Having begun life as a four-panel manga strip, the anime of The Comic Artist and His Assistants is neatly packaged into twelve episodes – each thirteen minutes long – making it a light watch best viewed in one lazy evening. The artist in question is Yuki Aito, whose desire, above all else, is to draw the most alluring and beautiful panties known to manga. Of course, this throws up plenty of problems, like finding new inspiration (mainly at lingerie stores) and the dilemma of which are better, glimpses or full views. But, in Aito’s case as well as the series’, appearances prove deceptive.
You can sympathise with the frequent furious outbursts by his assistants, and especially his editor Mihari Otosuna, as working with such a colossal pervert could never be plain sailing. But as we see his first meetings with newbie Rinna Fuwa, Sahoto Ashisu and recurring assistant Sena Kuroi, it’s clear that his tendency to be hot and heavy stems from intense sexual tension, and since he’s managed to turn 22 without ever groping anyone, that’s hardly a stretch of the imagination. Rather than being predatory, it’s his love and attraction for his friends combined with his nerves that make him step over the line without fail, defining the format of each episode. Although this pattern becomes an annoyance, it’s less that his faux pas are predictable—in fact this works well for the comic strip format—and more that you want to see him succeed in tender moments with his assistants and, just for once, avoid a slap across the face.
As far as spinning the harem thread goes, Aito is a welcome break with tradition. Due in part to Aito’s charms and genuine talent as an mangaka, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka’s voice acting must be credited for providing him with the subtle layers of his personality. And despite its beginnings, far from taking the regular stance of making a punchline of perversion, the series has tangents where the characters explore their kinks together. Where Aito is a masochist and Sena is an out sadist, Ashisu discovers her sadist streak through tormenting Aito. And as for Rinna, while her complete acceptance of Aito could be seen as passive dimness, a closer look shows her as a young woman at ease with her own sexuality.
With a story and script that make you laugh out loud, tear up and get turned on at equal turns, and empowering and outrageous characters that make you love them effortlessly, this is a series that’s full of pleasant surprises, especially for the ecchi amongst us.