The following contains spoilers for Teppen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!: Laughing ’til You Cry Episode 4, now streaming on Crunchyroll.
Teppen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!: Laughing ’til You Cry is an anime about five all-female comedy trios living in the same dormitory. The main focus is Young Wai-Wai, a manzai trio comprising series protagonists Yayoi Sakamoto, Yomogi Takahashi and Yuzu Hosono. However, Teppen also shines the spotlight on other trios in different episodes, such as the high-concept Celebri-tea. Mako Shirakabe is the only member of Celebri-tea who is neither rich nor famous, and Episode 4 saw her scramble to raise money for a dress to maintain the illusion in front of the others. Desperate for a way to make money, she turned to investing in cryptocurrency, but the real humor of the episode came from what happened next.
After making a fortune by sheer chance, Mako leveraged her success to become an online investment advisor, but Young Wai-Wai soon started to question the trajectory of her new career. Even though it never specifically referenced NFTs, the episode’s satire on digital services mirrors many people’s criticisms of the phenomenon. The episode reminded fans how, as well as being about comedians, the series is capable of performing observational comedy of its own.
Mako revealed to Young Wai-Wai that she had made a lot of money from investing in various currencies at random, which she did by rolling a labeled pencil. Yuzu and Yomogi thought a horrified-looking Mako had lost everything, until she calmly told them, “I frickin’ scored!” The way Mako’s friends and the audience assume she has failed before her apparently unrealistic luck subverts their expectations feels like a parody of how cryptocurrency investment can be volatile to the point of seeming arbitrary completely.
Mako then used her dubious success to provide investment advice and ultimately beauty and makeup tips — a funny but surprisingly realistic strategy for the cartoonishly exaggerated world of Teppen. This made for a more compelling story than if Mako had simply invested all her money in the same currency, as the sitcom status quo couldn’t be handily restored by a narratively convenient market crash.
Eventually, Mako’s fans began offering their own ideas for services she could provide, including an idea that was suspiciously similar to one of cryptocurrency’s most controversial relatives: NFTs. Essentially, an NFT is a one-off online receipt, often for a digital artwork. One of the criticisms leveled at the format is that ownership of the image in question is so theoretical that purchasers may as well not own anything at all, with many calling it a scam in which nothing of value is actually purchased. When browsing suggestions from Mako’s fans about new services, Yayoi noticed someone asking her to “sell the rights to be reincarnated in a virtual world after being virtually run over by Mako-chan driving a virtual truck.”
The idea sounds like a parody of the isekai cliché of a truck sending someone to another world in the first episode, but this fan was evidently so obsessed with Mako that they wouldn’t even mind living in the pre-fantasy scenes as long as she was involved somehow. The way the suggestion kept drawing attention to how “virtual” it was, as well as Yomogi’s response that “There’s not a scrap of product there” is Teppen‘s satirical way of questioning the worth of abstract digital content. The fan’s enthusiasm about sacrificing their digital self to Mako might also remind the audience of the obsessive devotion of some NFT fans, and the idea of a virtual world based around an arbitrary digital product could also be a parody of the metaverse, which is often closely linked to NFTs.
Ultimately, Mako became embarrassed about how she had made her money and returned the fortune in various small investments to worthwhile causes. The other members of Celebri-tea also revealed they had always known Mako wasn’t rich but didn’t care. Just as Episode 3 parodied how excessive product placement can ruin a show, Episode 4’s exaggerated satire drew attention to the pitfalls of digital content. Fans can only assume future episodes will keep lampooning the idiosyncrasies of modern life as the series brings its attention to the various other trios of Takako-so.
Teppen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!: Laughing ’til You Cry is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.