The Japanese call them hikikomori—people who've become so withdrawn socially that they refuse to leave their homes for weeks and even months at a time. For Sasami Tsukuyomi, who's attempting to pass her first year of high school despite being a shut in, it's more than just a word. Fortunately though, she lives with her older brother Kamiomi, who just happens to be a teacher at the school Sasami is supposed to attend. Not to mention, her "Brother Surveillance Tool" which lets her view the outside world via her computer and will, theoretically, allow her to readjust to interfacing with people again. What it mainly does, however, is let her view her brother's interactions with the three very odd Yagami sisters, who inexplicably seem to have had their ages reversed and have various types of "interest" in Kamiomi. And then things start to get really weird... Magical powers? Everything turning into chocolate? Is life via the web warping Sasami's brain, or is it the universe that's going crazy?
Initially my wtf is going on radar went off. The first episode threw me for an FLCL loop. As the story progresses you get more of a FLCL meets The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya feel that starts to develop along with Shafts amazing ability to throw art of the abnormal around.
Take a minute to read the Synopsis... That basically covers the first episode. Things start to get real in depth with the story later on. I would say Sasami heavily feels like a Haruhi in this aspect. She has this power that she thinks she doesn't have. She later has to learn how to control it while trying to fend off abnormal aspects of her life just to be normal. This story can be a bit weird at times.. However its still developing.
Things are really unique in this category. Shaft put forth another amazing effort to make a unique anime. The graining they did on certain regions makes it stick out like crazy. The characters are cheeky, cute, and all around appealing. There is fan service to some degree but it doesn't feel terrible.. I guess more awkward sometimes. I really enjoyed this category the most.
I don't have much to complain about here. The sound is normal. The ending themes are unique in a way. The opening is fairly good. My biggest gripe is probably just a few of the voice actors. Not everyone can always be fantastic. Kamiomi sounds to much like an old man at times. Then again it works every now and then.
The character development is very... very weird at times. This story can just throw these characters for a loop. Every character has their own unique weirdness about them. If you think this story is heading in one direction, it travels in another. Without giving away spoilers i just ask myself WTF is going on at times.
Lets just say all the weird FLCL Melancholy loopyness with the fantastic art kept me watching episode after episode. I highly suggest a rewatch of episodes just to understand things a bit better. It's very enjoyable for what it is.read more
Anime auteur Akiyuki Shinbo has with Studio Shaft directed a number of highly interesting, willfully off-kilter and generally amusing series. His work is always bold, with visual flair beyond the norm and he usually chooses to direct works with morbid or bizarre sensibilities and humor. Sasami-san@Gabaranai does not break the Shaft mold in the slightest, but it does reaffirm how well it can work. It's a very strange but thoroughly fun ride.
Shaft's knack for good visuals keeps the series looking strong. Perhaps some of the tricks used are there to keep the costs down; it doesn't matter, the anime looks distinctive and often beautiful. The characters are attractive, the action fluid. The actors also play their parts well and the music is kept fittingly quirky. The opening theme is energetic and kinda catchy, though not quite as memorable as some Shaft themes. The ending theme sequences are kinda fun, and the song itself kinda cute.
Sasami-san isn't just good on the technical end though, it also tells a wonderfully odd and interesting story. Going into the series, it's kind of hard to tell what it is at first. The first two episodes are really goofy and make it seem like another weird Shaft comedy (which it is to an extent). Then the third and fourth episode are just strange. The fifth episode is where it all gets pulled back some and we see earnest character development and the real clues that they might be taking this more serious than it first appeared. Then episode six comes and turns it all in on itself; where there was a ridiculous and bizarre school comedy with supernatural elements there is now a character driven supernatural adventure with an oddball sense of humor. What was at first diverting, whimsical fun becomes an actually evocative character piece.
Character pieces need good characters and Sasami-san has great ones, though it doesn't seem so at first. Sasami herself is an odd character to figure out since she seems so weird and detached initialy. She's actually a strong, willful lead who grows as she comes to make new friends while being just quirky enough to make the comedy work. Her brother on the other hand, while seeming critical to the show at first does not get developed very much, yet he does remain interesting and kind of fun for his silliness; he's a weirdo who does nothing of importance and seems only to be there to creep on his sister and get smacked around by the characters who matter. He hides his face, which adds mystery, but nothing of substance about him is particularly resolved.
