After a long and painful quest, the time has arrived to present what show got to be the best of the season, in my opinion. In a season that fell flat and lacked variety, one show rose above all by outdoing all expectations and prejudgments you could have about it. Never judge a banana by its peel. A show that does not have the right to be as funny as it is and is superior to its source material. Hold into your IQ and be ready because today I’ll review Aho-Girl.
About the show
Aho Girl (アホガール) is an adaptation of an ongoing 4-koma comedy manga. The show consisted of twelve episodes, fifteen minutes each.
The story follows the everyday lives of high school girl Yoshiko Hanabatake, known to be stupid academically as well as socially. She constantly hangs out with and annoys her studious and serious neighbor Akuru Akutsu, whom Yoshiko’s mother wants her to marry. Yoshiko becomes friends with the level-headed Sayaka Sumino, who, along with Akuru, try to keep Yoshiko in check. The Public Morals Chairwoman dislikes the free-spirited Yoshiko but when Akuru makes some casual remarks that compliment her, the chairwoman falls in love with Akuru and begins stalking him while repressing her perverted thoughts. Yoshiko also befriends a delinquent guy Ryuichi Kurosaki who thinks of Yoshiko as a gang leader, a group of playground kids, a group of gyarus, and some other students and staff at school.
Reviewing comedy is not easy, there are only so many ways you can say something is funny and repeating that statement to define a show would mostly bore whoever is listening or reading your opinion. There are shows that have comedic elements but the overall story does not focus on them. Aho-Girl has a simple premise, you won’t find a deeper meaning behind or messages conveyed in the complexities of the show. When I picked it, I’ve heard it was a subpar adaptation of a manga whose jokes get old after a couple of chapters and reading the synopsis you could get the same idea. My reaction to the first episode left me breathless, it’s been a while since I laughed this much to any show. Konosuba has its charm, but a continuous laughter through the whole episode is rare to achieve. That solidified the position of this show as one of the best but there’s more to it than laughs.
The strongest argument for Aho-Girl is how the characters are written and the chemistry between them. Any slapstick setting needs the comedian with the straight man which is accomplished by the relationship between Aku and Yoshiko. The banter and violence that stem from these two is perfect, the show even goes to the point to demonstrate where it began and why even if we first thought it reaches absurd levels of physical violence there’s a reason behind it that we can accept. Aku is not alone, we need someone that is “normal” but not boring, Sayaka fits the role. She wants Aku and Yoshiko to live a normal life because she is “our eyes” which cannot believe the madness that comes when you befriend Yoshiko. Even the minor characters have a great influence in the whole show. Yoshiko’s mother is probably the second funniest character in the show, at the beginning of the season we are introduced to her as someone who wants the best for her daughter, who she knows, is not the sharpest tool in the box. As the show progresses the escalation of her efforts to protect Aku and Yoshiko possible future reaches the most absurd levels possible that work in the context of the show.
A smartass once wrote: “Brevity is the soul of wit”. Aho-girl works better with its current length because otherwise the jokes would get stale and repetitive. It’s one of the rare occasions where not having a full length episode works in the advantage of the show. Don’t think Aho-Girl keeps the “dumb” girl act as the only joke, the sketches are as strong as the interactions between the characters are. In the previous sketch, even without the background previous episodes gave, you get the idea where the punchline is, the personality of the girls and the timing is perfect. Comedy is about timing, and all of the episodes are one setup after the other with its corresponding punchline which does not give you a break, you are along for the ride of insanity the show reaches. The show also outsmarts (our outdumbs) itself where a joke could sound repetitive, it goes beyond it and creates a solid episode. Case in point, is the romantic soap opera Yoshiko and the kids play with dolls, you know every time Yoshiko is getting sillier and sillier but the punchline comes out of the nowhere and you are left without sides.
Credit where credit is due, this show will not work without the voice actors. Aoi Yuuki (Yoshiko), which we have heard before in Youjo Senki, is the soul of the show. I admit that the tone she gave to Yoshiko is not for everybody but she captures the foolishness the character needs. Energetic, impulsive and brash on one scene, and then, romantic, mellow and inspiring on the next one. Sugita (Aku), well, what is there to say about the man himself. It is clear he is having so much fun with the role and that’s part of what makes the character work. You need to imprint your personality and give a 2D-being life in the screen. More shows should follow this trend because as the audience, we obtain more than simply laughs but a voice that we will remember for years to come.
Dumb as it is, the show also has its flaws. The weakest aspects of the comedy in Aho-Girl are the visual ones. More so, the banana joke. I know it’s one of Yoshiko’s definitive traits but the joke is used more than I wanted to. The show should have toned it down after the fighting episode where she uses bananas was as weapon, which is awesome, I mean even Monty Python did it before, but it is a weak link to her personality. The ending of the show also left me dissatisfied, ending with a flashback is not my favorite thing to do in a show. Flashback either in the middle of the season or, scattered around between episodes. Give us hints where the relationship between Yoshiko and Aku began, was she as crazy as she is now? Was Aku always a guy that did not have any friends? Don’t conclude what you have built with a “prequel”, it is always underwhelming.
Aho-Girl is the anime of the season for me. Great comedy, absurd situations with likable characters but only the right amount of foolishness and craziness so you don’t get bored of it. Definitely give it a chance, it won’t take a lot of your time and you will get something good in return. Anime is available where anime is.