Anime Review: Sakamoto Desu Ga?

There are a lot of cases in which a character without flaws is a mark of criticism.

Characters are made interesting through their complexity, with them coming to deal with their flaws, accept them and improve upon them where they can. That’s what makes an interesting and complex storyline.

Well, Sakamoto desu ga? doesn’t have an interesting and complex storyline. It has a cool guy named Sakamoto who swags his way through every situation he’s ever faced with.

That’s the whole thing.

Sakamoto desu ga?

In a lot of ways, Sakamoto Desu Ga? is the One Punch Man of school-life anime. One Punch Man is about a hero named Saitama who destroys every enemy he faces with one punch and zero effort.

Sakamoto Desu Ga? is about a kid named Sakamoto who has similar results against his foes. But instead of fighting giant monsters, he’s going up against school bullies and manipulative girls.

And instead of defeating them with a punch, he defeats them with sheer charm and charisma.

And by “defeat,” I mean “make them like him and also make them better people overall in the process.”

The really impressive thing about Sakamoto Desu Ga? so far is the ability it has to take a simple concept and keep it fresh in a number of situations.

There is no character development, no plot development. Each episode basically just sums up the same way: “Someone is going to try to make Sakamoto look bad, let’s see how it ultimately backfires and makes him look way cooler.”

And despite all this, it’s so weird and quirky that it’s ultimately still enjoyable. Despite it just featuring the same gag, playing out in different ways, it’s still a ton of fun. That’s incredibly impressive to me, and speaks to the quality of the gag. But I have to wonder just how long it can keep up.

The secondary characters in the series are practically non-existent. The few that are recurring aren’t especially interesting, even down to their names.

There’s “group of delinquents who gain respect and admiration for Sakamoto.”

There’s “chubby kid who feels like a loser but Sakamoto gets him to stand up for himself.”

There’s “guy who tries to be Sakamoto’s rival in coolness, but is outclassed so badly that he goes into comedy and now constantly has his shirt off for some reason.”

There’s “chubby kid’s mom who goes on a cougar hunt for Sakamoto because he looks like a guy from her TV drama.”

And there’s “popular girl who tries to seduce Sakamoto for the sake of status, but keeps getting hilariously foiled.”

That’s all any of these characters are. I didn’t list their names, because honestly, I don’t remember them, and they’re not especially important. Sakamoto Desu Ga? is a one-man show, and the other characters are little more than props to further the legend of Sakamoto.

Even the opening credits feature all of exactly one character.

It’s easy to see Sakamoto Desu Ga? is made on a budget. The very first episode opens with a wide shot of three guys tossing a volleyball around in the school yard in the most minimal, circular animation imaginable.

The action sequences rely heavily on dressed-up still shots, simple circular animation patterns, and motion blur. They do a good job of hiding the lack of funding where they can, but suffice to say there aren’t any sequences that are going to leave you slack-jawed in awe and appreciation.

The music is the series is passable, but forgettable. Neither the opening nor the ending is cringeworthy, but I’m not rushing out the find the official release of those songs, either. I’m torn on the other series music. It has a cool kind of lounge jazz kind of feel to it, but it also sounds a bit like bad porno music. So… yeah, your mileage may vary on that one.

Ultimately, Sakamoto Desu Ga? is one of the most enjoyable and unique series of the spring anime season. But its lack of variety or development on its themes leaves me wondering if it will keep up its appeal over the course of an entire season – even a short, 12-episode season.

It may well be a series that you enjoy for a handful of episodes and then drop it, or it may be one where you stay hooked for the entire season. It all depends on how much you appreciate the show’s core gimmick.

In either case, it’s worth at least a brief look. The legend of Sakamoto should not be denied.