OP Sequence

OP: 「Alteration」 by ZAQ

「明日からがんばる」 (Ashita Kara Ganbaru)
“I’ll Start Trying Tomorrow”

There are times when it’s impossible to find the right words to begin a post. I guess it should be no surprise that it would be SHAFT who would inspire this in me. Fukken SHAFT. I have seen a lot of first episodes, but it’s been a long time since I last saw something quite so ridiculously, brilliantly nonsensical. Of course, it’s not actually nonsensical – there is both rhyme and reason within Sasami-san@Ganbaranai’s plot, it just comes across in that way on first glance!

I need to include some sort of cursory summary as to what happened in the episode for those who may not have seen it and are curious what to expect. ‘Stuff’ happened. Magnificently glorious and absurd stuff. We start with Sasami (Asumi Kana), the hikikomori who doesn’t even have the motivation to greet the postman, and her doting brother, Kamiomi (Otsuka Houchou), whose face is perpetually hidden behind some object or other. He performs all the menial tasks for her, and in return she spies on him whenever he leaves the house. Stuff goes down on Valentine’s Day and Kamiomi ends up turning the entire world into chocolate. Cue epic battle scenes with fantastic music as the three Yagami sisters, Tama (Nonaka Ai), Kagami (Hanazawa Kana), and Tsurugi (Saito Chiwa), fight against all manner of chocolate creatures (plus a dragon!) to eventually save the day and return things to normal! Wow. I’m not entirely sure what I just wrote!

I may not have mentioned it before, but those who know me well will be aware that I absolutely adore the surreal, the absurd, and the abstract. In my opinion, Shinbo’s distinctive style – which I will refer to as ‘Shaftiness’ henceforth – has been one of the greatest things to happen to directing in anime. While it works in almost any type of show – mysteriously doing wonders for the healing factor in Hidamari Sketch for example – at the end of the day, I feel as though it’s naturally most suited to the surrealism that tends to arise naturally from the fantasy genre. In Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica it added extra levels of eeriness and displacement – the witches and their minions were even more surreal, even more wrong, thanks to the stylistic clash brought about by his unique style. You only had to see them once to know that something was very wrong with the universe. In the -monogatari series, the frequent cuts and unusual imagery lend themselves extremely well to the often abstract dialogue and wit of NisiOisiN’s writing. And in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei we have the OPs; the glorious OPs which held so many hidden secrets about the series as a whole, so beautifully concealed in plain sight for five whole years. Shinbo is my waifu. I’m sorry Shinbo, I have betrayed you for another.

Sasami-san@Ganbaranai might not be quite as blatant as those series, but Shinbo’s unique touch is still obviously present. From the distinctive camera angles and distant shots, to the focus on a particular set of telegraph poles for effect and the ridiculous interior design of Sasami’s house, we have many of the characteristics that so frequently crop up in a SHAFT show. I’m not really a fan of censorship – I find the principle itself distasteful. The censorship here is clearly intended as a joke, from the randomly obtrusive beam of light which is then mysteriously absent when the footage is replayed in the ED to the @ sign which appears and vanishes between cuts. I want to say something about it being a deep commentary on the ridiculous censorship in anime these days, but it’s more likely to be Shinbo screwing with us for fun as he so often seems to love doing.

The apparent randomness of this first episode is not actually random, but there is a slight lack of exposition that will hopefully be delivered in the next episode. It’s never been a secret that Sasami-san@Ganbaranai deals with deities, and even if it was, the hints present throughout this first episode are both obvious and frequently ingenious. Sasami’s doting elder brother is the key – while he’s not actually the protagonist, his role is central to the show and the hints are there, from the typical foreshadowing in the OP, and even down to his sudden break into the legendary Hare Hare Yukai dance. Now that is how you make clever references to another anime while simultaneously revealing some of the hidden depth of the show!

