Mayonaka Punch Episode 1: The Cancelled Girl



What better way to sell a vampire YouTube anime than to have the Blood Devil herself voice the titular vampire Live in Mayonaka Punch episode 1? Probably by starting off incredibly strong with a wild and excessively fun opening– and one at that sounds so frustratingly similar to another anime song I cannot think of for the life of me. Seriously, I am ripping my hair out over being unable to place what the first verse of the opening sounds like. Either way, Mayonaka Punch episode 1 doesn’t dive headfirst into a story like Narenare did, but it still sells the viewer on quite a bit of what this series wants to be- tagline and all.

Forget the vampires and nighttime punches for a moment though, the reason I was so interested in this series was for how it would approach content creation. The PVs indicate that it plays a very important role, all the way from conception to perception, and this first episode does a really solid job of incorporating it. Masakichi, or by her real name Masaki, is a solid archetype; Far from perfect, a wildly strong personality but fragile- there’s plenty of space for development and struggle within reasonable context. Hell, that struggle is the catalyst for the series. Her falling out with longtime friends and co-creators is what finds us in this spot. It’s a great idea, and they extend on her character by providing the intense insecurity that comes with putting yourself out there for the world to scrutinize. It’s a solid idea, and establishes it as a struggle for Masaki to face up to throughout the series…. when she’s not busy being violent, that is.

It’s very solid work, and is a great counterbalance to the excessive nature of Mayonaka Punch episode 1. That insecurity can be challenging to display at times as well, but P.A. Works and series director Shuu Honma have that down pat. It may seem a little disingenuous to balloon it up to the size they’re working with, but making that insecurity so “strong” and present on the screen forces viewers to understand the situation. Negative comments swirling around her, intense camera movement and perspective- it’s a lot of visual groundwork to force the more sincere aspects to remain present against the ridiculous backdrop of a vampire mega-star.

Similarly, Masaki’s outbursts do very much need that edge. When you’re competing with the humor on a P.A. Works anime, any sincerity you wish to provide needs to be presented in the most wild ways possible. If the reactions were kept more serious or less boisterous, you really wouldn’t have the same effect. Just look at how she reacts in that cafe versus how she does when she gets wasted. The former could definitely not replace the latter, especially when the episode is beginning to tiptoe in to its wildest pieces. In addition, when the rug finally gets pulled out, those heartfelt moments will just feel even stronger against the untamed nature of the prior reactions. It’s a very Akiba Maid War style of narrative progression, and I’m absolutely here for it.

Though, if it’s a comparison you want to make, you really have to go with Ya Boi Kongming!– mostly because writer Hideaki Shirasaka found their beginnings there. And it makes sense, really (even though they weren’t in charge of the original story for either). Shirasaka’s involvement and experience from Kongming! has certainly translated well to Mayonaka Punch episode 1. The topical and contemporary nature of both shows demands much more than your usual anime in terms of conversation, and with the inclusion of an archaic character learning the ropes of a new world, you come to realize that Shirasaka has a lot going for them with their work on Mayonaka Punch. Oh, and did I mention that Shuu Honma also directed Ya Boi Kongming!? Clearly, there’s a strong contingency of staff here that knows what they’re doing.

And that results in a lot of good conversation. I’m always a sucker for layered dialogue, and Honma and Shirasaka make use of that right away in Mayonaka Punch episode 1. It’s a great piece that address the modality of communication unique to the digital era, as well as just adding to the intensity and oddity of the series at large. Sure, it might be a bit of information overload, but that’s also what it’s intending to do in the first place.

Continuing down the list of P.A. Works similarities though, did all the directors for this season get together and agree that each of their first episodes needed a chase sequence? Seriously. First it was Sakuna (which was expected), then Narenare breaks out the parkour, and now Mayonaka Punch episode 1 joins the fray? Such a weird coincidence. All the same though, it sets in stone that all three series are very well animated- and in their own ways at that. Mayonaka Punch really loves making use of the dichotomy between overly smooth movement, and very sharp and sudden animation. It’s an undeniably fun pairing that sells the “creepy” factor for the episode alongside the hilarity and energy.

And a lot of that can also be attributed to Honma’s boards for the episode. Very similar to the two-tone nature of the majority of Mayonaka Punch episode 1, their work is either very still or very dynamic. Pans are not just a “one and done” piece of a scene, for example. Facilitating a funny back and forth, selling the creepy nature of an abandoned hospital, they’re used with a high degree of frequency- but not to cut corners. It’s an intentional decision that adds to the “vibe” of the episode in a way that acts opposite to making a cut: it keeps the joke running in a different way from a regular back and forth. Similarly, their work with camera rotations that’s strongly tied to vampires like Live is a fun idea that expresses their very unique nature.

Honma and co have put together the strongest P.A. Works debut this summer season with Mayonaka Punch episode 1. Sure, Naomi Nakano‘s color design sends Narenare into the stratosphere with style, and Jukki Hanada’s narrative additions to Sakuna give it a lot more vibrant of a world, but Mayonaka Punch goes toe-to-toe with both of those efforts and provides even more. Bringing color designer Asami Eguchi along for another ride on a modern night-time anime, finding bright and fun character designs from first-timer Ryouta Arima, and dragging out Junya Kodama’s best performance as director of photography in their decade of experience- it’s a lot of work that excels across the board.

And to be truthful, that’s how something like Mayonaka Punch has to be. Without standout performances, everyone needs to be in top condition, and Honma has ensured that to be the case. Providing a very balanced experience in spite of the wild nature of the work, Mayonaka Punch episode 1 has hands rated E for everyone.

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