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This Week in Anime
Is My Senpai is Annoying Worth Watching?

by Nicholas Dupree & Jean-Karlo Lemus,

Don't take this romantic comedy at face value, the primary couple is far from "annoying." Nick and Jean-Karlo check out this series starring one short office lady, her burly coworkers, and Kazama, who had too much Monster this morning.

This series is streaming on Funimation

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.
Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

@Lossthief @mouse_inhouse @NickyEnchilada @vestenet

Jean-Karlo, it's important here at TWIA to remember what came before, and properly respect the past. Micchy may no longer be part of this column, but in their honor it's our responsibility to fill this entire column with short jokes. And I mean FILL it. No punchline is too petty or small, because none of them could ever be as miniscule as this teeny tiny office gremlin.
Man, technology is amazing. They make phones bigger than the gremlins these days!
This is not a picture. This is literally her trapped inside a phone. She can't get out. Help her.
"If you die in the phone, you die for real!" Okay, maybe that's enough dunking on the short person, I feel like there's a sizeable anime fanbase under 5'...
Don't worry we'll get to dunking on them too. It'll be very easy because none of them are Muggsy Bogues. Plus none of them have mountain-sized workplace crushes to help defend the rim.
Long-time readers might know that comedy anime is my Waterloo, but I'm happy to say that this week's assignment was a lot of fun. This is My Senpai Is Annoying, and it's really not what I expected.
I call it false advertising, honestly. This senpai is nowhere near as annoying as advertised. He is large, loud, and filled with meat, but I can't say he's particularly irritating .

Plus he understands the proper way to greet the smol people of the world.
That's the issue right from the get go! From the title, I'd expected something like a gender-swapped Uzaki-chan Wants To Hang Out or Don't Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro: horrible, unfunny people being terrible to each other for 24 episodes in a bizarro twist on the definition of the word "humor." We're supposed to walk away thinking these people like each other because they bought the other person a Kit-Kat. The How I Met Your Mother school of humor writ large, only in anime now. We didn't get that, and I'm so happy for it. Like, most of the teasing Futaba gets is in the first episode, and it's mostly based around her coworker Harumi up there tousling her hair. That's about it. And, like, sure: I have personal space issues, and I know that people with smaller figures have a hard time not being infantilized over it. It can really give you a massive complex. But yeah, that senpai is less "annoying" and more a giant Teddy Ruxpin with no volume control.
That's pretty much the whole setup for this thing. No complicated setup or wacky turn of events. Just a tiny woman trying to survive in a world twice her size and tsundere-ly crushing on the XXXL slab of beef who's taken her under his wing at work. Throw in some secondary couples for seasoning and you have a recipe for 22 minutes of goofy faces and office hijinks. Also Igarashi getting absolutely bodied every couple of episodes.

Behold: a level beyond friendzoned.
Fitting that I've been with this column for one year as of last week, because I can trot out this reference from my very first column: as seen in YamiBou, offspring-zoning!
We'll get back to THAT subtext later. But honestly I think I like this show the most when it's not playing up its size gimmick. I do and will continue to make short jokes, but I actually sympathize with Futaba's desire to be taken seriously as an adult, partly because I think the show is at its funniest when it's not constantly referencing her vertical challenges.
As it happens, the show doesn't need to rely on its gimmick to be funny because the chemistry, writing, characters, set-up and follow-through are all there. Who would have thought actual writing would make a comedy series fun, even when it's being binge-watched?
It helps this is being helmed by Doga Kobo, who butter their bread with comedic character animation. Like literally – sometimes these characters just become smears and it's delightful.

TFW you're so embarrassed your physical being dissolves into streaks of light and motion.
We should at least do the thing proper. So, Futaba there is a 23-year-old who has recently taken up a job as a saleswoman for a supply firm. She's only been working with them for a fairly short while, hence why she's teamed up with Harumi. Futaba is already very short, needing a stool to reach five feet and looking for all the world like an actual child (the predilection for stuffed animals doesn't help). She is positively liliputian compared to Harumi, a bear of a man who lives loud, talks loud, and probably leaves bowel movements bigger than Futaba. Futaba just wants to do a good job and earn the acknowledgement of her peers so people don't think she's a child. Harumi likes to gently rib her for being so tiny, but otherwise is an all-around supporting coworker and friend.

Like, as much as he might tousle her hair, Harumi takes the time to match his gait so he doesn't leave Futaba in the dust. He's not dumb enough to be a "himbo", but he is beefy and a judo practitioner, which I guess makes him a "Decent Man".
Their supporting cast includes Sakurai, their coworker who is polite, busty, and really needs to talk to HR about all the sexual harassment she has to keep politely avoiding.
Meanwhile, Sakurai only seems to have eyes for Kazama; he's a nice cherry boy, and while Sakurai is all but setting herself up on a platter for him, he doesn't quite seem to catch on that she likes him.
He is not a bright lad, let's just say.

There's also some non-office related characters, like Futaba's friend Natsumi, who's mostly here to watch her friend squirm.
I like Natsumi. She's another surprising dark-skinned character, a trend I hope continues in anime, and she's just plain cool: an athlete who also loves games and is killing the yellow-eyes-and-nail-polish look.
She's also surprisingly supportive, even if she has the smuggest shit-eating grin every time Futaba insists she totally isn't into Harumi, b-baka.

