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Manga / Asobi Asobase

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Shown, left to right: Kasumi Nomura, Hanako Honda, and Olivia.
Not shown: Comedic Sociopathy.

Kasumi Nomura is a strait-laced fourteen-year-old who has grown up hating games thanks to her older sister always beating her at them. When she sees the foreign transfer student Olivia playing a silly game of rock-paper-scissors with the energetic Hanako Honda, Kasumi sees her chance to improve her terrible English grades; in exchange for teaching Olivia how Japanese people have fun, Olivia agrees to teach Kasumi English. Little does Kasumi know that Olivia was actually born and raised in Japan by foreign parents and doesn't know a word of English. This leads to the formation of the Pastimers Club, which is dedicated to playing games and having fun...

...and by "fun" they meant taking their games too seriously, with doses of overacting and schadenfreude in between.

Asobi Asobase (あそびあそばせ) is a manga series written and illustrated by Rin Suzukawa. It was originally published on Hakusensha's Young Animal Densi website starting in June 2015 before being moved to their Manga Park website in August 2017. The series received an anime adaptation directed by Seiji Kishi for Lerche, which aired from July 8 to September 23, 2018. An OVA was released on December 26, 2018. The series is currently available for streaming on Crunchyroll under the title Asobi Asobase: Workshop of Fun. The manga concluded on November 11, 2022.

Asobi Asobase provides examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Maeda helps build an English-speaking android to replace Olivia for an English language competition; unfortunately, the android only knows English sexual and vulgar slang due to it originally being a sex doll that was programmed with the slang Hanako's grandfather uses. It even tries to strangle Chisato when she suggests reprogramming her.
  • Abuse Mistake: Olivia and Kasumi practice using makeup on Hanako. Since none of them have much experience, they mess up, and Takayanagi walks in to the girls standing over Hanako, who has what appears to be a black eye (eye shadow) and a bruised cheek (rouge).
  • Another Story for Another Time: The Student Council Vice-President simultaneously going out with all six members of the neighboring all-boys school's Student Council eventually results in the worst fiasco in the school's history once it's found out... which the narration says is a story for another day.
  • Anti-Climax: When Hanako finally arrives prepared for the match against the Soft Tennis Club and declares that she's about to get serious, her opponents immediately forfeit so that they don't get sweaty before their mixer, leaving Hanako infuriated at being deprived of her revenge against the popular girls.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: A mobile game the girl played, Marchen Hell, has its playable characters lined up like this. In terms of appearance, all except Kaeru-san are cute humanoid animals. In terms of ability, however, each one has a uniquely positive combat stat except Kon-chan, who cheerfully says she has "a horrible personality".
  • Bait-and-Switch Credits: The anime's opening theme, "Three Piece", is a cute and fluffy song with visuals of the three protagonists in white sundresses with copious lilies everywhere, suggesting that it's an easygoing slice of life series. The series is actually a surreal comedy featuring the girls being moronic jerks to each other and everyone else. The ending theme, "Inkya Impulse", which is a heavy metal song featuring surreal neon scribbles of the girls while Hanako screams about popular girls, is much more in line with what the series is really like.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Played for laughs. Even though she's only hamming it up for dramatic effect, Hanako said she wanted a really good spanking for her penalty while playing sugoroku, so Kasumi complied.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: The Shogi Club President agrees to settle who gets to use the classroom by challenging the Pastimers Club to a game, namely shoe kicking. Furthermore, when Olivia bends the rules by using a swing to kick her shoe, the Shogi Club President goes one step further by riding a bike down a hill and jumping off. She wins by a landslide, but she also breaks several bones in the resulting fall and the Shogi Club decides to meet at the president's house while she recovers, letting the Pastimers Club keep the room.
  • Bland-Name Product: Episode 12 references the "Pineapple Store". Hanako even repeats it with a clear look of disbelief.
  • Big Sister Bully: Kasumi's older sister tended to make her do things whenever Kasumi lost in a game. As a result, she's a bit jealous of how much Olivia loves her brother, since Kasumi doesn't care much for her sister.
  • The Blind Leading the Blind: Anytime one of the girls asks another for advice or assistance, expect neither of them to really understand what they're doing.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: When Olivia confesses to Kasumi that she doesn't know English and asks if she still wants to hang out with her, Kasumi gives a heartfelt yes, affirming their friendship and sharing a hug. When Olivia asks Hanako the same question:
    Hanako: "I had a feeling since partway through Episode 1, but I stuck around."
