This is an episodic anime with two stories per episode linked together through the character of the salesman, Moguro. Each story he meets someone new and offers to heal the hole in their heart. This is usually followed by the person abusing the gift they are given and revealing their true and ugly nature before suffering some form of punishment.
I reviewed this show week to week so if you are wanting to know my thought on individual episodes please click here.
There’s something to be said for simplicity and The Laughing Salesman certainly has that going for it. There’s no gimmicks here. No sudden twists or turns or attempts to develop Moguro or to understand him or his motivation. He is the plot device offering a new character each story exactly what they think they want and then flipping things at a critical moment to lead us to a fairly tragic end for each and every character. It works very effectively and for week to week viewing this is quite a relaxing story to take in however it is equally forgettable. There’s no reason to care whether you catch the next episode or not or even if it takes a month or so to get around to it. The story isn’t ongoing and you won’t forget any crucial character information because other than Moguro and a bar-tender there are no repeat characters.
It makes this an interesting anime to try to recommend because I actually don’t recommend this to buy on DVD or binge watch. It isn’t the kind of story suited for marathon viewing or repeated rewatches. Each story is interesting as a once off. You go in, you meet the person, see their true face, see their consequence and then you move on. So while I wouldn’t recommend this for DVD or binging I do strongly recommend watching the occasional episode or two in-between other shows. And seriously, don’t try to binge watch this. The repetitive nature of the story will most definitely do you in.
The characters are caricatures and archetypes. There’s no getting around that. You won’t find a single well-developed, well-rounded or realistic character anywhere in this series. But that’s kind of the point. Each character we meet has a vice or an inner selfish desire that just needs a little bit of encouragement to come out. The simplistic nature of these characters makes them relatable to almost everyone in the audience because we’ve met someone with that tendency in the real world. Which is kind of necessary because it takes a simple story and gives it greater meaning.
The artwork and character designs also need to be noted. At first I found this show fairly ugly. Not unwatchable, just had that old timey anime feel and that never really goes away (I assume this is due to this being a remake or something similar). That said, by the end of the series I was used to the odd visual choice and actually found it quite striking and interesting (still not pretty though). Mostly, I remember The Laughing Salesman visually because it was different from everything else I was watching.
However, my favourite part of this show is undeniably the music. I loved the opening theme and that just got better listening to it each week. The music within episodes was pretty basic but did the job, but the ending was also kind of interesting. Still, an episode of this show is worth checking out if for no other reason than to bop along to that opening song.
That said, I need to touch on some negatives. I’ve already pointed out the show is very repetitious. Don’t expect any kind of surprise reprieve or change in the status quo. This story has its formula and it is sticking to it regardless of what might be a clever twist that just seems easy enough to slip in every now and them.
The other negative I will point out is Moguro. He could have been such a fascinating character. While it is nice in a way leaving him as an enigma, he’s really the only recurring character (other than bartender guy who I’m pretty such has zero lines) and gaining some knowledge of Moguro other than the fact that he actually is quite sadistic would have been nice. Early in the season I would have given him the benefit of the doubt but as the show progresses you realise that no matter how bad or good the person is, Moguro is going to force their inner ugliness to the surface and exploit it for all its worth. A few half-hints about Moguro would have been lovely. Just enough to kind of watch again looking for that additional information to piece together his story. But sadly, this is lacking and with Moguro, what you see is what you will get and he is as unchanging as the plot formula.
So yes, definitely worth trying an episode or two, but nothing to write home about. If I were a rating kind of person I’d hit this one directly down the middle of whatever scoring system I used. It functionally works as entertainment and a narrative but that is pretty much all it does. For me, I enjoyed it for the mental break it gave me each week and the novelty factor as it was just that little bit different from the other series I picked up during Spring.
If you’ve watched it, what were your thoughts?
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