Weird Or What? - Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei - Episode 1

Topic started by Superevil225 on Sept. 30, 2011. Last post by Superevil225 2 years, 6 months ago.
Post by Superevil225 (6,742 posts) See mini bio Level 17
This is a little feature that I'm hoping to get moving along and make posts for it at least twice a week. Basically I take an anime I've been told is really bizarre and out there. Depending on the comments I get, I'll go through the entire series.
 
Today: Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei. AKA Goodbye, Mr. Despair.
 
 The first scene... no joke
 The first scene... no joke
Nozomu Itoshiki doesn't feel life is worth it anymore. His name literally spells out despair and failure. So, within the first few minutes of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei he hangs himself, only to be saved by one of his students, Kafuka Fuura. This absurdist and extremely literary anime follows Nozomu through his depression, and Kafuka Fuura's attempt to make him see the optimism in life. While normally this kind of story would be more of a depressing mope fest drama, it's intended to be a satire. How? I have no idea. Really I normally wouldn't see Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei as 'funny' because depression isn't something to joke about. But in this case the satire is fairly tasteful considering the controversial subject matter. 
 
 This catchphrase will get old... soon
 This catchphrase will get old... soon
We don't really know why Nozomu is so depressed. From what I see, he's more of a weak soul that doesn't just see the class as half empty, but sees a massive crack where all the water pours out... until it's empty with nothing left. Exaggeration? No. Litterally Nozomu is unable to see anything good about life. That's what makes Kafuka Fuura such a good foil. A young and innocent girl who sees the glass overflowing with rainbows and kittens. 
 
I guess what makes the dark... really dark comedy 'tasteful' is the fact that it isn't making fun of suicide or depression, but more pessimism. It deeply explores the ridiculousness of today's bleak view on the world. Nozomu is depressed because that's the way he is. And I have a feeling that this dark and satirical anime is going to take a twist for either really happy/sad or really messed up.
 
The animation of Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei is really unique. It's by the same people that have done Madoka Magica and Bakemonogatari so it's very interesting. The art is unique and seems to be reminiscent of a neo-Taishou art style with cut out silhouette figures for some scenes. I feel a little bit like I've taken anime LSD. Furthermore the animation is quite smooth and overall the character designs are pretty good. I'm just wondering why Nozomu is wearing a kimono in modern day Japan. Well... it looks cool I guess.
 
Cut-out silhouettes are common and make no sense.... at all
Cut-out silhouettes are common and make no sense.... at all
Give this dark satirical and pessimistic anime a spin. You might find it as genious (literary wise) as I do, or you might find it really depressing. Let me know in the comments and tell me if you wanna hear more!
Post by Makoto_Mizuhara_Sakamoto (8,779 posts) See mini bio Level 18

I've actually have a reservation on the first volume of the manga this is based off of. Can't wait to see if it's any better (or worse?) situation-wise like you describe it as.

Post by Superevil225 (6,742 posts) See mini bio Level 17
@Makoto_Mizuhara_Sakamoto: I've seen the manga in stores so much. I flipped through it a bit and it seems just about as depressing and satirical. :D
Post by Makoto_Mizuhara_Sakamoto (8,779 posts) See mini bio Level 18

@Superevil225: And I always thought it was going to be another ghost story series... that's the way they played it as in AMV Hell 5.

Post by Superevil225 (6,742 posts) See mini bio Level 17
@Makoto_Mizuhara_Sakamoto: From a few clips I've seen later on, I hear it becomes a mindfuck. We shall see. O.o
Post by Makoto_Mizuhara_Sakamoto (8,779 posts) See mini bio Level 18

@Superevil225: Sounds like a bloody good time.

Post by takashichea (8,880 posts) See mini bio Level 25
Moderator

Good job on the article! You gave a good overview and put some of yourself in this article. I feel like my articles were too monotonous. You should keep going and writing these episodic reviews/articles despite the comments. I think it's great that you are doing this. I don't know the anime, but I try it if I get some free time. (most of free time is doing wiki work)

I'll try to support you as best I can.

Post by Superevil225 (6,742 posts) See mini bio Level 17
@takashichea: Thank you so much!
It's actually pretty good, as I said in the review. I recommend it. :)
Post by rubberluffy (531 posts) See mini bio Level 16

I love SZS. I bought books 1-8 during Borders closing sales. Great reads. The anime is great too, some catchy as hell openings (season 3's my favorite), and is definitely one of the reasons I love SHAFT so much.

Post by sickVisionz (4,145 posts) See mini bio Level 24
Moderator

I started watching this a while back and ended up dropping it. I was looking for a comedy and, to me at least, this is undeniably a comedy but it wasn't particularly funny for the most part. It made me laugh a few times but I was hoping it would have me rolling on a regular basis. Paniponi Dash (I'd definitely recommend this for the article and it's by Shaft as well) is more up my alley when it comes to nonsensical and super weird comedy anime.

I want to recommend Kaiba as an anime to check out but I'm not sure if it's weird enough. It's certainly different from the norm but I'm not sure if anything other than the art style could be considered "weird."

Post by arch4non (21 posts) See mini bio Level 9

Too much of its humor relies on Japanese customs and pop-culture which requires page after page of translator notes and in the end the jokes aren't really all that funny.

Post by Makoto_Mizuhara_Sakamoto (8,779 posts) See mini bio Level 18

@arch4non: Same way with 'Gintama', but that shouldn't stop you from watching it.

Post by arch4non (21 posts) See mini bio Level 9

What's preventing me from watching Gin Tama is the 200+ episode count.

Post by Superevil225 (6,742 posts) See mini bio Level 17

@arch4non said:

Too much of its humor relies on Japanese customs and pop-culture which requires page after page of translator notes and in the end the jokes aren't really all that funny.

Not really. Most of the humour is pretty much self explanatory. While some does rest on Japanese culture, the rest is mature cynical humour.

Post by takashichea (8,880 posts) See mini bio Level 25
Moderator

@Superevil225:

Hey, I finally watched the first episode!

Okay, I will list my top three despairs like Nozomu had his class filled out.

Top Three Despairs

  1. Community Leader
  2. Father
  3. Video game Storyboard Designer

I probably edit this over since I just had these random thoughts.

Post by Superevil225 (6,742 posts) See mini bio Level 17

@takashichea: XD Sweet!

Those despairs are looking like they'll put you into desperation. jk.

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