Youthful Transgressions – ‘Asobi Asobase’ Episode 5 Review

What’s the show? Asobi Asobase, Episode 5.

So how’s the funniest show on television going this week? Just because last weeks episode was the funniest episode of an anime in a long time doesn’t mean I’m ready to call this show the funniest show on television! Don’t put words in my mouth

Uh oh… What?

Standard request.

Well when you’re getting on the defensive like that usually means we’ve got a lacklustre episode to look forward to. I wouldn’t go that far, just ~varied~ as is the case with any kind of anime that’s got a sketch type format. Some of the segments are as funny as last week, some are not so much and one of the segments is…

Is?… Problematic.

Oh boy the word everyone loves to hear when talking about comedy… Listen, a less discerning critical eye could probably overlook what happened in the second segment as “youthful ignorance” but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it—plus it gives me something to talk about which is always a bonus.

Work it, girl!

Ok, go ahead, what’s so “problematic” about the second segment of this episode? Well it’s just a wee bit transphobic. I’ll explain, so the girls are worried that one of their classmates might in fact be a boy in drag and so they narrow it down to the most likely suspect (she gets dressed for gym in a separate room and doesn’t ever use the pool) and they confront her on it. Turns out she’s not actually a boy, she just used that as an excuse to break up with her needy boyfriend—and the girls are relieved that someone like that isn’t in their school.

Nothing to be scared of!

I see how that could be construed as a negative opinion on transgender people. Sadly it’s not an uncommon sentiment in Japan, but I guess when it comes to this show it’s hard to know if the original author was trying to accurately convey their ~distaste~ for trans people or it’s just these three girls being out-of-touch, insensitive middle-schoolers. And while I’d never seek to answer that definitively as I don’t know what’s going on in the mangaka’s mind what I do know is that these girls are most definitely stupid and I mean that as affectionately as can be. Like the final segment (also the funniest) has the girls trying to find out how babies are made and let’s just say we get some interesting ideas to say the least!

It’s just science, really.

So you’re giving the show a pass because the main characters don’t know any better? Plus they’re scared of anything that’s remotely different to their comfortable world-view—something that’s also hammered home in the other segments of this episode. Like Hanako’s outlandish clothing which makes the others uncomfortable (and leads to a cafe burning down) as well as there run-in with an occultist club member. Not to mention Kasumi’s frequently mentioned fear of men in general. They all (to varying degrees) have a well-documented history of being afraid of things that aren’t “normal” to them.

Speaking of “not normal”…

I guess it makes sense in context of the show but is that really a justification for their behaviour? But that’s all I can do really. There’s nothing malicious about their actions, just misguided and born of ignorance—plus it’s not like one straight cis-male’s opinion on whether or not a gag anime from Japan is transphobic really means anything anyway. It’s sad that we even had to talk about this, not all that surprising (which is also sad) but at the end of the day there are far more grave injustices in the world.

Asobi Asobase, not afraid to tackle the big issues confronting Japanese society… just not transphobia.

Right… So, anything else you wanted to add, maybe brighten the mood a little? When this show is funny it’s unlike anything else—the energy this show has when it’s on a roll is a sight to behold. Also, I’m glad Hanako’s ~unusual~ assistant Maeda wasn’t a one-off character and seems to be recurring—everything about him is an unexpected joy!

That face.

Previous Asobi Asobase Reviews:

Laid Back Insanity – Episode 1
Scarier Faces Than Any Horror Anime – Episode 2
It’s All Fun and Games Until Somone Gets Compound Fractures Over Their Entire Body – Episode 3
So Much Butt Stuff – Episode 4


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2 comments

  1. Yeah, I ended up gritting my teeth through that second segment. I usually assume the worst & figure that the writers/show itself is ignorant and not just the characters, but I’m not going to drop the show over it or anything. I feel like with any comedy I’m prepared to be faced with some problematic content & have like, a “three strikes you’re out” rule for myself when it comes up, haha

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well that’s fair enough, three times is usually enough to infer that the writer has some problem with a person/group of persons if it keeps coming up again. I’m all for separating art and artist but when an artist puts their prejudice straight up in the art that’s a bit harder to ignore.

      Liked by 2 people

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