A quick recap of Akiyuki Shinbo’s career up until now by the totally unreliable Scamp. He started as an animator on Urusei Yatsura, because everybody from that era worked on something by Rumiko Takahashi. He then moved about a bit from JC Staff to Tatsunoko to wherever the hell he could get work as a director, including directing a whole bunch of hentai OVA’s in the early 00’s. He got a big break with directing the first season of Nanoha, but instead he moved over to the small studio Shaft and kind of took over everything when he started on Moonphase and Pani Poni Dash. From there he pumped out a whole bunch of needlessly obtuse heavy-otaku bait nonsense, dancing around his tiny budget with a vast array of animation tricks. Then came the turn of the decade and suddenly the success of Bakemonogatari and Madoka Magica meant he had all the money to do whatever the hell he wanted, sticking to his usual art style but now with money to have more actual animation.
Sasami-san feels exactly like the anime Shinbo would make after all this. A well animated pile of utter nonsense with tits.
I like how Sasami-san looks, although I think by this stage I’m guaranteed to enjoy how any Shaft anime is directed. It’s small clever things that make it tick for me, such as placing Sasami’s eyes poking out of the covers as though she is in a giant duvet cake. Or the little silly touches, like the tricks they do so the male teacher’s face is never shown. The use of music is great too, and something Shinbo hasn’t necessarily been great at before. Again it’s simple things, like the music shooting up during some moments, timing the leaps with character movements. It all flows well, which makes the episode slip by like a good bowel movement.
As for the actual contents of the episode though, I’m not impressed. Leaving aside the chocolate apocalypse for a second, the writing is not good. Perhaps I’ve just grown accustomed to all this Shinbo visual fuckery with teenage girls speaking in riddles and witticisms with Nisioisin and the -monogatari franchise. By comparison, the girls in Sasami-san have nothing interesting to say. They’re generic moe-archetypes saying cutesy nothings at the male character, who in himself is a one-note character with nothing interesting to say nor and interesting way to say it. The closest any of the dialogue got to having some kind of direction was Sasami wondering whether her brother really loved her. Whoop de doop, we get some half-arsed incest plot. Apologies for not dancing with joy.
Then there was the chocolate apocalypse, which certainly looked cool, but I hadn’t a fucking clue what the hell they were getting at. A physical form of Sasami’s inner thoughts about chocolate? The connection is wafer thin if it was, and by bringing it out in visual form did nothing for the narrative, which is a boring narrative anyway. I’d feel like I was missing something if I hadn’t seen some of Shinbo’s earlier works. You see, while I would identify as a Shaft fanboy, this is a recent development starting around 2009. It was then that Shinbo finally started to use his visual fuckery to aid a story rather than for its own sake. I’m not a fan of early Shinbo at all, and Salami-san feels like early Shinbo with more recent Shinbo’s budget. So we get a fine looking anime with a bunch of nonsensical bullshit all in aid of some boring twats and an incest plotline with some underage tits and ass. Colour me disappointed.