First Impressions – Sasami-san@Ganbaranai

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Please see Roger Ebert review of “North”, 7/22/94, paragraph 8.  Thank you.

Although I’m loathe to talk about this series any longer than I have to, I’ll again refer to that review and paraphrase it here: “I hold it as an item of faith that Akiyuki Shinbou is a gifted director; among his credits are “Madoka Magica,” “Natsu no Arashi,” “Soredemo ,” and the “Negima” OVAs.  I list those titles as an incantation against this one.”

I have no bias against Shinbou – yet there are times when I thoroughly, viscerally dislike his work.  This kind of smug, self-congratulatory clever-clever bullshit makes up for too much of the résumé for a man with this much talent.  I’ve said in the past that Shinbou is at his best either working with a writer with an extremely strong presence, or a strong source material that’s stylistically opposed to his own hyperactive, St. Vitus’ Dance directorial style.  Clearly, Sasami-san wasn’t it.   I’m not going to debate the merits of this show – if you like it, that’s great, but my listing all the things I hated about it would serve no purpose but to irritate me even further and provoke just such a debate.  I watched, I listened, I groaned in dismay.  It’s time to move on.

One more thing – hasn’t SHAFT made enough money from selling a gazillion Madoka and Nisio Blu-rays that they don’t have to rely on cheap trickery and dialogue as a substitute for real animation anymore?



  1. R

    Thanks for the barf Enzo, it was a nice read.

  2. R

    For those who came here to read about the anime and didn't expect to find themselves neck-deep in Enzo's vomit.

    Here's a little write-up on why there's more to Sasami than what it seems:

  3. A

    Oh, goodie, "Sasami" is really a show about the Sun Goddess in extravagant hikkikomori form, with lots of additional fanservice!

    Coming from Akiyuki Shinbo, that really does sound "smug [and] self-congratulatory."

  4. R

    Shinbo is just directing the adaptation, he did not crate what the show is about.

    Sasami is a LN written by the same guy who wrote this:

    >Clearly, Sasami-san wasn’t it.

    It seems it was.

  5. A

    I was looking forward to Sasami-san but ended up deleting the file before I could finish the episode. I'm glad there was Kotoura-san to make up for this..

  6. S

    Your not including Sayonara Setsubou Sensei to Shinbo's Credits? I believe upon seeing this episode that this is his spiritual successor to that series.

  7. W

    I don't think Enzo cares much for Kōji Kumeta since he wrote off Joshiraku last summer. Maybe you could call this is a spiritual successor to the eccentric OPs/EDs of the series but probably not the content of SZS itself.

    I liked the episode as an amusing distraction, but I'm not going to attempt to make it fit some sort of coherent anime story scheme.

  8. M

    Being the a person who respects your opinion. I went out of my way to revisit Roger Ebert's (a fine film critic!) site and scour a review on a rather obscure film. And what can I say? I laughed. Clever.

    For anyone else not equipped with this fanatic passion, here's the aforementioned paragraph:

    "I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it."

    After the initial shock, Sasami-san on a second viewing quickly deflates and reveals itself as another regular SHAFT exercise of references and smug meta-humor. This episode in particular was relentless in its effort to poke the audience and remind them oh how clever they are.

  9. A

    okay this will come off troll-like, but I loved sasami-san!! but thats probably because I like shinbo because hes a troll!

  10. Hey, it's not troll-like to enjoy something different from someone else and to say so – whatever crisps your bacon, you know? I just happen to vehemently disagree about this show.

  11. A

    A friend once said Tarantino movies were essentially made just so later on Tarantino could jack off to his own sense of style. I feel like this is also applicable to shinbo in cases like this show.

  12. It's funny you should say that, because I've called Shinbou the Tarantino of anime directors before. Let me be clear than Tarantino in context is higher-ranked in his field than Shinbou is, IMO, but their aesthetic is very similar. They're both directors obsessed with their own cleverness, and who put their own style above anything else. Sometimes that style works brilliantly, sometimes it's insufferable – Tarantino's batting average is certainly better, but it applies to him too.

  13. A

    Actually I put Shinbou closer to Zack Snyder. They both are visionaries, but neither can write original material worth horseshit.

    Tarantino OTOH can write the hell out of a scene, and if he puts enough of those winners together he has a great film.

  14. C

    Finally someone agrees with me about Sasami! Everywhere people were praising it, and I just couldn't understand why, I found it weird in a bad way (unlike Jinrui)

  15. J

    I kind of liked it, but I can see why some of you don't.
    A lot of times, people will praise something just for being weird or quirky and sasami isn't exempt from that.

  16. L

    Just when you thought the lowest common denominator couldn't go any lower….

  17. K

    Wow, this is pretty much exactly how my sister reacted when we saw the episode together yesterday. Much funnier than anything the damned actual episode had to offer.

  18. L

    Everything you listed here is exactly why I love this studio, even more so than studios such as KyoAni (of which you know will deliver high quality material). It makes them different and more unique.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do believe that few (if any) studios go this far to the extreme and still deliver quality material. Plus, I think it takes just as much effort (if not more) to make something like this, compared to making an über-high quality show.

