Sasami-san@Ganbaranai – 03

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Cool gods don’t look at explosions.

So Shaft followed up a confusing but very fun first episode with a much less confusing but also underwhelming 2nd episode. Could Shinbo right this ship for the 3rd? I can say that I liked this episode better than the last, but Shaft’s reliance on narration over narrative to explain the story made what should have been an early-season climax fall somewhat limp.

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Shaft making sure to please the Touhou crowd with this episode.

The veil of mystery surrounding these characters have been peeled back, so we at least know who they are now. Basically, everyone is Amaterasu or some part or vessel thereof, with the eldest Yagami sister Tsurugi the origin, the one who was born Amaterasu before deciding to relinquish her powers. There’s a parallel to be made here between her and Sasami, who became the lazy hikikomori she is after discovering the internet upon running away from her duties at her uptight religious home.

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If you thought last episode looked a lot like FLCL

Sasami’s story is designed to bring to mind oppressed children in Japan – and other East Asian countries such as Korea and China – who have to suffer the abuse of their tiger moms until they finally snap, burn out, and lose all motivation. It not quite as prominent a problem in the West, though it’s certainly not uncommon. Perhaps Americans might be reminded of another example (that maintains the religious element), a young Amish man becoming enamored in modern technology during his time away from the community.

Shaft has found success before with shows about problem children, though they’ve faltered as well. I find Sasami-san‘s Shintoism bend to be genuinely interesting, and it’s done well with the fantastical setting it’s built up to allow for its wacky antics (Tsurugi’s explanation for protecting Sasami’s everyday life bordered on meta). That Sasami had the power of Amaterasu inside her all along was an unexpected twist, and it connected directly to Sasami’s psychological issues, showing that she didn’t have to rely on her brother because the power to control her life had been inside her all along. A cheesy but heartfelt lesson for this teenage girl who is so unwilling to admit or unable to see just how hard she really tries at her very sad and tragic life.

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Shaft’s experience with stark lighting comes through in these anxiety attack scenes.

But all of this had to be told in the most blunt way possible, through narration from Sasami, then from Tsurugi. Shinbo tends to do the whole show-don’t-tell thing pretty well, so perhaps this was a case of overly close adaptation as in the -Monogatari series and its famously long-winded conversations. But those had some silliness and were complemented by creative and engaging visuals. The outdoor scenery was admittedly beautiful most of the time, including another great panic attack out in the sun, but they were all too lacking in imagination compared to what we’ve come to expect from Shaft.

The action scenes were once again competent, with a visibly generous budget, but it’s getting clear that they are not Shaft’s forte. Neither the fight between Kamiomi and Tama nor Kagami’s massacre of the military vehicles was as well directed as the chocolate monster scene from the 1st episode. And there just wasn’t enough buildup or even context (for unmanned tanks?) to give excitement to them. I wrote it last week, and it’s still true: excepting that introductory episode, Sasami-san simply hasn’t had the visual chops to make up for its obscured narrative.

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I’d point out that this shot was spectacular if not for how utterly cliche it was.

Sasami managing to overcome her hikikomori tendencies seems to be the close of the show’s first arc. It was somewhat reminiscent of and all around more poorly handled than the first 3 episodes of Shaft’s 2011 show Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko. That show did a wonderful job setting up Erio’s problems and Makoto’s budding relationship with her before its cathartic early-season climax, but in Sasami-san, the explanations came too late and too dense. It couldn’t build up a coherent narrative to displace the confusion already in our minds. While it was heartening to see Sasami finally successfully step out to go to school, it just lacked impact. A show can’t cash in emotional chips it hasn’t earned yet. Denpa Onna went downhill quickly after its 3rd episode, and I hope that Sasami-san won’t suffer a similar fate. Whatever it might have up its sleeve, the time to take it out is now.

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I haven’t been able to find any information on the voice actor for this servant girl, but she sounded a lot like Hitomi Harada, or Nori from Hidamari Sketch.

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A math/science geek and a self-dubbed cynical optimist. I don't care if it's deep, if it can make me feel something or laugh, it's fine in my book. @lvlln
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20 Responses to “Sasami-san@Ganbaranai – 03”

  1. Highway says:

    Yeah, I still can’t figure out where this show is trying to go. It seemed like they explained everything this episode, and don’t really have anywhere to go. And as you say, the explanation was completely expository (Is Tsurugi related to Basil Exposition?).

    I was thinking during the episode “Why didn’t they hold this until the last couple episodes?” Why didn’t they have more stuff happen, after giving that explanation in episode 2, that was probably enough to keep everyone satisfied enough on the “who are these characters” point. But then in this episode, they just blurted out the whole deal. It seems it’s taken a lot of their freedom away for what they can do with the rest of the series.

    • Restia says:

      Yeah, after revealing everything (and destrolishing the shrine) idk what they’re going to do now :/
      Now we’ve been left with some school romcom with occasional divine fighting ?
      Doesn’t sound bad, but the way they just revealed everything to us on the third episode is a bit weird

      ps Kamioni + Sasami incest hohoho

      • lvlln says:

        The big reveals in this episode was probably for the main premise, a prologue more than anything. I’m (perhaps foolishly) expecting that there are more reveals to come; after all, from the deep well of Shintoism, they haven’t drawn much more than just Amaterasu. If Okami is anything to go by, there are still plenty of things that could be played with. The legitimate question is, will they be? Shaft did alright with Natsu no Arashi after an early emotional high, building up another one, but they didn’t do as good of a job with Denpa Onna which just kind of putzed around for 3/4 of the series.

