This is review number three hundred and seventy four. This anime is part of the Spring 2016 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called “Sakamoto desu ga?” or “Haven’t you heard? I’m Sakamoto.” It’s a twelve episode anime about Mahouka, mahouka, mahouka. F*ck me. Just kill me now, and let’s just read on already.
In Class 1-2of Gakubun Prefectural High School, one student had the entire school’s attention from the very first day. He is stylish carrying out class duties, he is stylish at lunchtime, and he’s even stylish when sent to stand in the hall. Every single move he makes is…cool, cooler! Coolest!!! He lives an overwhelmingly cool stylish high school life. His name is Sakamoto.
– Opening Narration
Taking the Pants Off
Oh boy, this anime is about a Mary Sue character. F*ck me. Anyone following my blog for a good year would know that I developed an absolute hatred for Mary Sue characters. They’re perfect characters that can seemingly do no wrong, and other characters exist simply to give praise to whatever the hell they do. Mahouka laid the Mary Sue character on pretty thick, and it really got to me. I’ve been a fan of anime since I was twelve years old, became an otaku at sixteen and then dialed it back when I hit my twenty’s. For such a long time, I have never hated something as much as I hate the Mary Sue stereotype. When you review anime, you have to dissect the show to properly talk about it. You really have to soak it in sometimes, and you have to put your mindset in the view of someone that the anime caters to. I watch Shounen Ai anime with the same enthusiasm as a preteen girl clearly targeted for the anime. I watch Shounen like a kid, because they’re the aimed audience. When I watch a psychological show, I understand that I have to really think hard while watching the complicated stories. For shows about Mary Sue characters, I just have nothing. Who likes these characters? They’re annoying. Conflict is non-existence, side characters are meant to just give praise to the perfect character, and it seems utterly pointless to follow the show now when you know the perfect character can’t really fail. Why watch an arc with five episodes about a hostage crisis when you know the Mary Sue character will save the day in the end? The even more annoying part is that the Mary Sue character seems to be gaining in popularity, and I can only assume that Japanese audiences are actually warming up to them. So my most hated stereotype is actually the big trend right now, and I might just review older shows at this point if this trend persists. What the hell is wrong with this world? I feel like we’ve gone a step backwards here when we start liking stereotypes clearly made to be nothing more than quirky supporting characters. When they start taking center stage, I personally feel defeated.
Forgive me. I just wanted to pour my hatred for Mary Sue in one paragraph, and I might as well just get it out of the way now. “Sakamoto desu ga?” is indeed an anime about a perfect character doing perfect things. This is supposed to be a comedy where the main gag is that Sakamoto does weird things, but these things often result in solving a problem or doing something needlessly flashy to make himself look good. The entire anime revolves around this one joke, and the twelve episode anime recycles the joke over and over. As someone that utterly hates perfect characters, I felt like this was just a cruel torture for me. When I was watching this anime, I actually remember my experiences watching both Mahouka and Shiba Inuko-san. Mahouka had the same annoying setup as Sakamoto wherein the perfect character is always perfect and he does nothing wrong. In Shiba Inuko-san, the comedy show revolves around one joke as well: the main character is a dog. The anime ran for only five minutes, and the gag got boring after the second episode. I was spared the misery though, because it had a short run time. Sakamoto seems to have captured the most undesirable aspects of both shows, and it proudly un-f*cking-apologetically featured it in the anime. It took me a week to finish this show, because my entire being just wasn’t ready to accept that such an anime exists. I don’t want to do this review, but let’s just f*cking get this over with.
I initially wanted to watch this anime because there were a lot of GIFs and meme running wild about the show. The clips were hilarious and it looked interesting, so I decided to watch it when the Spring 2016 season ends. In the first episode alone, you can tell the anime had some problems. I believe the entire gag of the show is that Sakamoto is undeniably weird, but people would herald his actions as “amazing” and “unbelievable”. The joke is that only the audience knows that Sakamoto is weird and that everyone around him is an idiot. I understand the joke, but it’s not really a funny one. The anime is still pretty serious, and I was expecting it to be a bit self-aware. I was hoping that it’d poke fun of itself, but it instead tries to give us serious stories about Sakamoto doing something weird to save the day. In the first episode, Sakamoto tricked a couple of delinquents to dance around a fire convincing them that it’d die if they create a wind with their dance. It turns out though that he actually wanted to make enough noise for someone outside to unlock the door for them. It was pretty funny, because it was being self-aware. The situation is stupid, everyone is stupid, but the brilliance of the entire scene is just entertaining to watch. I honestly wanted more of that, but the show had other plans. It’s a comedy show focusing on a perfect character, and this presents a big problem.
