OP: 「スリピス」 (Surprise) by Kino Hina, Kohara Konomi, Nagae Rika
「等価交換 / チープなスリル / 遊び人 / 優しい変態」 (Toukakoukan / Cheap na Thrill / Asobinin / Yasashii Hentai)
“Equivalent Exchange / Cheap Thrills / Pleasure Seekers / The Kind Pervert”
The poster and OP sequence might appear to have the veneer of a cute slice-of-life about a trio of girls who share a bond as friends that is sentimental yet irreplaceable. That’s all thrown out the window when the American transfer student Olivia gives her friend Hanako an open-handed slap in the face after winning a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. From that moment forward, Asobi Asobase sets its tone as a comedy where the girls are far more desperate, shameless, and aggressive than expected. As soon as Kasumi forces the two girls to join her in a club, tossing them from one risky situation to another, it becomes an outright hilarious surprise that keeps up the momentum going the further the episode progresses.
What makes Asobi Asobase‘s premise hopeful is how eccentric and funny the three girls are, providing potential for a lot of great material to come from each of their respective quirks. Hanako would seem like the ordinary blank-slate character who has the same concerns as any girl in high school, but her concerns are played up to their maximum, causing her to freak out whenever she finds her popularity or chest size inadequate in relation to her peers. Her closest friend Olivia was born and raised in Japan with American parents, giving her the double-edged sword of letting her play up the “ditsy foreigner” act to get out of tough situations in spite of not knowing enough English to protect herself from Kasumi’s demands for a study partner. Kasumi was introduced as hating games after her older sister used to beat her constantly, but her hatred solidified to the point that she runs on pure malevolence, entrapping Hanako and Olivia into forming the Passtimes Club to play high-risk games and help her pass her English class.
The cast’s behavior and the tone of the show’s humor are brought out further with how deviously funny many of the situations were in the first episode alongside the characters’ comical mannerisms. Kasumi’s mad pursuit in the first episode where she went any length she could go to get Olivia and Hanako to atone for getting her breasts slapped was hilarious as her definition of teaching Olivia about local culture is pitting herself against her in a game of “Five Finger Filet” with a pencil and a compass, and a game of “Thumb War” where her agility and death-grip took the advantage over the size of Olivia’s thumbs. Among the most memorable moments of the first episode was when Hanako and Kasumi came together to fill up an inflatable swimming pool in a classroom, which turned out to be a fun idea up until a teacher noticed water spilling from the crack of the door. Hanako’s smooth move in saying that the water was actually Olivia’s pee turned out to be a terrible idea as the teacher took inspiration from Detective Conan to taste the puddle without hesitation. A perfectly depraved ending to go with the anime’s heavy metal ED and the ultra-violent puppet show
Asobi Asobase was a pleasant surprise, attracting viewers with adorable, cute characters, and then proceeding to distort their faces as they put their safety on the line to save face, spew vitrol, and enjoy high school on their own terms. On a stylistic level, the surreal look of how the characters behave in relation to how the look provides for a wickedly funny comedy for the Summer season. It’ll be interesting to see how much mileage they can get out of the main concept of the three girls sharing their time and company in the Passtimes Club, but if the first episode is anything to go off of, it’ll surely live up to the potential it has carved up so far.
ED: 「インキャインパルス」 (Inkya Impulse) by Ikepy, KSKN, Kino Hina, Kohara Konomi, Nagae Rika