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Emi-Abi(エミアビのはじまりとはじまり)

Up-and-coming manzai stand-up comedy duo Emi-Abi has lost consummate funny man Unno (a surprisingly touching Tomoya Maeno) to an accident, leaving conceited straight man Jitsudo (Ryu Morioka) to contend with his diminished career prospects as a bland, pretty face entertainer. Guided by his manager Natsumi (Haru Kuroki), who demonstrates stronger comedy chops than her own star, Jitsudo comes to learn the circumstances of his friend's passing, as well as the life-and-death stakes of a career in comedy. Demonstrating a careful balance of tone across tragedy and deadpan and gross-out humor, writer/director Kensaku Watanabe expands "Emi-Abi"'s hilarious premise into a strikingly assured meditation on artistic rivalry and self-actualization.
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