Comedy shows doesn’t really need much to work, and recycling gags are ordinary things. For Comedy to thrive though, it needs to establish a status quo and gather a large cast. The dynamic among the characters eventually makes a very entertaining anime. Gintama, Sket Dance, Cuticle Detective Inaba and Squid Girl utilize these elements to deliver an effective comedy. Story is a secondary thing, because you just need to push out situational gags that’ll make the entire cast form a stronger bond. This is a big reason why marshmallow shows have four to five characters in them. A comedy show cannot strive with just one character. While there are rare exceptions like Watamote, you can’t make a strong comedy with just one main character. It’s just too limited, and you just confined your show in a box that it can’t get out of. For this anime to work, it needs to introduce more characters or it needs to make its initial premise, Sakamoto being perfect despite being weird, refreshing for each episode. As I said before, Watamote made a one man comedy show and its thanks largely to the creative premise of a socially awkward girl having a hard time acting normal in public.
Can Sakamoto be as good as Watamote? Not by a mile. The initial premise of the anime became horribly stale by the third episode. We get it. He is perfect. He can charm girls, bring thugs to their knees and make naysayers believe in him. He’s an interesting character, but he’s not really the ideal character for a comedy show. A big reason why Watamote works is because it employs the age old idea of comedy that it’s only funny when someone is experiencing pain or misery. Tom and Jerry is funny because of its violence, the main reason of a straight man and comedy man in a comedy duo is because the other one is on the receiving end of the jokes, and Watamote was absolutely harsh with its main character. It got to a point where I wanted to hug her, and that’s what makes comedy work. You can argue that Sakamoto does have a straight man and Sakamoto is the comedy man though. Every skit in the anime features a character being tormented by Sakamoto’s weird perfection, but there’s a problem here. It comes full f*cking circle with the Mary Sue stereotype.
In every skit, Sakamoto acts funny and he brings misery to the other character involved in the scene. The problem is that the character doesn’t really experience misery, because he would just accept Sakamoto’s perfection and be in awe of him. A Mary Sue character exists to be worshipped, and this is what the supporting characters do. They do experience annoyance when they know Sakamoto is a perfect character, but they will soon submit to him. They’ll acknowledge how perfect he is, and they’ll start praising him at every chance. Sakamoto is so perfect that he can fight a bee and win. Sakamoto is so perfect that he fights thugs and win. Sakamoto is so perfect that he can teach a delinquent to become a more motivated person just by grilling his shoes. Sakamoto is so handsome that girls falls for him, and they would fight over an imprint of his face. Sakamoto is just f*cking perfect, and please just f*cking kill me now. How is this funny? How is giving a perfect character to portray how perfect he is, while other characters praise him, funny? I’m missing something here, and I just don’t understand it. Twelve f*cking episodes of the same thing over and over, and the anime expects its perfect character can carry the show? He is not that perfect. Oh my gawd, my head hurts. I honestly tried to like the show, but I feel like it’s just painfully one dimensional for me. There were times where I thought it was poking fun of the Mary Sue stereotype, but nothing really happens. I would’ve enjoyed an anime intentionally pointing out how stupid Mary Sue characters are, but the anime isn’t really sticking with it. It’s really just banking on the fact that Sakamoto’s unusual behavior can provide funny moments for the show. To be fair, there are some funny moments like Sakamoto ruining a group date by having all the girls fall for him. Those truly funny moments are pretty far in between though, because a lot of the skits are really just supposedly funny scenarios where the perfect Sakamoto tries to solve a problem with his perfect personality. He might as well resurrect the dead at this point, because why the hell not?