  • Call-Back: Remember that "Gobdwarfs" erotic scenario that Maeda brought up when Hanako asked him for BL materials that Kasumi could use? Chapter 55 of the manga has Kasumi buying a game of exactly that.
  • The Caper: Episode 7. Tsugumi ropes in the Pastimers Club to steal blackmail material from the Student Council office.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: In Chapter 66, the Pastimers Club's class is in danger of having to take English remedial exams during summer break unless they raise their average come the semestral exams after scoring the lowest average in the school's history. After some prodding from Olivia, Hanako devises a scheme where she will feign suffering from a bad stomach in the middle of the exams, allowing Olivia to take Hanako's test papers and replace her name with hers. Unfortunately, all of Hanako's hard work was ultimately All for Nothing after their classmates, still under the impression that Olivia is fluent in English, took her original papers, and when confronted by one of them over the fact that it is largely empty, Olivia tries to save face by claiming they are extra copies, and lends them Hanako's paper, and once it is discovered that most of the girls have the same wrong answers, the entire class—including Hanako—are eventually punished with summer school.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Olivia and Kasumi to Hanako, especially during the latter's more nonsensical moments.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: The blackmail material in episode 7 is mostly about all the shenanigans the Pastimers Club (or more specifically, just Hanako) have been responsible for in the series thus far.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: After they are able to calm down the android modeled after Olivia, everybody decides to ask Fujiwara to take Olivia's place in an English speaking competition. When she agrees to do so, Hanako and Kasumi note that they should have done this from the start.
  • Cultural Cross-Reference: A sizeable amount of the series' Shout Outs are to non-Japanese works, such as Harry Potter, Monty Python's Flying Circus, and Sesame Street. Kasumi turns out to be a fan of Star Trek, which is notable since despite the franchise's popularity, it never quite caught on in Japan as much as Star Wars did.
  • Deranged Animation: The series has a lot of it. Hanako in particular enters this mode when she's angry or otherwise upset, which is to say most of the time.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Both the opening ("Three Piece") and ending ("Inkya Impulse") were sung by Hina Kino (Hanako), Konomi Kohara (Kasumi) and Rika Nagae (Olivia). Kino in particular received recognition for being not half bad at singing (read: screaming) metal of all things.
  • Does Not Like Men: Both Chisato and Kasumi are afraid of men, which in the former's case led to her becoming an Old Maid. When Kasumi and Chisato realize how alike they are in that regard, Kasumi brags that unlike Chisato, she's perfectly fine with the prospect of being a spinster.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Literally. In Chapter 56, the desk of one of the Pastimers Club's classmates was found to have feces all over the book compartment. The entire class help with the investigation, even as nobody found it suspicious that one classmate is averse to considering the possibility that it was animal feces. As it turns out, her pet dog took a shit on the then-upturned desk when she brought him with her while she was picking up her homework the night before.
  • Energy Weapon: Maeda can fire energy beams from his butt thanks to aliens hiding a secret weapon in his rectum.
  • Enfant Terrible: In Episode 12, the Pastimers Club are assigned to temporarily babysit Daniel, the infant son of one of Chisato's friends. Unfortunately, Hanako and Olivia discover how bad-mannered he is, from groping Kasumi's boobs (without her noticing), to snarking over Hanako's flat chest, to screaming about Olivia's spicy armpits, to using his pacifier like a cigarette, and pulling Hanako's pigtail onto a working electric fan.
  • Flower Motifs: The anime's opening is full of yellow lilies. While lilies might make most viewers think of the Yuri Genre, yellow lilies specifically symbolize falsehood; this can be seen as a hint that despite the cute, fluffy visuals, this opening is lying about the show being your typical easygoing Schoolgirl Series. Also, there are several species of lilies that are highly poisonous, so there's that too.
  • Freudian Slip: In Episode 10, while in cooking class, Kasumi is so distracted by her dream about Tsugumi that she keeps on replacing various words with "dick".
  • Friendship Moment: Despite finding Olivia's broken dialect act amusing, Hanako agrees to help her explain to the class that she doesn't actually have an accent because she sees Olivia is now being burdened. This is opposed to Kasumi who immediately determines Olivia keeping her accent is for the best because if she becomes normal and makes other friends, Kasumi will be left alone with Hanako.