Aside from Sasami, the other real stars of the series are the three Yagami sisters. At first glance these are characters invented entirely for humor; you got a young girl with an adult body, an adult with a young girl's body and a robot girl. They do certainly lend themselves well to the madcap comedy of the series, but to my surprise they turned out to actually be characters as well. The adult-bodied child, Tama, is ridiculous but still comes across as a sweet, innocent child and also as an earnest, affecting and strong willed presence; she has some very strong scenes and becomes quite likable. Eldest sister Tsurugi meanwhile is cool and competent (while still being silly enough) and works in the mentor/guardian role. Middle sister Kagami is probably my favorite character though, as the arc involving her and Sasami's blossoming frienship is handled beautifully and in a way that makes it gratifying to see her open up. She's also amusing and her fight sequences are always cool.
Beyond the main cast, Sasami-San has a small number of other interesting characters,mostly serving as antagonists. Sasami's mother is a standout and the arc spent with her is an exciting one. The show isn't left much time to develop the antagonist for the last little arc, but it convincingly builds her relationship with Sasami and succeeds in making her a fun and interesting enough character. A few other noticeable characters don't get a chance to do much, which makes one wonder if sequels are planned. Given Shaft's record, it's certainly possible and for me at least would be welcomed.
Sasami-san is an interesting show to follow. It switches between moods a lot and perhaps it seems a little scattered and weird for the first third. Depending on anime tastes it might be impenetrable or it might just be flat unfunny for some, but, for me, as it kept going it became a thorough delight. Is it another perfect 10 masterwork from the director who brought us Madoka Magica? No, but falling short of that mark--and with excellent style, humor and well defined characters--isn't really failing at all. read more
In a dull season plagued by the predictable, describing this newest series as "different" would be a severe understatement. Enter Sasami-san@Ganbaranai, the front-runner for absurdity—playing the seductress, the shrew, the madwoman fueled by crack cocaine. Be forewarned. This is a genuine concoction of the bizarre, lacking any sense of direction, and indeed, having no concern for it. Sheer bewilderment becomes Sasami-san's very forte. Yet, this eccentricity is a double-edged sword, and considering the shallowness of Sasami-san's loony design, we're unfortunately left with a show that is plain disappointing.
Both a strength and a weakness, the plot is all over the place. In the first episode for example, Sasami spends her idle time stalking her brother from home via some unexplained form of ultra-computer technobabble, mixing in Haruhi references (oh the boldness) on the way; then Sasami purchases some Valentine's Day chocolate for her brother, which suddenly transforms the world into...chocolate. Now if this weren't enough, we have some wacky screenplay done in eroge style, a whole 30 seconds spent watching Sasami undress; cue jazz-fusion music, concurrent with tumultuous action scenes: missile-endowed breasts, chocolate dragons, magical powers, mechanical wings, and sensual cannibalism—all to save the world from becoming a permanent Willy Wonka factory.
While we're offered nothing of the underlying plot, we're so bemused by its over-the-top direction, disoriented into excitement by the story and art direction's compounded nonsense. Yet, the underlying problem is that we're offered nothing related to the real plot. Instead we're served a bowl of shallow eccentricity, leaving a cloyingly sour taste as we're still wondering what the heck is going on (!).
This is a real shame given that some of the more unique eccentricities are intrinsically linked to the Shinto doctrine. Sasami's brother Kamiomi perpetually hides his face under the presence of his sister, a testament to the humility of servants under deities; and the brooding incest between the two—while a common SHAFT delicacy—is canonically supported by the historical myths behind Shinto creationism. These are the occasional subtleties, the acts of brilliance overshadowed by heavy-handed symbols and writing: Sasami's mother inserting an awfully phallic totem into her daughter's stomach, festering into tangible bloat, and then Sasami birthing her own mother through some Freudian version of catharsis. Better yet, Takamagahara mythology even details this very method as the cycle of creation.
Am I overreaching somewhere? Yes, a bit. Unfortunately, Sasami-san clouds itself with so many absurdities (much of the time for fanservice) that it becomes impossible to determine what actually warrants in-depth discussion. It would be too convenient to suppose all of it is just pandering eroticism, especially with the more detailed source material in mind. Yet, this potential existence for merit does not make Sasami-san's diluted symbology any more comprehensible from the start, overshadowed by the show's refusal to expand upon its elusive—and unfortunately, fleeting—strengths.
