Reviewby Carl Kimlinger, Aug 6th 2014
Comic Artist and His Assistants
Episodes 1-12 Streaming
Yuuki Aito is a manga artist. He's also a pile of various perversions. He works with a team of assistants, all of whom, through some strange and inexplicable twist of fate, are beautiful women. Together with his editor—by total coincidence his lovely childhood friend—they get into various compromising situations together.
A dead comedy is a sad thing. Any kind of show with any kind of promise that dies is sad. But comedies are especially so. They're like euthanized kittens. They should be gamboling around, full of life and energy, bringing joy to all. Instead they just lay there, inert and kind of unpleasant. The Comic Artist and His Assistants is one of the dead ones: a lifeless, joyless exercise in lowest-common-denominator harem hijinks, starring a wet lump of unwholesome urges masquerading as a manga artist. You wouldn't take the dead kitty over it, but you might consider it for a moment.
The hash that Comic Artist makes of itself is sad because, prior to opening its vulgar, vapid mouth, the show had potential. The premise isn't bad. There are interesting places to take a show about a manga artist and his support crew. Behind-the-scenes dirt about the workings of the industry for example. Or a look at the creative process, at how experiences and acquaintances shape an artist's work. There are relationships that can be explored: between artist and employee; between artist and employer; between editors and assistants, friends and family. The end result could be a dry workplace comedy, or a knowing spoof of the comic industry. It could poke fun at the influence of commercial needs on comic-writing, or ask seriously where monetary concerns end and artistic ones begin.
The decision wouldn't have been so disastrous if between them the show's creators had half of a working sense of humor, but they don't. At best it's a fraction of that. The series' idea of hilarity is flat-chest jokes and boob squeezing, porn-stash snafus and panty-purchasing runs. Creator Hiroyuki and his TV adaptors don't have the imagination to escalate a perverted misunderstanding into something authentically outlandish. Too often they end their vignettes with a dully predictable pratfall (usually involving tsundere editor Mihari clocking Aito) or a has-been comic twist. Director Takeshi Furuta displays no real feel for the delivery or execution of sight gags, serving them up with the grace of a greasy-spoon waitress plopping down a burger. The cast is too blandly entrenched in their chosen character types—violent tsundere, loli dominatrix-wannabe, all-accepting mothering girl—to swing character humor. (This is particularly ironic as the show itself points out that the appeal of fan-service is dependent on the appeal of the character and yet somehow forgets to apply the same lesson to its jokes.)
The funniest the show gets is when it tries to be serious, and then it's a distinctly uncharitable kind of funny—essentially us laughing at the cast as they try futilely to achieve a state of minor pathos. This applies only to the show's non-romantic stabs at pathos however. The romantic interludes have no mean-spirited silver lining. They're just bad. Not even so-bad-its-fun bad, but just plain, ordinary, boring, why-am-I-watching-this bad. Mostly they involve Mihari, whose flavorless flashbacks to her and Aito's high-school days account for some of the show's most anesthetizing stretches.
Of course, boring characters and boring jokes do not a disaster make. The job of turning Comic Artist into a total wreck, into the kind of show that leaves you feeling soiled and distinctly glad to be out of its clutches...that job is left up to the show's sexual politics. Aito's treatment of his co-workers is definition sexual-harassment. Within minutes of the start he convinces Ashisu to grope herself in front of him (for “research”). He constantly comments on Mihari's tiny boobs (and how he thinks they're great). He shows the women his porn, lectures them freely on his various fetishes.
And all this while in a position of power over most of them. It's a very queasy-making situation (even if the show or the characters don't seem to realize it), all the more so because the most explicitly sexual situations are reserved for the most explicitly helpless character. That would be assistant Sena, who is not only young (looking?), but is specifically presented as physically powerless. When they meet Aito force-cuddles her, knowing full well she can't resist. When Sena punishes him for that, he turns the beating sexual, which reasserts his dominance. In a later vignette he Svengalis her into peeing into a plastic bottle...and letting him help. Their scenes together get their "humor" from tearing down her pride, stripping her of strength and power. She's proud and aggressive and female and thus must be brought down. That alone would tank the series. The fact that the show laughs everything off—just a harmless bit of ecchi fun!—only makes whole enterprise that much ickier.
There's nothing particularly memorable or impressive about Furuta and ZEXCS's presentation of the series. Characters are generically anime-ish. Animation is generically cheap-ish. Settings are plain generic. You will never look at sunset, or a cute girl, or a thrown punch and say "wow, I'd like to see that again." You will remember no particular composition, no especially well-assembled scene. Unless, that is, you are remembering something you'd rather not. Like Sena's futile flailing in Aito's grasp, or Ashisu's look of stoic perseverance as she kneads her breasts for Aito. If you had to stretch for nice things to say about the show's look, then Ashisu's layered clothing (very stylish) would be one, and there is something inherently amusing about the way Aito's butt wiggles when he's embarrassed or repentant. The attention to physiology in some of the fan-service is also pretty nice. But all told, the show looks exactly like what it is: a third-tier comedy thrown out by animators who have no affection or respect for it.
It sounds like that too. The show uses its overtly humorous score too obviously, too unimaginatively for it to do the jokes much good. It gets particularly trying when attempting to regulate tempo by cranking up the volume and speed. Objectively speaking the compositions are okay, but in use they can be markedly annoying.
If, after reading this, you still want to see a comedy about a mangaka and his assistants, watch Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun. It's basically the template for the wish-list in paragraph two. It's the kitten, alive and well, sowing joy. Leave this sad sack of comedic failure and go play with the kitten. Have fun. You won't get it here.
Overall (sub) : D
Story : D
Animation : C
Art : C+
Music : C
+ Some of the fan-service is decent; every once in a great while you may catch yourself smiling.
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