Most harem anime today are as horrible as the original source material they’re based on. Not Mangaka-san to Assistant-san, because the anime is as arete as the magnificent manga.
Less than one out of a million harem anime today are more than a turn-off, and Mangaka-san To Assistant-san is a show that manages to be the one. It’s a winner in a world of losers.
I have a special obsession for comedy series, always particularly discerning in finding a specific formula of humor for my free-time enjoyment. I had no previous knowledge of Mangaka to Assistant before going into the first episode of the anime. I watched episode one and two and so forth, and each time, I’m dehydrated – thirsty for more of the ecstatic romance comedy.
Sadly, the anime arrives at a rapid ending as the already short series doesn’t have a very long episode count.
Unfortunately this meant I had to go the dreaded route of reading the manga. Yes, reading. READING. Why would anyone want to read in this era is beyond me. I pick up manga pretty often, how many times I complete them however is far from it. The manga reading experience itself is unpleasant to me and this made it baffling when I checked the time to find I’d spent hours endlessly reading chapters of Mangaka to Assistant and still had the craving for more.
Mangaka-san to Assistant-san at its core is fantastic. Whilst the anime has the benefits of bringing vitality to the pages and panels of the manga (marvelously as it so happens), it suffers from a common issue – there’s plenty of context missing. This isn’t to say the anime has any faults, rather, the manga is just so much better.
The anime is nothing but wondrous fun, yet reading the manga, I was a little shocked to learn the first episode had events from merely the opening chapter and little more. A massive gap of material was missing.
Certainly the anime captures the essence of the original work. It’s excellent standalone, and it doesn’t deviate from or contradict its source material. As far as an overall story goes however, call it the pacing, one could say we’re simply jumping from one convenient scenario to another. It’s a transition a little too rapid for some tastes.
In contrast, we have the manga which begins identically as the anime minus minor visual discrepancies, but it then dives further into much more. Mangaka To Assistant (Man To Ass, ManAss, or whatever you want to call it) is interestingly a hybrid of 4koma panels, which are occasionally random gags, but more often than not, gags which develop from regular manga pacing.
In other words, it’s a mix of four-panel style comic comedy and the typical manga layout we’re used to reading. Outstanding is too shamefully ordinary a term to describe how incredible the transitioning is in this manga series.
Following the initial joke scene with A-san, we’re treated a closer look at the introduction of the pink-haired bishoujo, brought into the anime with episode two. Her feelings are elaborated, articulated in detailed artwork and simple, meaningful dialogue. She’s a fanatic of our perverse Mangaka and is essentially as much of a twisted otaku as he is. Now this is merely one character, the other characters too astonishingly come alive in the course of reading this black and white static compilation of physical pages.
Each girl has her different perspective and traits, physical and mental, that make them each uniquely lovable – and appropriately, we come to see our protagonist fall in love with them all. Quite in the same vein as great Sugisaki Ken’s mishaps in Seitokai no Ichizon, we see how one male with odd personality points manages to make a group of girls fall in love with him as, despite his creepy features, he’s an honest person, true to himself, with all around great character.
There’s real exploration into the characters, and believe it or not, the leading male is inspiring – a thought that seems unheard of by today’s lowly standards.
Rightfully so, the girls ultimately find themselves with sensitive feelings for our male protagonist. But there’s never any blatant “I Love You”s, except on our pervert’s part of course, the action itself speaks. In their continued humorous endeavors together, the girls we come to meet show their affection and individual emotions towards Mangaka-kun, and Mangaka-kun likewise exhibits the elements of himself and the distinct sentiments and one of a kind relationship he has with each of the girls.
Our protagonist talks about underwear constantly, and yet I can count strictly one instance where the pantsu of a female character is shown in the many volumes I’ve already read, a few more if counting a superbly executed recurring gag with one certain girl.
This is where one of the big barriers of disparity arrives between manga and anime series – a substantial portion of anime viewers, myself originally included, could go into the first two episodes and merely count this off as another triangle party. While our protagonist loves talking about underwear, make no mistake, fanfare is hard to find here – everything is relevant to an intricate tale first and foremost.
Mangaka-san is brave enough a man to cast aside public perception and chase his unfiltered dreams, and the manga presents the depth of developments behind that, as well as what occurs through the course of all as result of it.
Mangaka-san To Assistant-san’s anime is great, but it’s unlikely to be able to thresh the necessary degree of detail to appropriately expand the characters in its current limited state. The manga, on the other hand, is composed with deep contemplation of every aspect of every character, and it undoubtedly shows in how it takes hold of a reader with its immersing, all-admirable crew of characters and their continually fantastic daily disasters.
While most harem anime can’t even convince us to keep watching, this one ends up selling us on the manga too.