There’s been huge discussion from even before Mayoiga started airing on whether or not it is a comedy series. It obviously is, but director Tsutomu Mizushima who both planned and wrote the plot to Mayoiga before Mari Okada even joined the project has a very unique view on horror and suspense, which is absolutely worth analysing because it’s kind of bizarre.
Starting out as a storyboard artist and director for Crayon Shin-chan movies, Tsutomu Mizushima was constantly being brought onto comedy series, often with a bit of an absurdist twist. Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan is a clear example of this. And after several works including XXXHolic and Blood-C, both CLAMP works, it became very clear that Mizushima had a spectrum of comedy to absolutely fucking weird absurdist comedy, which is kind of where Mayoiga stands.
With illogical characters with illogical characteristics, it appears very early on that Mizushima doesn’t have much interest in the real world, something that’s been evident throughout his career. Whether it’s unreasonably angry bus drivers, bizarre monsters or good old fashioned Salem witch-hunts, Mayoiga takes the ridiculous and wears it like a crown.
Some refer to it as unintentional comedy, whilst perhaps a better term would be “Intentional unintentional comedy” because everything that happens within his shows are so deliberate and from stuff like Squid Girl and Joshiraku, we know that it’s not that he doesn’t understand comedy, but rather, he understands it to an almost primal level.
Perhaps the nearest to absurdism that Mizushima has gotten to in recent years was Another. A huge death-fest with some genuinely hilarious comedic timing where, we really wouldn’t expect it. With a bizarre overarching mystery plot, the series was captured with the same conversations we’re having now about Mayoiga and it’s a unique comedic style he has capitalized for years. In a special feature interview with Production IG regarding his earlier works, Tsutomu Mizushima said this:
“Personally, I think “laughs” and “scariness” have very much in common. They do not appeal to reason, but they overwhelm our minds directly. I can’t explain it well, but I always felt that they had the same feel. Of course, it could be only me who thinks this way.”
It’s not just him, thankfully or nobody would let him touch a horror series again. Mayoiga is a comedy, beyond a shadow of a doubt. But the confusion is understandable, because as Mizushima stated, it might just be him that thinks that way and within the anime industry he has been referred to as “Crazy”. After the release of Prison School, Kodansha published a manga called “The Men Who Made The Prison School Anime”, all about the production of Prison School. Obviously, it’s a bit over exaggerated, but Mizushima is regarded as Tsutomu “Crazy Boy Mizushima”, perhaps the greatest title I’ve ever heard.
And whilst, as voice actor Hiroshi Kamiya stated, Mizushima isn’t actually crazy, he is incredibly particular and a bit weird. But with that comes an extraordinary talent and there’s a reason why he is currently one of the most in-demand directors in the anime industry. Because even when he does these bizarre absurdist horror-comedies, they’re good in a very particular way and those with a similar mindset to Mizushima will get an absolute blast out of them. So let’s stop having this discussion already and get to the execution.