Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto – Mid Season Review
Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto:
Original Air Dates: April 8th, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: It’s his first year in High School and Sakamoto has already made plenty of enemies. But can he really help it that he’s the coolest guy in his class? Or perhaps the entire school? The girls love him and as much as the boys resent him, they just can’t seem to ever one up Sakamoto. No matter what hijinks they enact, or traps they set, Sakamoto always makes the best of it, coming out of things looking cooler than ever. Sakamoto is unstoppable and the other guys in class just don’t have a prayer.
Mid Season (6 episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: The thing that strikes me the most about Sakamoto is how it’s not just Sakamoto that’s riduculous, it’s almost every single character in the show. Given its rather eclectic premise, it shouldn’t be too big of a surprise to learn that the entire cast consists of odd personalities with rather quirky habits and behaviour to help kick up the insanity of the humour and the premise. If you are a fan of extremely random humour and characters, Sakamoto is sure to leave a mark on you but if you have never been much of a fan of the genre, Sakamoto will outstay its welcome within its first couple episodes.
Tom: Sakamoto’s expanded cast is full of oddball characters who appear to challenge, confront, seduce, or seek help from Sakamoto. These characters each have their own quirk that defines them and their encounter with Sakamoto. From the boy who’s being bullied, to the bullies attempting to humiliate Sakamoto, each character has been crafted perfectly for that role. It often means these characters only get one true story throughout the series, afterwards relegated to mere cameos and one off jokes during subsequent events. Rather the entire series is built around one character, our title character, Sakamoto and every other character exists as a comedic device to further serve the comedy Sakamoto will be dishing out each episode.
Linny: Sakamoto definitely is one of the weirdest heroes I have come across in anime, especially for one that is lauded as being the coolest and most admired guy around. The story is clearly redefining the word cool as a lot of his actions seem more bizarre than cool. Sure, he keeps a cool demeanor no matter what situation he finds himself in, but his actions in reaction to certain situation are so over inflated that they feel idiotic. The charm of this show is based on how amused the viewer gets from watching some rather bizarre situations develop into even more bizarre results such as ghostly hair emerging from a sink being turned into a wig by Sakamoto. If you personally enjoy the sound of that, the show only gets weirder with each episode so that’s good news for you.
Tom: Sakamoto is meant to be a cool, collected, no faults protagonist. He has the answer to everything and where as this might feel frustrating in most stories, it’s played here to comedic effect. Or that’s the intent anyway. The trouble comes from the show’s assessment of Sakamoto as “coolest.” At times, the show nails this idea; making Sakamoto even capable of defying the laws of physics. These moments are where Sakamoto is at its best and nails its concept. But other times Sakamoto’s solutions to situations are more absurd than outright cool. For example when he crawls across the school floor during a fire drill as if pretending the threat of smoke is real and present (When it clearly isn’t.) It’s in situations like these where I struggle to believe high school students would see Sakamoto as cool rather than outright weird (as he can indeed be.) Sometimes it feels more like childish middle school antics than a high school student wowing his peers. (Indeed a mid series skit involving Sakamoto impressing middle schoolers sits as one of the stronger moments, because it’s obvious how Sakamoto would appeal to the kids.)
Linny: I can’t stop specifying how particular and peculiar the humour is. It does stand out thanks to its rather unique style of humour though there’s a risk of it being a little too peculiar. If you’ve heard the term ‘anime on crack’ flung around or enjoy such defined shows, I think Sakamoto is a great example of it. Just be warned that if you prefer exaggerated and goofy facial expressions, there’s not a lot of that here. In fact, Sakamoto himself seems to be devoid of emotion and expression, reacting in a robotic and automatic manner to almost every situation.
Tom: Sakamoto is structured with two to three short plot lines per episode, with perhaps a few smaller skits peppered between to break things up. How well the humor works for you depends on a couple things. Firstly is the cooler/coolest disconnect. If you have trouble buying into the idea that Sakamoto’s actions/answers are always the “coolest” and instead see them as merely absurd then you’re probably struggling with the show’s internal logic. For example; in a mid series skit a lunch lady bemoans that no one is buying her new pasta for lunch. Sakamoto then spends the day performing subliminal messaging on his classmates by drawing loops and squiggles on the chalkboard, out on the track field, or with the water house. The logic being that by performing this subliminal messaging he’s making his classmates desire the new pasta dish (although his squiggles generally don’t look anything like the pasta.) Whether you find the humor amusing entirely depends on how well you agree with the internal logic presented here, otherwise, on the surface level, Sakamoto can feel exceedingly random (particularly during one joke where Sakamoto is eating rice during class.)
Linny: Sakamoto also has this thing where the protagonist is made to look ‘cool’ by surrounding him with extreme caricatures like a fat loser friend, Yoshinobu who has an equally unattractive mother who is portrayed to be frighteningly obsessed with Sakamoto. It’s all played for laughs and you will find yourself muttering wtf repeatedly in both amusement and confusion. It is a comedy and thus, shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but I do find it frustrating that it has to have the fat and ugly stereotype characters in it. On the other hand, it does do something rather noteworthy where it has a slightly chubby classmate, Sera, be a teen magazine model. Though on further observation, even he is portrayed as a desperate try hard who is impressing none of his classmates, rather than someone who is truly popular.
Tom: Speaking personally, I find Sakamoto exceedingly hit or miss. At times I’ve found the humor on the mark, generally portraying Sakamoto as the coolest high school student around, performing inhuman feats that you can’t help but admit as “cool.” Other times, and these I find far more often, leave me struggling to understand how one could describe Sakamoto as cool, rather than purely absurd. And perhaps more importantly; how is this joke funny? There are times when I wonder if I’m too old as an audience for Sakamoto. I wonder if Sakamoto’s intended demographic skews younger than me, and I’m too distanced from the average high schooler’s experience to really identify with the humor and internal logic presented here.
Linny: For those unfamiliar and curious about the source material, it’s based on a 4 volume manga series that has been fully licensed in America, with only the 4th volume still awaiting its western release. As someone who read a bit of the first volume, the show seems to be sticking to its source material faithfully but with the inclusion of a few bonus anime only sequences that you will either dismiss as ugly budget and airtime fillers or adore for their novel take on reusing animation.
Tom: These anime only sequences are periodically used as breaks or filler gaps between the larger segments. The animation is low effort, and is often repeated/rehashed from episode to episode. You’ll notice the same set of frames and actions by characters each time with no actual variation. The initial instance of this sequence has spot on humor that works incredibly well. Later on, however, even the humor featured during this rehashed animation feels tired and lacking in a true punch line. Ultimately these reused animation sequences begin to feel like nothing more than padding to ensure the episode hits its intended run time.
Linny: Thanks to its bold and peculiar style of comedy, Sakamoto is bound to leave a strong impression for better or worse. Those who find themselves captured by its bizarre humour will only find more reasons to delight as each week brings an even more insane episode. Those who struggled to get into its first episode will most likely find each subsequent episode more and more confusing and disengaging as the randomness levels go over 9000!
Tom: Sakamoto struggles to maintain that “Sakamoto is coolest” message. At times it succeeds without question, painting Sakamoto as a super human high school student capable of performing the most absurd, yet undoubtedly cool feats. But in actuality, Sakamoto is merely a character taking everything to absurd extremes with outcomes that cannot always be labeled as “cool.” Your ability to enjoy Sakamoto hinges on how easily you can grasp the absurd internal logic working within the series, and if you can’t, Sakamoto is likely to feel “oh so random.”
Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com