At first glance, Shaft’s new anime seems like your average show about a hikikomori girl that stalks her clueless older brother, who’s always holding a briefcase or similar object to conceal his face, and is completely infatuated with her to the point of doing her every chore – the stalking feat of course, being done from the comfort of her computer where she can creepily watch him from every angle in high definition as he goes about his day as a teacher with a perverted coworker who looks 9 but is 31, her childish sister who looks 31 but is 9, and the middle one who’s always sleeping. Oh wait, that’s hardly average at all… whatever – point is: it gets even better, and way crazier.
See, I was already enjoying it with the premise being as I described above, but they decided there just wasn’t enough insanity – and thus, the enjoyability managed to go off the charts. The brother – as if he wasn’t strange enough – can actually alter the world according to his subconscious. Sounds familar? Well, as it should – the anime actually pays tribute to Haruhi Suzumiya by showing Kamiomi (the brother) doing the iconic dance from the ED of that show. Oh, and the three sisters? They’re the ones responsible of turning the world back to normal.
One of the things that I really like about Sasami-san@Ganbaranai is the unique choices when it comes to art, which was very expected seeing as it comes no studio other than Shaft. In this episode alone, we got to see four changes in style. Two of those represent Sasami’s personal view of the world, while the other two reflect reality, altered and unaltered.
In the depths of the Tsukuyomi household, everything is shown in as if it were a watercolor painting. All colors are calm and washed out, gorgeously painted, and is in general very dream-like. This wasn’t done just because it would look nice, it shows Sasami-san’s comfort with her environment; she feels at peace in her room – and the art reflects that perfectly.
Outside the house, when the camera is following Kamiomi or one of the Yagami sisters, everything looks like it would in your average anime. There’s not much to talk about it – it’s reality, unaltered by anyone and from the eyes of nobody – but it lets us contrast it with the protagonist’s own view of the world.
But what does our hikikomori feel when she goes outside? The art is our greatest indication. As soon as she steps out of the house, the world becomes blindingly bright, twisted, and dark. She truly wishes to be able to leave, but is rendered incapable for these uncontrollable psychological reasons that bring fear, and uneasiness.
Finally, we have reality as it is altered by Kamiomi. In this episode, his wish to buy his sister chocolate for Valentine’s Day and to receive it from her ended in the planet being turned into a hostile yet delicious monochromatic brown world. There’s no much meaning to say about this either, but I do look forward to seeing what the world gets turned into next.
The characters in this feel unique for what they are, they really do make the show shine.
It’s as if Sasami and I are married.
First statement we see Kamiomi making after leaving the house, and while the sister, as I interpreted it, felt startled – it was pretty spot on. Monitoring a man’s life to keep him in check seems more like something a wife would do than a sister, plus the two clearly have a thing for eachother. She gave him chocolate for Valentine’s Day, and was instantly jealous of Tsurugi when did so too. Kamiomi’s love is pretty blatantly obvious, all he thinks or talks about is her – yet he doesn’t think twice before giving away the “lunch” she got him. Maybe there’s more behind that suitcase than we think.
Sasami-san is a hikikomori, a NEET, a shut-in. She’s incapable of leaving her house, and doesn’t attend school regularly. As such, like most other characters of the kind, she’s addicted to anime, manga and the internet. What’s so different about her, is her literal interpretation of Big Brother, which lets her observe the word outside with no anxiety at the cost of her big brother’s privacy. She seems to be completely aware of her brother’s power, but doesn’t appear to have a very good relationship with the girls who stop it from happening.
Kamiomi works like a slave to please his little sister, who appears to be his one and only concern and source of joy. He holds a very dangerous power, one capable of turning Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate into Choco to Choco to Chocolate. He can change the whole world and seems to be blissfully unaware of it. Although it’s rather obvious, his most striking “physical feature” would be… his lack of face. He’s always shown covering his face, usually with a briefcase. Now I’m about to enter speculation realm, but I believe this symbolizes him hiding his true character or an important side of who he is, something I think we’ll find out about by the end of the series.
Initially, the trio just seemed like three eccentric sisters that studied/worked at the same school as Kamiomi. This proved not to be the case, as they immediately showed up to save the day when the chocolate world was being attacked by chocolate monsters. In general, they are still pretty elusive at this point – but here’s something I do know: Their names, personality and character are based on the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan. Allow me to go more in depth for each one of them, but as I’m not too familiar with them myself, there might be some things I’m missing.
Despite looking like the youngest of the three, she’s the oldest by far and is 31-years old, thus acts as a leader figure. She has a spontaneous personality, plays eroge at school, and appears to be a bit of a pervert all around. She’s named after the Kusanagi no Tsurugi Sword, which represents courage, something she definitely displays plenty of in the fighting scene. Additionally, she carries a sword as her weapon of choice.
The middle sister, who’s 16 and in the same class as Sasami (who never goes to school). She has the habit of sleeping a lot, and is seen napping whenever she has the chance. After the world becomes chocolate, she appears to actually be a robot, complete with a flamethrower in left arm, a cryotechnic gun in her right arm, and rocket launchers on her chest. Her name is based on the Yata no Kagami mirror, which represnts wisdom and honesty. Personally, I feel like we’ll see more of that in the future, but so far she’s been wise enough for chocolate puns and honest enough to tell Kamiomi he makes her sick.
The youngest (9 years old), and most childish, despite her incredibly developed appearance. She likes frogs and definitely enjoys eating at lot, that’s for sure, but she seems to eat… differently. Less chewing, more yellow vortex thingamajjig. Her name is based 0n the Yasakani no Magatama jewel which represents benevolence, which she’s presented in multiple ways – knowing not to disturb the frogs after learning about their hibernation, and is ready to help …eating chocolate. Er, like I said for Kagami, I’m sure we’ll see more benevolence in the future.
Sasami-san@Ganbaranai is weird. It’s funny. It’s unique. There’s not much we can say about how the anime will turn out in the future, as all we have is the first episode right now, but if it started off this crazy, I can barely wait to see how much crazier it will get. In this season, this has me the most intrigued so far. I definitely recommend you check it out, if you haven’t already.
P.S.: That OP song… definitely one of my favorites now.