Sasami-san@Ganbaranai – 04

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The unexpectedly oldest member of the Tsukuyomi family.

I said last week that if Sasami-san@Ganbaranai had any cards up its sleeves, it was time to play it, and that’s just what it did this episode. This conclusion of the story of Sasami’s 3rd arm started off like a mysterious side story with Sasami discovering what appeared to be a video by Tsurugi and the rest of the cast to make fun of her. Instead of beating us over the head with a bunch of exposition, this episode of Sasami-san let the mystery steadily unfold naturally in its own wacky way, resulting in the best paced, most delightfully fun episode yet.

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Seems being hikikomori so long has made Sasami bad at perception of the world around her.

Surely you’ve seen something like this before, someone watching a mysterious video of herself doing things she has no recollection of doing. Your mind naturally wanders to scary thoughts, whether it be that you are predestined to do these some time in the future, or that you’ve done things that have completely dissipated from memory. Or what if it’s a doppelganger or an alternate world/timeline, or maybe just an elaborate hoax (as CG technology gets better and we start escaping the uncanny valley, we’ll have to become more wary of that one)? It naturally causes unease and even terror. The resolution never seems to be good for the subject of the video.

The unfortunate part of this episode was its hugely missed opportunity, one that a studio of the caliber of Shaft should be expected not to miss. Of course I’m speaking of the Sasami Watch Project, which could have been a full-on movie-within-a-show instead of just a framing device for us to see flashbacks in time with Sasami watching the video. Some of the events would have to be changed around to accomodate the single real-time camera in each scene, but it would have been very doable and a fun experiment. It could have been a poorly edited failure, but clever use of long cuts and creative framing could have pushed the episode into being something unforgettable. Kyoto Animation has played with this to great results in the first episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and the student film arc of Hyouka. And Shaft is no stranger to full-on gimmick episode segments, with the Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei series featuring some great ones like voice actor switching and a straight up murder mystery movie parody.

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Hard to believe they were all undercover agents. This is one impressive family!

Despite the lack of gimmickry, the flashbacks were plenty fun to watch. More than ever, I was reminded of Pani Poni Dash!, one of the early works of the Shaft/Shinbo combination and one of my personal favorite comedies. The twisted happenings like the entire concert being an undercover operation or aliens crashing an on-going conflict (after being foreshadowed earlier) would have fit right in that show. Shaft’s higher budget compared to earlier has also translated to some impressive action scenes in this show. Kagami continued to be the star of those with pointless acrobatics on the roof of the mall. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see more of her flying with her wings in the episode climax, but collapsing a building using a flying saucer was more than enough to make up for it. Not to mention the exciting introduction of Sasami’s impressively limber and powerful father that kicked off all the fighting!

I honestly didn’t see the big twist coming, and though I wasn’t falling out of my seat, I enjoyed being surprised. So this Sasami wasn’t the real Sasami at all, but rather the arm that had appeared between her breasts last episode. Using the shadows caught by the fallen camera for the reveal was a nice touch, the likes of which I wish I had seen more of. I would have also liked more of this alternate Sasami, maybe going a few episodes with her and the original one living side by side. What a deliciously messed up sitcom premise that would be! I’m still not sure precisely how the 2 Sasamis being one and the same is supposed to work based on Tsurugi’s explanation, but considering that she had a will of her own, it was cruel to force her to merge back into the original. She ended up deserving it by rebelling with Amaterasu’s power, but that was also a self fulfilling prophecy, similar to the kidnapper taking a hostage in the opening episode of Psycho-Pass or John Anderton killing that man in Minority Report. Well, gods are nothing if not cruel.

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I’d like to see more cruelty from this god.

I’m excited about Sasami-san again for the first time since the opener. It had the fun-loving boldness that Shaft is so good at presenting. In this story filled with gods, aliens were the deus ex machina, and that’s fine with me. Tama surely has the most valuable information in human history now, and I would be pleased if that plot point came back in some form, though I would also be surprised. This show keeps transforming by the episode, not really falling into a predictable rhythm like some of its precursors from Shaft. We’ve seen such unpredictability produce both misses and hits, and I just hope that we’ll see more of the latter than the former as we get into the middle part of the show.