After watching this first episode, I have two thoughts on Kamiomi’s perpetually hidden face. The first lies in parody of the typical visual novel/dating sim protagonist, where the character is left faceless (and frequently devoid of a voice) in order to make it easier to self-insert. There seems to be a fair bit to support this, from the numerous girls surrounding him to the fact we frequently have shots from his perspective and that we watch him through surveillance tools. It’s a pretty interesting idea, especially if we were to consider that we’re essentially seeing it through the viewpoint of one who would be a side character in such a game! My other thought on the matter also has a fair bit of support from the material, and that’s that Sasami does not acknowledge her brother as anything more than a tool at her disposal, someone to feed, clothe, bathe and generally adore her as she lives her surprisingly aloof and somewhat regal lifestyle. I’m personally leaning more towards the former, but either seems plausible to me.

The three Yagami sisters seem to follow typical archetypes, with the young and extremely naive (yet well developed) Tama being the girl who lacks proper understanding of basic concepts – so nonchalantly talking about murder and unintentionally throttling her elder sister. Kagami appears to be the bookish girl, always prim and proper and using a plethora of ridiculous puns to punctuate half of everything she says, and Tsurugi would be the genki and slightly tsundere girl with pretty much no inhibitions. It’s when things start to get crazy that they really shine, each with their various powers and quirks setting them apart. I have a fairly strong feeling that their names are relevant, though Tsurugi is the only one which is immediately obvious to me since her name translates to ‘sword’ and she happens to wield a sword of some description. The other two, Tama (soul or ball – since it’s written in hiragana, it’s somewhat vague) and Kagami (mirror or model) are a little harder to place with the little exposition we’ve been given.

I find myself wondering a little about Sasami’s aversion to the outdoor world. It could easily be some sort of agoraphobia, and this would certainly make sense given that she’s a hikikomori, but when you bring deities into the equation, suddenly so many more options present themselves and it can be hard to follow Occam’s razor. Is she a hikikomori because she doesn’t like the outside world and has no interest in socialising (extremely plausible given how she acts around other people), or is it that she’s a hikikomori because something physically prevents her from going outside? I guess all will be revealed in time!

For a SHAFT production, the quality of animation was much higher than I’d originally expected, with those lovingly animated changing scenes, spectacular combat, and Kagami’s brilliant transformations. The distant shots do leave a lot of room for some ‘quality’ moments, but most of these are easily overlooked while watching the episode itself instead of staring at still caps. Add to this the brilliant music from Hashimoto Yukari which made so many of the scenes that little bit more badass (the Yagami sisters running through town leaps immediately to mind) and we have something that’s pretty awesome to watch. My only question is, if you haven’t seen the episode yet, why on earth are you still reading this? Go! Go!

tl;dr: @MoombaDS – In typical SHAFT fashion, #sasamisan starts off by being completely and utterly insane.

Random thoughts:

  • Is it just me or is it a little odd that her brother refers to her as ‘Sasami-san’, particularly when they’re so intimate?
  • I love the whole Meta leap from ‘oh hey that new anime is starting’ into the OP.
  • I can already see that Kamiomi is going to be extremely dense for the majority of this series!
  • Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate reference spotted!
  • Also worth noting is SKYNET.dll being loaded during Sasami’s computer start-up!
  • Wow, dem armaments man.


ED Sequence

ED: 「浸透圧シンフォニー」 (Shintouatsu Symphony) by 阿澄佳奈 (Asumi Kana)


End Card


  1. What was the point of this 22 min? I didn’t get it nor particularly cared. It’s so ridiculously weird (not in good way) and overly self-indulging effort by Shinbo that this is a very niche show and no one would disagree to that.

    I watched, I forgot, I l moved on.

    1. The point? To captivate you with a myriad of unexplained events, beginning with a hikokomori and her overly loving brother, rounding second base with your stereotypical but somewhat pleasant sisters, pushing through third with an unusual yet brilliantly choreographed battle and sliding into home with a chocolate covered Sasami. One might even say it was aesthetically pleasing to the eye but that much like everything I’ve just said can be taken with a grain of salt.

      I’m sure the show thanks you for your devotion in managing to sit through the entire 22 minutes and would like to extend its apologies and offer you a full refund of your time if time were such an easy object to distribute.