  2. Liza says:

    I was actually surprised how much everything made sense after this episode. Oh, her brother acts that way because of this. The sisters act this way because of that. Everything seemed to be explained and wrapped up in a nice package. However, with that in mind, this felt like a final episode more than the third one. It seemed like everything was resolved and there’s no more conflict. Unless a new conflict comes up, it seems like the “alterations” might be back in main focus although I don’t know how with Sasami being in control of Amaterasu’s power again.

    • Restia says:

      I think possible conflicts include:

      +DAT THIRD ARM
      it’s sealed right now but, I mean, it’s creepy and supposedly her alter ego. what if it comes out with a full body ಠ_ಠ

      +Other gods
      As shown in the Opening, shady looking Shinto people were creeping around..

      +Sasami’s emotions/desires
      Unlike the former vessals for Amaterasu’s power, Sasami didn’t take the pill. What if gets super angry and becomes mentally unstable or something around those lines, and couldn’t maintain control over the power? :<

      +Family members?
      Well, she ran away from home, their shrine is trashed, and she holds the ultimate power.. ahh this isn't a good point lol. She could just shut them up via Amaterasu Ban Hammer. Not to mention they don't stand a chance fighting her.

      +Tsurugi.
      If she sees Sasami unfit or misusing her power, can't she just take them back? Though this is probably a slim possibility, since it looks like Tsurugi is totally fine with Sasami, seeing as she destroyed the shrine for her.

  3. BlackBriar says:

    That was a thorough explanation throughout the episode. The Tsukuyomi family’s method to preserve their way of life is dark and creepy. There were some Shinsekai Yori vibes in their twisted ways. I can see why Sasami would want to leave and it’s doubtful anyone would willingly accept incest. And it adds to their detriment because the more it continues, the more probable each family member may become sterile.

    The animation was nice with the lush scenery near the shrine. Sasami always having Amaterasu’s power in her possession went over my head. Then what exactly caused the world to turn to chocolate in the first episode if it wasn’t her brother?

    • lvlln says:

      Before the reveal in episode 2, some, including me, had wondered if Sasami’s momentary obsession with getting chocolate for Kamiomi that evening to make up for the one he threw away had been the source of the chocolate. We thought we were wrong, but I guess it turns out we weren’t. The fact that the chocolate manifested itself first not physically but through words on Sasami’s screen was what had me thinking that way.

      The creepy incest-ridden family part reminded me somewhat of Kurenai, a show many people other than me really liked. Well, I did enjoy the episode where they broke out into song at the end.

    • Restia says:

      Didn’t they say it was Sasami wishing for her brother to be happy? So then Kamioni -> Wants to give chocolate to his beloved sister -> Chocochocochocochoco
      lvlln’s post is also a possiblity

      I got Shinsekai vibes too
      or maybe it’s just the talk about Shinto kind of just got me thinking about Shinsekai’s utopia thing

      THE SHINTO POWER IS STRONG!!~

  4. PrimeHector says:

    I am very okay with Tsurugi Amaterasu.

    • Restia says:

      yeah that was honestly unnexpected, but Tsurugi being Amaterasu is totally fine lol

      also, The Imperial Regalia remains possesions/under the control of Amaterasu I guess, I don’t know how it would have worked out if Sasami was Amaterasu, since the Yagami Sisters aren’t even family memebers and the fact that they are people and not objects.

      I’m waiting to see if Susanoo shows up (?) Possibly one of those shady people in the opening?

  5. Restia says:

    Spammy gobbled down my comment~ MetaTeam come to my rescue please~ (人´∀`*)

  6. d-LaN says:

    Tsurugi is actually (Fate/EXTRA spoiler) Show ▼

    Welp, I’m glad tht we finally get some infodump to clear things up…. And wow, wht a past Sasami and her brother has O.O Glad tht Tsurugi and co “deal” with the shrine.

    Though this ep feels like a finale material lol. I wonder where they will go next?

    PS Tht mecha-goddess is effing awesome.

    • Restia says:

      I know right? =w=
      Kagami is just dripping with awesomeness
      Representing the Mirror, MechaShoujo, HanaKana VA, “funya”, and her puns during battles lol

  7. skylion says:

    I am trying hard to groove on this show. It’s like half a horse finishing half a race. And as you say so very well, narration over narrative works when you have the snap to keep it going; this was almost skip-able.

    Pros? I like the Sister’s, and I like the fact that you got lots of Ameratsu (can that work as a plural?) running around. It’s almost a meta-framing device for just how much even the Kami can keep the world in order.

    Let’s see if this show can self resuscitate.

    Oh, and Denpa Onna was one of my all time fave’s. I have to cordially disagree with you, man. It got right into the zone post episode three. If you’re zone is character narrative done at a slower than usual pace.

    • skylion says:

      It’s almost a meta-framing device for just how much even the Kami can keep the world in order.

      Edit:It’s almost a meta-framing device for just how much even the Kami can’t keep the world in order.

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