We arrive at the first entry from the sleeper list this season, Kyuujitsu no Warumono-san. It looks like a contender for “that” slot on the schedule. You know the one I’m talking about – the one with the ice guy, the tiny salarywoman with the giant sempai, the angels who design evolution, the dojikko boss. It’s always nice to have one of those to look forward to every week – something to relax and enjoy which respects your intelligence without demanding too much from you, and reps the particularly Japanese style of humor animanga can be so good at capturing.
So far, so good. The web manga Mr. Villain’s Day Off is based on gets generally very good notices. I’ve seen concern expressed among some manga readers that as basically a gag series, it’s not ideally suited for a full-length adaptation. And truthfully I can see that – while the style of humor totally worked for me in the premiere, it’s too soon to say whether it will have staying power. That’s something to worry about later though, because I might not have to worry about it all so why worry about it now?
The centerpiece is a guy named Warumono-san (Asanuma Shintarou). He’s an alien working for the Evil League, bent on the destruction off humanity, but he’s obsessed with getting the most out of his days off. Warumono-san is also obsessed with cute things – pandas being an especial favorite. Opposing him are the Rangers, a super sentai group seemingly comprised of cute kids of various ages. They seem to unerringly bump into each other on Warumono-san’s off days – his co-workers too, no matter how he tries to avoid them – but he’s unwilling the defile the sanctity of his leisure time by fighting.
If the premiere is anything to go by, much of the narrative will be Warumono-san exploring the trivialities of Japanese daily life and interacting with the Rangers in off-duty situations. As someone who still finds those trivialities fascinating, this holds considerable appeal for me. At Ueno Zoo “investigating” pandas he runs into Ranger Red, an earnest teen who could get lost in a phone booth, and helps him find the train station. At the shopping mall he unknowingly runs into two more Rangers (Orange?) posing as lost children and buys them ice cream and crepes. And he rages over his favorite ice cream at the konbini being swapped out for a seasonal item (I feel you, Man).
Yes, I could see where this could become repetitive. But the early returns suggest that the writing is pretty clever here, and if you like observational humor Kyuujitsu no Warumono-san should be right up your alley. There’s also a warmth that seems to be a prerequisite to this sort of show working – it actually put me in mind of Shirokuma Cafe in terms of vibe, even setting the panda thing aside. Warumono-san is basically a good guy (duh), and maybe at some point the inherent contradiction with his vocation will be explored. Or maybe not, and this will just be played for comedy. Either way I’m fine with it as long as it works, and so far it’s working for me.