What They Say:
Lechery, perversion, and a lack of respect for the feelings of others are all qualities that would normally look really bad on one’s resume. For manga artist Yuki Aito, however, they’re the fundamentals of his art. And that art is good enough that managing editor Mihari will put up with the panicked panty runs, barrages of breast jokes, and other even lower-brow forms of self-amusement that Yuki wallows in.
But when the continuing cavalcade of carnal crudity causes Yuki to get off his work schedule, Mihari’s last straw breaks and she’s forced to bring in a team of assistants. Young, attractive, female assistants. Needless to say, it’s not the schedule that Yuki will be trying to get on top of now, and getting a four-panel strip out on time may involve stripping AND drawing and quartering.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only and it’s in stereo using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is one that’s mostly all about the dialogue and the antics so it’s not one that requires a bit stretch nor does it really provide for it, though it handles things well. The show is one that has its range of characters and dialogue styles, and the levels that it rises to in terms of volume and pitch, so it covers the bases well. The mix plays the show just about right with the bigger moments in the silliness having some good impact at times and that makes the humor work well when it comes to areas like the whippings or other physical antics. The show works well with the dialogue as there’s plenty of outlandish moments with how they interact with each other and overall it’s pretty solid and fun, coming across cleanly and clearly throughout.
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes here plus six OVAs are all on one disc and with them being shorter than usual, about thirteen minutes each, there’s plenty of room for it here. Animated by Zexcs, the show has some real appeal with its visual design. While there are simpler moments for it throughout there’s a lot of busy sequences that really keeps it moving in a good way. When it shifts to the high-quality scenes with a lot of detail to it, both in character and costume design, it really is quite striking. Obviously the lingerie sequences are given the greatest amount of detail but there are a lot of other scenes that do that as well and it comes across wonderfully here. It’s not a show that’s done in a cheap way and that helps a lot. Colors are strong, vibrant and appealing and with the zip tone style used with the colors it stands out all the more. It’s a great looking transfer that really comes across wonderfully here, resulting in a very fun show to watch.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard-sized Blu-ray case that holds the single disc inside. The front cover plays up its strengths as you’d expect as it has the four main female characters of the series in kneeling poses in swimsuits so we can see their different designs and the fanservice side of it. With the illustration design elements behind it and some good colors all around, it’s a great looking cover that makes it clear what’s inside. Of course, they do put our male lead on the cover but he’s shunted to the lower corner; which makes sense as you can imagine him wanting the girls to have all the attention too. The back cover goes with a lot of text as it does some fun layout design while carrying the zip tone and colors from the front as we get some cute character images from the show, some light fanservice, and a pretty solid amount of premise material laid out across it. The colors give it a lot of pop and the layout really makes it engaging in a way a lot of covers aren’t. The remainder is fairly standard with the technical grid along the bottom and some of the other usual details, all of which is listed cleanly and clearly.
The menu design for this release is one where going the usual route is fairly problematic in terms of its visual results. Sentai runs with a layout that provides the episode numbers and titles while putting the bulk of the screen to the artwork. Here, because the episode titles are long due to multiple stories within it, it takes up about eighty percent of the screen real estate. What it leaves you with is a wall of unappealing text that you won’t look at for the most part and minimal character artwork of just Ashisu. With the strong cover design here and other elements, this is just very, very weak. The menu itself is functional and easy to use and you can navigate it easily both as the main menu and the pop-up, but the end result is one that just doesn’t set the tone well.
The only extras included here are the clean opening and closings and a few minutes worth of the original Japanese promos, which I always like to have to see how they marketed it.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the four-panel manga from Hiroyuki that ran for ten volumes between 2008 and 2012, The Comic Artist and His Assistant is a twelve episode TV series that’s animated by Zexcs. I had watched this series as a simulcast and quite enjoyed it though I admit that I took a differently skewed view at one of the main characters. The show held appeal for me with its focus on the creation of manga but also because it went with the half-episode length of about thirteen minutes. Shows that go this route, especially in the four-panel origin realm, are ones that tend to have less fluff in them and know what they want to do. With this one also doing varying length stories within each episode that just makes it all the more appealing. Additionally, we also get six OVAs that were produced for the home video release and even those range in length from six to ten minutes, making the runtime serve the material.
