Japanese animated television shows and movies, better known as anime, have been a part our lives for a long time. Remember rushing back home from school to catch the double episode of Pokémon or re-enacting the fight sequences from Dragon Ball Z? There’s a lot more where they came from, and they’re not limited to one genre. There are action-adventure animes, shows that rely on horror, and dramas that will make sure you have a box of tissues around you. Naturally, comedy isn’t missing from the mix either.
Whether it’s slice-of-life humour, parodies taking aim at typical anime tropes or elaborate visual gags, the medium serves as a versatile magnifying glass which amplifies the outlandish nature of these storylines. Comedy anime is known for bringing audiences a unique brand of over-the-top humour, and some series do this on a side-splitting scale. If you’re looking for recommendations, we’ve put together some of our favourites right here. Get started on your otaku journey!
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
Kusuo Saki has all the psychic abilities one could ask for. He can teleport, influence people’s decisions and read minds. And how does he put these incredible powers to use? By avoiding human interactions. Saki, an introverted high school kid with a superiority complex, will go out of his way to keep to himself and that’s where the show’s humour resides. His friends and family cause him more trouble than an actual super-villian with their off-kilter ruminations that send our protagonist down hilarious spirals. The comedy veers wildly between deadpan observation and unbridled silliness.
Each episode is a fast paced laugh riot with more jokes per minute than your average sitcom. In addition to that, the episodes are divided into shorter segments which can be enjoyed as separate self-contained mini-episodes, making this an easy watch for almost anyone.
Komi Can’t Communicate
Komi Can’t Communicate had built up such high expectations, it would not have come as a surprise if it buckled under the pressure. However, the incredibly successful manga, which was adapted into an anime by the highly acclaimed Studio OLM (responsible for Pokémon and Odd Taxi), delivered on all fronts. The show follows the quintessential odd couple. Shouko Komi is the popular girl in school who suffers from crippling social anxiety. Hitohito Tadano is a boy in her class and his plan is simple—don’t draw any attention. That plan falls right through when he takes the seat right next to Komi in class.
When taken at face value, the plot to Komi Can’t Communicate is quite simple and even somewhat generic. However, the manner in which the show fleshes out our protagonists with nuance and tackles the issue of mental health in a wonderful manner sets it apart. Each episode is packed with awkward humour interspersed with earnestly emotional moments which will surely disarm the viewer. The show has a steady pace and doesn’t get stale even for a second, though some segments are admittedly more interesting than others.
The Devil Is A Part-Timer
The Devil doesn’t wear Prada in this one. On the contrary, he wears a cheap fast-food chain uniform which is suspiciously familiar to McDonalds (it’s called MgRonald’s, come on). That’s the premise of the show and it wears the absurdity on its sleeve and runs with it. In a surprising turn of events, Satan himself is transported to modern day Tokyo and now he has… to pay rent? The Devil Is A Part Timer takes this concept and turns it into a worthwhile comedy. It takes its time to evolve into a thought-provoking, often sweet and most importantly hilarious story which doesn’t shy away from dipping its toes into some high octane action scenes. But the laughs are always going to come from the embodiment of evil trying to stay afloat in the current economy. Capitalism is the real Satan after all, right?
From the get-go, the odds are stacked up against the show. How are they going to humanise and make us root for Satan or his human guise Sadao Maou? But the 13 tightly written episodes cleverly weave in mundane everyday problems as we slowly get on board with our protagonist. Falling sick and not having insurance, trying to replace a crashed bicycle, dealing with a financially irresponsible roommate, an archangel showing up to try and kill you… You know, normal things. Top-quality zingers, social commentary about struggling in the gig economy and hilarious cameos from Satan’s comrades are all up for grabs in this one.
Daily Lives of High School Boys
Anime is full of stories set in high schools where the kids are taught by octopus-like beings and their classmates might be walking around with a lethal notebook. Daily Lives of Highschool Boys doesn’t rely on any such tropes and is all about pure unadulterated nostalgia and fun. The slice-of-life comedy revolves around Tadakuni, Hidenori Tabata and Yoshitake Tanaka and the hijinks they get up to, which are equal parts ridiculous and relatable (because high school boys are hilarious disasters after all).
Exploring the unrealized hopes and dreams of adolescence—and the disappointing reality of school life—the series has a lot to offer viewers on the nostalgia front. From pranking each other to chatting about girls, this coming-of-age tale will elicit plenty of laughs from you as it captures the painful and fond memories of school during its 12-episode run.
One Punch Man
Nobody likes an overpowered superhero. They’ve got everything going for them and nobody comes close to giving them any kind of competition. Look at Superman or The Boys’ Homelander. One Punch Man has a simple answer to deal with the “infinite power” trope. Turn the whole story on its head and make it a hilarious parody about all the cliches established by decades of action anime.
Like the name suggests, the show follows the life of Saitama, a superhero who doesn’t need more than one punch to send his enemies back to where they came from. This results in a perpetually bored titular character who only derives excitement from supermarket discounts. You’ve got comically exaggerated supervillains, incompetent wannabe sidekicks and Saitama’s overtly deadpan cadence and surprisingly expressive face to land all the jokes that sets this apart from any basic shonen.
Gintama is a masterpiece. Running for 201 episodes, the show effortlessly blends history and science fiction as our titular samurai Gintoki and his gang of misfits fight an alien invasion. Anything can and will happen in the Gintama universe. There’s no telling what kind of adventure the next episode holds for you.
The narrative plays second fiddle to the jokes in the series. Gintama goes to extreme lengths to trigger comedy, with bizarre visual gags poking fun at all aspects of Japanese and Western culture and parodies tons of other successful franchises. While some jokes might go amiss for the newbie anime watcher, Gintama‘s frenetic joke delivery makes up for the loss. The series’ limitless nature also lends itself to explore different genres to mine humour. This one is a must-watch, no cap.