The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. – Mid Series Review
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.:
Original Air Dates: Juy 10, 2016 to ???
Synopsis: Saiki Kusuo was born with a wide array of super powers. From Telepathy to Telekinesis, this guy has it all. It might sound awesome, but Saiki’s found having these superpowers ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Keeping a low profile, Saiki tries to lead a normal life, but that doesn’t always seem possible.
Mid Series (12 Episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Saiki K himself is a fun character: Apathetic, annoyed with the idiots that gravitate around him, yet ultimately kind at heart. Initially, as the series introduces us to his life and circumstance he can feel a tad “whiny” as the series attempts to hammer home the idea that having psychic powers isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But as we move away from that argument and instead illustrate Saiki’s daily life, he becomes a much stronger, more enjoyable character as we watch everything always take a turn for the worse for him no matter his psychic abilities. Each supporting cast member that causes Saiki K daily doses of trouble represents a very specific line of humor. From Nendou’s oblivious, inept nature, to Kaidou’s Chunnibyou ways, every character exudes that very specific type of comedy. When overused they can grow tiring, but Saiki K does an amazing job of balancing all of its various characters and types of humor to create a domino effect that piles up and up until you’re bursting with laughter. Remember though, if you’re looking for a series with a little more substance and character development Saiki K isn’t interested in that. It’d rather provide you with that wall to wall humor, jokes flying at the audience one after another.
Linny: Saiki K also contains some anime comedy cliches that clash with western sensibilities, in this particular case, the character of an older brother who is obsessed and in love with his younger sister. He’s super possessive and protective, jealous of every guy who comes in contact with his sister while she does nothing more than be annoyed at his more direct attempts at affection. Combined with other Japanese stereotypes like the Chunnibyou friend, these elements might make Saiki’s humour either off putting or puzzling for those less familiar with Japanese culture and general anime tropes. On the other hand, for those well familiar and those who enjoy them will find that Saiki K does a great job of utilizing its cast for jokes that hit the mark almost every time. Like Tom mentioned, every single character in Saiki K. provides a source of comedy from his friends to his family. It’s especially hilarious watching Saiki have to deal with not just his parents’ laidback and oblivious nature/attempts to take advantage of his psychic powers but also have to endure ‘normal’ stuff like watching his parents be sickeningly romantic lovebirds.
Tom: Perhaps one of the best aspects of Saiki K is the show’s ability to escalate the situation. Despite having some pretty incredible super powers, Saiki often finds himself at the mercy of situations that continue to grow out of control thanks to the comical cast of characters surrounding him. While some escalations might feel a tad obvious, the show more often than not manages to take things in new and unexpected directions that’ll appeal to audiences who enjoy absurd and fast paced humor. While each sketch is often no longer than five minutes, Saiki K really knows how to use that time to the utmost effectiveness.
Linny: Initially the show feels anecdotal in nature with each five minute sketch feeling like a mostly self contained story, at the most extending to the couple of sketches that immediately follow. However, as the show progresses, you come to realize that almost every single one off character that appeared in the early episodes actually have a much deeper connection and impact on the over arching story and some are surprisingly related to each other in ways you wouldn’t have ever imagined or suspected. Saiki K is a show that moves fast, zooming through its sketches and dialogues at breakneck speed sometimes, taking digs at popular anime comic cliches and even itself and it’s impressive how well it manages to tie all its little skits and characters together. For those that get a real kick out of fourth wall breaking humour, Saiki K. is a treasure trove.
Tom: Saiki, similarly to the other Psychic show of this Summer season, also provides commentary on the anime medium in the form of meta humor, providing absurdist explanations for as to why the anime world is the way it is, or commentary on the very product driven nature of Japanese animation itself. But not all of Saiki K’s referrences to anime and Japanese culture are immediately understandable. For example in Episode 12, while Saiki’s class is preparing for a school field trip, we’re introduced to a brief one-off character, a gyaru girl, a crass, uncouth type of girl who try too hard with their looks, often putting on thick spray tan that makes them look a lot like Donald Trump clones. But Saiki’s depiction can easily be misconstrued as a dig at darker skinned individuals, and seeing as Saiki K offers few darker skinned Asian characters already, it isn’t hard to see how this one instance might spark offense. Moments like this are fleeting and minor however, with Saiki K keeping itself far from the more controversial underbelly of the anime and Japanese culture at wide.
Linny: Saiki himself starts off rather cold and apathetic to the world around them. Even Saiki’s so-in-love parents actually have a sketch dedicated to them being absolutely adversarial towards each other. There’s a lot of gags and jokes that take advantage of how mean people can be but at the end of the day, Saiki and the show itself are tender and kind, with moments and developments that show heart and rescue it from being just a pointlessly cruel comedy. These transitions and developments are done in a manner that feels natural and blends effortlessly into the comedic nature of the series, never feeling forced or detracting from the comedic content.
Tom: Saiki K can be experienced in a couple different ways. Saiki is presented in a five minute short format with a new episode releasing once a day and compilations, or full, episodes hit Sundays. Due to Saiki’s break neck speed in order to cram all its content into its short run time, it might be best for slower readers to jump straight to Saiki K’s dub, as sometimes so many characters can be talking at once, with such speed, it makes it difficult to follow everything happening on screen. But within this unique format lies a question. Saiki is listed as having 85 specials, of which five usually add up to one full length compilation. But 85 only equals seventeen full episodes and yet Funimation lists Saiki K as running for a full two-cour 24 episode count. But that confusion is hardly my biggest fear. While Saiki K is indeed still funny halfway through its run, I fear it’s gradual decline. Already episodes feel less amusing than early on, as if the humor is gradually losing it’s shine. Due to the sheer wealth and pace of humor, it’s entirely possible Saiki K will run the gambit of its comedy and gradually fall behind in its ability to generate a constant stream of original gags and humor. There’s a real danger that Saiki K’s back half will succumb to the pressure to remain fresh and inventive, instead falling back on recycled gags. For now I still think very highly of Saiki K, but I can already see potential signs of struggle.
Linny: We started off Saiki K convinced that we wouldn’t be extremely impressed, assuming it would be just another typical show about a super talented genius who whines about life being hard but it’s actually just all in his head, or him emerging to actually be the most amazing and admired person in the show. But we were so wrong. While Saiki IS clearly one hell of a powerful psychic, the show does an amazing job of introducing problematic situations for him that are both ridiculous yet believable and hilarious. Even though he ends up with his fair share of followers and admirers, Saiki still comes off as a guy who genuinely just wants to live an ordinary and average life. Combined with his secretly kind nature, it all makes him a very likable protagonist, and one you will be rooting for throughout the series. If you’re in need of a laugh and are a fan of self aware comedy, you most definitely need to give Saiki K a chance.
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. is available for streaming via Funimation.com.