  • Humiliation Conga: In Chapters 30-31 (episode 8C), Hanako introduces her version of sugoroku, a snakes-and-ladders-like board game, except each step contains extremely embarrassing dares the girls must do to progress through the game. By the end of it, even Hanako, who created the game, cries in humiliation and vows to never to play that game again.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Tsugumi's boyfriend says this after learning that Tsugumi is a boy, but they apparently still break up.
  • Inciting Incident: In Chapter 14 (Episode 5), Hanako's attempts at pen spinning during a study session with Kasumi and Olivia leads to an improbable chain of events ending with her accidentally burning down the bistro the girls are in.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • When Hanako presents her poster design for the club's upcoming film, Kasumi suggests she add an announcement for a Season 2, clearly subtextually referencing the then-concurrent anime adaptation. Hanako promptly shoots it down, outright saying there are no plans for a Season 2.
    • Chapter 66 of the manga has the anime opening used as part of the Pastimers Club's promotional video to be aired during their school festival, a proposal idea which got scoffed at by the Student Council President.
  • Loophole Abuse: Olivia uses the school's swing set to give herself a massive momentum boost during the shoe launch match against the Shogi Club. They can't disqualify her since nobody said anything about using swings. The Shogi Club President later tries to one-up her by riding a bicycle and actually wins. However, the resulting inertia causes her to painfully crash onto the yard and getting severely injured, causing her victory to become pointless.
  • The Makeover:
    • In her latest bid to become popular, Hanako asks Olivia to apply makeup on her despite Olivia knowing nothing about it. In her first attempt, she uses way too much eyeshadow and makes Hanako look like she got punched; in her second attempt, trying to emulate the Lord of Pastimers, Hanako ends up looking like The Joker.
    • In another episode, Olivia tries to cut her hair due to the heat, and ends up messing up her bangs. Chisato is actually able to salvage them, at the price of Hanako and Kasumi mistaking Olivia for their teacher.
    • A male student from the boys' school opposite gave one to the Student Council Vice-President after he admits he could not tolerate how plain and dull she looks and feels. This worked out so well, it made her the Gyaru Girl that she is now.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: This is practically Mundane Made Awesome: The Manga/Anime. Everything is dialed up, no matter how mundane they really should be. Typical conversations frequently spiral out of control into utter gibberish, and games are overly dramatic compared to what they really ought to be, with lots of screaming, yelling, flailing about, and Nightmare Faces courtesy of mainly Hanako. The background music makes all of the above seem like the most epic action anime ever.
  • Naked People Are Funny: In Chapter 60, Kouichi, Hanako's android "boyfriend", has been revived by her grandfather and Maeda after she decapitates him in annoyance at the end of Chapter 25 (Episode 6B of the anime). This time, however, he walks around completely naked (his creators having been taken for reference material a shoujo manga Olivia lent to Hanako featuring a nudist boyfriend), and where last time Hanako "kills" him, this time around he (under control of Hanako's grandfather) commits "suicide" when he is spotted by Takayanagi dancing in the girls' classroom (Maeda having mistaken her for a foreign spy out to steal Japanese technology).
  • Nightmare Face: The girls are prone to sporting dramatically horrific faces when feeling vengeful or angry.
  • The Noseless: Played for laughs. While the manga and anime's standard character designs have noses, these are usually gone during comedic scenes. Not that Rin Suzukawa usually draws their characters with clearly visible noses, anyhow. The main trio are especially liable to have this happen to them, most notably Hanako, thus leading to them having completely smooth faces when viewed from the side, though this is more observable in the anime due to the manga's art style.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Olivia and Hanako have this reaction when Olivia goes to slap Kasumi after Rock-Paper-Scissors and accidentally slaps her boobs. Olivia could get away with it against Hanako because in the latter case, there was nothing but air there.
    • In Episode 7, when Hanako accidentally calls Kasumi weird after trying to deny reading her perverted fanfiction, they both have this reaction.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Hanako and Olivia's discussion about "virgin-killer clothes" results in Hanako believing that Olivia wants them to go out and literally kill virgins.
  • One-Gender School: The series is set at an all-girls middle school, and there's also an all-boys school nearby that's sometimes brought up.