I’ve mentioned before that Comedy anime needs a large cast, and this anime does try to provide Sakamoto with some recurring classmates to interact with. There isn’t really a story to properly structure the show, but there are two kinds of characters that Sakamoto comes across with. The first ones are the delinquents, or just jealous boys trying to make Sakamoto look bad. In the first episode, a guy pulls Sakamoto’s chair to make him land on his ass and embarrass him, but then Sakamoto pulls a move like this:
He’s sitting in air, and I’m pretty sure he’ll resurrect the dead after this. Anyways, the skits play out the same way all the time. These delinquents would often try to challenge Sakamoto or make him look foolish, but Sakamoto is so perfect that he always has a plan to get out of all of them. He is never embarrassed, and he often comes out looking cooler in the end. The onlookers would then praise how cool or creative or handsome or perfect Sakamoto is, and this’ll send the delinquent into an even bigger fit of jealousy. In his stage of extreme jealousy, he’ll do something so drastic that other people are caught up in it. Sakamoto will still prove how perfect he is though, and he’ll solve the conflict with ease. At the end of the skit, the delinquent would accept defeat and he’d even look up to Sakamoto acknowledging how perfect of a guy he is. I initially liked this aspect of the show, because these delinquents add some wrinkle to an otherwise boring show. I’d grow to hate it though, because the skits always end with Sakamoto placed in a high pedestal and made to look good. It got to a point where it’s no longer funny, and I honestly wanted the jealous boys to finally get one over on Sakamoto. Of course, this won’t happen, because Sakamoto is so perfect that he can predict whatever the hell they’re planning and he’ll come up with a plan to counter it in literally a split second. The idea of these boys also falling for Sakamoto irritates me. They could just retreat and plan more dastardly things, but Sakamoto is so perfect that the delinquents would stop harassing him before the skits end. You could actually have one big plot point of Sakamoto just dealing with delinquents and forcing them to become model students, but the anime is really just concerned with Sakamoto being perfect. The potential is killed so Sakamoto can be the perfect character he is destined to be.
The other characters Sakamoto interacts with are the girls. They’re just simply girls, and they all have one simple role. They all ogle Sakamoto and pine for his attention, and they’d get jealous over girls trying to get close to him. There are actually very little episodes involving girls, but they’re all the same skits with just different characters. They’d try to get as desperately close to Sakamoto as they can, but his unpredictable personality makes it hard for them to achieve success. My favorite female character in this anime is hands down Kubota’s mother, and it’s actually the skit about her that made me want to watch the show. She tries desperately to be with Sakamoto, but the guy has instructions to avoid her. This results in a hide-and-seek around the house where Sakamoto tries to be inventive with his hiding spots:
I like that episode, because there is misery coming from Kubota’s mom desperately trying to be with Sakamoto. It also didn’t end with her acknowledging his perfection, since she clearly only wants the D. The other girls are classmates of Sakamoto, and they are really just hardcore in love with him. In episode two, a flirty character gets shut out by Sakamoto’s weird perfection. There’s also an episode where girls talk about meeting Sakamoto, and they all describe the prefect thing he did that made them fall for him. My favorite is this one:
I’ll admit. That’s f*cking original, and it’s funny. I just wished the anime had more of that, but unfortunately, a lot of the jokes in this anime are repetitive and dry. These skits often have one thing highlighted though, and it’s about Sakamoto’s gentleman side. For Kubota’s mom, he tried to comfort him when the woman broke down and cried. For his classmates, he often tries to solve problems between them and he often does something sweet for them. I remember that he once replied thank you with a copier machine when a ghost confessed to him. I’m not kidding. A ghost falls in love with Sakamoto in this anime.
The anime does have its moments, but you can tell that it had a hard time trying to really decide on its premise. Towards the end of the show, it tried to highlight the slice of life aspect of Sakamoto’s class and this is a bit weird. It spent the first half focusing solely on Sakamoto, and it’s now trying to pull an Azumanga Diaoh by involving the classroom in the story. It suddenly focuses on activities like a cultural festival and graduation ceremonies involving the class, but you can tell it’s so f*cking forced. You just spent a lot of time showcasing how perfect Sakamoto is, and now you want to rely on a cliché that requires a larger cast? No, you can’t do that. You started with a one man comedy show, and now you can tell it can’t get out of the box it created. The episodes involving the class are pretty decent though, because Sakamoto falls into the role a Mary Sue character should be in: a supporting one. Sadly, it’s a bit too late. Without any real focus on Sakamoto’s classmates, this sudden shift in the story is just too ham fisted to work. The anime even tried to end the show focusing on the “special bonds” Sakamoto made with his classmates, and it’s just not convincing. He didn’t really make a connection with anyone, so the entire ending just feels a bit pointless. It also reinforces the idea that Mary Sue characters are just too limiting to heavily feature in a comedy anime. It’s a good attempt, but it didn’t really fly that far.
