Can I Make Your Ears Happy in 180 Seconds? Fails to Deliver a Sound ASMR Experience

The synopsis of Can I Make Your Ears Happy in 180 Seconds? (180 Byou de Kimi no Mimi wo Shiawase ni Dekiru ka?) promises the first dedicated ASMR experience for anime fans. Made up of bite-size 3-minute episodes, the newly airing series ostensibly allows viewers to experience a relaxing, nerve-tingling response from just 180 seconds of triggers, such as soft talking/close whispering and ear cleaning.

Unfortunately, as Episode 1 of Can I Make Your Ears Happy makes abundantly clear, the show’s specific take on ASMR is focused not really on ASMR as much as it is on the over-sexualization of (primarily) young schoolgirls, who moan, blush and pant their way through their ASMR activities while the camera lingers over extreme close-ups of their thighs, breasts and mouths. “It might be bad to get hooked on this,” notes the premiere episode’s girl of the week, as if suggesting that ASMR is, in itself, innately lewd or ‘naughty.’

The main issue here, of course, is that it’s not. Naturally, ASMR is whatever creators and listeners wish to make of it, but to imply that this mainly revolves around sexual gratification does a disservice to a large segment the ASMR community, which over the years has spawned thousands of videos that often roleplay situations such as salon haircuts, doctor exams, makeup artist applications and massage therapist visits -- and these are just a few of the more slice-of-life, non-fantasy versions. Other videos don’t feature on-screen people or specific situations at all, but instead feature sound-only triggers such as book page-flipping or writing/sketching with pens or pencils.

Close-up of girl and head dummy from Episode 1 of Can I Make Your Ears Happy in 180 Seconds?

Moreover, these ASMR videos, some of which are over an hour long, can take hours, days or even weeks of planning, scripting, set design and post-video editing, particularly if the creator isn’t using a green screen. The result is often a literary work of art, and ASMR artists who dedicate themselves to the craft, sometimes on a full-time basis, may earn over 30 million views on some of their videos.

In contrast, there is little in the way of artistry to be seen here, even disregarding the actual content. Most of the character designs are varying shades of cutesy moe-type figures, making it seem as though they were made by ticking off a checklist (this one should have glasses and have one eye perpetually hidden by her bangs, these ones should be identical twins with matching pigtails and address the viewer as “big brother,” etc.). Meanwhile, the non-character artwork is mostly undetailed and semi-blurred, as the camera is nearly always focused on the close-up foreground.

In terms of the writing, Can I Make Your Ears Happy in 180 Seconds? appears to be closer to softcore porn disguised as ASMR than anything else, using the increasingly popular phenomenon as an excuse to showcase mostly young women in short skirts (or less) talk semi-dirty without ever explicitly saying anything that could get the anime marked as R-rated. Even so, as the initial protagonist notes in the official series trailer, if she’s not careful, she “might turn into a good-for-nothing person” -- and this alone probably says enough about the show without the need to watch further.

Can I Make Your Ears Happy in 180 Seconds? can be viewed for free in Japanese on the original creator’s official YouTube channel.