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