  2. Still attempting to recover from the eye-gasm this episode graced me with and no it is not simply a result of Kagami’s magnificent armaments. I would however be lying if I said that they did not factor into the enjoyment one way or another.

  3. Tsurugi, Tama und Kagami refer to the Imperial Regalia, i.e. the sword Kusanagi no tsurugi which was used by the god Susanoo to slay the many-headed serpent Yamata-no-Orochi, the jewel Yasakani no magatama and the mirror Yata no kagami which were both used to lure the sun goddess Amaterasu out of her cave to illuminate the world again.

    Sasami and Kamiomi’s surname is Tsukuyomi.

    Amaterasu, Susanoo and Tsukuyomi are siblings and the gods ruling over the sun, moon and night, respectively.

    1. Tsukuyomi is the moon god, while Susanoo is the sea god. Also, Kusanagi was the sword Susanoo found within Yamata no Orochi. The one he killed it with was Totsuka no Tsurugi.

      ham and brie
    2. Thanks for the info, reading up on them it sure as hell it makes even more sense when you factor in their given relationships here. For all we know, this could very well be some bizarre take on these legends depending on how they play out the characters’ respective roles. I’d hazard a guess that Amaterasu could is Sasami in this case since she’s the sister of Tsukuyomi (who in this case is probably Kamiomi) and the fact that she’s a shut-in hikikomori (the equivalent to Amaterasu being in the cave).

  4. No Haruhi dance mentioned? 😮

    Anyway, great episode. The second half is amazing, the randomness of Shinbo and the great animation by SHAFT. Hope they won’t compensate it on later episodes with translation slides >.<

    Oh, great mention about SZS. That one is seriously one mind-blowing moment, especially after you realized Kumeta's plan. Now I wonder if Shinbo do the same trick with this one…

    Kevin Yamagata
  5. I have a fairly strong feeling that their names are relevant, though Tsurugi is the only one which is immediately obvious to me since her name translates to ‘sword’ and she happens to wield a sword of some description. The other two, Tama (soul or ball – since it’s written in hiragana, it’s somewhat vague) and Kagami (mirror or model) are a little harder to place with the little exposition we’ve been given.

    I didn’t get it either, but someone elsewhere pointed out that their names correspond with the three sacred treasures of Japan: a sword, a mirror, and a jewel. While they’re kept locked away, popluar artists renditions of the sword, Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, match the sword Tsurugi used.

  6. I’m not sure what i just watched honestly … Jinrui wa Suitaishimashita made more sense the first episode.

    The censorship over Sasami-san panties was funny. I’m wondering if the censorship was triggered over certain background. Also the Ed credit are still technically censor with the credits over the same shots as the white thing.

    Still way to soo to make heads or tails of this as I felt a little lost in the battle of chocolate world. lol

  7. Even for Shaft standards, this show was insane. It was like a mashup between FLCL and a fever dream. And like FLCL, I’m sure all this insanity will make sense at some point…to a degree, anyway.

    This is certainly the show that blew me away the most this season. I originally figured this show was going to be something like Denpa Onna no Seishun Otoko, but when chocolate took over the world and I realized this wasn’t a dream sequence but actually happening…what the hell! That whole part has certainly satisfied my WTF quotient this season. As I love it when Shaft goes all batshit insane (much like you, I love surreal stuff) following this show will be a no-brainer (even if it isn’t everyone’s thing).

    Loved the references as well, especially because they were mostly subtle. Sasami’s reaction when her brother started doing the Hare Hare Yukai dance was priceless.

    Dammit, can’t wait for the next one.

    1. I guess people mostly remember FLCL for its experimentation, but in terms of a story FLCL established that in the opening minutes. There was a weird factory that looked like an iron with questionable intentions and the story would revolve around that. Sure they took some twists and turns, but you knew the central tenet of the show from the get go without question. In my opinion there’s nothing close to that clear cut setting here and instead it depends on people saying “oh it’s shinbou so this will all make sense later.” In that sense this show is nowhere nearly as effective in its storytelling as FLCL was.