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Not a true death and rebirth, but our heroine did go through all the motions. Her new life awaits.

About

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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13 Responses to “Sasami-san@Ganbaranai – 04”

  1. BlackBriar says:

    It was full-on FLCL mode this week. Things were randomly happening so fast it was a bit hard to keep track. The whole where the video was playing with the doppleganger wondering what’s going on and trying to retrace her steps was very Memento (or The Hangover, if you will).

    Having Sasami’s clan organize an ambush in all this confusion was a nice twist considering they were supposed to be wiped out last episode by the Yagami sisters. I’m already calling Kagami out as my favorite. That uncaring yet impulsively violent personality suits her well.

    • Restia says:

      YES KAGAMI(✪㉨✪)
      list of awesomeness
      - MechaShoujo
      - Sleepy
      - “Funya”
      - HanaKana Seiyuu
      - Battle Puns

    • lvlln says:

      I was thinking of the Memento similarity as well; I don’t recall if there was a video, but he certainly left messages for his future self to read and decipher. FLCL seems a lot more tenuous. Random wacky events wasn’t unique to or particularly notable about FLCL – rather, it was all about crazier and crazier visual metaphors for the penis. Even Sasami’s 3rd arm was only superficially reminiscent of the growths from Naota’s head; the connection didn’t really go any deeper.

  2. PrimeHector says:

    Tsurugi is my favorite but Kagami is second.

  3. skylion says:

    A SHAFT being SHAFT, is fine too. BB nails it in an above comment, felt very much like an FLCL; just grab onto something and enjoy the ride.

    There is one question I do have. How did they know that the duplicate would instinctively go for that DVD in the way she went for it? Agenda, your name is most definitely Tsurgi.

    • BlackBriar says:

      Having Kana Asumi voice Sasami actually makes everything in this anime crazier given that she’s played Nyaruko in Haiyore! Nyaruko-san and that insane cameo character Liliane in the first half of Jormungand.

      • lvlln says:

        Kana Asumi seems to have toned things down somewhat for her role as Sasami, with a more rounded, “normal” voice than her usual energetic nasal affair like Nyaruko or super cute moe voice like Poplar, Yuno, or Amagami SS‘s Miya. Somehow, Sasami might be the most serious main role she’s had.

    • Highway says:

      Well, wasn’t the duplicate Sasami as well? So if Sasami would wonder what it is, then so would Sasami.

  4. Highway says:

    Hmm, maybe this is where the show gets like Jintai was for me. It was doing stuff, making a lot of light, heat, and noise, but not really going anywhere. It made for a nice one-off story, but again, didn’t seem to do anything for the *series*. And maybe that’s what this show will be. But last week I was left wondering where the show was going to go narratively, having seemingly blown the whole background on that episode. And this episode it seemed like the staff thought that, too, because it didn’t seem to have much continuity at all on either end.

    • Yippy says:

      Felt the same too. I was blown away by the premise, but deep down, I’m worried about its episodic nature and future.

  5. Restia says:

    On a totally unrelated note, I read the first Volume of Sasami-san@Ganbaranai Light Novel.

    Episode 1 covers chapter 1 – 7. quite a large section (perhaps this is the entire volume oAo idk translations are currently at chapter 7, which is Sasami’s reflections in her Sasami Report)
    They cut out Tsurugi and Kagami being tsundere~ =3=

    • lvlln says:

      Wow, 7 chapters in that 1 pretty much incomprehensible episode? Unless those were darn short chapters (or just had ridiculously detailed descriptions), there must have been so much cut out that the end result was barely recognizable. I was a fan of the 1st episode, but given how little sense it made, perhaps Shinbo should have made the adaptation a little truer. Would’ve been funny to hear Chiwa Saito whip out her Senjougahara voice for Tsurugi being tsundere.

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