12 of 12 episodes seen
Now, I noticed this the first time I watched it, and it’s worth pointing out: the show isn’t deep. Though the story uses a lot of lore from Japanese mythos, it’s just a backdrop and reason for everything that happens in the show. Maybe it takes a few liberties with its source, and maybe it’ll annoy Japanese mythos junkies, but that would be missing the show’s true focus: a simple story about Sasami the shut-in as she’s watched by the three Yagami sisters—Tsurugi, Kagami, and Tama—to stop her God-like power from making mass chaos in the world. With entertaining results.
Cities will turn to chocolate, video games will come to life, clones will run loose, vengeful spirits will arise, and that’s only the problems Sasami makes, and not the chaos caused by the people protecting her and the people who want to use her.
But no matter how insane the story gets, it never break its own rules. If a weapon is described as being defensive, the way it shatters another weapon is very clever. If God-like power is useless against one character but strong against three others, it’s because that one character has anti-God abilities. If a character’s power is inconsistent, it’s from a lack of experience using it. Save for one line of dialog, the consistency in the setting’s in-universe rules is perfect; quite a feat considering how easily an insane show like this can break them.
The story’s progress is solid in the first nine episodes thanks to its decent characters. Sasami doesn’t have much in the way of personality, but her story of responsibility VS freedom is handled well. The reasons for her being a shut-in make sense when thinking about her back story, though it can be hard to catch from the show’s insanity. On the other hand, her bad friend-making skills make sense since she’s a shut-in, though her friendship with Kagami and a later character is rushed.
Kagami herself starts as the show’s resident quiet girl, but soon shows a lot of emotion, smiling and snarking and showing embarrassment this way and that. Unfortunately, the rushed friendship with Sasami can make Kagami hard to take seriously, especially in the show’s last three episodes where Kagami’s back story is explained a bit more, but that back story never comes to play in full force. On the other hand, what she deals with in her spotlight episode is a sign of the story’s growing seriousness.
But the story’s serious side starts with Tsurugi. She starts as the pervert but becomes the protector, the mentor of sorts to Sasami, and the Yagami Sister’s de-facto leader. She doesn’t have much in the way of development, but her role in the story doesn’t need it. It just needs personality. And it’s a personality that’s believably serious when it shows itself for the first time in an early episode, considering who Tsurugi is. Starting with her serious side, the show moves nicely from light-hearted to serious in the first several episodes, even as the show’s insanity rises.
That said, the last sister, Tama, causes two bad scenes in the show. The first scene being after the show gets really serious, where she starts talking about her bond with Tsurugi, Kagami, and Sasami, except none of what she says makes any sense at all, because the show never shows the crucial part of what she’s talking about. The second scene is in the climax of the first several episodes, where a chance to develop her character meaningfully is wasted for humor. Otherwise, she’s little more than a childlike plot device.
Despite that, the show moves well in the first nine episodes, shaky character development aside, though after the first several episodes there are two things about the story that make no sense; no, the show doesn’t break its own in-universe rules, but it involves Sasami, Tsurugi, and a new character.
The first problem is the new character, and no, this isn’t the one Sasami befriends. Anyway, this new character has a big role in the story, a believable relationship with Sasami, and quite a bit of personality. This is all well and good, but her behavior after the first several episodes is such a big change from what she was before, it’s jarring; Tsurugi hints to the reason for this, but that’s all it is. A hint.
The second problem is the kind of hot potato game Sasami, Tsurugi, and the new character have. At one point it looks like one character will carry it, then it looks like another character will carry it until the other character is ready to take it, then it turns out it’s this character who carries it. Confused yet? So am I. But these two story problems are nothing compared to the mess of the last three episodes, and no, the show still doesn’t break its own rules and it never does.
The problem with the last three episodes is it makes no sense, even for a show as insane as this. To explain, it’s a world domination plot by a new character—the one who Sasami befriends—and her reason for this plot makes no sense. Second, this character knows the second story problem, so it makes even less sense for her to bring in Sasami and the Yagami Sisters. The last three episodes are a mess, but at least the insanity continues to rise with the music and visuals to carry it.
The music would be better if I counted the opening song, Alteration, but I’m not. The in-show music isn’t anything that can stand on its own, but it does deserve credit for its variety. It uses—or at least, sounds like it uses—the flute, piano, fast techno, epic orchestra, guitar, game show, elevator, blues, suspense chords, jazz, uplifting; it throws everything at the show. And while it doesn’t have a unique identity, the chaotic music lends itself to the show’s insanity, though not at as well as the visuals.
The character designs are brightly colored and their faces are expressive, especially with Tsurugi and Kagami. The abstract backgrounds, such as Sasami’s room, stand out because of how scarce they are compared to the normal backgrounds. Strangely enough, most of the show’s chaos happens in the normal backgrounds, making the well-animated chaos stand out even more. The music and visuals carry the insanity, which I know is a word I’ve used a thousand times here, but there’s something crucial about it I need to mention.
While the show’s insanity is one of its main strengths, it can also be one of its flaws. To explain, it can be hard to look past the show’s chaos to find any substance, and the substance is a good if flawed story, but that might not be enough for some people. To put it another way, watching this show makes people choose between two options: finding a good if flawed story, or letting themselves be whisked away by the show’s insanity.
Of those two options, I first watched this show with the second choice. I remember being wowed by all of the chaos, and called the story and character development unlike nothing I’ve ever seen. But as I might have pointed out, rewatching it made me see it wasn’t as good as I thought it was. That said, I will say with all my heart that I still personally LOVE Sasami-san@Ganbaranai, but this show is definitely a few motivations short of being @the top. read more