The first thing I’m going to say about Sasami-san@Ganbaranai (Sasami-san@Unmotivated) is that it’s fucking weird. Three episodes in and it already manages to out-strange anything else that Studio Shaft have done previously. If you’ve seen Nisemonogatari (or if you haven’t, when I get around to reviewing it) you’ll see how significant that is. It was written by the same author responsible for Kyouran Kazoku Nikki, a well-known bloody strange show, and directed by Shinbo Akiyuki, who I’m convinced must be certifiably insane. But an insane genius, at least.
The main character is Tsukuyomi Sasami, a beautiful 16 year old girl who is a hikikomori (complete shut-in).
Sasami the most active she gets in a typical day
She has an older brother, Tsukuyomi Kamiomi, who is a teacher at the school she is supposed to attend and is absolutely devoted to her, catering to her every whim and doing everything for her. And never showing his face. The rest of the cast are the three Yagami sisters; Tsurugi who’s also a teacher at her school and looks like she’s about 12, Kagami who’s her classmate and a robot girl, and Tama who’s nine years old but looks considerably older and acts a fair bit younger.
From left to right: Tama, Kagami, Tsurugi and Kamiomi
Yagami Tama. Nine years old.
The first episode starts with Sasami monitoring her brother’s every move from her computer via a staggering array of hidden cameras around him, and ends with at least the city, maybe Japan and possibly the world turned to chocolate and the Yagami sisters fighting against chocolate monsters. The second episode largely concerns an MMORPG that Sasami’s obsessed with which a lot of people have been trapped in, with a side helping of explanation about the chocolate thing from the first episode.
The third episode explains in more detail why all this strange stuff is going on with the Tsukuyomi siblings and Yagami sisters, but I won’t go into it here; it’s something you kind of have to see for yourself. What I will say is that the Tsukuyomi family situation is… complicated, to put it mildly and politely. Tremendously screwed up to put it more accurately. And the Yagami family situation is stranger.
Being a Shaft production, it of course does some weird things visually, which is very well suited to what’s going on. Another Shaft/Shinbo Akiyuki hallmark is the use of a familiar set of voice actors, notably Saitou Chiwa playing a childlike teacher again (having previously played Rebecca Miyamoto in Paniponi Dash), and another one of my favourites, Hanazawa Kana as Kagami. All are very well suited to their roles.
So it’s weird, but is it any good? Is it entertaining to watch? Hell yes. I’ve long maintained that a talented director can take just about any script or subject matter and make an entertaining show out of it, and often use Shinbo as an example, though even he’s had a few duds (Dance in the Vampire Bund is a crap show, BTW. Even Shinbo couldn’t save that.). The interaction between Sasami and Kamiomi is entertaining in a bit of a twisted way, but for me what really makes it is the interaction between the Yagami sisters and everyone else.
So. If it’s weird you like, this is the anime for you.