I am a massive fan of the American tv-series of The Office. I would even say that it is one of my favorite shows of all time. Yeah I’m white, what of it?! I honestly think that it is one of the funniest shows out there, even with its low points. The way that it used the office setting was interesting and it felt more subtle than most comedies. It didn’t have a bunch of laugh tracks or obvious jokes. It just felt like something new. I honestly don’t have a lot to say. It’s funny, it’s genuine, and it’s great.
And so seeing that a show like it would air at the end of the year intrigued me. I wasn’t really expecting the show to be reminiscent of it, nor did I want it to. But it was something at least. I was curious to see how this show would use the office. What creative way they would use its setting.
Well, unfortunately, it didn’t.
‘African Salaryman’, or Africa no Salaryman in Japanese, follows just the normal office building, except it is inhabited by animal-like people. Our main cast is a lion, a toucan, and a lizard, whom all try to do their jobs. Goofs and hijinks ensue.
I’ll just get into it. The first thing that stood out to me was the visual contrast. It was simultaneously the best and worst aspect of the show, at least at first.
CG has never really left a great impression on the anime community, mainly because of how hit or miss it is. The Youtube creator Gigguk made a video on the subject where he starts by stating that CG will never really look good in anime cause when it does, it won’t be noticed, which I agree with. Unless an anime is completely in CG, it will probably not be noticed unless it is bad enough. And my god does Africa no Salaryman get there. it is honestly Mafia City ad levels of god awfulness, where the polygons are constantly clipping through each other and the movement feels so stiff and robotic that it’s hard to take seriously. Somehow we got some of the best and worst CG I have ever seen in the same season (You can probably guess which is the best).
But here’s the interesting part. While there is a lot of CG animation in the show, there’s also a lot of hand-drawn animation as well. And those parts are honestly great! Like genuinely, not even in comparison, the hand-drawn animation is some of the best I’ve seen this year. Not really for how smooth it is or how complicated, but just how unique it looks. I’d say that it is reminiscent of youtube and twitter animators like Cas de van Pon and Kekeflipnote, where animation actually conveys a lot of emotion and originality. I can’t really say I’ve seen an anime that feels like this, maybe Aggretsuko if you look at them hard enough.
So seeing it cut to that abhorrent CG becomes jarring because of the contrast in quality. Cause while there are plenty of anime that switch from hand-drawn to CG, I feel like it was never as weird as it looked here. The whole feel of the animation switches completely as well, almost like a different director worked on it. It is truly astonishing how this was made.
But as much as this bothered me at first, I think it only distracted me from everything else. Cause when the bad CG started to wear off, the rest of its flaws became clear.
While I never found the writing in the first couple of episodes to be great, I could never have suspected that it would turn into this. let’s start by asking a question. Why are the characters in the show animals? Does it affect the characters or their jokes, or is it just there to make for a good youtube thumbnail (or rather MAL poster I guess). You can do a lot of things with characters of a show looking like animals. Let’s take Bojack Horseman as an example. In the show, the personalities and struggles of the characters embody their animal form. The character of Princess Carolyn is a great case of this. They take the little ability of cats to always land on their feet and make it into this tragic compulsive need to work. She isn’t able to relax and settle down cause she’s always haunted by her need to work, and she never seems to accept that. And while that character trait would obviously work with a human character as well, it makes so much sense for a cat to be that way. Her being a cat becomes important for her character. And the whole show is filled with this, probably every single animal character. You can do so many creative things! You don’t even have to be serious about it. Just make a character resemble how they look, the thing character design is supposed to do.
Does Africa no Salaryman do any of this? No. Every single character in this show has the most cookie-cutter anime personalities, and none of them work with their animal form. It just feels like they clicked a random animal button and made a character from that.
And it might seem trivial to spend… 250 words… sheesh… on just talking about how the show has nothing to do with animals. But I feel like they could’ve done so much with the idea of African animals working in an office, and none of the potential was used. That’s the worst thing. I can only really say that one of the characters is written to be the animal they look like. And that’s the lion. And of course, the only animal-related joke will be used over and over and over again. The joke is that he looks scary but that his personality is completely different from how he looks. And with that, we can talk about the jokes.
Unfortunately, the repetitive jokes don’t stop at the lion’s contrast in personality to how he looks. Cause they’re everywhere. The toucan cuts off the lizard tail, how random, let’s do it five more times. The Badger does something crazy and doesn’t die, let’s do it five more times and distract the audience from the fact that this show is about an office (This isn’t really a show about an office at this point). The turtle is old but he doesn’t act like he’s old, let’s make that 5 more times.
It’s just really boring after seeing the same jokes over and over again, it just makes my head hurt after a while.
And even when they don’t tell a joke they’ve told before, it’s still shit. It’s “self-aware jokes” about how bad the writing is, references only made for weebs to gawk at how funny it is to say an anime but with an animal pun, the toucan says something random and shouts.
It ends up feeling like a combination of the worst parts of both American and Japanese comedy.
In the end, the show peaked when we got to see a dinosaur with a face on its stomach, and kind of just fucked off after that. I genuinely tried to watch the last episode without skipping through it and it was miserable. It can suck my ass
Average 3/10 (or whatever word to use between strong and weak idk)