate mob really have no idea how much it can hurt. While many dismiss the whole situation as “they're just people on the internet, ignore them,” that doesn't change the fact that real people out there are reveling in tearing you down—whether it's justified or not. What's worse is that you can do nothing to stop it—even if you just try to move on, the internet never forgets. And sadly, few people are truly built in such a way that they can take this in stride—especially among young YouTubers who just kind of fell into semi-stardom.

So, do I feel bad for Masaki on this level? Sure. Even if she is the cause of all her problems (and, again, this is unclear), the hateful comments she's getting are doing nothing to help. If anything, they're driving her into an even more unstable mental state (and it's not like getting drunk helps either).

But all that said, I don't feel invested in Masaki's story overall. And that does double for Live's—since apparently, she has no motivation nor personality beyond wanting to suck Masaki's blood. Meanwhile, Ichiko is just comic relief—an immortal vampire who got scammed by financial bro YouTubers. There's not much to connect with there—or anywhere in this episode, really. So in the end, I have no real reason to tune in next week.


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Caitlin Moore
Rating:

With the upcoming election, everyone in the US has been deeply concerned with women's and gay rights. In such a climate, P.A. Works stands up and says, “But what about women's and gay wrongs?” And that's why I support them in their bid for President of the United—

Wait, no, that's not right. P.A. Works is making anime, not running for political office in the US! And thank god, because if they were running for office, they wouldn't have time to make Mayonaka Punch, a delightfully strange, energetic original series about girls who suck, both literally and metaphorically.

P.A. Works as a studio does consistently solid work, but my favorite series from them are when they get weird with it. Kongming from The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is reincarnated in Shibuya and becomes a manager for an EDM singer? Sure, why not! Hyperviolent gangland warfare between Akihabara maid cafes? Fuck me up, P.A. Works, I trust you. So when Mayonaka Punch was announced as an original from the director of Ya Boy Kongming!, I was instantly onboard. The trailers didn't tell me much about the plot, but they promised high energy, vivid colors, and appealing designs.

The first episode has delivered entirely on that promise. Appealing designs? Check! Live is easily the most striking character of the season, with her bright pink hair and black off-the-shoulder top, and Masaki's little hair flowers are deceptively cute. Vivid colors? Check! Live and Masaki's night flight was stunning on top of being a fun play on a played out scene used in pretty much any story where one character has the power of flight and the other doesn't. High energy? Check! I laughed out loud more times watching Mayonaka Punch than any other premiere thus far, just from the sheer confidence of delivery, especially when it was Fairouz Ai.

What I didn't know going in was just how awful Masaki was, and how much I would love that about her. Oh, we've all seen anime about failgirls and trash goblins before. It's why Girlish Number sits on my blu-ray shelf and I'm quoted on the cover of Wave, Listen to Me! But I can't remember the last time I've seen a heroine as abjectly terrible as Masaki. She's violent, narcissistic, and crude. She makes sockpuppet accounts online to make it look like she isn't universally despised. Her entire motivation? Getting a million subscribers on NewTube, the thinly veiled YouTube substitute. She's the summation of everything wrong with Kids These Days, without making it seem like all kids are like that these days.

What can I say? I'm a simple woman. Give me a show with a good sense of humor and a complete trash heap heroine who isn't a sex criminal, and I'm here for it.


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Rebecca Silverman
Rating:

In the age of livestreaming, someone is always watching. That's a major double-edged sword for people who make their living (or find their sense of self-worth) from being a streamer. That's all much too deep for this show, but the conceit remains true, even for Masaki, desperately trying to salvage her streaming career after her two longtime friends boot her from the channel they all started together. All we know is that she punched one of the other ladies during a livestream, but to hear them tell it, this was just the final straw after an increasing pile of bad actions on Masaki's part. Or maybe it was just a stunt to get their channel to go viral again, and if that's the case, it's definitely working…at Masaki's expense.

Again, I'm almost certainly making this sound far more serious than a show about a streamer who joins up with a lesbian vampire who wants to eat her (possibly in more ways than one) to start a new channel is meant to be. The entire episode is presented as a comedy, and it works that way, especially since otherwise this could have felt really mean. Masaki's misfortunes are the focal point of the first half of the episode, with her doom spiraling while reading internet comments, unsuccessfully trying to recruit new partners, and eventually making the questionable decision to try to recapture the sort of video that made Hype-Sis go viral in the first place. It's all grounded pretty solidly in very recognizable behaviors, and since they're clearly meant to be recognizable, there's a nice sort of self-deprecating humor to the whole thing, even as it's exaggerated to make it funnier. It manages to avoid being mean, if only because we know that she's vampire Live (pronounced “leave”)'s literal dream woman.

The vampire angle is what really makes this episode for me. Live's been asleep for twenty years and is beyond excited to discover smartphones, which in turn leads her to Masaki. She's the one of the only characters I can think of whose one-fang design makes sense, and I admit that I loved her cute little pink bat wings. I'm not sure what her live-in companion Ichika's deal is other than that she's not human, but also maybe not a vampire, since she doesn't catch fire in the sun, and she could turn out to be an obnoxious element as the story goes on, because she's bordering on it now. (Though I loved the gag when the thugs shaking her down for payment started worrying about her.) The bright colors also really help to make this eye-catching, and overall the episode is just a lot of fun. It could still get annoying, but even though thirsty vampire lesbian streamers wasn't on my bingo card, I'm willing to see where this goes.


