“NO WORK, NO LIFE”
This was a rather interesting episode, Gagumber, and Memenpuu finally had to do the civil service work they’ve been assigned to. Thanks to Merooro accompanying them to a forest inside the labyrinth, we got a little bit more lore on how it all works. After traveling a little bit outside of Jolly-Jolly, they find themselves in a lush green forest, where wildlife thrives and all is peace. But Memenpuu gets the sudden urge to explore up to a cliff, where they find a desolate landscape, a patch of green that’s been run over through time. She comes to the conclusion that there’s no wind in this area, and thus that’s why the wildlife died off. So they head into the inner workings of the labyrinth, and after walking a long hallway, they come into a control room sort of thing, overseeing a wind machine. So now it’s up to Memenpuu to fix this contraption. It really makes me think, some questions arise. Like for example, is the whole labyrinth controlled by machines that regulate the weather inside of it. Do machines keep the wind and water flowing so that nature can take its natural course? Merooro did point out that all of this machinery is from ancient times, and that humans right now are not capable of building such devices. It’s interesting to note. Furthermore, Merooro also pointed out that there are different biomes within the labyrinth. So the mystery keeps standing on its toes. And also I’m rather glad they didn’t dilly dally anymore on shenanigans in the colony.
The Wind Temple itself has some really nice background art, in fact, it sort of reminded me of the background art for the ever-popular-underground manga Blame! For a moment there I really got the sense that they were exploring a giant structure. Not only that, the edifice changes, the pipes move so to allow airflow into different parts of the labyrinth I’m assuming. But after some exploring, Memenpuu gets stuck, but it’s not that she was lost, it was that the building itself was changing. Apparently, Merooro has a full table and tea set in his bag, full of boiling water and all. They have a brief chat about tea leave and how to infuse it with water, and the intricacies different leaves can have on the brew. But Gagumber chucks it all up as some bumbo jumbo he doesn’t really understand. “Part of a dying culture” This really caught my eye, I like how Sakugan is taking real-world lore and incorporating it into its storytelling. To create a world past. Society really had to evolve into these underground colonies for some yet unknown reason. Which I’m really looking forward to knowing more about. I’m really looking onward to unveiling this mystery, which I’m hoping connects to Ururop herself. As she herself has been the backdrop for Memenpuu and Gagumber as they journey through the labyrinth.
I liked that Sakugani is taking its sweet time to build up lore and interesting tidbits about its story. It’s unusual that Merooro sort of warns Gagumber about how curiosity killed the cat and just a moment’s later, a giant bat of acid (actually some magical substance that keeps the windpipes going) gets poured all over Memenpuu almost killing her. Gagumber wants to go and help her, but Merooro warns that it’s suicide! Thankfully she’s fine, and also the little vulture babies she was trying to save. I don’t know if Sakugan is trying to tell a grand story or deliver an exposition that has a deeper meaning behind it. Is it trying to say something or is it trying to help us follow and an adventure? It’s slowly building up its world, but it also stumps on itself as it focuses more on the little things. Is it because it’s trying to make us fall in love with the characters?
The characters themselves all have pretty strict personalities, and they don’t really seem to want to change, there’s no growth happening, only the hijinx that ensues because Gagumber is too horny, or because Memenpuu is heedless in everything she does. Characters are unwavering in their ways, they are stuck and don’t learn from anything. Sakugan apparently loves having moments that make you gasp and worry for their livelihood, but even after the death of a close friend, Memenpuu bashes those feelings to the side like they never happen. It’s hard to care when characters stay flat and 1D. But that’s in the writing. Pushing aside moments of reflection and growth for the better sake of exploring (and romance!).
Sakugan all but forgets that strong emotional scenes must come with some sort of growth. How many times will they be able to escape death before it stops becoming believable? Sakugan has some flaws, sure, but if you’re willing to look past them, there’s some interesting lore and worldbuilding here. Yet I’m a firm believer that characters always make the story. One of the reasons Made in Abyss works so well, is because of the characters! You genuinely care for them. I believe the show needs more time to pause and explore those little moments and interactions that would make the bonds between them more believable. Gagumber needs to be more than just the guy who sits back while his daughter solves everything, meanwhile, Memenpuu needs to be more than just her intellect, and repressed ego because of how everyone else sees her. Let’s see what else Sakugan has in store for us next week.