Joshiraku starts with a long fourth-wall breaking skit where the characters explain that watching this anime is a waste of time, and not even the best way to watch it, then following that with a message that the only point of this show is to watch the cute girls because the dialogue goes nowhere. There’s something awfully amusing about a show laying out exactly why you shouldn’t watch it in the first few minutes, and then proceeding to do all those exact criticisms it levelled at itself in the rest of the episode.
The fourth-wall breaking elements of Joshiraku are legitimately funny satire. The issue is that it’s satirising itself and shows of its ilk. That results in my reaction to this episode being “hahaha yeah that’s right, you do suck”. As soon as it moves into the main bulk of the episode and stops fourth-wall breaking, it goes and does all those things it said were terrible. The conversations are the lazed ponderings of a bunch of Japanese schoolgirls that lead to nothing and signify nothing. The directing doesn’t add anything to the conversation either. This is where my big “LOL JC STAFF” stamp gets planted. The only part something about the visual direction genuinely added something was the “but the animators put in so much effort” while the girl swayed all over the place in a completely pointless fashion. Heck, even that was basically them pointing out the uselessness of their directing.
The issues with the conversations in Joshiraku is they have no meaning. It’s not like the author’s other work, Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei, where the discussions were generally satirising some part of society. Even the nationalistic part was just them being nationalistic rather than any actual commentary on nationalism. These conversations are just observations about language, which segues nicely into the main point I wanted to make with this post: why are we watching this? I mean us. English-speaking folk.
Some of you lot understand Japanese, so wonderful for you, but it’s safe to suggest that 99% of the people reading this have about as much Japanese as any weeaboo who watches subtitled anime would have. That is, you understand phrases and single words, but not the nuances of language that make up wordplay and puns. The jokes are completely lost on us. I mean, god bless gg for attempting to come up with relevant puns of their own, but when the entire show is based around puns, there’s only so much they can do. If watching gg coming up with puns is enough for someone, it begs the question of why don’t gg just release a blank screen where they dumb pun jokes.
I don’t think Joshiraku is a bad show. It certainly expresses more self-awareness and intelligence than most shows that are essentially just excuses for cute girls to be paraded by the screen (Joshiraku admitting this is why this anime exists doesn’t really change that cute girls for the sake of it is still dull). That said, Joshiraku made me question why the hell I watch anime anyway when there are such blatant language and cultural barriers. Why am I watching some cartoon from Japan rather than something from my homeland where I understand the cultural nuances. It’s gloriously ironic that a show this nationalistic was the anime to turn me to consider stopping watching foreign cartoons.