Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Asobi Asobase

Original Run: July 8, 2018 - September 23, 2018
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Comedy
Based on the Series Created By: Rin Suzukawa

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Asobi Asobase. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

What does it mean to pass the time?

Are there rules? Do you need equipment? Can you be alone, or should you have a few friends at the ready? Does whatever you end up doing even have to make sense?

All those questions are hard to answer, and perhaps, some of them can’t be. Nevertheless, it is the job of the Pastimers Club to figure that stuff out. Or at least, that is what the members say to keep control of their favorite meet up spot.

Three friends, Hanako Honda, Olivia, and Kasumi Nomura (voiced by Hina KinoRika Nagae, and Konomi Kohara) often find themselves in tricky situations they are the cause of. Apparently, there is a lot of thought and preparation that must go into doing nothing. Failure to do so may throw someone into the hospital.

Regardless, at the end of the day, this trio will make sure that doing nothing will never become boring.

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Series Positives

I’m not sure how I got it into my head, but when starting Asobi Asobase, I was under the impression that this was going to be both a comedy and a drama.

When episode one began, the opening theme song was very whimsical, calming, and peaceful. It showed three young girls frolicking through the flowers, smiling, laughing, and having a good time. Then the episode kicked off, and we met Kasumi Nomura who was lamenting on why she hated having fun. To her, the thought of enjoying oneself only led to unpleasant things.

Considering all that, there was also light artwork, a lucid atmosphere, and an on-the-surface dramatic setting. Perhaps there was going to be some humor throughout this show. But from the opening moments, Asobi Asobase played the role of a grounded slice-of-life series.

Then we met Hanako and Olivia, and this show’s true colors revealed themselves.

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Again, I don’t know why I thought this series would have anything dramatic within it. This was an insane, balls-to-the-walls anime with a surreal sense of humor. Asobi Asobase was a comedy that had its own style, feel, and voice, and it was outstanding.

The best way I can describe this series: It was a toned downed Nichijou that loved trying to scare the crap out of its audience. Asobi Asobase wasn’t a horror-comedy, but it frequently employed frightening imagery and intimidation to deliver its jokes.

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To even explain why a single scene was funny would take way too long, and by the time I were done, the magic would be gone. To fully understand what Asobi Asobase is, you really need to watch it for yourself. I will do my best to pick apart a few of this series’ highlights, but I can’t imagine I will even scratch the surface.

My words can’t do this show justice.

Asobi Asobase was like a fancy rug covering a giant ball pit. When you go walking over it, the sudden fall will take you by surprise, but the aftermath is all kinds of mischievous, childlike fun.

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The Characters

At its core, Asobi Asobase was a slice-of-life comedy. It was undoubtedly a strange one, but like every slice-of-life series – and especially the strange ones – it was fueled by its characters. The harder and more brazen a show goes, the surer its foundation must be.

You can’t expect a series to go a hundred miles an hour in every direction without running into a brick wall here and there. The thing about comedy is, no one will ever laugh at the joke you don’t say. The trick isn’t making sure everything lands perfectly. It’s ensuring when that wall comes, a show has the fortitude to burst through it without taking a scratch.

That is what Asobi Asobase did, and it did so because it had full faith in its three main characters: Hanako, Olivia, and Kasumi.

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Kasumi appeared to be the brains. There was this bookish air to her that implied a top student. She certainly had a handle on many things, and she was the person who was usually the most thoughtful. But Brainiac she was not. Kasumi could be every bit as ditsy and clueless as her friends. Hell, she wasn’t even the smartest – academically speaking – of the trio.

When angered, annoyed, or pushed too far, Kasumi became the most terrifying of the three. She had a vengeful streak to her that was often triggered. Neither Hanako nor Olivia could get away with anything when they crossed her, intentional or not.

Plus, if I indeed saw what I think I saw, Kasumi was also an amateur homoerotic Harry Potter fanfiction writer. Have fun with that little nugget of information.