  8. A good first episode. Very SHAFT-like in every way possible. The animation was outstanding and I might even say this is one of SHAFT’s most beautiful shows. Sasami is interesting and seeing her try and leave the house gave me chills; it’s not that she doesn’t want to leave, it’s that she can’t. I thought the ‘Onii-chan Surveillance Camera’ was adorable. The sisters and interesting, I really found myself liking the red-haired sensi though. HanaKana’s character was a cool character as well. The show is very entwining and I’ve already marked my calender as one of my must-watch of the season.

  9. Chiwa Saito? Check
    Weird brother and sister relationship? Check
    Surreal awesomeness? Check
    Welcome to Planet Shaft, enjoy your stay.

    This is the first new series of the season that knocked my socks off. I have no idea what’s going on and I don’t care. All those little shout outs, great cast, dead funny OP and Kagami with oppai rocket launchers won me over.

  10. The best way I can describe this episode is if Shinbo decided to smoke his entire stockpile of pot then raid SHAFT’s stash and smoke that too.

    This episode is just indulgent even for Shinbo’s standards. I still can’t decide if that’s a good thing. On one hand I did enjoy to surreal visuals that SHAFT provides, on the other hand there is absolutely no context on what happened. It’s a lot like a kid trying to dangle shiny objects in front of a cat. I know Shinbo is better than this, so I’m just hoping he doesn’t fall into the “style over substance” trap.

  11. I like hare hare yukai dance and i think this show is like harhi involving a god (big bro or sasami ) who don’t know about his/her power and there is those 3 persons ( robot, swordwomenmiko and a froggirl who will fight to save the earth

  12. I watched. At first it was ‘okay’ entertainment. The hiding of the brother’s face struck me as ridiculous (in the negative fashion) – I thought it was over the top considering his already exagerated behavior. I spotted some references to other anime (‘Hare hare yukai’ in particular got a chuckle out of me). I was impressed when they animated Sasmi getting dressed from A to Z. I even thought the chocolate references were funny.

    And then, that whole ‘world-gets-covered-with-chocolate+monsters-battle-scene’. Ugh. That’s where they lost me enough to eyeroll and swear off the anime by the time the credit started rolling.

    I can stomach some abstract. I mean, I can put up with Madoka Magica and -monogatari and find them to be good anime. But this was more like I consider Evangelion: anime which is better at being art than at being an anime.

  13. Shinbo is my waifu. I’m sorry Shinbo, I have betrayed you for another.


    I thought this was insane. In a good way that is. I’m definitely going to stick with this show, and I look forward to reading all your posts.

    I usually don’t like seiyuu singing but I did enjoy the horrible ending sequence. I hope they keep talking over it in all remaining episodes as well! \o/

  14. Managed to watch this nonsense till the end only because of generous imouto fanservice (skipped chocolate battle bullshit).
    Heck, even tamako market with alien parrot was much more bearable.

  15. The absurdity is somehow right up Shinbo’s alley, and I say this in a good way. But will need a few more episodes before deciding if it will be as good as his previous works.

    Speaking of Haruhi, Sasami may have some sort of world-changing powers, though the premise does indeed revolve around deities so it sort of makes sense.

    Asumi Kana’s half-hearted effort in singing the ED does the title justice, as the title is literally “Sasami-san @ Couldn’t be fired-up”.

    Kinny Riddle
  16. Just got sSHAFTed again (For GOOD reasons of course)

    Right after Neko-Kuro we have this. Gah, my body can’t take it.

    Really loved the show. Definite watch for me seeing how big of a SHAFT fan I am and I always look out for niche anume.

    That aside…

    Seems like Homu-homu chan upgraded her weapon systems –

    Francesca Luccini anyone? – https://randomc.net/image/Sasami-san%20Ganbaranai/Sasami-san%20Ganbaranai%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2029.jpg

    And Walpurgis schokolade??? or is it some other smaller witch – https://randomc.net/image/Sasami-san%20Ganbaranai/Sasami-san%20Ganbaranai%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2036.jpg

  17. The brother with the attaché case for a face just creeps me out. It’s the one thing that might stop me from watching. Otherwise it’s just strange and I don’t dislike strange.

