Warau Salesman New began way back in 1968. It was written by Fujiko Fujio A. It’s actually had multiple anime, visual novel games & a short-lived drama. The first anime ran for over a hundred episodes, but we’re talking about the newer one today. Because that’s the one I was asked to review. Both anime have the same studio, Shin-Ei Animation. Which is best known for the long running Doraemon franchise. So, how does this series hold up? Let’s take a look at it and see.
There is no over-arcing narrative to this series. Rather, it’s an episodic work where each episode contains two stories. Each story sees our titular “laughing salesman” Moguro Fukuzou, visit someone who’s in some state of desperation. He offers them something that will help them out of their situation, but there’s a catch to it. A rule, if you will. Should they be overcome by greed and break that rule they will suffer consequences. Really, the series is built around the schadenfreude of watching the build up that leads to their Electronic Arts moment of delving too deeply and greedily and falling as a result.
Honestly, the biggest issue with the series is just that it’s highly formulaic. You know right away who Moguro is going to approach. You know basically how he’s going to interact with them and you know that they’re going to screw themselves over as a result of their dealings with him. And this isn’t a series for children or young teenagers where you can completely forgive that. The series might have benefited from having the occasional situation where they successfully resist temptation and he doesn’t get his big “boom” moment as a consequence. It would’ve added some variety, at least. The series also repeats, basically verbatim, the same dialogue at the start of every single scenario. Because you might have forgotten what the lines are in the ten to twelve minutes it takes for one half of the episode to end and the other to begin.
That being said, the situations are interesting to watch, even though you know the basic way they’re going to unfold. And the series does manage to build some tension over what exactly the trap is. It also gives some variety by having some people who really have a karmic kick in the bollocks coming to them while others you can feel kind of sorry for. For example, one of our subjects is a mum who’s forcing her child into show business because it was her dream that she had to give up and it’s satisfying seeing that total bint get her due. There’s another subject who’s just a lonely old man who’s being ignored by his own family for unexplored reasons. I feel a bit sorry for him.
Each individual story in this series puts the focus on one character, explores what factors have put them in a fallen state and what causes them to fall into Moguro’s trap and how the karmic retribution fits. Some characters are better explored than others, with some stories focusing more on the scenario than others, but, in general, you do get enough of the characters to keep the events surrounding them interesting. Although, you do have to question their judgement when they’re being completely taken in by someone as sketchy looking as Moguro.
Seriously, the dude looks like he ate one of the Joker’s laughing fish and he never stops showing his teeth. Yeah, the occasional character points out that he looks a bit shady but none of them seem to get really sceptical after he’s offered them something too good to be true. Nor do you ever see someone just refuse it. I guess he targets people who are a bit desperate and also really gullible.
This series makes use of really old style shounen art with all the exaggerated features and shifting proportions that entails. It looks a bit like Osomatsu-san, actually. Honestly, the art style doesn’t work as well here. Here’s the thing. That series is completely comedic. It can justify the strange stylistic kinks a lot better than this series where it’s somewhat dramatic. In this, it’s a bit distracting when a character’s size changes from one scene to the next.
This series did get some really talented people including Ishida Akira, Toyoguchi Megumi, & Koyasu Takehito. Then we have Genda Tessyo as our main protagonist. The performances are quite good. The music is pretty average. It’s not particularly good nor is it bad. It simply is.
The series doesn’t have any.
Honestly, I’m rather fond of this type of series. I like seeing karmic retribution and I find the execution here to be pretty entertaining. It may not be Petshop of Horrors, but I did quite enjoy it. If you’re a fan of that type of thing and you can forgive the parts that are rather repetitive, I suggest giving it a go. My final rating is going to stand at a solid 7/10. Next week I’m looking at Rose of Versailles.