Which hey, I totally get it. If I had an ostensibly adult friend who kept pulling this high school shit I would also never let her live it down.
Futaba just walks right into it, and it doesn't help that Harumi just... wants to help her. When she messes up an order early in the series, Harumi barely gives her enough time to beat herself up: he stops her, and helps guide her energy in a more productive way to make up for her mistakes.
He's a good dude! And the best parts of this show are when we just get to follow them throughout the day, growing closer and bonding over work or hobbies. The worst parts of the show are the 20-odd minutes Futaba spends obsessed with her chest size in episode 2.
Even Harumi doesn't seem to care much on that front. He's a decent enough guy to bring Futaba some emergency supplies when she's bedridden with a cold.
See this is how you know it's a fantasy. The only time I've ever seen somebody from work visit a sick coworker was when a manager literally drove by an employee's house to make sure they weren't lying when they called in.
Meanwhile, you have Futaba returning the favor and nursing Harumi when he gets bedridden in return.
And silently begging him not to tell people how she lives.
Futaba, I have VTuber posters, a Blåhaj, and no walking space. You're fine, sweetie.
Meanwhile Harumi's rocking that bachelor IKEA life. Who needs a TV stand when you can get a metal storage rack from Target for 15 bucks?

And also a beanbag chair that looks none too happy about having to support this uncomfortably large man and his large man ass.
At least he has a bedframe, a mattress, and bedsheets. That puts Harumi a few levels above your average single guy.
Futaba of course don't notice. She's too busy thinking of incredibly suggestive visual innuendos.

First off, sweetheart, that's not how baseball works. Second, if this were anatomically accurate he'd be throwing a bowling ball and you would be this hamster:
Oh God, think what their kids would be like. It'll be like a Corgi giving birth to a Saint Bernard.
Leeeeet's leave that imagery to the doujin artists to hammer out. See we can make those jokes because everyone here's an adult so it doesn't feel nearly as creepy. Though it leads to some dissonance when the cast get caught up in high school shenanigans anyway. Maybe it's a cultural thing but I cannot imagine 20-somethings working a 9-5 giving this much of a crap about Valentine's Day.
Well, Hijikata up there is a loser. Like, such a loser. So he would be obsessed with how much candy he gets from people who would rather he just disappear.
Sure, but it's something basically everyone in the office gets caught up in, and it's weird because as a working adult I cannot imagine giving a shit about this. I have to think about rent, and taxes, and car payments. When am I gonna have the time or mental energy to worry about chocolate I didn't buy 70% off after Halloween?
The Valentine's episode does have more Beverly Hills 90210-tier writing when Kazama sees Sakurai with her little brother and assumes they're dating. Sakurai, honey, sometimes guys (like me) need your intentions written in black and white...
You cannot expect somebody to think clearly when their blood's been replaced with Monster, okay?
...Oh God, Sakurai has a "mommy"-thing, that explains everything in this relationship...
I mean if we want to get into weird parental subtext let's talk about how Futaba's basically crushing on a younger version of her own grandfather. As episode 6 makes explicit.
Futaba's grandpa is cool. He's old, he's built like a side of beef, he rides motorcycles, and he couldn't love Futaba more if she were his actual daughter and not his granddaughter. Unfortunately, he's "bad sitcom"-levels of protective over Futaba, so he's convinced that Harumi is up to no good around Futaba and also bull-headed enough to compete with the guy—to a complete standstill.
Also his only means of connecting with The Youth is to watch Makoto Shinkai films and buddy, that is not the picture of any kind of healthy romance lemme tell ya.
He's a grandpa, he should know how the birds and the bees work. See, first you give the Valentine's Chocolate, then you raise your relationship values to 5, then you give them a blue feather...

Shout-out to this cute moment where they wipe out the prizes at a batting cage, and make sure to let the actual kid take their prizes. If you have to have a testosterone-fueled pissing match, at least let the kids get away without being collateral damage.

This is what Positive Masculinity looks like. But yeah, overall it's a cute episode but it sure is weird to think about how Futaba's basically dating a slightly buffer version of her main parental figure. They even compete over who gets to headpat her.
The episode does have a cute ending, though; Futaba's grandpa manages to see that Harumi is a good guy, and even though they aren't formally dating they're all basically one big happy family. A family can be two dad-coded beefcakes and their vertically-challenged granddaughter/coworker.
Just hits a weird vibe for me. This is also the episode where they find out they share the same birthday, and I started wondering if this is set up for some real Koi Kaze shit, y'know?
Between Gramps and Harumi, or...?
Just saying, what if this turns out to be a Twins situation and Harumi just absorbed all the largeness in the womb? Crazier things have happened in anime.
Something, something "Les Enfants Terribles"
That potential plot twist aside though, this is a pretty cozy comedy. It still leans into some lazy jokes from time to time, but at its best it's a pretty cute little bit of fluff. Just like its protagonist!
Like I said before, the nature of comedies makes binge-watching them very hard. My Senpai is Annoying didn't really suffer from that. It's a cute anime about a cute couple and it avoids most of the bad-romantic-comedy pitfalls. It's heartwarming, rather cozy, and I surprisingly liked it a lot.

I feel like this is something of a decent also-ran for those anime romantic comedies that skew a little older, like Recovery of an MMO Junkie or Wotakoi. Futaba is only 23, but her growing relationship with Harumi feels natural and mostly free of over-the-top shenanigans. It's just... cute. And that's enough.

Also since it started as a web manga, it of course has connections to the other office-focused romcom this season, and yes Yomu did a suitably horny endcard for the anime.
See, I can't tell if that's supposed to be Sakurai next to Futaba or if it's the other booby monster from Yomu's OL series.
Who knows! Personally I think he should have gone full throttle and drawn Harumi in some painstakingly textured tights.
So yeah, while this probably won't end up a favorite, my romcom-starved psyche is happy to have this not-so-annoying senpai around for this season. At its best, it's cozy and down to earth – almost as close to the earth as Futaba! HEYOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

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