“JUSTICE FOR VILLAINS”
I’m once again at a loss, and unsure what the point of all of this actually was. Zackletu makes a return, but not before Gagumber gambles away his whole entire newfound fortune. That’s right, starting the episode Gagumber decides he now has some liquid and throws it all away gambling. With the excuse that it’s actually investing. I get that his antics are supposed to be funny, but they just come out as flat-out stupid. Not only did once again Gagumber not ask Memenpuu for her advice, but he also threw away all of their savings, which they made fixing the wind temple. Is it supposed to be a slap-stick comedy? If so it’s not even working on that front. There’s an imbalance here that is not adding up.
What’s more, Gagumber was actually winning, and he was winning big for a moment there, instead of having him cash out the money when he was on a roll they decide to make him keep going, eventually landing him on a loss, making him lose everything. What can I say, Gagumber being stupid is just one of his insufferable traits. He’s irredeemable at this point. Fastly shown by how Memenpuu reacts. I just feel like at this point they’re really pushing it. They’re pushing these characters with hardshell personalities and trying to sell their romps for the name of comedy. I feel it’s not working and makes their actions fall flat. Keeps Gagumber being dense for the sake of silliness, but then in the latter half of the episode tries to play the moral high ground as Gagumber reflects on his own life as he sees two new characters pass through the same fronts as he did years ago with the now late departed Rufus.
It never amounts to anything, Gagumber stays still as he remembers the mirror in front of him. In this episode, a couple of new profiles join the fray. Most importantly the leader of the underground rebel group called Yuri (Toyonaga, Toshiyuki), a scalper from the AreYaar community. He’s part of the underground group led by Zackletu, with Yuri leading his own gang. Remember how Zack said she’d find Gagumber and make him pay her fine, well it finally caught up to them and now both Memenpuu and Gagumber are stuck working for the guerrillas. Cleaning toilets, making dinner, among other such amenities. Both of them really working for those credits, with Memenpuu having no choice but to tag along. Some stuff happens and the underground gang really gains the upper hand with society, they manage to steal enough money so that they can start living a normal happy life where they get to eat every day. Sakugan at this point could be trying to say a lot of things, there’s the obvious homeless subtext and how we treat them as outcasts and failures of a capitalist society that will not give them a place of their own, all masked through a lens of this rebel fighter group. More importantly, how the president wants to abolish orphanages, as he strives for “further equality”. It’s really laying it on thick there.
Then there’s the whole Yuri backstory, and how he became to be a son of the streets. With allusions to Les Misérables, he stole a piece of bread and got punished for it.
But unlike Jean Valjean, Yuri couldn’t find absolution from a priest and instead gets punished by the police. That scene where the mounties officer beats him up was honestly heart-wrenching and a little bit hard to watch. The case could also be made that Sakugan is trying to speak up against police brutality. In fact, Yuri follows a similar arc as Jean. Yuri too makes his way to a position of power by his own volition. They really tried us to empathize with him, but there was no need, Yuri has already poised enough charm and character that makes him likable from the get-go. He’s like a big brother to this group and it shows. He gives Memenpuu the light of day and for the first time in the show, I think her intelligence was acknowledged, even if Yuri calls her a weird one.
There’s a stigma surrounding orphans, however, Japan has one of the highest adoption rates in the world, (sauce), but it’s only people in their 20’s and 30’s that get adopted, usually by wealthy business leaders who have no eir of their own. It’s only 2% of children that get adopted annually. And this sentiment is very present that this episode was trying to bring that into the limelight, by almost forcing us to like Yuri. But I digress, there are many things Sakugan is trying to say, but it’s trying to say all of those things at the same time with little ease to actually fully develop those ideas so that they can flourish as actual compounds into a compelling argument, or thrive as metaphors. If Sakugan is focused on its world, I don’t know how all of this developed it further. To me, worldbuilding is about the lore and hard-to-grasp ideas made simple, but Sakugan insists on continuing to be a character piece. Without any of the grants a character piece brings. Its core is not developed enough, there’s not a clear vision for what it wants to be. There’s a thesis here that’s for sure, but it’s underdeveloped and fails to meet the mark.