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Next, there was Olivia who struck a chord with me. She was a jab at a major annoyance of Japanese society. If I have any Japanese readers, please realize: If someone doesn’t look Japanese, that doesn’t automatically mean they don’t speak Japanese.

Olivia had foreign parents, but she was born and raised in Japan. Therefore, she only knew how to speak Japanese. Granted, Olivia did introduce herself to her class as an English speaking American foreign exchange student for her own personal entertainment, and it quickly backfired on her. That notwithstanding, she didn’t need to put in a ton of effort to trick people, and this entire scenario was not farfetched to me.

Olivia was hilarious because she brought the fallout from this misconception onto herself. This became a giant headache for her since she was quite absent-minded, beyond lazy, and an instigator.

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When it came to both Olivia and Kasumi, they were the two moderates of the group; let that soak in. They each went off the rails plenty of times, but they often managed to find their way back to solid ground. They were bombs, but with plenty of fail-safes to prevent the worse from happening.

Not so with Hanako – a.k.a., the best character of Asobi Asobase.

Hanako was an unstoppable force with no immovable object to challenge her. She was greedy, egotistical, conniving, and shortsighted. Hanako was one of the smartest students, not just of the trio, but of the entire school. However, this show summed her whole character up in one simple sentence.

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She may have had good grades, but she also might have actually been a dumbass.

Hanako was quick to jealousy, anger, violence, and cowardice. She set up elaborate plans to mess with others, and yet, never realized she would also be at risk for punishment. She thought she was the best person there has ever been, and always hated it whenever someone upstaged her, an outcome that happened every time without fail.

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Hanako rounded this group off, and whenever these three girls were together, something or someone was bound to get broken, put into the hospital, or set on fire.

At the start of this review, I said the opening song indicated a majestic, heartwarming, and thoughtful series. This show was presenting a falsehood. If you really want to get a sense of what you’re getting into with Asobi Asobase watch the end credits theme.

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Series Negatives

This was an interesting series, to say the least; one that had a lot of fun with what it had to work with. For a moment, though, I want to go back to something I said earlier: I went into this series thinking it was also a drama. I can clearly see that my intel had been incorrect, but it did lead me to realize something.

We got to know Hanako, Olivia, and Kasumi’s personalities. We learned what made them tick, what set them off, and what calmed them down. These three were at the extreme ends for the types of characters they were. The results speak for themselves.

Nevertheless, we never got to know our main trio’s background.

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Given how out there this series was, there was plenty of material to sink your attention into. To tell you the truth, this was the kind of show in which the question of backstories would typically not enter my mind. It wasn’t necessary, and Asobi Asobase didn’t need to go down this road.

Why then am I even bothering? It’s because Asobi Asobase bothered.

As I stated, the opening of this series introduced Kasumi as someone who didn’t like having fun because she had no happy memories associated with it. From what I could gather, Kasumi’s sister would, as punishment for losing a game, send little Kasumi to do menial tasks, such as get ice cream, a drink, etc.

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These penalty games didn’t seem vicious or even unfair. However, this show did make it a point to illustrate that those past experiences influenced Kasumi. Too bad Asobi Asobase never brought it up again.

Why bring something like this up if you’re not going to use it? All it did was make the audience – or at least, me – wonder what else there was. While we’re at it, what of Hanako? What of Olivia? What were their stories? This was an unforced error. Fortunately, it also wasn’t a problem. This series had more than enough to distract you from this lingering question mark.

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Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for something – let’s say – different, boy do I have the show for you.

I will admit, this review wasn’t that detailed oriented, and I gave few specifics. Things turned out that way because words really can’t do this series justice.

Loud, intimidating, massive, these are all ways one can describe this show. But most importantly of all, this was fun.

I had a blast watching this series, and I would love if someday we get more. Until then though, I urge you to check out Asobi Asobase.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Asobi Asobase? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

Post Editors: Onions

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