The characters are all forgettable, and this includes Sakamoto. He is actually very one dimensional, since the show just focuses on the perfect things he does. Without a real personality, Sakamoto is really just a bland guy that happens to be handsome. He is weird, but I honestly feel like he isn’t weird enough to really be called interesting. There’s just not enough about him to make him interesting, and he’s really just a walking gag for this anime. Despite the show featuring one dimensional characters at every turn, there is one interesting character among the bunch. I’m talking about this son of a b*tch:
Kubota is just so gawd damn weird. I think the joke here is that he acts like a girl, and he looks like a really ugly chick. He looks like his mother, and I believe there was one scene where people mistook him for a lady or something. He is the closest person to Sakamoto, and he just becomes a lot more feminine as the show progresses. He often acts as this girlfriend for Sakamoto, and it’s really weird. I like him though, because he is just different. He often gets bullied by the delinquents, but also weirdly identifies with the girls in terms of adoring Sakamoto. He lies in between the character stereotypes in this anime, and I find it a bit brilliant. I wished he had more screen time, but Sakamoto really steals a lot of the attention in this show. His relationship with Kubota also just gets weirder the more they hang out, and I often find it to be the most interesting thing in the show. It isn’t funny by any means, but it’s just different than the usual servings in this anime.
This is a wild miss for Studio Deen, but I do appreciate the risk involved here. They really took a gamble with this one. They took their usual flare of featuring hot guys, and they tried to make it appeal to a broader audience. Studio Deen’s lineup is notorious for being solely dedicated to featuring hot guys and weak stories. Sakamoto is no different, and it’s a shame considering how awesome their run in Winter 2016 is. Showa Genroku and KonoSuba felt like the studio is integrating more stories in their work, but Sakamoto just feels like a giant step back. Again, I know this anime is a risky move on their part and I do believe there is some potential to be improved here. Their comedy shows are always an awkward mess, but this anime definitely features some potential on their part. I still like where Studio Deen is heading, but I do hope they stop relying on tickling their target demographics’ fancy too much. Young girls will always love hot guys in their anime, so they can improve on other parts now. I’m still eager to see this studio improve, and I believe they’ll knock our socks off with Showa Genroku 2 soon enough. I’m amazed Shinji Takamatsu directed this anime. He is known for School Rumble and Gintama, and they’re both really good comedy shows. A prominent comedy director somehow gave us a big miss with a comedy anime, and I think the manga is just too limiting to really make good. I have read the manga, and he was very faithful to it. To be fair, comedy is a very subjective genre so maybe other people enjoyed this anime. It also features a lot of Shinji’s comedy pacing, so maybe it does work for others. I’m sorry, but I just can’t stand this anime.
Sight and Sound
Nami Sano’s design is pretty incredible. All her panels are just given wonderful attention, and her inking really brings the page to life. She has a great idea of negative spacing and inking to really make her panels pop. She puts incredible details in her panels, and I love how she always makes Sakamoto stand out in everything he is in. She always features Sakamoto full body, and she really takes advantage of his eccentric personality to fully bring her panels to life. The way Sakamoto move is very expressive in the manga, and you can really tell just what kind of a weirdo he is from the visuals alone. Coupled with Nami’s clean lines and smart shadings, Sakamoto is really brought to life in her manga. In terms of character design, Sakamoto is a clear standout in her manga. The anime does feature Sakamoto’s face on close ups and pan upshots but, in the manga, you really have time to just be in awe at how beautifully drawn he is. The shape of his face, his enticing eyes and the mole on his cheek are all wonderfully drawn in the manga. You just can’t help but be drawn in to Nami’s beautiful design of Sakamoto. The rest of the characters are nicely designed as well. While Sakamoto is uniquely a standout in her designs, the other characters still have the same care given to them despite not being as well conceived as Sakamoto. He is perfect, so let’s just leave him alone. Nami’s design is pretty great, because you can tell the flexibility in her work. She draws ugly characters as well, but she can also make plain characters look interesting. Again, using the inking and the white spaces, a tame character can still stand out in a wonderful fashion in her designs. The manga is also just on a different level from the anime. I suggest you try the manga as well, because the intended gag Nami is aiming for is clearly more thoroughly presented in the manga. I think she really made an ambitious work, but she didn’t anticipate the transition to an anime would be a problem. After all, a reader can read a manga at their own pace and they can stop at one panel to gaze at Nami’s designs. Those elements are absent from the anime, so the experience isn’t as elaborate as the manga.