At the show's core we're left with nothing but soppy melodrama—a direction that the show initially tried to avoid. This is where Sasami-san truly unhinges itself. While once entranced by the subtleties within the Shinto doctrine, the story takes a jarring left turn, yanking us out of the rabbit hole and placing us into a different tale: one of happiness versus responsibility, an introspective battle between Sasami's self-indulgent desires and her shrine maiden duties. Yet, the story forgets what previously distinguished Sasami-san, substituting eccentricity for intense manipulation (and boy is it an emotional roller coaster). Spending time with a zombie mother, only to be handled with a glop of melodrama by the end, simply does not compute. To have such a jarring turn of events (and an awfully serious one at that) alienates viewers from any meaningful connection to the characters.
This dramatic venture is only exacerbated as many of the events are unnaturally spontaneous, pulling away from any sense of realism in the story. These are the scenes full of hilarious spunk when the show doesn't take itself seriously, but when deus ex machina are integrated with the drama, it's difficult to consider any of it to be sincere writing. How unfortunate that the only savior from a time-traveling golem (which just happens to have waited an entire decade in hibernation) is some awkward plot device tantamount to going Super Saiyan.
Unfortunately, the narrative lends no favors to the cast either, as all the intriguing characters are offered little substance beneath their eccentric guises. Sasami Tsukuyomi is a hikikomori who also happens to be something of a goddess, and is queerly characterized by opposites: antisocial hikikism and a gooey moe personality. Sadly, her character is inconsistent, and constantly swaps between the two at the flick of a switch, a poor trait for a lead character aiming to pull off realistic drama. As for other cast members, Kamiomi plays the lustful brother, Tsurugi the frivolous red-head, Kagami the cold-hearted robot, and Tama the well-endowed moeblob with the brain age of a nymphet. While we are offered the occasional dynamic cleverly (word)played among these personalities, it is regrettable then that they never amount to anything more than that; the plot simply refrains from developing them past farcical melodrama. Moreover, the show even introduces more quirky characters three-quarters of the way through its 12 episodes, which only seems to confirm that the writers are looking more for gimmicky shells than ripened fruit.
In the end, Sasami-san concludes as the devil child that it is. The show's dynamics lends itself into an air of ravenous hilarity, pumping out the rare cheekiness reminiscent of more successful shows of its kind. But unfortunately, Sasami-san is so all over the place, and weighed down by its bloated melodrama, that these breadcrumbs are unsavory—ephemeral loaves expanding into excessively sour ones. Worth the watch? LSD's better.
For many, the first episode is like candy they've never tried before. They may like it, they may not, or they may not be accustomed to the taste so they give it another shot. If you fall into the latter, you will find that Sasami-san is more than meets the eye.
With its combination of supernatural occurrences, mysterious story line, unknown depth of characters, and extremely weird chain of events, you're not sure where the producers SHAFT is going with this. However, each episode contains enough elements to pique your interest, leaving you with a sense of longing and desire to see the next episode.
Story - 6
In its confusion, the first episode only gives you a brief glimpse into what Sasami-san is about. In general, there is very little explanation on what is happening. This is surprisingly concealed well by the events that take place, and is more so left up to the viewer to determine how the story unfolds and expands. Overal, the story is fair, not bad, not great.
Art - 7
I believe the art and animation to be on par with what SHAFT produces. I am not picky on watching anime based solely on that quality, though I have to admit there are scenes that could be drawn in more or higher detail. Overall, it is good, not exceptional.
Sound - 9
The atmosphere and setting play a large part in the general mood of Sasami-san; this includes the sound quality and background music. SHAFT does a great job in matching the music to the scene. The OP and ED reflect the series well, hinting at times the suspense, and at times the comedy and joking nature of the characters.
Character - 8
Each character has a unique personality, separate from the others in the series. Sasami-san would lose a lot of its interest if the characters were similar or bland. You will find immediately that each character adds something to the story, even if it's comedic relief or bizarre plot device.
That being said, these arch-types are common across anime; you have the sleepy, half-closed-eyes character that's lazy and unwilling to do anything physical, and you have the short, witty-comebacks character that views life as a joke. At the very least, SHAFT try to do something new with already-used character traits.
Enjoyment - 7
As I said previously, each week I find myself watching the anime out of interest, and not for the sake of "completing the series". This is because the story slowly develops, albeit slow and confusing at times. You're left guessing and making predictions on the plot and where it's going, so if that's not something you want to do, then you may find yourself dropping this anime. I for one believe that watching with no expectations is best, as you may be left pleasantly surprised at the end.
Sasami-san@Ganbaranai is by no means the perfect anime, and many will detest the direction (if it is heading in one) that SHAFT is taking with it. However, there are elements that make Sasami-san interesting; there are bizarre, supernatural events that unfold; some very neat action animation sequences and battles; and an array of characters that play into your senses just enough. Sasami-san, Ganbare!read more