Original airdate: January 12, 2014
The premise: Comic Book Guy meets the girl of his dreams, Japanese manga artist Kumiko, but their relationship comes under fire when her father arrives to take her back home.
The reaction: I guess it’s time for Comic Book Guy to get the Moe treatment of making an angry, miserable character look sad and pathetic, and for the writers to throw him a bone. CBG feels like a legacy character whose satirical role is pretty nebulous in modern times. This cynical, sarcastic basement-dwelling nerd character was novel in 1990, but at this point, “nerds” in society have branched off into so many different tropes that CBG just feels like a catch-all for everything. He’s a movie critic, a hacker, a gamer, a social outcast, an otaku… and now a husband, apparently. This show has thrown love interests to a variety of our cast of characters over the course of two decades, some very memorable, but a lot disposable, but the lady in question here, Kumiko, is the absolute worst of them all. Not only does she have absolutely no personality, and no motivation to find CBG likable, let alone attractive, but she just says everything she’s thinking and feeling aloud to push the story forward. As usual with this fucking show, it’s tell not show, and this episode feels like the greatest offender I can think of in recent memory. Kumiko walks in CBG’s shop, and immediately introduces who she is and what she’s doing, pulling out a copy of her autobiographical manga that she says she’s working on, but apparently is already finished. Why is she visiting America’s saddest cities? Later on their first date, CBG tries to stifle his critical nature, but Kumiko defuses the tension immediately (“Oh, I don’t mind. If you think it’s stupid, say it’s stupid.” “America nerd snark is the finest in the world!”) Cut to montage, then cut to her moving in with CBG. This goes beyond male fantasy or wish fulfillment, Kumiko is effectively a Relationship Sue. She just really really likes CBG. Why? Because she says she does. That’s it. The real “conflict” arises when her father arrives at the Android’s Dungeon and takes her away when she finds out she’s living with a gross nerd. So, besides the surface level overbearing Asian father stereotype, what’s this about? What is Kumiko’s relationship with her dad? She gave him the comic book store address but apparently never told him about CBG? Did she lie about who he was? Why? Again, none of that is explained. Homer gets him drunk and he has an epiphany or something, and then the show ends with him in a robot suit for no explainable reason for his daughter’s wedding. Did they cut a scene explained why exactly he’s in a goddamn motherfucking robot suit? Is it to show acceptance of CBG’s lifestyle? And I guess his daughter’s too? She’s a manga artist, but she and CBG never even talk about comics at all. Or any nerd stuff. Who is she? This show has numbed me a lot at this point, but this episode really does feel like one of the worst I’ve ever seen. A needless relationship that I can’t even call underdeveloped, because that would imply there was any development at all. It’s a show full of characters talking about things, rather than actually showing them. CBG says Kumiko is moving in, but we don’t see their cohabitation. Instead we cut to Marge telling Homer to deliver a housewarming gift, where he can have a conversation with Kumiko’s father outside to review the story we saw in a montage, and for him to spout out his expository dialogue. None of the characters’ motivations or emotions are necessary to connect with or to understand apparently, as long as you just have them say them out loud, that’s good enough.
Three items of note:
– To make CBG feel like a loser, they bring back Milo, the owner of the cool comic book shop from “Husbands and Knives,” an episode from over five seasons before, then voiced by Jack Black, now voiced by Maurice LaMarche. But don’t worry, on-screen text pops up to remind you who this guy is, in case you forgot. I remember being annoyed in that episode featured a first act of their rivalry resulting in CBG closing the Android’s Dungeon, but that plot being completely abandoned in favor of another stupid Homer-Marge bullshit story. This is their attempt to modernize their nerd stereotype, but with him talking about his “comic-tolerating” girlfriend, and that Comic-Con nets an 8% female audience, it still feels stuck in the past. CBG is left to stew in his own sadness… sigh… in song
(“The only thing that could make this moment more cliched is if I started to sing about my feelings… and here I go.”) So, again, they know it’s terrible, but they do it again. They have to know how bad this shit is. And the song is just awful, par for the course with the recent examples we’ve seen. Milo gets in a verse as well, so I’m assuming they definitely wanted to get Jack Black back for this, but I guess he was busy. Or he read the script and threw up in disgust. They should’ve gotten Jess Harnell in to do his Jack Black impression, like for the last episode of The Powerpuff Girls.
– CBG and Kumiko have their first date at Chuck Dukewagon’s All-American Chow Lounge, a set piece that feels like a pale imitation of “Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo”‘s AmericaTown. Also, seeing Pimply Faced Teen dressed as Guy Fieri fills me with many rage-filled emotions.
– Homer and Kumiko’s father get drunk of rice wine, which leads to a two minute joint hallucination where their surroundings transform into a Studio Ghibli tribute, featuring recreations of iconic characters and moments from their movies. It’s another self-indulgent set piece of them just imitating a popular thing or someone else’s style, in the hopes that they can get some positive Internet buzz and a bunch of articles of “The Simpsons Pays Tribute to Hayao Miyazmi and It’s Amazing!” But, as always, there are no jokes. It just comes off as nonsensical and pandering. Why “parody” something if you have absolutely no take on it, other than we love this thing and we want to animate a sequence like this thing that we love. Who gives a flying fuck?
One good line/moment: The Radioactive Man sequence at the beginning was mildly entertaining. Even if it also was full of characters just spouting exposition, it felt a little less hackneyed in that context. It features some above-average animation for this show, and certainly was much more enjoyable than that reboot nonsense we saw in the last episode.