Africa Salaryman – Ep. 1 (First Impressions)

I find it so random that Africa Salaryman starts off with a parody of “The Circle of Life” scene from The Lion King. Really, the only similarity this anime shares with the movie is the fact that the main protagonist is a lion. That’s it. Why have this opening? Is it because The Lion King remake is one of the biggest movies of this year? Is that movie the only thing Japan knows about Africa (I really hope it isn’t)? I’m just confused is all.

That opening moment is representative of Africa Salaryman‘s biggest problem. It tries way too hard to be funny. I can’t fault it for lack of variety; you have workplace banter, violent slapstick, bait and switch gags, you name it. Some bits do stick the landing. My favorite scenario in this episode is when the Toucan (Hiro Shimono) is at a mixer and deals with a pig who doesn’t talk and acts like, well, an actual pig. The punchline that the latter is actually a talking pig’s pet pig raises so many questions about this world and is so bizarre that I can’t help but find it funny. But for the most part, I didn’t find this show all that humorous. Scenes such as the Toucan and Lizard (Kenjiro Tsuda) getting accused of sexual harassment by high schools students and them finding their lion friend (Akio Outsuka) scary just didn’t cut it for me. Watching the premiere in its entirely thus becomes a droning experience until it gets to its A-material. Honestly, this show would fare better as a short series, releasing its material in small pieces. Not only would this give each gag some breathing room, watching in bursts would make for a more tolerable experience.

Kind of like Disney’s Lion King remake, characters don’t emote very well but unlike that movie, the cause is budgetary. The characters are anthropomorphic but their faces are drawn more akin to realistic animals than cartoonish ones. As a result, the characters aren’t terribly expressive save for when the aesthetic is entirely exaggerated. It doesn’t help that characters are mostly rendered in CGI and very limited CGI at that. Because of this, dialogue-driven jokes becomes too reliant on the acting to carry them through and the slapstick doesn’t entirely succeed because you’re too distracted by how stilted and clunky the characters’ movements are.

I wouldn’t go as far as to call Africa Salaryman but it is looking inconsistent. At the very least, I’d maybe enjoy it more if the episodes were divided up into clips. As a half-hour experience, it’s pretty tiresome to watch. There are plenty of comedies airing this season so if I do decide to drop this show, I don’t think I’ll miss out on much.

Thanks for reading!

Watch Africa Salaryman on Funimation

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