  • Pet the Dog: The Pastimers Club are in tears when Oka tells them about Agrippa and are determined to help her get better. When Oka confesses that she doesn't think her magic will actually do anything, Olivia tells her that she shouldn't start being rational now and convinces her to try healing her with magic.
  • Precision F-Strike: Maeda made an android based on Olivia to represent her in an English speaking competition. However, its programmed vocabulary is mostly comprised of the dirty slang that Hanako's grandfather speaks. The anime misaligned the timings of the censor bleeps.note 
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The Shogi Club technically wins the shoe tossing contest against the Pastimers Club, but the president injures herself so badly that she ends up having to be homeschooled. As a result, the club ends up meeting at her house, thereby giving the classroom back to the Pastimers.
  • Random Events Plot: Due to its nature as a gag series, Asobi Asobase has very little in the way of a plot. Essentially, each chapter of the manga is a random situation in which the girls explore or engage in some sort of wacky antics that have little to do with the one immediately before or after. The anime condenses these chapters into "Contents", adapted in an even looser order compared to the manga, and each episode consists of three or four of these.
  • Running Gag:
    • Hanako, Kasumi and Olivia's unusual fascination with kendama, which is usually a younger children's toy.
    • Chisato showing up late and walking in at an awkward moment.
  • School Forced Us Together: The Pastimers Club has a vague goal of "having fun" and was formed under lofty conditions with Hanako, Kasumi, and Olivia sticking together because they wouldn't have many friends otherwise. Due to this, the Student Council President rejects their bid to have the club approved, as "having fun" is something they could easily do at home, but allows them to identify as an association.
  • Schoolgirl Series: A rather absurd parody of this genre. While the three girls are certainly cute, this series is definitely not a typical "cute girls doing cute things" story, as all three of them are moronic jerks who frequently do and say things that are decidedly not cute. The series seems determined to prove that contrary to what most anime of the genre will tell you, middle school girls can be just as weird and gross as middle school boys.
  • Serious Business: Any game the girls play is treated as a life or death situation. Kasumi in particular takes any competition seriously to an egregious degree.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Sore Loser:
  • Slut-Shaming: Hanako tends to immediately hate other girls with sexual experience, or who even just have boyfriends. It's made clear that this is just the secretly boy-crazy Hanako's sour grapes and people who she derides as "sluts" are often shown to be more capable than her.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • The Student Council President rejects the Pastimers Club's bid to be a club, with its 10,000 yen in club funds, because they only have three people and because "having fun" is something that they can do at home. They manage to at least qualify as a circle by ensnaring Chisato into their club.
    • When the Pastimers Club decide to have a match against the Soft Tennis Club, Kasumi tries to win by calculating the trajectory of the ball as it comes to her. She prepares to swing and winds up tripping over herself, because she's not physically fit enough to actually keep up with it.
  • The Talk: Episode 5 is about how hilariously far off the mark the girls and their teacher are. With visual aids!
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • The "Senpai" in one of Kasumi's yaoi reading materials in episode 7 whips out a roll of super sticky tapes to bind his romantic partner. He then licks said tape and gets his tongue stuck on the roll.
    • Kasumi and Hanako both display a flagrant lack of self-preservation when playing the mobile battle royale with Olivia, standing out in the open while merrily trying to convince her they should go out exploring instead of hugging a cover, despite the latter repeatedly urging them to hide. This being a battle royale game, both are promptly proven wrong.
  • Training Montage: Hanako trains a stag beetle to help break into the Student Council office with a montage of lifting weights, drinking egg yolks, and learning basic arithmetic.
  • Unsettling Gender-Reveal: Kasumi is absolutely horrified by the revelation of Tsugumi's genitals in a nightmare sequence.
  • Wall Pin of Love: Lampshaded when Kasumi does this to Fujiwara with both arms, a gesture Fujiwara recognizes as "the Japanese kabedon." That being said, it isn't romantic; Kasumi's worried that Fujiwara will spill the beans about Olivia not knowing English.
  • With Friends Like These...: Despite their seemingly close friendship, the three girls will often ruthlessly turn against each other while playing games and make scapegoats of each other to save themselves from trouble.
  • World of Jerkass: All of the main characters are jerks of one kind or another, and the few characters who don't qualify tend to have other crippling flaws.

Narrator: Sorekara do shitano**