Home > Asobi ni Iku Yo!, Episode Reviews > Asobi ni Iku Yo! Episode 9 (part 2) – Youth Culture Killed My Dog(girl)

Asobi ni Iku Yo! Episode 9 (part 2) – Youth Culture Killed My Dog(girl)

Like I said before, this episode of Asobi ni Iku Yo! is good. But it’s also completely insane. This is unquestionably the best episode since the first two and, while it lacks the manic pace of either, it more than makes up for it by being simultaneously thoughtful and completely bonkers.

I talked about the thoughtfulness earlier, so now all I have left is to explain are this episode’s eccentricities, which are legion, but boil down to one thing: the show’s constant reference to pop culture.

This establishing shot says it all

I’ve talked about them before, in nearly every episode, but the sheer amount of product placement and pop culture references in this show has finally reached critical mass. I’ve written about the blatant product placement for A&W in the past, but this episode features an actual scene in an A&W restaurant, for no reason except to show off various A&W products.

Some of it are merely winking nudges, like the catgirls calling up the iTunes music store from the holographic display on their space ship orbiting Earth, or the lawsuit-friendly riff on an Amazon.com box.

Others, like the show’s obvious sponsorship from A&W, are evidence of the kind of tacky corporate eyeball-grab I typically appreciate anime for avoiding, or at least being more tactful about. But hey, anime isn’t exactly a profitable industry, especially in these tough times, so I guess I can’t fault the producers for pursuing alternate sources of revenue just in case uncensored DVD sales don’t pay the dividends they’re anticipating.

I'm not sure how well this plays in a tiny resolution, but it's very obviously iTunes

Don’t think that I don’t enjoy any of the reference. The movie posters in the film club room had me giggling, from the obvious joke of “The Grandfather Part VI”, to dated low blows (a Hitchcock-esque silhouette with the title “The Man Who Was Too Fat”), to the barely even trying to hide the actual film (“Armagedodoon? That doesn’t even make sense. They just copied the actual poster, down to Bruce Willis’s ever-present grimace).

Mostly, though, I don’t see the point. Well, I can see a point for the advertising, even if I don’t enjoy it. I’m fine with the subtle background gags, but this episode wipes your nose in it constantly, from the catgirl space ship going into hyperspace looking just like the U.S.S. Enterprise going warp speed, with a copycat bridge scene preceding it, to the mind-breaking finale.

Boldly referencing what no science fiction show has ever referenced before

The references just don’t add anything positive to the show. At best, you get a chuckle out of the fact that aliens are using something from everyday life, or that this show’s science fiction universe is an awkwardly self-aware version of the cheesy science fiction universes from before Star Wars came out and made science fiction movies get all serious.

In the end, though, it’s an incredibly tacky and lazy kind of humor. The juxtaposition of high technology and modern life is only interesting when you do something interesting with it, or use it to make a point. If you’re just point at the incongruity and saying, “hey, look how weird this is”, then you’re not even trying. This is the kind of thing that might have been interesting in the 60s when both the Flintstones and the Jetsons did it (although not as interesting as those show’s longevity may lead you to believe), and it’s not the sort of thing that ages well.

Armagedodoon is my favorite of the movie posters, for the lazy ridiculousness of it. Lazy ridiculousness being this show's sense of humor and only tone

This episode’s biggest nod towards popular culture, though, isn’t a cringe-worthy corporate sellout or Family Guy at its most apathetic-caliber humor. It’s just plain weird.

It’s so weird, in fact, that all of this post so far has been one long attempt to avoid having to explain it. But now I have nowhere to run, so I guess I should just dig into it.

Back in the 1940s, in America, there was a pulp hero named Captain Future. He had some striking similarities to Batman (also conceived around the same time): dead parents spurring him onto heroics, supernatural feats spurring almost entirely from mental brilliance and dedicated training, and an awesome name. Unlike Batman, however, his adventures took place in space, in the kind of ridiculous space opera world setting Asobi takes what inspiration it doesn’t get from A&W root beer floats and anime porn from.

There's also an Aibo, which Kio rescues as part of the show's touching message about robots, and has his robot servant repair. It doesn't matter at all

The series apparently struck a chord worldwide, and in 1978 received an anime adaptation somehow. That is the version of Captain Future that this episode concerns itself with.

There’s apparently an insert song from the series that someone working on the show was really inspired by, because it gets referenced constantly by the catgirls, who claim it perfectly captures the infinite loneliness of space.

You never hear the song, even though it probably pops up five times before the finale. Finally, though, the catdroid Lawry mentions her desire to fulfill her master’s dying wish: to set foot on Earth, look up at its night sky and sing one of its songs. So she does, and that song is the song from Captain Future, I Am A Lonely Spaceman.

Hey, if anime characters eat there, it must be good. Manami only eats the best-drawn meats available

Not only that, but after she begins, and the fake synthesizer instrument backing track kicks in (if you’ve ever listened to children sing Vacation Bible School songs, you have some idea of the quality of the instrumentation and composition, although this is eminently more listenable), it cuts to a montage of the rest of the cast, looking up at the sky, singing the song.

When the character is in the shot, their voice actor is the one singing. Even if the character made fun of Kio earlier for listening to anime music. None of the vocals are well-produced and most of the actors sound awful. I presume they’re trying to sing in character, since most voice actresses can, in fact, sing at least competently. Here, though, it sounds like a rough night at the karaoke bar. Finally, the show decides it’s through being classy, and we get the 70s variety show shot you see at the top of the post: Eris and Kio’s heads superimposed on the background, slightly faded out.

Here, I'll post it again so you don't have to scroll up.

It’s…really cheesy. Really amazingly super cheesy. It makes Rocky Horror look like Saving Private Ryan. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. I don’t think anything is cheesier than Rocky Horror.

But it is a little moving. That might just be because the infinite and lonely expanse of space always brings out the romantic in me.

And it makes me wonder: in a show that’s intentionally self-aware about being as campy as possible, is it possible that this campy musical montage than which no greater can be conceived is intentionally as campy as possible?

I know he's dead, but I can't help but feel bad for Alfred Hitchcock. Guy can't get a break from the fat jokes. Or a pie

That might be the tack you want to take: It’s certainly a valid opinion. I, however, can’t remember when Asobi ever successfully captured the tone it was going for. Then again, most of the time it’s missed wildly and just ended up seemingly insanely ridiculous. Maybe it’s finally found its niche.

Besides, I swore never to give anime the benefit of the doubt on meta-humor after I convinced myself that He Is My Master was a clever parody of maid shows. As it turns out, it’s just even more ridiculous than your average maid show. My point being: anime is ridiculous enough to begin with that assuming something is an intentional parody just because it’s ridiculous is usually incorrect. Most of the time, it’s just trying to be more ridiculous.

I’ve stopped caring about what Asobi ni Iku Yo! does, as long as it gives me something interesting to write about. And look at this: I’ve written more on this one episode that I have on the entirety of Ookami to date. And Ookami is actually a decent show.

Even that robot dog likes Captain Future. And is watching it at exactly the same time as the catgirls are obsessing over the song. What are the odds?

So tune in next week, when Kio finds a sonic screwdriver and stops being useless (you can do anything with a sonic screwdriver) and bunnygirls arrive, flanked by Daleks, and attack Earth with goo that eats people’s clothes. Only Big O can save us.

Or the main plot finally kicks in. One of the two.

Watch this episode here.

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