A field day in the office
Anime is no stranger to animating the working lives of regular people. Shows like Aggretsuko have shown that anime is willing to jump into our boring office lives and try to find entertainment in people sitting around a desk and working on a computer all day. Personally, I have very little experience with office comedies beyond the iconic moment in The Office “It’s hentai, and it’s art,” which, apparently, wasn’t even part of the original show. Older anime series like Golden Boy even made it the mission of the main character to try and learn as much as possible about as many jobs as possible including working in an office of a programming company, so it’s no surprise that anime would see an office comedy, what is unusual though is what form that show would take.
Africa Salaryman is the story of regular office life however the main character is an expatriate from Japan and everyone in it is an animal. The three main characters are, appropriately, the boss, a Lion name Lion-senpai, voiced by the always excellent Akio Otsuka, the voice of Snake in the Metal Gear Solid series, Lizard, and Toucan. The president of the company is the extremely old Turtle named, of course, President Turtle. Lion has the problem of being a genuinely nice and decent person, but being a gigantic, anthropomorphic lion is extremely intimidating to all around him. Toucan is the pervert of the group and often finds himself in trouble with his fellow co-workers over a dirty joke. Lizard is the most serious of the group but ends up being picked on the most as he has a problem that his gigantic tail becomes detached constantly (completely with hilariously copious amounts of blood) and is often used as a gag much to Lizard’s dismay.
The show takes a stab at Japanese office life which, while quite different from American office life will certainly have some parallels. Much of the humor centers around such things as drinking with your co-workers after work, or the office field day as well as the usual things like having to give a presentation to a major client, some things are just universal.
The show also has an interesting style with the animation going from a very over-exaggerated and expressive CG style with flailing limbs, to more traditional 2D looks, to the very rarely seen nowadays “chibi” look (bring back the chibi look!). During the very dramatic moments, the show opts for a very fluid, smeared style, which is, unfortunately, not used enough as it works tremendously well for the comedy. There are also more subtle stabs at office life, as most of the computer screens used in the show are parodies of Windows 97 screens, clearly having a joke at the ancient equipment some office employees have to deal with. I think we all deal with this.
One of the best segments of the show is an often-used stinger segment called “African High-School Girls” which feature a huge Gorilla named Gorimi and Shishimura a large cat who go through such parts of high school life as getting your phone confiscated in school or being late for school (complete with toast in mouth).
Africa Salaryman is a great show for those who want their anime comedies to have a more adult flavor. Also, the characters, while relatively one dimensional at first, will grow on you with each episode. Episode such as the office field day is especially great as we get to see the families of the office workers. Recommended.