27 CommentsFirst Impressions / By Scamp /

Servant X Service episode 1 – Black Turtleneck Sweaters

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There was an exact moment in this episode where I went from “this seems all right” to “this anime is great give me more”. The main character is at her first day at her new job as a public service worker and she’s finding it tough dealing with customers who automatically assume all public service workers are trash. Then the phone rings and she answers it. “GODDAMN PUBLIC SERVICE WORKERS THIS IS WHY WE HATE YOU” yells the person on the other end and then instantly hangs up.

It’s a comedy that made me laugh out loud so already we are onto a winner.

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I didn’t have big expectations coming into Servant X Service, and not just because its name made it sound like some maid bondage anime. It’s a 4-koma adaptation from the same author as Working/Wagnaria, and I wasn’t too big on that when it came out originally. I did only watch one episode though, and that was 3 years ago and people still talk about Worknaria so maybe it was onto something after all. My clever little 4-koma explained why I thought it was crap. I thought would be the blueprint for all future 4-koma adaptations from there on. That sort of ended up being the case, albeit just replace “unusual character trait” for “secretly a lesbian” and you’ve got most 4-koma adaptations since Wagning aired.

Servant X Service does fall into some of those same 4-koma traps that I dislike. The opening – set up – punchline – reaction format sticks out a bit too much. Once you notice this, it becomes difficult to stop noticing. It’s not too much of an issue by itself. It’s how most sitcoms do gags too. The issue only comes up when the transitions between gags aren’t done well, which does happen in SxS. The animation isn’t particularly inspiring, but it’s a gag comedy so it doesn’t have to be. The boob physics are a little distracting, although that only became a problem when the anime pointed them out to me, because otherwise they were packed tightly under a black turtleneck sweater. Actually there’s something I kinda dug. Female characters wearing trousers in an anime and generally dressing sensibly, what a bizarre concept!

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Right right, girls in turtleneck sweaters probably won’t sell you on this anime (although you never know, given there’s a big contingent of anime fans who will watch an anime if it has thigh high stockings), so let’s cover the actually good parts. Firstly, in a world dominated by high schools, it’s got an original setting. The office feels alive with its weird set of one-scene characters popping in and asking for child benefits. It doesn’t feel like a school classroom where the layout is different. Second positive point, it’s a comedy with a purpose and clear direction. It’s focus on the public service is surprisingly well explored for the first episode and its purpose and image in society. It uses the comedy to demonstrate how people treat the industry, as well as some broader jokes about office atmosphere, and that gives it the edge that makes its jokes stick more.

Final positive point? It made me laugh out loud more than once. The lady babbling about her daughter in law, the phone yelling, the goofy laugh the airhead character has. It’s actually funny. Imagine that.

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  1. Fumoffu!!
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    “Female characters wearing trousers in an anime and generally dressing sensibly, what a bizarre concept!”

    You would almost have thought it was illegal for sensible clothes to be worn by female anime characters.

    Well anyway, I liked it well enough. It was the only show I was somewhat looking forward to this season, so hopefully my expectations won’t be crushed.

    I think Lucy’s Seiyuu doesn’t suit her, she just sounds too young. I don’t know, but it seems kinda wrong.

    I only moment remember making me laugh (although there were more, I’ve just forgotten) was the blank stare with which the woman responded to Lucy when she said “Not at all! This is fun!”.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      I didn’t really notice the voice acting apart from the dopey laugh the male dude has. Then again, I rarely notice the voice acting

    • shytende
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      She is less than 24 years old.
      She’s the youngest of the three.
      And she sounds older than the other girl IMO…

  2. rubberluffy
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Girls in turtlenecks + big boobs is pretty awesome. I thought this show was pretty okay with some good parts and not enough bad parts to bring it down. I’ll be keeping up with it.

  3. Posted July 6, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Your 4-koma is perfect (why does the straight man always repeat the bad joke, anyway?)… and pretty much sums up my feelings about this show, too. I guess it just depends on whether the other jokes land for the viewer or not – personally, I was ready to check out by the time slacker guy slacked off for the fourth time. I do wish we got more shows in settings like this, though.

  4. Leah
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Agreeing on all points here. And the opening was great.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      The singer eventually got on my nerves for the OP, but it does have style I’ll grant it that

  5. stushi
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    Ohmagahd your 4-koma made me laugh more than any 4-koma ever has.
    Even more than SxS, though that’s not even comparable, since for some reason I didn’t find it funny at all :/
    I’m hoping it’ll get better in the future, though.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      That 4-koma of mine is over 3 years old. Glad to see it’s still relevant

    • Hanasra
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

      Too relevant Scamp, too many shitty 4-koma manga like that out there. Even there are something worse than that.

