Sasami-san@Ganbaranai – First Impression

I guess they didn't get away cleanly

Sasami-san@Ganbaranai (Translated as “Sasami Unmotivated”), is a show that is causing a bit of consternation around the aniblogs, with a lot of up and down reactions. This production by SHAFT has a very unusual visual style, a lot of times giving me a real reminder of Hidamari Sketch with the color palette full of pastels and a lot of brown and orange, but the art itself is not really like much else. It’s not even really consistent within the show, changing depending on the scene, where we’re watching, even the moods of the titular character, Sasami Tsukuyomi. This is definitely a show where weirdness reigns, but it’s not all-out wackiness or a crazy world. It’s mostly just…’off’. Let’s see if we can unpack this a little more.

Sasami-san

The title character is cute in her pajamas.

Sasami, voiced by Kana Asumi, is a high school student who won’t leave the house. She has an older brother, Kamiomi (Houchuu Otsuka), who is a teacher at her high school, and he’s just not quite right. He’s a total siscon for Sasami, acceding to her every whim, even assisting her with the most basic functions, like washing herself, putting clothes on, all while wheedling and cajoling her to try to go to leave the house and go to school. And we never see his head. It’s not hidden by clever camera work, or him being offscreen. They just have some prop that he holds in front of his head, no matter what – usually his briefcase, but also sometimes a bucket in this episode. And if Sasami is not normal, neither is her onii-chan, who endeavors to make her look like the more well-adjusted one even though she can’t leave the house without collapsing, vomiting, and crawling back inside. But what would cause her to try to leave the house anyway, if she knows this is going to happen? Well, her observation of her brother, who she’s got weird feelings for, too, giving him what seems to be honmei (true feelings) chocolates for Valentines Day, as opposed to giri (obligation) chocolate. So when he gives it away obliviously to another girl (Tama), she indignantly gets dressed and heads out the door… and pukes and crawls back inside.

A lecture about Valentines Day

Everyone else – Kagami, Tama, Tsurugi, and Kamiomi

The rest of the cast so far is the 3 Yagami sisters – Tsurugi (Chiwa Saito), Kagami (Kana Hanazawa), and Tama (Ai Nonaka). Tsurugi is a teacher like Kamiomi, and the other two seem to be students. And what they also seem to be is weird. Well, who isn’t weird in this show. Tama acts like a frog, Tsurugi ignores proper protocol for a teacher, and Kagami… well I haven’t figured out what she’s up to yet.

The climax of the show starts when Kamiomi goes to buy chocolate for Sasami, having been informed of Valentine’s Day’s meaning, and for whatever reason, the world starts turning into chocolate. It’s left to the Yagami sisters to fight the impending choconation of the world, with eating it, shooting it (with oppai missles, even), and cutting it. Finally racing to Sasami’s house, Kagami somehow resets the world leaving just Sasami as a chocolate figure for her Onii-chan.

Choco-Sasami

You might have noticed a lot of stuff that’s just not explainable in this post. There was really a lot of it in the show. Some things are written off as stylistic choices, like Kamiomi’s constant hiding of his face, but other things are just leaving me scratching my head. There’s definitely a supernatural element going on, and super powers, and unlikely weirdness.

Nice dancing, Haru-onii

Nice dancing, Haru-onii.

This is definitely a SHAFT show, and uses all of the things that have become their recognized signature elements. The color palette and shading textures continually reminded me of Hidamari Sketch, and visual elements from the -monogatari series are sprinkled throughout, including the high-detail closeup, the text card still-scene, a toothbrush scene  and there was probably a head-tilt in there somewhere that I didn’t notice. Not content with using their own things, they also include a ton of references to other shows including Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate books, Haruhi Suzumiya dances, even internal show cross-references with Tsurugi pulling out a “ni-shi-shi” Miya Tachibana laugh made famous by Sasami’s seiyuu Kana Asumi. There were probably a ton more that a new guy like me probably didn’t catch, but unlike a show like Nyaruko-san, they weren’t so obvious as to be used as puns, for the most part.

Something that might be bad is that there doesn’t seem to be really any indication of which way this show is going. The show didn’t end with a cliffhanger, or even a future plot point. It almost seemed like an OVA kind of plot. And maybe that’s the way this show will be: not so much a continuing narrative as a series of standalone-style shows.

I’m not sure about the long term prospects of the show. Can it do anything besides pile on the weirdness, or will it be returning to this same formula of “World turning weird, Yagami sisters saving it”? And what’s their motivation for doing that? And whose power is making the changes? And I’ll be honest, this first show was really tough to blog. Everything about the future of the characters is speculation, actually, it’s all wild-ass guess.

What did you think of this show? Intrigued? Disgusted? Going to keep watching, or was that enough for you?

2 thoughts on “Sasami-san@Ganbaranai – First Impression

  1. You have to take into account that this series is based on a light novel. Half of the things that left you wondering are in the show just because they were in the light novels, like the facelessness of Sasami’s brother or the Yagami sisters’ reversed appearances (the eldest looks the youngest et cetera). Unfortunately the original works have not been translated yet (not even illegally, as far as I know), so I can’t shed light on the reasons behind these mind-boggling facts.
    To answer your questions: I would say I’m intrigued. I enjoy Shinbo’s animation tricks, those unusual palettes and other visual features. As for the story I am sure it will get there eventually… So I’ll keep watching!

    • I’m generally fine with shows just presenting things and implying “This is just how it is”. Girls und Panzer was really huge on that last season, my mantra for it being ‘just go with it’. And it’s easy enough to just go with it in this show, but, unlike GuP, in this show it seems like the weirdness is far more central to the character’s selves and motivations and even the plot. Mostly it leaves the show with a lot more questions, and the fact that there wasn’t even a hint as to why they are like that was more what I was commenting on.

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