    Oh, and maybe she can’t go out because of the siscon brother who is being two faced(no faced?) about wanting her to go to school?

  18. Well, it certainly was interesting. I think I’ll keep watching 🙂
    Also, while Sasami was going on ranting about chocolate taking over the world, did anyone else here her say “Chocomonogatari”? Because I laughed so hard at that one line xD

  19. I love the BGM, but other than that, this show was wretched. The characters are obnoxious and unappealing, and the plot of the entire first episode stemmed from the fact that she gave her brother a box of chocolates and called it “lunch”.

    Jack Spicer
  20. The whole anime is, sadly, too whacky to be funny, even though it has a steady supply of parody moments. In general, it feels like FLCL (Fooly-Cooly) all over again. The story seems to be trying to make some grand statement. But my bet is that the producer is just fooling around and tries to mess with our heads. There is a good chance that I will drop this one soon.

  21. This is one of those shows that I feel only a studio like Shaft could do justice, there’s just too much insanity packed into 20 minutes. (And the animation, my god) definitely one of my favorites of the new season.

  22. Sasami’s headphones baffle me. I can’t tell if there’s really a pair of glasses attached to it or that bar that goes across her face is only meant to make her look like she has glasses, like how in some anime meganekko girls have glasses with somewhat invisible lenses. On the series itself, I find it interesting so I’ll be following it and hopefully the plot will make more sense as it goes.

  23. I’ll give this a second chance since most anime experts were highly anticipating this, but the first episode was a giant pile of “What is this I don’t even” in my own ignorant yet honest opinion.

  24. I confess that my standards could not have been lower when I started watching this, but after I finished I’m shocked to say that I love it. The sureal quality of it all. I hope the whole series continues to be as strange. I believe that part of it’s appeal is wanting to figure out just what the hell is going on.

  25. For a change it wasn’t actually Shinbo’s over the top style that put me off a SHAFT show, I think he did what he could to spice things up and there weren’t too many quick cuts and random bits of text thus allowing scenes to breathe and the sakuga animators to do their thing and boy did they do a wonderful job….can’t really fault those guys for anything here. Unfortunately this premise just seems dead on arrival even though I don’t fully know what it is yet although I suspect it has to do with one of the characters having god like powers….probably the faceless dude. Unfortunately it also seems like the screen writer deliberately went out of his way to make the first impression of the entire cast as annoying and off-putting as possible while giving us nothing to go on as to what they’re all about. The brother really is just an idiot, Sasami is a useless shut-in fanservice machine, the 3 sisters are just sort of there bouncing around and blowing up chocolate….really nothing much appeared to be happening here other than just pretty looking weird shit happening for the sake of weird shit and random fan service.

    Also I’m growing a little weary of Light Novels that just consistently focus on incest themes and gimmicky meta stuff. There’s such a thing of too much of one idea coming from one source and I think LN adaptations have crossed that line of late.

    Kaioshin Sama
  26. Seeing the computer stuff in the OP, I thought of Lain.
    Seeing the Miko and elemental characters, I thought of fantasy and mystery.
    Seeing the three sisters, I thought of R.O.D.

    Nice Shaft style as usual.
    Relieved that theres no split second screens full of text.

    So for the first ep, starts off normal then slowly explodes (to choco) then return to normal.
    Will the rest follow such pattern?

    1. From the JA wiki looks like there will be mythology elements from Japan, India, Greece and Cthulhu Mythos.

      Sasami seems to be a Tsukiyomi no Miko.
      The Tsukiyomi Clan seems to be the descendants of Ninigi-no-Mikoto.

      Modified cyborg by a secret organization?

      “Kaihen” is caused by gods?

      Snipplets of tidbits as I glance though the JA wiki article 😛
      9 books so far, wonder how much the anime will cover.


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