      Masashi Ueda works still the master of 4-koma SoL for me. His main work Kobo-chan is like Yosuba&! but with whole family as Yotsuba. While Kariage-kun is just so damned hilarious with is occasional absurd-salary-man joke.

  6. hint
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Was funny to see her forgeting where she was while getting furious at her know-all supervisor.

  7. Mr. Anon
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    >It’s a comedy that made me laugh out loud so already we are onto a winner.

    And then you write about Hataraku Maou-sama being bad, even though it was totally top 3 anime last season. Why Scamp why.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      I’ll give it top 4 anime of last season, only because last season was shit

  8. fathomlessblue
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Honestly, my reaction to this was nearly exactly the same as the first episode of Working!! Throw a bunch of people with one-note character quirks together and expect comedy to arise. Granted, the office/civil servant setting feels a little more inspired than a cafe, and there appears more comedy based around the actual customers than what Working bothered to do, but in general the show feels almost mechanically contrived.

    The funny thing is, after all that complaining, I did grow to quite like Working. Sure, it was never inspired and the character traits did grate a bit, but the writer obviously knows how to write free-flowing interactions and effortlessly funny cause-and-effect humour. Opposite to comedies like Maou-sama, it was only once the series settled into a groove and create a natural rapport between the cast, that I actually started laughing. If SxS can also this, while adding a heavier customer emphasis, I think we could be onto a winner here. I’ll give it a few more episodes to see if lightning strikes twice.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      Almost all of the humour I liked came from the civil service jokes rather than the character traits, so that probably speaks to why I liked this over Working. I don’t remember Working having any jokes about the resteraunting itself

  9. Posted July 6, 2013 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    I was going to save this till I had seen Working since, well, it’s basically the same stuff. But considering how 1) The stuff I wanted to watch this season has turned out mediocre 2) As a result, I’d like something that might actually be fun to watch 3) You, of all people, liked it… and thus I have decided to watch this show.

    Thank you.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Hey I actually like anime comedy when they’re not dumb high school romances for the most part.

  10. abyssion29
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    I found it to be a bit ‘meh’ to be honest, it pretty much has the same bad tropes you mentioned about most 4 komas except this time it’s set in an office instead of a school. A bit like Free! where it’s the same kinda show kyoani has been making except now the main characters are boys.

  11. aethelwulf
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    I came into this show with zero expectations, and was very pleasantly surprised. The characters were a bit one-note, but the show was nevertheless entertaining. And the opening credits were so cute!

    I personally sympathize with the main character’s quest to get revenge for her name, lol. Instead of choosing a normal name for me, my parents smashed together two common names and mutilated the spelling of both. I answer to about five different pronunciations of my name, including versions with silent “a”s.

    • RandomGoodJobGuy
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      “I personally sympathize with the main character’s quest to get revenge for her name, lol.”
      I understand those feelings! Although, my quest for revenge involves having the same first name as 7 of my colleagues. They would have it worse as 3 of them share the same surname.

  12. Son Gohan
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    I dropped Working after episode 4 because I couldn’t stand the androphobic girl constantly beating the spineless male lead.
    SxS thankfully lacks the abusive girl character (so far), so I am sticking with it for now.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      That’s what a lot of people I talked to said about Working too. I don’t even remember her much from the first episode, I just thought Poplar and the main character were boring

  13. Stef
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Public services? Formal wear?! Adults?!! What the hell?!
    On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Danganronpa to convince me I didn’t fall into a parallel universe.

    But yeah, as you said Scamp, the best jokes are the ones about the job itself. I’d say it has the potential to be a (gently) critical comedy, but I see too much of Working in it already.

  14. Someone Else
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Considering how Scamp is hard to please…And liked this one…


    But maybe you just liked it because it wasn’t a school setting and you simply just wanted something unique

    And lol I didn’t know that this was actually by same author of working, I only thought the similarities was because of the same studio (visually that is)

    • Scamp
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      I’m not /that/ hard to please guys ;_;

      • Someone Else
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        It’s fine, being able to pick the good and the bad parts and explaining them in a clear way is what makes your reviews shine

    • Zahha
      Posted July 11, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      In what universe are you not hard to please? =P

      I come at your blog expecting you to bash the animes I like and praise animes that I think are shit but for some reason your blog is one of the 2 I frequent. I guess I find the content your write worthwhile although most of the time I disagree with you.

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