Asobi Asobase -workshop of fun-
Episode 12

by Rose Bridges,

How would you rate episode 12 of
Asobi Asobase -workshop of fun- ?

Asobi Asobase finishes off its one-cour run with an episode that plays to the show's strengths. It's not the best episode, which tend to take more risks and feature more different characters. It's just a solid fun romp, with a lot to remind me why I'm going to be missing this zany school comedy next season.

The first segment starts in one place and then quickly goes somewhere completely unexpected: "Daniel," which focuses on the girls taking care of a baby by that name. Their teacher brings him in her friend's infant son, and he takes a weird liking to the Pastimers Club—who are also happy to have a baby to coo over. Especially Hanako, whose trademark over-the-top weirdness takes a starring turn this week (as it does in most of this show's best episodes). She's really excited by the baby's smell of "mother's milk and pee" for some reason. But then it becomes clear over time that the baby is actually a creepy old man in the body of an infant, complete with creepy old man voice whenever he's taking too much pleasure in squeezing Kasumi's boobs or has a snarky comment about Olivia's B.O. This culminates in Hanako's hair getting stuck in the fan that was set out for the baby, and while they're all convinced it was an innocent—if horrifying—mistake, of course this evil baby actually meant to do it. As his mom is shocked over how much he likes these girls, since he never likes people other than her, we hear in his creepy man voice (between babyish gurgles) that he considers the Pastimers Club to be his fun new toy.

The second installment was my favorite, leaning into the show's core of "typical teenage girl foibles, made ridiculous." The premise of girls learning about bras and sizing through one character's frustration with her small breasts could also be found on Please Tell Me Galko-chan, although executed in a completely different manner. Here it's another chance for a truly epic Hanako freak-out. Before that though, Asobi Asobase has some surprisingly solid advice for measuring one's bra size. Supposedly as many as 80% of women wear the wrong bra size, so Kasumi explaining sizing logic to the other characters is actually pretty helpful. I also appreciated the crack that for how much big breasts are envied, the actual bra options for girls on Kasumi's end of the spectrum are pretty limited, which is the kind of specific humor I'd only seen expressed well in viral Tumblr posts. Of course, the real point of this segment is Hanako's meltdown when she finds out that she was wearing a size too big. She thinks the "boob goods" have smitten her by actually making her one cup size smaller. For a show full of immortal lines, "I think I've angered the boob gods. I'm sorry, please don't take any more boob away from me" ranks among its best.

The last two installments go back to the "pastimes" in the show's title, falling into two of Asobi Asobase's trademarks: "Fairy Tale Battle Royale" has the secret involvement of other schoolmates from past episodes, unbeknownst to the Pastimers Club. They try out a "Fairy Tale Hell" app game from Olivia's country that recently released in Japanese. It's basically the 2000s YouTube flash animation "Happy Tree Friends" in video game form, and Olivia forgets to tell Hanako and Kasumi that it's about bloodily murdering their cute animal characters before they are already "traumatized." Once they get a DM from their opponents taunting them though, the girls quickly get over it and get riled up enough to of course lose embarrassingly again. Liittle do they know their intrepid enemies is the club they embarrassed in earlier episodes, now reduced to tapping away on their phones in revenge.

"Paper War" is another classic Asobi Asobase setup. It's somehow both completely realistic to how this game would go with real middle-schoolers (the weird escalation reminded me of the game-breaking rules we'd add to rock-papers-scissors at that age), and also totally absurd in a way only this show could pull off. The best example is Maeda's creepy little head-parasite men, who I appreciated having a cameo in this episode's ED animation.

Despite its cartoonishness, Asobi Asobase was more realistic to the middle-school-girl experience than any other anime I've seen. It recognizes that girls this age are just as gross, weird, and mean to each other as their male peers, while still maintaining a strange kind of affection for their antics. At the same time, Asobi Asobase is also completely bananas like no other anime out there. Its willingness to launch every joke out into the stratosphere gives it a uniquely stupid sense of humor. It certainly stood out among this summer's offerings as one of anime's sharpest school comedies. I'll miss you, Asobi Asobase: laser butts, evil kewpie dolls, boob crises and all.

Rating: B+

Asobi Asobase -workshop of fun- is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Rose is a Ph.D. student in musicology, who recently released a book about the music of Cowboy Bebop. You can also follow her on Twitter.

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