The Comic Artist & His Assistants is the 2014 anime adaptation by studio Zexcs, based upon the 4-panel manga by Hiroyuki – Mangaka-san to Assistant-san. The title is brought to us as a complete collection, along with the six OVA (Original Video Animation) episodes included in the Japanese release, by Animatsu Entertainment. The series sees director Takeshi Furuta debut in the role, having previously worked as episode director and storyboarding for series such as Love Live! School Idol Project and Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, among others, and is the director of the currently airing ONA (Original Net Animation) series, Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold.
“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.” – Animatsu Entertainment
The episodes are only 13 minutes in length; with the original source being a 4-panel manga, you can understand why. The episodes are then split into smaller stories, generally three per episode, and though they may be short, they certainly pack in a large number of laughs. Going into the series I wasn’t sold on the idea if I’m being honest, but less than a minute in, excluding the opening, I knew I was going to really enjoy this series.
Mangaka Yuki Aito, as you have already guessed, is a pervert, but what’s charming about this series is that his perversions and interaction with other people appear genuinely innocent, rather than just playing innocent. Aito really seems to care about the people around him, as well as his obsession with panties, and the sticky situations he finds himself in are usually through pure accidents, although he’s not above asking to grope some breasts – for research purposes of course.
Visually, I’m rather surprised by the quality put into The Comic Artist & His Assistants; it’s simple but still of high animation quality, series based on 4-panel manga rarely receive good treatment, often ending up as animation experiments. The series often employs various manga stylings to highlight certain aspects, like the changing of the story, which is a nice touch and visually appealing.
This release is Japanese audio only with English subtitles, unlike what Amazon UK would lead you to believe; this may be a plus for many as Sentai Filmworks, the US distributor, haven’t been the best at handling their dubs. The Japanese cast, however, does an amazing job; Aito’s voice in particular really fits the character perfectly and I couldn’t imagine any other way.
Extras on disc one include a selection of trailers for Sentai Filmworks series; Space Brothers, Kamigami no Asobi, Hayate the Combat Bulter! and Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions ~ Heart Throb. Disc two contains the standard clean opening and closing animations, Japanese promos and a karaoke version of the episode 12 closing song. Plus the six OVA episodes mentioned above that came with the Japanese release.
If like me, you tend to shy away or flat out avoid series focused around pure ecchi themes then I urge you to give this one a try. The use of ecchi within the series, while of course the main focus, never seemed to be thrust in your face too much; it’s there in large quantities but it’s accompanied by some good comedy and real charm. The Comic Artist & His Assistants is a really enjoyable series that doesn’t take itself too seriously; the characters have real charm and will have you roaring with laughter.