Friday, April 15, 2011

F1RST IMPRESSIONS: Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san.

We continue our look at the newest anime shows for Spring 2011 with Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san, an anime based on the Yasuhisa Kubo manga in Evening magazine animated by Production I.G.

Storyline: 3

The plot to Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san (You're Being Summoned, Azazel) has to be boiled down to its purest form, as the show only occupies fifteen minutes. The Akutabe Detective Agency processes its cases in a method much different than other agencies. Instead of finding deadbeat husbands and criminals through diligent stakeouts and investigations, as his female assistant Sakuma would prefer, Detective Akutabe would rather leave the dirty work to the demons he summons, one of them being the butt-faced pervert Azazel (not to be confused with Ketsu-inu).

Considering Azazel's small size and lack of motivation, it's not hard to understand that things get complicated. When a customer comes demanding that the agency do something about her cheating husband, Azazel completely misinterprets the missions, leading to numerous do-overs. The only way that Akutabe can see this ending smoothly is by promising to dissolve Azazel's contract with him, but even that promise shows just how devious the detective is.

This first episode does the job much like its OVA did, hitting the viewer with bursts of comedy and parody, some of it approaching raunchy toilet humor. Yes, there are jokes that involve feces, sexual organs, and breast augmentation, but since when has that become a taboo subject for anime? Frankly this story could have a world of potential, especially with all the Pokemon-like demons ready to be summoned.

Animation: 2

You're not getting the Louvre from Production I.G. here, and that's likely the point. It can't be denied that the show's quality takes a hit from the depths of his potty humor. Rightfully so, since a high-quality production would likely distract from the comedy. Kudos to the staff for managing to incorporate Sazae-san into the fold—I will never be able to look at the show again without imagining Sazae with nuclear warheads for breasts.

Characters: 4

For a humorous show, you're going to be needing memorably humorous characters. Azazel absolutely steals the show here, his expression capable of going from ferocious to precocious in two seconds. He is the quintessential boke in this comedy—he was hilarious in the two OVAs released for the manga last year, and he is framed brilliantly with Sakuma's innocence and Akutabe's treacherous nature. I can't wait to see how the other demons are introduced.

Track: 3

Again, you're not going to be expecting Beethoven or Bach here. The soundtrack gets the job done here with its horn-and-cowbell sound effects and its para-para opening theme. While Daisuke Namikawa provides a pretty droll voice for Akutabe, the producers did the genius thing by giving the role of Azazel to Masaya Onosaka (Vash the Stampede, Trigun; Donpachi, Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo). The mix of an Osakan accent gives Azazel the perfect voice for complaints and complete brown-nosing.

"Hype": 3

Not much was said about Azazel-san before the season, despite the pre-introductory OVA series released with the manga last year. However, you do get a capable production company from Production I.G. Better yet, you get direction from veteran Tsutomu Mizushima, who has produced past comedies that have required fast-and-furious comedy (Hare Nochi Guu, Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan, Shinryaku! Ika-Musume). Seems like they got the perfect guy to direct this show.

Overall: 15/25
I'm a bit disappointed by the shoebox-sized parcel the episode became, but much like Azazel himself, I'm impressed with the range of comedy we get from the half-pint. Azazel-san gives its all in the shortened span and concentrates all that comic goodness into a delectable bite. I'm getting a slight impression of Zatch Bell minus the upbeat moral we're to get in the end, and teaming up the sexually-harassing Azazel with an innocent waif of an assistant could make for some brilliant comedy.

Azazel-san could possibly be the funniest thing on TV this season. I wonder what we have to sacrifice to get this one streamed.

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