Like the new flowers in spring, Moeronpan has returned from germinating underground. Will this new anime season have anything I actually want to blog in it? Only one way to find out!
(For the record, I did actually watch a few shows last season and will be making a What I Watched post soon)
Fujiko Fujio A is best known as one half of a manga-creating powerhouse – the other half of which went on to create Doraemon, and both have the kind of unmistakable aesthetic one tends to associate with kids shows (mostly because of Doraemon). But Warau Salesman seems to be a lot more adult-oriented – or at the very least, not really for kids. This new series is the latest reboot of a retro anime and part of me wonders if the popularity of a certain other reboot has anything to do with it.
Anyhoo, the titular Laughing Salesman is a grinning guy with a shuffling gait named Moguro Fukuzou. He says that he sells happiness and dreams to people in trouble, and his services don’t cost any money – getting to help people out is its own payment, he says. However, the catch is that there is always a price to pay, and nothing is ever truly free.
The first episode is made up of two parts focusing on two different characters. The first is a salaryman who is bored and lonely at work, and the second is an office lady who has developed a dangerous shopping addiction in her efforts to get her coworkers to find her cool instead of always making fun of her. The first man is shown a wondrous cabaret bar beneath his office that is open even during the day that he can sneak away to during lunch breaks, while the woman is given a seemingly limitless credit card.
I was surprised that this turned out to be a full-length show, since for some reason I expected it to only be 5 minutes or so. So that was kind of a nice surprise.
Warau Salesman doesn’t seem like a terrible original concept these days – the whole ‘be careful what you wish for’ thing – but given that its an adaptation of a much older series I can cut it some slack for that. I actually like these kind of short morality tales with ironic fates, so I was kinda looking forward to seeing how this would play out. Unfortunately, I was kinda let down. The first two examples of the stories Warau Salesman has to offer weren’t really that good.
The first one, especially, didn’t even really make sense to me as I wasn’t even particularly sure where the hapless salaryman went wrong. Sure, he tried to visit the day-time club during the night, but he never actually went in. Having Moguro suddenly turn on him and cause him to get drunk and rack up a massive bill at the cabaret club just seemed cruel for the hell of it and not some kind of ironic punishment. And also…doesnt that literally contradict what Moguro says when the show starts? That you dont have to pay any money for his services? You could argue that technically the salaryman isn’t paying Moguro, he’s paying the club, but still, it was a pretty lame and anticlimactic story to open with. If you spend too much at a club, you owe them a lot of money. Thats…just common sense, not some monkey’s paw wish thing.
The second story is a little better, and the woman’s plight a little more obvious (I didnt really find ‘I’m kinda bored and lonely at work!’ that much a plight but ‘my coworkers are actively awful people and are sending me into a shopaholic depression’ most certainly is). The ‘ironic twist’ ends up that the card Moguro gives her has a condition where anything she buys will get claimed by a Repo crew the very next day – she wont owe them any money, and she can’t keep the stuff she buys, however she does get to experience the thrill of shopping and buying insanely expensive things to her hearts content, since she admitted it was more the actual shopping that excited her than the things she actually bought. She ends up going too far by buying herself a makeover in the hopes that its something that can’t be taken away from her, but Moguro manages to claim that back by turning her old, fat and ugly. That’s more along the lines of the ironic punishment I was expecting, but somehow it just felt cruel. I spent the whole of this segment just feeling sorry for the woman, and she never really did anything bad so there wasn’t any schadenfreude in her getting her ‘just desserts’ or whatever. And meanwhile the horrible coworkers never had anything bad happen to them at all.
The show’s opening, and a few of its scenes, are incredibly stylish and unique, and I think it blends its retro charm with modern animation pretty seamlessly. I think that if it did more with this stylishness, that alone might be able to carry the show above any other flimsy premises. Unfortunately it doesn’t really use the artistry to its full extent except for every now and then and most of the scenes just look kinda dull.
I’d be prepared to give this at least another episode to see what it can do, but it’s definitely going to need to do a little more if it wants to stand out because this first episode was pretty lukewarm.
Out of 5,