Otakus can be surprisingly Meta when it comes to their entertainment of choice. Anime set in the distant future or in far-flung fantasy worlds may be popular, but that doesn’t mean that otakus are averse to checking out more down to earth shows, which dabble with the creation of the comics and cartoons they so enjoy. Perhaps that is why the likes of Shirobako and Bakuman have proven to be such big hits in recent times. Those aforementioned examples are however too classy for yours truly. Fan service is more my forte, so I decided to watch The Comic Artist & His Assistants instead. This twelve episode series deals with the creation of comics, albeit ecchi mangas drawn by a massive perv.
Yuki Aito is a professional manga artist and the man behind HajiCafe – an ongoing comic book series infamous for its panty shot packed panels. Much to the annoyance of his long-suffering editor Mihari Otosuna, he is also a huge slacker. Rather than drawing new content for upcoming issues, Yuki wastes a lot of his free time on dating-sims and buying new additions for his extensive collection of female undergarments (the stockpile of undies is purely for research purposes… honest!) Due to his procrastination, in order to meet looming deadlines, Yuki is often forced to employ the services of three attractive assistants named Sahoto, Rinna and Sena.
Teenager Sahoto Ashisu is Yuki’s right hand (wo)man. She dreams of drawing her own manga series some day, but has yet to break into the comic book industry despite possessing the superior work ethic that her mentor lacks. Sahoto respects Yuki’s artistic talents, but that is as far as her admiration goes. Whenever Yuki playfully suggests taking their relationship beyond that of mere co-workers she wastes no time in bluntly turning him down.
Eighteen-year-old Rinna Fuwa is a big fan of HajiCafe, which is somewhat odd given the book’s subject matter. Although she has no skills when it comes to drawing, she managed to secure an assistant job as Yuki forgot to request someone with experience (he only stipulated the need for a helper that looks cute.) Rinna is blessed with a chirpy personality and unlike the other girls, who get exasperated with Yuki’s antics, she’ll often play along with his libidinous ways. The same cannot be said for Sena Kuroi. The diminutive lady, who is a prodigy when it comes to sketching, has a low tolerance for any unprofessional behaviour. Sena has no qualms about pummelling Yuki, whenever he gets out of line, but thankfully for the protagonist her weedy physical strength is unable to exert any painful blows (even with the assistance of a bullwhip.)
My rating for The Comic Artist & His Assistants is four stars. A series about a lustful virgin surrounded by beautiful women sounds like a recipe for disaster, but thanks to its charming cast the show succeeded in putting a smile on my face. The contrasting personalities result in plenty of amusing banter and the characters have some depth, which is a surprise given the show’s restrictive running time. Mihari for example is more than a one-dimensional irritable boss. Over the course of the series we learn how she is insecure about her bust size and that her relationship with Yuki stretches back to high school (where she had a bit of a crush on him.)
Even if the gags are a little one-note, The Comic Artist & His Assistants doesn’t overstay its welcome as it has the sense to embrace its four-panel comic roots. Each episode of this anime adaptation is a mere ten minutes long and comprised of two to three skits, which prevents things from getting stale. Some viewers may feel that concise stories aren’t value for money, but I personally prefer short and sweet over dragging things out. Speaking of value, I would recommend getting the DVD set from Animatsu over the iTunes download. The physical release comes bundled with six bonus OVAs, which is quite a bit of extra content when you consider the duration of an average episode. Overall I can recommend this series to anyone seeking a funny animated comedy. Despite Yuki’s tastes, the show isn’t PANTSu.