The fourth and final anime series that I found myself picking up this season is the comedy series Sabagebu!. I was extremely leery of picking up another cute girls playing Airsoft anime after Gainax’s C3 Club crashed and burned. (Thus furthering the idea that Gainax is now a walking zombie, a cruel parody of what it used to be.) And I wouldn’t have except for this one weird fact I learned about Sabagebu!.
On the surface Momoka is just like any other girl starting her first day of high school. She takes a train to school, gets molested by a creeper, is helped by an intense woman brandishing two realistic looking handguns, finds out later the woman is a third year student at her high school in the Airsoft club, gets shanghaied into joining the club, escapes but then is drugged by said Airsoft club and ends up a member anyways, and finds out that she enjoys shooting people with her Airsoft gun.
The Fine Print
What was the weird fact that convinced me to watch Sabagebu!? It’s a shoujo series.
Seriously, the manga runs in Nakayoshi which is the same magazine that ran Sailor Moon among other shoujo stalwarts. This fact alone changed the chances of success for the series and opened me to giving it a chance. Why did this change its chances? Because, it upsets the type of narrative shows such as these normally produce – namely, being a shoujo series means the girls can and will act callously towards the other girls.
This fact opens the series up to new avenues of comedy and gives it the ability to go in different directions. To take advantage of this opportunity someone with the right experience was needed and luckily the director Masahiko Oota was chosen to helm the anime adaptation (along with his frequent collaborator Takashi Aoshima whose in charge of the script). I first took note of him back in 2007 when he directed the first season of the comedy Minami-ke and created one of the funniest anime ever. His output since then has included Yuruyuri, Mitsudomoe, and more recently Koutoura-san and Love Lab. I still think Minami-ke was his best work but I’m always at least entertained by his comedy series. (That I was willing to skip one of his series, which I haven’t done since Minami-ke, says something about the loathing I had towards this series beforehand.)
The comedy of this series draws mainly from the shortcomings and characteristics of the characters, an impossible proposition if this was a fluffy seinen series. We get to see the jealous, violent, petty side of the characters – sometimes taken to the extreme – as they use their Airsoft club to blow off steam. Related to this is the comedy that comes from watching one’s expectations of how this show should go get torn up and trampled on. Other humor includes fourth wall breaking and meta humor from Sabagebu! being aware of itself and a sometimes snarky narrator who narrates.
The comedic timing is perfect but that has been a strong point of Masahiko Oota’s comedies since at least Minami-ke. The animation quality is decent; it can’t compete with last year’s Love Lab but very few comedy series are given that level of animation quality. The animation style is adequate aka rather plain but it gets the job done. The OP/ED and music are forgettable. The vocal acting, however, is superb. Or I could have just said the animation company behind Sabagebu!, Pierrot Plus, does not earn much in the way of kudos for turning out a mediocre anime that relies on the talents of the source material, the director/writer that was hired for this anime, and the vocal talent of the seiyuu to push this anime into being a pretty good comedy anime.
Comedy is a very subjective experience and writing about it is a difficult task since explaining a joke is the surest way to make it not funny. This has led me to compare it to other anime as a means to review it. If my intention of getting potential viewers to give Sabagebu! a chance has come thru then good but if it hasn’t then let me finish by saying Sabagebu! is a good comedy series and shouldn’t be missed due to an unfortunate bit of timing on it’s part (coming after C-3 Club).
Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 9/12 A-
Animation: 2.5/5 – Average
Anticipation Level: 2.5/5 – Average