Sasami-san@Ganbaranai Review

This is review number on hundred and eighty three. This anime is part of the Winter 2013 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is Sasami@Ganbaranai. It’s a twelve episode anime about a hikikomori and three gods trying to help her or something like that. What’s with the “@”? It’s really the thing that made me watch this show. Now I know it really doesn’t mean much. Anyways, this show is pretty great. Watch it. Also, let’s read on. Story The anime is about a girl named Sasami Tsukuyomi. She is a hikikomori, a person that doesn’t want to leave their house because they’ve been inside for a long time that they no longer want to interact with the outside world. She is not just a bum though. She is absolutely dependent to her big brother than he bathes her, feeds her and even clothe her. She is an extreme lazy ass and she doesn’t want to do any effort. Sasami has a secret though. It’s a big one. It’s so big that the entire world is affected by it. How so? Let’s just say that if she wishes the world to be made of chocolates then the entire world would turn into chocolate.

Taking the Pants Off

If you want something unique to watch then you should definitely try Sasami@Ganbaranai. It’s directed by the guy who did the Monogatari series, Dance in the Vampire Bund and MariaHolic. If you’ve seen those anime then you’ll most likely experience the same things in those anime when you watch this show. I actually love the rather “artistic” approach by those anime. They have bright colors to attack the senses and the shows are drowned in a lot of dialogue. The whole thing is part of the humor by the director though and once you get used to it, you’ll soon realize how wonderful the story the shows have. The story isn’t directly presented. The director tries to weird you out first and makes you feel uncomfortable. Once you get used to the distinct presentation of the shows then you’ll slowly learn to love it. Sasami@Ganbaranai has the same artistic approach to it but it’s tamer than the shows I mentioned. The story is actually a main priority and the humor you’d expect from the director is actually restricted.

The anime is about a hikikomori and she is weirdly close to her big brother. He does everything for her and he declares his love openly for the world to hear. It’s certainly weird. If you’ve seen the first episode then you’d be weirded out as well. Like I said, the director does his best to make you feel uncomfortable first before the story actually materializes. The premise is actually really good though if you decide to stick with the anime. Let’s just say that if Haruhi Suzumiya is a god that doesn’t know she is a god then Sasami is a god that does know that she is a god. Haruhi unconsciously change the world around her just by wishing it. She made a cat talk, made Mikuru beam real and trapped her friends in a never ending summer nightmare. Sasami can do that as well because inside her resides a god and her family lineage is actually a long line of people that inherits this god’s power. Every episode is about some various misadventures of the supernatural kind and Sasami is always at the middle of it all. The premise is absolutely amazing that it doesn’t take long for it to hook me.

The anime is all about Sasami and her odd resemblance to Haruhi but the show explored a lot of things with her at the center of it all. I’d say there are two plot points in the anime. They are closely interlinked though and they do have a gradual buildup but the show was actually pretty smart in presenting it. Rather than the story building up for a climax, it serves a weekly format. It’s non episodic and majority of the episodes are actually stand alone. There is a major storyline but the episodes often revolve around a supernatural phenomenon with Sasami involved one way or another. Anyways, there are two plot points in the anime.

The first plot point is about the supernatural things. There is always something weird happening because Sasami can’t control her powers and it often affects, not only her, but the rest of the world. Three girls with some supernatural powers themselves notice the “alterations” Sasami would make and try to fix it. Like I said, the story isn’t direct and most of these events start out weird first but I really admire how things slowly fall in place as the episode progresses. There is some smart storytelling involving this plot point and I love how the characters are utilized in it. It’s a simple approach. Something weird happens, the girls save the day, we find the reason of the event and Sasami slowly grows as a person. This is also the element that really made the show great. It’s smart balance and execution makes the show really fun to watch.

The second plot point is about Sasami and her duties as shrine maiden. Her family is from a long line of people that possess the power of the god inside her and they always use that power to regulate the world. There is obviously some conflict arising from the fact that the successor is a freakin hikikomori who is so lazy that it’s depressing to even think about it. The whole situation is explored from Sasami’s inescapable duties as a shrine maiden to the strict traditions of her family. This one had a more gradual build up compared to the first plot point. This one was important to the basic background and setting of the anime. It’s surprisingly deep and you’d never expect that the show possess a lot of narrative to it from this plot point alone. If you think three girls saving the world from Sasami’s alterations is fun to watch then prepare to discover just how wonderful the narrative is involving her past and whole family dynamic.

This anime has a strong story. The story is pretty easy to follow but t is midly intimidating. It has a lot of supernatural elements to it that just goes over my head. There are a lot of gods and myths mentioned in the anime that is woven in the stories that I am not familiar with. I am also too lazy to google them. It does not affect the enjoyment of the episodes but it’s still a shame that the show is deeply rooted on Japanese gods and the like. You often just have to go with the flow of the anime as it progresses. The show does take the time to explain everything though through some very detailed narrations from the various characters so it’s really all good. I also like how the events unfold first before the revelation of the why and how. It’s a different style of presentation that I personally appreciate.