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James Beckett
Rating:

Whether or not you enjoy Mayonaka Punch seem like it will be predicated on your feelings about two key elements of the show's premise: Wacky Lesbian Vampire Shenanigans and Main Characters Who Are Kind of Terrible People. The first factor I imagine will be an easy one for people to figure out. I, for one, am a champion of Wacky Lesbian Vampire Shenanigans in every form of media that I enjoy, so Mayonaka Punch already had me in its good graces when I started watching its premiere. It's that second aspect of the story, the one where our protagonist Masaki is an internet-poisoned clout chaser who has a penchant for violently assaulting her NewTube partners in the middle of live-streams, that I reckon will be thing that turns a lot of viewers away.

In fact, I think the most interesting (and risky) thing that this premiere does is the way that it never really attempts to frame Masaki as particularly sympathetic. There are hints at the dysfunction in the Hype-Sisters channel that may have led to Masaki punching out one of her costars and getting canceled by all of NewTube, but Masaki is never given an out that would make her more likeable to the average person. Her first instinct after nearly getting into another altercation with her former friends is to skip the public apology step and go straight into her solo-career, except she seems to agree with the internet that she cannot possibly be successful without other people to exploit—er, I mean collaborate with. Then, after failing to court anyone but the most obvious trolls and weirdos at her audition for new talent, Masaki goes on to get belligerently drunk and complain even more about how everyone is out to get her and why she is the one who deserves all the success.

On the one hand, I've known people like Masaki in real life, and they are the ones who tend to act like vampires who drain the energy and goodwill out of everyone in their personal orbit. On the other hand, though, this is a kinetic and candy-colored supernatural yuri comedy about how Masaki attracts the attention of a very thirsty vampire named Live, so I am willing to take the show on its own terms and go along for the ride with these two different brands of Hot Mess. That's what I think makes Masaki's particular brand of suck (pun very much intended) work in the context of Mayonaka Punch: It's often very funny, and the strong character designs combine with the very eye-catching animation to produce a cartoon that is simply a pleasure to watch. Masaki's first encounter with Live in the abandoned hospital even manages to capture a legitimately spooky vibe, which anime often struggle to do, and that gives me a lot of confidence that this creative team knows what they are doing.

At the end of the episode, when Live takes Masaki on an impromptu nighttime flight over the city, I found myself thinking, “Aw, okay, sure, these two freaks are probably made for each other.” Is their mutually exploitative relationship founded on their toxic needs for NewTube subscriptions and/or the life force drawn from devouring human blood? Sure, but my wife and I have been watching Interview with the Vampire, so I'm primed to appreciate a destructively codependent homoerotic vampire love affairs. Come to think of it, has anyone written Livestream with the Vampire, yet? Hold on, folks, I think I have to go and make a billion dollars really quick…


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Nicholas Dupree
Rating:

As the world of online fame has come to dominate the imaginations of the youth, it's only natural that we'd get more and more media focused on aspiring video creators on Legally Distinct YouTube. However, something that many of these shows fail to really understand is that success on YouTube almost requires you to have some sort of severe personality problem. Thankfully, Mayonaka Punch understands that very, very well, and assures us that all of its characters supremely suck ass.

That's a compliment, for the record. While likability can certainly help when crafting a comedy, the most important factor is simply that the characters be funny, and this premiere does a bang-up job of making Masaki hilarious, even as she displays a range of toxic, violent, and self-destructive personality traits. While the exact circumstances of her falling out with her old Newtube partners aren't fully revealed, everything she does in response to her “canceling” just makes it worse; from making obvious sock puppet accounts to holding ill-advised open auditions, she's a master of being hoist by her own petard, and the show strikes just the right mix to keep that funny without making her either a total monster or a blameless waif. She gets small moments of contemplation, where it's clear the rebounding toxicity of the internet is getting to her, while constantly diving back into the snake pit because this time she'll get all the angry vipers, for sure!

It's a volatile formula for comedy that could easily feel too mean-spirited or needlessly cruel, but this episode manages to keep things in equilibrium, while spicing things up with more classic anime slapstick and hijinks. Gags like Live being woken from her twenty-year slumber by catching fire in a sunbeam, or Masaki barfing after the pair's flight over the city, are just good old fashioned punch lines that lighten the mood when paired with the more acidic character beats. The lively and playful direction helps meld all of those different jokes together in ways that make both stronger, and completes the whole package.

With those comedy chops established, I'm also just excited to see where the idea of “attention-seeking vampire YouTube channel” can go, especially with the show's frank and flippant perspective towards online fame. Will the girls slaughter and suck dry a cow for a mukbang video? Will they start a prank series where they hit each other with holy water balloons? Will their channel get suspended because they're technically showing dead bodies on screen all the time? It'll take a lot of work to be more crass and absurd than the real internet, but this premiere gives me confidence that Mayonaka Punch can do it.


Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.

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