The show revolves around a manga creator named Aito, a young man that does this professionally and as his main role in life. There’s no school side story or even a romantic storyline in it when you get down to it. Aito’s got a lot of talent and can produce some wonderfully detailed work but he’s got the kind of focus that makes it hard for him to connect with the audience. While he’s published and producing an ongoing work, his focus on the detail of panties within the romantic storyline that he’s telling makes it problematic. It’s a subplot that has others trying to get him to change and grow and understand not only his craft but his audience. The problem is that like a lot of creators in this situation he has little real world experience and that makes it difficult to produce work that can speak to them.
Because of this, Aito is a character that can be a real problem. With his inability to actually interact with people in a normal way, as he almost always goes down a pervy direction on some level, it can make him a character you cringe and find revolting in some ways. But when you step back a little bit and realize that the character has some real social anxiety issues and a disorder that makes it difficult for him to think like others do it becomes something that’s more understandable. Having a few folks that I’ve known over the years with a range of social anxieties and other problems similar to this in a way, it’s something that I can connect with and understand and even compensate for. What makes Aito even more likable in a sense is that he does try to grow and change here, to take the input given. Of course, there’s a lot of humor in all of this with what he goes through and the show doesn’t really make his problems into a learning experience but I think there’s more to him here than the superficial view one can have of him.
What provides a foil for Aito more often than not is that of Ashisu, whose name is a shortened form of the word assistant in the title itself. Ashisu is a pretty fun character to watch here as she’s quite good herself as an artist and handles working with Aito in a very enjoyable way because she has her own quirky style as well that keeps her attempts at going pro from happening. While his focus is on panties she comes up with some very amusing if creepy looking characters in a market where everyone just wants cute and fluffy. Ashisu’s also fun in that she’s not quite the long suffering assistant as she provides some pushback on Aito along the way and even discovers that she’s quite the strong and dominant one that enjoys heaping some pain on him – pain that he laps up in a big way. That makes for some fun as they go through this and she’s doing her best to not fall into that lifestyle.
The dynamic between the two is a lot of fun to watch and there’s a good range of humor to be had between them, particularly as he keeps trying to find ways to get her to be a model of sorts for what he needs to draw. Though you can see it being done for him to be able to cop a feel, get her naked or some other deviance, the truth is that he’s doing it because he wants a model and has little firsthand experience. But it plays well and definitely leaves you laughing with how she reacts to it and some of the ways he attempts to win her over. This also becomes something he ends up doing to varying degrees with some of the other women in the show, especially with his editor Mihari, and outgoing and stressed twin tailed young blonde that provides out flat chested quotient here. The series lets her play the role as you’d expect but she’s also slowly drawn to him as well in small ways, making it conflicting for her at times.
What appeals about the show for me is that it wholly embraces its fanservice and doesn’t try to be coy about. There’s some great material with how Aito works the detail of his designs and tries to expand on that through the others as well as the real world inspirations. Having him going underwear shopping is priceless even as it reinforces his social disconnect for others. This attention to detail also provides for a lot of costume design to enjoy, particularly since the main cast almost never changes what they wear. That’s a familiar trick to keep costs and time down but I really wish it offered a little more variety. But when they do shift to other clothes, even briefly, it shows just how different they can look which is welcome. And as we get a hot spring episode as well that just adds to the fun.
While I had seen the show during the simulcast, this release also brings us the six original episodes included with the home video release. These don’t go further overall compared to the show itself but they definitely have a lot of fun with what it does. One of them deals with Aito having a dream, and you know it’s a dream, where everyone basically wants to get closer to Aito and undress for him. It turns in some really fun ways that reinforces the dream and you have to love it for that. A really cute episode has Aito napping for all of it only to have the editor-in-chief showing up to nap with him and then others getting in on it, which goes to some comical routes. My favorite is the last though as we get Ashisu realizing that she really does enjoy whipping Aito as a stress reliever. Just the pleasure both of them get from it is priceless.
While I completely understand why this show doesn’t work for a lot of people, The Comic Artist and His Assistant is a very fun show for me. It plays up the fanservice, it owns it, and lets it be a prominent part of the cast and the situation. But it doesn’t become that completely as it works through the characters, introducing us to the supporting cast, and establishing more of the theme of it. There’s some really solid animation throughout it in general and some high quality scenes that lets it become more in a very good way. Shows that in its own way shows its passion well and makes for some wonderfully detailed scenes that enhance it. This is a property that comes close to being a guilty pleasure for me but it’s not one that I feel guilty about at all. It’s just good, pervy, fun and it looks great throughout.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Japanese Promos
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: C
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: September 15th, 2015
Running Time: 205 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.