It is springtime, and a girl named Fuura Kafuka whose heart is full of hope comes across a man attempting to hang himself from a tree. She reacts to this by forcefully pulling him on him and eventually snapping the noose. To the man’s surprise, Kafuka doesn’t think that he was trying to die because no one would want to do so on such a wonderful spring day. What’s more, she starts calling him momoiro kakarichou (peach-colored chief clerk) based on the tree he was hanging from that she had also named. This causes the man to start ranting about how you have to have money these days to get naming rights for things like sports stadiums or concert halls, which in turn makes Kafuka offer him 50 yen so that she can call him by that name. The man then starts talking about how everything is about money and yells that he’s been driven to despair over this.
In stark contrast, Kafuka says that the world is filled with hope, and she decides that he wasn’t trying to hang himself, but rather was trying to become taller. Her father had tried to become taller too on several occasions, and Kafuka doesn’t listen when the man tries to tell her otherwise. This is how the man who interpreted everything negatively and the girl who interpreted everything positively met. The man doesn’t end up taking Kafuka’s 50 yen and runs away instead declaring that he won’t accept being called that. However, as it turns out, he is none other than the teacher in charge of her class at school. After he writes his name on the board and introduces himself as Itoshiki Nozomu, Kafuka is the first to realize that his name, when written horizontally instead of vertically, spells out zetsubou (despair), so she starts calling him zetsubou-sensei.
Several days later, Kafuka tells her idea of making school into an onsen to her classmate Chiri, but Chiri is horrified by the idea. Chiri then notices how Kafuka’s being sloppy with one of her socks pulled up and the other sagging down, so she takes the time to straighten Kafuka’s socks for her. Meanwhile, Nozomu is in the school counselor’s office talking about how he can’t look at sports straight anymore. It seems that he’s been watching baseball, but he can’t get over how the symbol of one team’s cap looks like the Japanese character for hair. Talking about it with her eventually makes him feel better, so he heads to class to hand out a form to his student about their hopes for future paths. However, he tells his students that there is no hope in the world – only despair – so instead of filling out their hopes, he wants them to fill out their despairs for future paths – paths that are hopeless.
After everyone turns in their forms, Nozomu reads aloud, on Kafuka’s suggestion, what some people wrote. One of the students who appears to study the most out of the class wrote three top universities for his choices, and Nozomu declares it hopeless. He goes through several of the students’ forms this way, saying the same thing each time, but in the end, it’s Kafuka who speaks out about how there’s nothing hopeless in the world. Kafuka feels that if you make an effort, you can definitely achieve your hopes, whether it’s getting into Toudai or becoming the Prime Minister. Hearing this, Nozomu questions if Kafuka has nothing hopeless in the future, so she admits that she does. In the aftermath, one of the other teachers expresses how impressed he is with how high Nozomu’s student’s ambitions are. However, he is also worried about one particular student – Kafuka – who wrote for her three choices: God, time traveler, and Pororoca alien.
ED: 「絶世美人」 (Zessei Bijin) by 絶望少女達 (Zetsubou Shoujotachi: Nonaka Ai, Inoue Marina, Kobayashi Yuu, Shintani Ryouko)
Watch the ED!: Mirror 1, Mirror 2
The OP was rather plain in style – mostly cards with credits listed – but had a surprisingly good rock song by Ootsuki Kenji. The ED meanwhile had a lot more animation (dunno if any of it has anything to do with the story), and it takes advantage of the voice talent available in the cast.
As expected this, was done in the distinctive SHAFT and Shinbou Akiyuki style, meaning there were lots of jokes (most from the manga) and plenty of writing on the blackboard. The first episode had very high production quality, which reminded me a lot of how great Negima!? started out, though this didn’t wow nearly as much as that first episode of Negima!? did. The animation and music were still very good, and it managed to be quite funny, especially since the theme of despair isn’t presented like this in any other series I can think of. Actually, with all the Suzumiya Haruhi stuff going on right now, that final part with the three things Kafuka wrote reminded me of how Haruhi wanted to meet aliens, time travelers, espers, etc. In any case, I’m not ready to follow another show where it’s mostly comedy and light on the plot since I’ve grown to favor serial-type series (as opposed to more episodic ones like I suspect this will become), so it’s unlikely that I’ll blog any more of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei.