Comedy is one of the most difficult genres to nail in any form of media. It is often celebrated as an element of a show, but is rarely appreciated as the foundation of one. There’s a reason for this: it’s extremely difficult to create a show that relies on being consistently funny. One-Punch Man has some seriously hilarious moments throughout the first season, but those more so supplement the core fighting narrative. Working!! as a series delivers plenty of humorous situations, but it also focuses on making the viewer care about the characters, their drama, and their daily lives. Last year’s Aho-Girl neither tries to present meaningful characters nor uses silly moments as a respite from more serious events. Instead, literally every scene in the show revolves around the core philosophy of “let’s try to make this as funny as possible.” Not only does this approach work, but it does so extremely well.
As the title implies, the show is centered around a girl who is almost Spongebob-like in how sweetly stupid she is. Yoshiko Hanabatake is a happy-go-lucky high schooler who loves playing, eating bananas, and hitting on her no-nonsense neighbor Akuru “A-kun” Akutsu. The anime chronicles her misadventures with friendship, school, and love, but its slapstick nature and lack of any objective outside of eliciting as many laughs in as short a time as possible places it just barely on the fringes of the Slice of Life genre; comedy is the real name of the game here.
The childlike way that Yoshiko perceives the world and clashes with those around her makes for a seemingly endless well of material to pull from. Despite her lack of friends and having a reputation for being a hopeless idiot, it’s tough not to fall in love with Yoshiko’s blind optimism and carefree nature. Be it sprinting across the country to personally commend a domestic banana farmer, or creating one of the most dramatic sandbox play sessions ever with local elementary school kids, she definitely does a great job of keeping things interesting.
The supporting cast is fairly generic, but they serve their purpose well as props for some seriously hard-hitting jokes. A-kun, who is almost always the sole male character in the scene, finds himself at the center of a mini-harem that he has absolutely no interest in. From a sexually repressed Public Morals Chairwoman to a teacher who struggles with feeling desirable, his unwanted harem is a somewhat refreshing take on the all-too-common concept. Then there’s Yoshiko’s mom who is absolutely hysterical in her pursuit of and reasoning behind making sure that no one but Yoshiko ends up with A-kun. All the while, the somewhat soft spoken Sayaka Sumino acts as the level-headed, third party perspective to remind everyone just how crazy this crew is.
The skit-based format is the true key to Aho-Girl‘s success. By breaking up the show into small segments, studio Diomedéa was able to easily switch between foundational scenes and completely random, one-off scenes. Likewise, keeping each scene at 3-4 minutes makes it infinitely easier to deliver potent jokes. The mini story arcs that are present do a good job of setting up scenarios ripe for multiple gags and keep viewers invested. Be it new side characters or totally unrelated one-offs, there are always fresh ideas being introduced within each 12.5-minute episode. Just when I started to wonder what else they could do with Yoshiko’s character towards the second half of the season, she suddenly managed to force her way into an entirely new group of friends that made for tons of new material.
Have you ever finished an especially heavy anime and wanted to watch something lighthearted and silly as a palette cleanser? Look no further. The bite-sized nature of the skits (not to mention the brevity of each episode), and the lack of investment needed in the plot or characters make Aho-Girl a perfect way to break up your core viewing schedule. The sheer hilarity of the bits also make it supremely rewatchable; I still found myself grinning and chuckling on my third time through. The show’s overly-silly brand of comedy isn’t for everyone, but then again, comedy rarely ever is.
You can find Aho-Girl on Crunchyroll here.
Brent Middleton grew up watching anime, playing RPGs, and aspiring to be a respected writer. As an adult, not much has changed. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter @CreamBasics and argue about Xenoblade Chronicles 2 being the best game of 2017.
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