Despite the beauty of the manga being a bit mistranslated in the anime, Nami’s vision is still faithfully captured by Shinji Takamatsu. Her panels are nicely adapted in the anime, and even her flashy angles are animated to fully bring Sakamoto to life. Her intended pacing for the manga is also nicely captured in the anime, and I think Shinji’s talents really shine on that one. The animation is pretty great as well. Every scene Sakamoto is in is nicely animated, and the flashy moves he makes are really highlighted beautifully in the anime. The fight scenes are also nicely presented and the menacing feel of the delinquents are nicely adapted from the manga. I think Nami’s inking style really makes a big difference though, because some of the characters aren’t as flashy as they are in the manga. The movements are still pretty solid though, and the comedy aspect is really brought to life wonderfully in every episode. Sakamoto’s movements are really odd and unpredictable in this anime, and I love how that element of his personality is nicely presented in the animation as well. Studio Deen just did a pretty great job animation-wise. If there’s one criticism, then it’d be the color palette they use in their anime. They really need to make sure their anime doesn’t share the same color palettes.
I would just like to say that I hate the jazz music playing in the background whenever Sakamoto does something cool. It’s the same damn music accompanying the same damn recycled gag every f*cking time and it got a bit exhausting to listen to. I don’t really need a signal to know when Sakamoto is doing something perfect, so it just adds to the annoying experience I had with this anime. Anyways, the anime’s OP is “COOLEST” by Customi Z. This is one flashy for a comedy anime. It highlights Sakamoto’s coolness, and the song is a bit ridiculous. It’s about celebrating your individuality, and you can tell Sakamoto does that a lot. You can’t deny the catchy guitar riffs though, and I love the rock out loud feel of the song. The OP is a bit annoying though, because it just features Sakamoto doing cool things for no reason. It does capture Nami’s vision, since most of the poses he makes do come directly from the manga. It even has those cool close ups, but I just find the whole thing pretty stupid. It’s stupidly cool, how’s that?
The anime’s ED is “Nakushita Hibi ni Sayonara” by Suneohair. This is a slow paced song, and it’s completely different from the OP. It’s a bit more solemn, but I love how it features Suneohair. I first heard them back in Honey and Clover, so I’m just glad to see them making cool songs again. This song is a really personal love song about someone treasuring their moments in their hearts. The slow pace and the wonderful beat are very relaxing to listen to, but the ED sequence does throw me off a bit. It features Sakamoto doing random stuff in the school premises, like sleeping in the tennis nets, and I just find it weird compared to the sweet love song. Sakamoto is pretty cool though, and I think that’s the main goal here.
5/10 “This comedy anime is dry and boring, and the Mary Sue stereotype is just too much.”
This anime relied on one main gag, and it clearly brought the experience down. Instead of being funny, the anime is just bland and boring. With very little variation for the skits, this anime becomes repetitive fast. There are some good moments here and there, but the negative aspects really overwhelmed the anime. I must stress out though that comedy is subjective, so you might find this anime funny despite my utter hatred of it. I’m pretty patient with my comedy anime, but this one just tested me. If you can still find the anime tolerable past the third episode then I do think this anime is for you. If you like perfect characters, then why not enjoy one in a comedy anime? If you like high school comedy anime, then I think you’ll like the spin on this one. Again, try the first three episodes and go from there. The anime doesn’t offer anything new up that point, so if you really want to invest in the show then the comedy might work for you.