Touma spews unfunnyPosted: December 29, 2014
Eighteen months later, I’m finally finishing the second season of Railgun. In Episode 12, Touma and MISAKA clone #10032 talk about naming a cat, and I found the dialogue strikingly unfunny.
MISAKA #10032 suggests naming the cat “Schrodinger,” a reference to the Schrodinger’s cat thought experiment of quantum mechanics. Touma responds with an explanation so long that it kills any humor the joke might have had:
MISAKA: Schrodinger, then.
Touma: That’s not even funny!
Touma: Even as a thought experiment, any professor who’d even imagine putting a cat in a box that spews poison gas must hate cats!
(Translation via UTW-Mazui subs)
I would have cut out Touma’s second sentence. For somebody like me, somebody who is familiar with Schrodinger’s cat, the second sentence is entirely unnecessary and doesn’t add any comedic value. It simply adds exposition to a joke that would have otherwise gotten a small chuckle. Basically, the joke is too small to be worth explaining. It’s slightly funny to people who get it, and not really funny to people who don’t get it, even after you say why it should be funny.
Furthermore, Touma’s explanation completely misses the point of the joke. It’s not funny because Schrodinger might have hated cats. It’s funny because it’s ironic that you would name a cat something that’s associated with killing cats.
Railgun isn’t a series known for its witty humor, and I’m griping about a ~20 second-long joke, but it could have been sooo much better by simply taking out a sentence.
I wonder – is this indicative of some cultural difference? American comics don’t spend 20 seconds explaining each of their one-liners. You either get it and laugh, or you don’t get it. But in the manzai humor that often appears in anime, you have the tsukkomi/straight man character who sometimes goes overboard in correcting the mistakes of the boke/fool character. Immediately I think of Shinpachi from Gintama, who often says a lot of stuff in order to make Gintoki and company look like idiots. But even in Gintama, I can’t recall any joke that fell as flat as Schrodinger here.
Maybe Railgun is just shit.