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AKA: ささみさん@がんばらない (Japanese), Ms. Sasami @ Unmotivated
Genre: Comedy
Length: Television series, 12 episodes, 24 minutes each
Distributor: Licensed by Sentai Filmworks
Content Rating: 15+ (fan service, sex references, violence)
Related Series: None
Also Recommended: Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl, the Bakemonogatari franchise, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Notes: Based on a series of light novels written by Akira and illustrated by Hidari, running in Shogakukan's Gagaga Bunko imprint. A manga adapatation, written by Akira and illustrated by Akira Nishikawa, runs in Shogakukan's Weekly Shounen Sunday magazine.
Rating: Three StarsThree StarsThree Stars

Sasami-San@Ganbaranai

Synopsis

Sasami Tsukuyomi is a high school shut-in who often stays at home and is doted upon by her older brother, Kamiomi. However, due to unknowingly possessing a god's power, Kamiomi's habit of trying to appease Sasami often puts the world into chaos, while the three Yagami sisters try to put a stop to it.

(source: Wikipedia article)


Review

For all that can be said about Akiyuki Shinbou (and there is a great deal that can be said for or against his style and production choices) I have never been able to say that he makes a boring show. Sasami is no exception. From start to finish, Sasami is a weird concoction of theology, mythology, comedy and general otaku bait that I swear I have just witnessed what can be best described as a genuine attempt at moé Shinto/Buddhism, an otaku Bible in light novel form. Of course, I am being slightly facetious but at the same time I think Sasami may just be the apotheosis of what a SHAFT show is. It is the Platonic form of SHAFTness in that it represents everything that a SHAFT show is in its purest form: its purest raunchiness, its purest quirkiness, its purest silliness and its purest seriousness. Sadly, however, it is not its purest quality. Denpa Onna this is not, it's not even close. Heck it is not even Arakawa.

That all said there is plenty to recommend Sasami. Those eye-catching visual styles, almost standard to any SHAFT production, are there in force and do not disappoint. From the strange emptiness of the streets to the dreamlike vagueness of Sasami's room, there is always plenty to see even if it follows SHAFT's rather minimal style of animation. The character art also treats the eye very well. All the characters have a very striking look and all the cuteness that you could hope for without hitting moé blob territory. Speaking of the characters, they actually make a decent impression, as characters, which is something I welcome in any show. Sasami is moderately compelling as the girl who just wants (perhaps selfishly) to live out the lazy days her situation denies her, doing all those normal things that make up ordinary living such as making friends and going on school trips. The Yagami sisters also carve out interesting little niches for themselves in the narrative with varying degrees of success. Kagami is perhaps the most successful, taking a secondary role to Sasami in the latter half of the series. Something else that makes Sasami an interesting show is the dense but rich background that surrounds all the show's events. There is a good deal of humour, strangeness and fascination to be found in the mythology and theology that governs the show's premise and as a concept I don't think many shows in recent memory have had better. It is the sort of crazy nonsense that got me into animé in the first place. The problem with Sasami is not the content...

The problem with this show is the execution. For a show that that has all the kinds of things I love in my animé, none of it ever comes together. Everything about Sasami's plot seems rushed, we get info-dumps to help us keep up with what's going on but then more things happen and it feels like, as a viewer, I am always playing catch-up. It also doesn't help that too much of the show's runtime is split between silliness like Tama pretending to be Sasami and getting it all wrong and serious, plot-centric events and the two never seem to blend or build on each other in any satisfying way. It also hurts the show that, when taken as a whole rather than as a series of enjoyable but unconnected events, the show never really amounts to anything nor even seems likely to. That is not to say that the characters don't develop or it is meaningless but the viewer is always being introduced to things and so much of what could be interesting finishes so anticlimactically that the show never satisfies as a narrative. It all just seems to meander on, fun but unfulfilling. A lot of the blame can be laid at the feet of the show's original light novel form (the move between novels is as smooth as a road grit milkshake). Some shows get away with it thanks to thematic if not narrative cohesion but Sasami has neither.

Overall, Sasami leaves me as unmotivated as its titular character. A good deal of potentially interesting stuff but it just doesn't hang together as a full outfit. I'm happy to reiterate that the show is definitely interesting; cute girls, cool ideas and a decent amount of humour, but the show is pretty disappointing when it is obvious to see that it could have been an awful lot better.

Add a star if you love what SHAFT does, but this is not the studio at its best. Those of you who don't like the SHAFT style better just avoid this one.Aiden Foote

Recommended Audience: Being an archetypal SHAFT show, this show doesn't contain any explicit nudity but it is pretty raunchy and certainly not shy with the fanservice content. It also features some moderately tame violence with blood but no outright gore.



Version(s) Viewed: Digital Source
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Sasami-San@Ganbaranai © 2013 Day Day Day / Shogakukan / Sasami-san@Ganbarai Production Committee
 
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