I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing Kotone bombarded in the face by a high-velocity soft tennis ball. But some of the other repetitive jokes have either lost their charm or have been used too frequently to be continuously amusing. It’s time to check in on all the returning gags of Softenni and see how they’re doing.
Every character in Softenni seems to have a recurring gag that has followed them throughout the series. Be it Asuna’s misinterpreted ecchi fantasies, how others treat Chitose due to her tennis skills, Kurusu’s erratic and flamboyant antics, or Shidou’s secret worship of the childish Nyan-taro, there’s always a joke or series of jokes that puts that character center-stage for the laughs. Either it’s tied to their behavior (Asuna) or how others interact with them (Chitose), you can always figure each character will be involved in a joke in some way or another. But not all of these returning jokes are equal. They have varying intensity, longevity, and can go in cyclic or unpredictable patterns, all depending on each individual joke. So let’s see how these jokes did in the ninth episode of Sofuteni.
One of the most prominent and routine gags in Softenni is Asuna’s overactive imagination, turning commonplace conversation into wild sexy fantasies. Most of these are just shameful excuses to throw in some redundant ecchi scenes, featuring the girls in various suggestive situations. Still, the gag itself is seeing Asuna all steamy and blushing while the characters she in mid-conversation with are left wondering what’s going on or yelling at her not paying attention to the tennis ball during a match. These jokes have remained constant throughout the series, neither enriching nor crumbling, but I’ve never thought they were that great. I find myself laughing more at the non-ecchi things Asuna does than these jokes. However, they’re a part of Asuna’s character and have made some humorous moments throughout the series. These jokes are a staple of the series and will remain throughout although they’re beginning to take a backseat to other comedic elements, which is a welcome change in my opinion.
Kotone’s reoccurring jokes aren’t as defined as Asuna’s but, to make up for that, she has numerous ones. Her arrogant attitude toward opponents (same as Sumino), her overexcited personality, and her constant worry over Mishi and Eri seem to be the most prominent repeating jokes for her. Since the episode focused a bit more on her and Mishi, we saw a bit more of those jokes than the other but all three were present. It’s no surprised her hyper personality is my favorite, like when she goes overboard swinging her racket or, like in this episode, jump down several yards onto a tennis court, only to overload her legs and require a ten-minute break. And since you already know how I feel about the romance in Softenni, you can guess which category of jokes is my least favorite about Kotone. All three sets of jokes have improved over the series making her one of the more comical characters now than when the series started.
Chitose is known for several things: her bulky breasts, her unrelenting hunger, and her awful, awful tennis skills. I am always amused whenever they treat Chitose poorly because of how bad she is at tennis and her reactions to them. These happened a couple of times, like her reaction to seeing Kurusu pair with Asuna and when Kotone was looking for a doubles partner. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of those jokes. The food/eating jokes are also there, still with the daifuku/soft tennis ball and those have been hit-or-miss for me (liked the Evangelion reference in episode 8, not so much when playing against Shidou). The downside on these is that they’re always the same, Chitose goes superhuman for some food, so hopefully these jokes grow into something more based on her personality. The breast jokes have been pretty minimal throughout the series and were absent in this episode but those have never really been funny. Overall, her gags have been improving but the food ones might end up stale soon if they are overused.
Unfortunately for Kurusu, her jokes have stagnated and lost their sparkle. Kurusu has not cosplayed in a while but her quiet, mysterious nature is always present. But by being constant like this, it has begun to be too predictable and rather underwhelming. Her jokes of instantly popping out of nowhere with something impressive or wild have also had the same fate, becoming exhausted alongside her personality. Initially one of the characters I liked, Kurusu has faded due to her lack of influence in regards to comedy. She’s now my least favorite of the soft tennis club, mainly due to the unimpressive reoccurring jokes that are her own.
Eri’s jokes stem from both her language and her everlasting love for Mishi. At first her accent and constant mix of English and Japanese got on my nerve but now I’ve grown accustomed to it. It’s not something I enjoy but I don’t cringe every time she says “Yes” or something else in her native tongue. And I don’t care for her Mishi jokes either. She’s not one of the funnier characters in the series but she does well to set up others, which is important, but not the focus of this post. Her substandard jokes have remained steady since her introduction and I doubt they’ll improve in the limited amount of episodes remaining.
Shidou, the soft tennis national champion for middle schoolers, has grown into one of the most entertaining characters of Softenni. Her affection toward Nyan-taro and nekomimi both add a cute and comedic element to what’s supposed to be an intimidating and powerful character. Her interactions and conduct around her opponents when they bring up these things aren’t the greatest, but they’re always worthwhile jokes. However, she’s grown into one of my favorites of the series because she’s strong enough and versatile enough to carry the comedy through segments of an episode, as well as, provide meaningful tennis scenes. Her addition to the series has both enhanced the comedy and tennis aspects of the series, so it is no surprise she is one of my favorites. Her reoccurring jokes are a major reason why.
Akadama Middle School’s Soft Tennis Club really has not had a chance to develop yet in the series, at least beyond Sumino and Seriha. Even with the six girls together as a single group, you don’t really see too many reoccurring gags with them. Hopefully they’ll get some time on their own to develop individually but somehow I doubt that’ll ever happen. The best that can happen is their team develops together in the few remaining episodes. Sumino and Seriha will both lead the comedy and tennis production for Akadama but the other characters should be able to do some supporting comedy. Tsuchida, the particularly featureless sixth member of the tennis club, finally was able to make a joke in the series, showing how underdeveloped the whole group is in this series (although the joke was one of the best this episode and she’s one of my favorites from that side). I’m looking forward to Akadama in future episodes but they’ll likely never develop any routine gags like the other characters.
Wasn’t Leo on this trip, where was he during this whole episode? Why wasn’t he in the cart with everyone as they went back to their schools at the end of this trip? I almost forgot but he was in the previous episode (gave the massage to all the girls, was with Asuna out at night) but he was absent throughout the whole episode. While he’s not one of my favorite, I expected him to do something in this episode, especially after the moonlight conversation with Asuna, but I guess not. I’m actually curious how much progress he’ll make with Asuna before the series is over but he needs to be on screen for any development to happen.