12 Feb 2013
There has been a lot of anime over the past few decades, and a lot of them have been really weird but this season has brought with it one of the weirdest, most unbelievably, incomprehensibly bonkers shows since Puny Puny Poemy turned up 10 years ago. There will be a word on your lips after watching Sasami-san@Ganbaranai and that word will be – WHAT?!?
The story is.... you see.... there’s this.... well to be fair perhaps we shouldn’t really discuss the story too much. No, I’m not copping out (much). The thing is that a lot of your enjoyment of Sasami-san is going to be in how much you don’t know about it going in. The first episode really drops you in it before drip-feeding you exposition over the next couple of episodes, and I don’t want to accidentally give the game away here. To whet your appetites a little I’ll tell you that this show is very much Haruhi redone in a way that will appeal to the people who didn’t like Haruhi. Read into that what you will!
The characters who will accompany us through this journey are as barmy as everything else. The titatular Sasami is an apparent shut-in who has no time for anyone else.... seemingly anyway. Whilst she’ll treat her brother like a slave to his face she spends a huge amount of time monitoring his every move through a selection of hidden webcams. Kamiomi, her brother, is the biggest sis-con you have ever seen in an anime. He also has an unexplained habit of constantly concealing his face with anything that’s to hand, from his briefcase to a frying pan no matter what he’s doing so no-one knows what he looks like (I’m betting that his face is the Laughing man logo from Stand Alone Complex). Tsurugi, Sasami’s homeroom teacher and also a sometime (sort of) demon fighter along with her two sisters - a nine year old with the body of a very well endowed twenty-something and a robot who fires rockets out of so many places (yes there are boob missiles) that she makes the designers of Saikano’s Chise look positively unimaginative! It’s also a fairly safe bet that we’ll be seeing some other faces soon too, as the ending of episode three hints at a pretty large shift in format which should also help to keep things nice and fresh.
There’s actually very little to criticise in Sasami-san, as everything that you might want to pick on just works within the bounds of the story and the utterly insane goings-on. Visually everything is very stylised in such a way that occasional moments of limited animation blend right into super-smooth over the top action pieces. It reminds me quite a lot of Madoka or Bakemonogatari and a quick bit of research shows that all three series are the work of Akiyuki Shinbo and studio Shaft so perhaps that not surprising - plus it’s a combination that should have people running to watch the show!
The characters themselves are great fun and really inventive, particularly as the series goes on, and their designs are quite nice though the stylisation makes them a little less detailed in order for them to fit into the world. Even on the sound front things are great with a catchy opening theme and every single ending theme replaced with a different skit by the voice actors in full character, who are obviously having an absolute blast doing it.
To be frank, this series has gone from something I was going to just put on for a look-see to something that I’m loving. It’s hitting all the same buttons as shows like Excel Saga, and that’s brilliant as it’s been far too long since this kind of series has turned up. If they can maintain the energy and inventiveness of the first three episodes across the full run then his could well be one of the best series of the season, if not the year!
You can currently watch Sasami-san@Ganbaranai in streaming form via Anime on Demand.