    Still, taste is very subjective, so if you don't like this, who am I to judge? All I can say is that I like it and wouldn't want them to do it any other way.

  19. f

    I agree with you. Taste really is very subjective, especially when it comes to Shaft haha.

  20. A

    Enzo, Enzo. You're missing the point, my pal.

    "One more thing – hasn’t SHAFT made enough money from selling a gazillion Madoka and Nisio Blu-rays that they don’t have to rely on cheap trickery and dialogue as a substitute for real animation anymore?"

    First, who the heck would buy blu-rays for this sort of self-indulging crappy show?? Barely no one. Second, the fact that Madoka and Nisio have earned Shinbou and the studio enough $$$$ has enable for him to mess around like this. That's what this is: messing around. The dude clearly, I mean, CLEARLY~, didn't produce this fine piece of horse manure to make any money. This show felt like FLCL, well except that in no way… (the only remote similarities were having no plot, being freaking weird, random, and experimental). Let him indulge all he wants with this show, I say! It's his money and his time. I, however, don't need to spend any in this thing.

  21. A

    Wait! I meant barely "anyone". A big, big difference.

  22. C

    I don't even… *runs far far away*

  23. E

    "One more thing – hasn’t SHAFT made enough money from selling a gazillion Madoka and Nisio Blu-rays that they don’t have to rely on cheap trickery and dialogue as a substitute for real animation anymore?"

    While I respect your opinion, this last bit really rubs me the wrong way, as it is incredibly close minded. I mean, to suggest that this isn't "real animation" is nothing short of elitism, and entirely based on subjectivity. You could virtually replace that sentence with anything: "hasn't KyoAni made enough money from selling a gazillion K-On and Haruhi Blu-rays that they don’t have to rely on insufferable moe and production values as a substitute for real animation anymore?" Hell, the same could be said about Bones, or even Ghibli. So many studios and directors employ trademark styles to contain narrative and convey meaning, and who are you to say that one artist's style is any less "real" than another's? That's the same bull that fuels the "Is gaming art?" debate. You can debate whether a work is bad or not, or even whether a style adds or detracts from the narrative it is trying to tell, but how could you claim that one's own style doesn't constitute as real art?

    Everyone has a style Enzo, from Shinbo and Miyazaki to great film directors such as Tarantino, Woody Allen, Hitchcock, and Wes Anderson. Whether such styles are your particular cup of tea is for you to decide, but to suggest that a certain style doesn't constitute as "REAL ANIMATION" not only makes you look like a prick, but also is an insult to artists of any field.

  24. Cheap is cheap.

  25. A

    What do you mean by cheap trickery and dialogue

  26. f

    I think what he means by that is that to him Shaft uses unorthodox animation techniques and dialogue that sounds "deeper" than what the context implies. Both those aspects give Shaft series a stylistic effect that doesn't really enhance or contribute to the themes of the story being adapted. Art is art no matter what, but it's cheap because the purpose is superficial, and that's what makes Shinbou's style come across as pretentious.

  27. A

    Wow Enzo, that really was a disappointing answer.

  28. Listen, SHAFT has been relying on this same gimmick since the days when they were running out of money to finish series. They use still photography and dialogue bumpers instead of animation because it costs less. It had a certain charm to it when they were doing it because they had no choice, but really, they called it a style because you sure as hell weren't going to call a spade a spade. Now that they're swimming in cash it just seems pretentious and self-important – which are two qualities SHAFT can hardly afford any more of.

  29. A

    So, for you, the content of their pockets is what marks the difference between following a style and being just some cheap egotists.

    The worst thing about having this sad fallacious point of view is that we never discussed whether it is good art or not.

    The total lack of shading in Shinsekai Yori's characters: is A-1 being "cheap", making a clever artistic decision, or just an aspect of the artwork that could be improved?

  30. A

    Hey, you leave Shinsekai Yori out of this, Anon!!

    It's a perfectly a good, stylistically unique show; it's one of the few things I agree with Enzo.

  31. A

    didn't Erif say that "studio and directors employ trademark styles" just because SHAFT's style stuck around for so long after they were running out of money does it say any thing about whether it works well or not, also how do you know about how much is in SHAFTS wallet

  32. E

    Vehemently disagree with you about that Enzo, but I'll leave it there.

  33. m

    the only thing i thought was interesting was how the onii-chan's face was permanently covered, it actually brought me throughout the rest of the episode.
    and then, it turned into a tiresome daily routine of fast-forwarded changing of clothes and some science fiction weirdness…
    even so, would you post about the next episode (so all of us could actually be warned of whether the rambling would continue) or do you hate this show enough to refrain?

  34. A

    "One more thing – hasn’t SHAFT made enough money from selling a gazillion Madoka and Nisio Blu-rays that they don’t have to rely on cheap trickery and dialogue as a substitute for real animation anymore?"

    This scenario sounds exactly like Kyoto Animation post-Haruhi.

  35. B

    After watching 2 episodes of this I'm convinced that what's actually going on is that Sasami-san is severely autistic and everything in the show is actually happening entirely in her mind. Viewing the show from this perspective I think it's quite entertaining.

  36. h

    Oh! That's actually cleverer than the anime itself! If I get criminally bored over the next few days, I think I'll give that a shot.

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