The characters are also a strong point of the anime. It takes a while for their individual charm to come through but they really make it easier to watch the anime. Since it tries to weird you out at first, the characters really carry the show. I mean, the first episode didn’t hit you hard with the story. It had Sasami in her cute pajamas ordering her big brother around and this guy who hides his face doing everything Sasami commands him. From bathing her to feeding her, it was the characters that draw you in to watch the show. Each and every character of the show is really outstanding. They have their own quirky personality and their interactions brighten up the anime. The story doesn’t normally build up like any other anime so it was the characters that fill the space the story was greatly missing. There aren’t a lot of characters though so the ones that are present are really precise. The main character is Sasami. She is a hikikomori and she is very cute. Have you seen that scene where she was just changing into her school uniform?

Here’s a GIF of it.

sanga

The characters have a lot of depth to them and they take a nice transformation as the show progresses. Some don’t hit hard at first but they slowly grow on you. They usually start out as just a generic character but the show really does a great job of surprising you when it comes to fleshing out the characters. If you watch the anime, you’d never expect just how certain things like big brother feeding Sasami actually have a big backstory to it. A character being a bit gullible, another being distant, and another being a bit of a tsundere has a rich backstory to it that the anime nicely presents and it just makes the whole viewing experience pretty goddamn amazing.

Now after a long winded description of the positives of the anime, I guess this is where I now pounce at the various flaws of the anime. I personally don’t see anything that fully affects the viewing experience but I do believe that the artistic storytelling of the director will always be a nuisance. How many people have claimed to love Bakemonogatari with another behind him claiming that it sucks? He never tries to be direct with the story and he let character interactions and long boring dialogue do it for him. The often serious story of Sasami@Ganbaranai is diluted because of the profound and mildly amusing approach of presenting the narrative. Compared to Dance in the Vampire Bund or Bakemonogatari though, this show is actually easier to digest.

This is a great show. It’s actually the biggest surprise of the Winter lineup for me. I was expecting some sort of comedy anime like Humanity has Declined or something more ridiculous but I never expected a strong show with supernatural elements to it. The anime gave me a wonderful experience until the end. The characters are amazing and I am actually an inch away to worshipping Kagami Yagami but I am holding myself back. This show will not disappoint so I urge everyone to try it.

Sight and Sound

ganbaranai1

The character design is pretty amazing. The girls of the anime all have a nice look them. The slender body combined by some pretty faces looks great on the characters. Their looks also nicely complement their personality as well. I am a big fan of Sasami’s look. The style is simple but it is very detailed. She has a gentle face and then a very unique hair style. It looks messy and I love how it curls to the side. It gives her a very unique style that makes her very much stand out. The rest of the cast has the same style. They look simple but the details on them are very nicely done. You can also tell their personality really goes well with their looks.

The animation is very simple. There are not a lot of movements in the anime because it is heavy in dialogue. During fight scenes, the animation does stand out. The complicated movements of the characters and the smooth transitions of the scenes are nicely done. I especially love how Kagami moves. She would launch rockets, use a weapon and fly in the sky. The animation was able to make her shine during the fight scenes and that is pretty amazing. Majority of the scenes are pretty normal and the characters just talk. The facial expressions are nicely done and the various mannerisms are pretty noticeable.

The color palette of the anime should also be noted. The visuals are pretty unique with a cross between normal anime visuals with a painted overlay on top of it. It looks pretty good and it gives the anime a dream-like aura to it. The characters and most things in the anime have a single bright color to them that is often distracting. Again, I’ve seen this done in Bakemonogatari but in a more exaggerated way. The approach on Sasami@Ganbaranai is more restricted. You can also tell that there aren’t often a lot of details on certain scenes. A classroom would often feel empty and Sasami’s bedroom would often feel a bit lonely. Crowded places like malls and otaku shops aren’t as interactive as they appear and this really just round up the artistic style I’m talking about.

The anime’s OP is “Alteration” by ZAQ. It’s a pretty decent song. The singer’s voice is pretty good and the song has a nice pace to it. It also has a nice beat but it personally sounds a bit ordinary. The OP sequence features all the characters and a sampling of the random events in the anime. It also has a familiar pose similar to the OP in Haruhi with Haruhi reaching her hand out. It was a parody of the same pose from Vision of Escaflowne so it’s a bit funny Sasami parodies Haruhi parodying Vision of Escaflowne.

The ED is “Shintouatsu Symphony” by Sasami Tsukuyomi. It’s sung by the main character but the song is different at different episode with the show’s humor slipped in as the ED rolls along. Various characters also sing the ED and it was just meant to be distracting, to be honest. I don’t listen much to it. The ED sequence features all the characters walking while it snows with Sasami gazing at the snow. It ends with her sleeping and being all cute while sleeps.

Overall Score

6/10 “Strong narrative with strong characters wrapped in a unique visual presentation.”

This is a great show. Everything just works well together and the execution of the anime is really nice. The story is pretty great, the characters are very likeable and there is no boring moment in the anime. It’s really just an awesome show. If you enjoy anime with some smart humor and a nice story then you’ll enjoy this anime. Of course, if you love the style Bakemonogatari or MariaHolic displayed then you need to see this anime. I highly recommend it.

Thoughts~

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