“All people in this world – old, young, man, and woman – are lonely at heart. I will fill that emptiness in their hearts.”
-Fukuzou Moguro, The Laughing Salesman NEW
Warau Salesman NEW (The Laughing Salesman) is a dark comedy anime series based on a manga from one of the co-creators of Doraemon. Each episode is broken into two parts where we follow two different people who were approached by our titular salesman, Fukuzou Moguro. Moguro sees that there is some emptiness in the hearts of these people. They are missing something in their lives. They may be unhappy at work, unhappy in a relationship, disappointed in the way others treat them, or unable to cope with certain subtle stresses. So, Moguro offers them a way to fill the hole in their hearts with what appears to be the very desire of their heart.
In the first episode, we meet two different characters – a salaryman who just wants to go out and meet girls; and an older female office worker who’s fed up with the way younger employees are treating her. The first wants the attention of beautiful women and to enjoy it with a good drink…or many good drinks. The second wants to pamper herself and shops to relieve herself of stress; she’s gotten herself into quite a bit of debt.
In each case, Moguro offers them a means to fill their heart. For the salaryman looking for ladies, he provides access to an exclusive club with beautiful women constantly giving him attention. For the office working woman, he offers a credit card without limit and that she never has to pay the bill. There’s consequences, of course, and there are also limits for such things. The exclusive club meets during business hours and costs a fortune. For the credit card, everything purchased with it gets repossessed the next day. Everything.
In each case, Moguro warns the people that these things are only temporary patches. They are not meant to be permanent means of filling a person’s heart. They can’t be and he knows it – these things are fleeting and temporary. They, of course, provide short term fulfillment but nothing long-term is gained from them. In each case, the characters get drawn into their own heart-driven lusts and dive headlong into the offer – ignoring the warnings, ignoring the consequences, and suffering dearly in each case. There is a darkness in the humor of Warau Salesman NEW.
What Does the Heart Want?
What the heart wants isn’t always positive. We see that throughout the series – it points out what these people’s hearts are desiring and it’s generally not pretty. It’s not that some of these things are problems in moderation, but the people always take them to excess, always ignore the warning signs, and push the envelope beyond that which they were offered. They think they want one thing, but in reality they are desiring something else. While they think this patch will fill their heart, as Moguro warns them nearly every single time, these are only temporary things not permanent means of filling a void.
Yet, what is this void? Why are these people unsatisfied?
What the heart seems to want for each of the people in Warau Salesman NEW is something fleeting. Sex, trips on trains, time to yourself, strong drinks, new clothes, cleanliness – these are things various characters in the show want to fill the emptiness in their heart. Yet they allow these temporary things to consume them, become the center of their lives, and become an idol for each of them.
It seems strange to call this idolatry. We don’t consider our hobbies as potential form of idolatry, but think about what these different characters have done. Each of them place something as the most important item in their life; they are excited and focused on it above all else; they disregard all else to obtain it; they become their very reason for being. What happens when they get it? They want more. It never seems to satisfy. There’s a reason for that – the temporary never provides permanent satisfaction.
What Truly Satisfies
As a Christian, I want to seek that which truly satisfies – something eternal, permanent, and divine. Therefore, for Christians our satisfaction and fulfillment is to come from the Lord. The Bible calls out this truth. Our joy is to be in the Lord (Psalm 16:8-9). When the world or my situation tries to keep me down, I am to maintain my joy in the Lord knowing He will be my guide (James 1:2-3). Because I have Jesus, I am to always be rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 5:16). The Lord provides the contentment, the internal joy which never makes sense to the world around us.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
-Matthew 6:19-21, English Standard Version
Treasures on Earth, the things which these individuals on the show desire – they’re fleeting. They will fade. They will falter. They are imperfect. They do not truly fill the void. This is why they keep seeking more and more. They need more because the void keeps being emptied by the temporary pleasures they seek. As you look at what these people treasure, that which they idolize – you find their heart. We continue to seek such temporary fulfillment to fill a huge, spiritual void. It fails us each time. But why do we seek it? Because our heart is a liar (Jeremiah 17:9, Mark 7:21-23). From our heart is where our lusts are born. Yet when we give into those lusts we continue to remain unfulfilled.
God provides us with an alternative – Himself. He provides the contentment we need. He provides that missing fulfillment and when we live in that truth we never run out. He provides us with a contentment when we truly rest in Him that seems foreign to the world around us (Philippians 4:10-13). We seek Him as our eternal treasure instead of trying to grab onto each fleeting treasure on Earth.
Yet, the treasures of Earth continue to draw us in. We continue to desire them. We always will, it’s human nature. But when try to let these temporary things fulfill us, we fail every time. That said, it’s still tempting every single time it’s offered…
Warau Salesman NEW (The Laughing Salesman) can be streamed legally on Crunchyroll in the United States.