Sasami-san@Ganbaranai – 09

Sasami-san@Ganbaranai 09 FFF (2)

Even when not a loli, Tsurugi is irresistible.

Ah, time travel. It’s been used more times in more different ways than I can count, and its power means that it gives the author ridiculous flexibility. With that power and flexibility comes responsibility, to do something actually fun with it. I can’t say this latest episode of Sasami-san@Ganbaranai did the best job resolving the conflict between Sasami and her mother, but its use of time travel was just unusual enough and just interesting enough to make this a very entertaining finish to an unexpectedly long arc.

Sasami-san@Ganbaranai 09 (8)

Shaft still has to teach us the point of Misa’s monologue cold opens the past 2 episodes.

That was easily the best episode of Sasami-san yet, though not without its faults. The character drama was hard to swallow. Sasami’s mother changed her mind basically because it was obvious Sasami thought really hard about it. This is the same woman who was trying to have her husband rape her daughter 2 episodes ago. And whose insurance policy for returning from the afterlife involved stabbing that daughter in the stomach. And who returned from being dead just to ruin that daughter’s happy carefree life. You’ll have to excuse me if I’m not entirely convinced that she’s a reasonable enough person to be able to admire her daughter for making a stand against her.

Even the “flashbacks” designed to make her more likable had mixed success compared to what we saw in previous episodes. That confession scene was pretty cute, except, you know, that’s her younger brother. Yeah, it’s anime, and I’ve grown quite desensitized to that sort of thing, but come on, there’s clearly a huge power disparity here, even more than in a normal older sister/younger brother relationship. And her ripping up Sasami’s drawing was just cruel. That she was actually tsundere and decided to tape it back together doesn’t really help. Without actually showing her appreciation to Sasami, that was a selfish gesture more than anything.

Sasami-san@Ganbaranai 09 a (1)

Nice touch in having Juju despair just a second before the nature of the scene was revealed.

I do appreciate that Sasami-san keeps hitting on the “try hard” theme. The point of this arc seemed to be that one must accept that it’s okay not to try hard – Sasami and her mother resolving their differences with the latter accepting the former’s lack of motivation. It was perhaps most seen with Tsurugi, who we saw in what I presume to be her divine Amaterasu form struggling with the guilt and regret of relinquishing her power and thus causing things to go to shit. What an ironic bit of role reversal in the goddess receiving salvation from a human. It doesn’t take a god to forgive, just a strong person. It could even be a teenage girl.

I’ve been trying to see the whole show as commentary on kids getting burned out due to overly intense parents, and I’m not entirely sure how to fit Sasami giving Amaterasu’s power back to her dead mother into that framework. Perhaps the lesson is that kids should be kids a little longer, and it the job of the adults to carry the weight. The opposite of a coming of age story? Or a “neo” coming of age story, reflecting the observation that adolescence seems to be lasting longer in younger generations? Or maybe this is just a moe anime about a fucked up family and the Shinto gods it worships, and I need to stop looking for deeper meanings in everything.

Sasami-san@Ganbaranai 09 Beheading

Some very nicely animated action scenes, though they were rather brief and sparse.

But the thing I really loved about this episode was the high concept fantasy. The version of time travel presented here was particularly fascinating. Tamamo-no-Mae hijacking Amaterasu’s power using Sasami’s regret was modeled after a virus, with the added ironic twist Amaterasu herself, in the form of Tsurugi, hijacked that power to allow herself to travel back in time freely. The actual nature of the time jumps was also quite unusual, with the main characters sometimes being just bystanders a la A Christmas Carol, and sometimes diving into the bodies of those present in the scene. I also liked that some of the scenes were shown before the characters entered them, making the point that, yes, they really are going to the past, not merely seeing the past. I liked how the time travel allowed everything to end neatly, like waking up from a dream. Kill that Tamamo-no-Mae, and everyone was back to the present again, with even Sasami’s fat problem getting solved. Yeah, Sasami and her mother talking it out was unconvincing as mentioned previously, but the way their conflict played out through time was simply fascinating.

The show has done a good job transitioning from arc to arc, with the end of each naturally leading into the next; in this case this arc’s villain being chummy with Edogawa Jou, the student council president and apparent villain in what will likely be the final arc. And there’s still the matter of Kamiomi’s true nature which was hinted at many times in this arc, including Jou’s comment about him at the end. I wouldn’t have thought it just a month ago, but thanks to the strength of the last few episodes, Sasami-san has a shot at ending up a really good show if it can finish strong. Shaft’s track record with endings doesn’t necessarily give much hope, but hey, Sasami-san has shown that it’s capable of delivering unusual and unexpected concepts and taking them far enough to be interesting, so I’m looking forward to seeing what comes regardless.

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Who better as the final boss of a moe Shaft show than a twin-tailed student council president?


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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8 Responses to “Sasami-san@Ganbaranai – 09”

  1. Soul says:

    The guy in the bondage outfit kinda looks Saya’s father from Blood C

    • BlackBriar says:

      True. Only that here, he looks like a younger version of Tadayoshi.

    • Liza says:

      I did not notice that until you mentioned it! Well then…this is what he did before he decided to go to the Saya project. Interesting…. XD

  2. skylion says:

    It could also be about how parents eventually figure out: Geez, we are leaving a pile of debt, pollution, soured relationships, and a whole host of other things we actively don’t think about to the next generation and perhaps I should shut my mouth before I look like a hypocrite.

    You are here on the planet for a number of reasons, one of those is to eventually replace your parents…..with moe.

  3. Highway says:

    I’ve given up on looking for deeper meanings in this show. I just watch it and think “oh hey, that was neat.” Honestly, to me, Sasami’s reasoning sounded like she was a kid playing street-corner lawyer trying to come up with an excuse, not some deeply held belief arrived at through deliberation and reasoning. And mom bought it hook, line, and sinker.

    • lvlln says:

      Anime isn’t exactly known for having mature or thought-provoking speeches, so I wasn’t really hoping for anything better from Sasami. But Juju accepting it like that, given the sort of person she was almost feels so inconsistent to be a plot hole.

  4. BlackBriar says:

    There is still trouble to get a grasp on the personality of Sasami’s mother. These recent episodes make it difficult to read her and in this episode, she was one big tsundere especially with the confession flashback. What she did in the past isn’t making it easy to accept her change.

    I’m always curious about paradoxes where time travel is concerned. Like in Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, the method is being used to cheat death like with Sasami’s mother. But if something as detailed as that happens, what’s to stop anything else from changing?

    More interesting is what made Tamamo-no-Mae think her plan would work out solely betting on regret. Sasami could have gone through all her life without regret for all we know and nothing would come to pass. I had a feeling that new girl would have something to do with them. That meeting had too much oportunity to think of it as a random encounter.

    • lvlln says:

      I think it’s generally a safe bet that anyone, especially someone who has the duty to carry something as heavy as Amaterasu’s power, is likely to have regrets at some point in their life. The great thing about Tamamo-no-Mae’s strategy is that it doesn’t matter when that regret occurs, the time travel allows her to return to whatever point is ideal. Because of that power, she could rely on something that had so little chance of working, because through Sasami’s entire life, it’s likely to work at least once.

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