Sasami-san@Ganbaranai – 01

Tsukuyomi Sasami (Asuma Kana) is a demanding hikikomori (shut-in) who has her faceless older brother Kamiomi do everything for her. When he goes to school, she uses the Oni-chan Kanshi (Brother Surveillance) System to keep tabs on him as he interacts with the three Yagami sisters – Tsurugi (Chiwa Saito), Kagami (Hanazawa Kana), and Tama (Nonaka Ai). When Sasami accidentally turns the world into chocolate, the three of them have to fight the chocolate and return the world to normal.

“Sasami@Unmotivated” is exceedingly bizarre and quirky, but also a heckuva lot of fun to watch, and beautifully rendered, with extensive use of watercolor washes for backgrounds and textures. We were reminded quite a bit of Arakawa Under the Bridge, and not just because Sasami’s brother is voiced by Whitey. Both revel in the absurd, whether it’s a shut-in girl being waited on hand and foot by her brother, or that he is absolutely devoted and obsessed with her, almost to a fault, or that the Sasami has a “brother surveillance system”, or the simple fact that the brother never, ever shows his faaaace. Perhaps most interesting: Sasami may have to stay inside to avoid altering the world.

And that’s only part of the nuttiness. For some reason, all the discussion of Valentine’s Day chocolates suddenly has the world itself turning to chocolate, much to Sasami’s dismay. And after Sasami hangs out with the colorful and eccentric Yagami sisters one by one (although really, everyone’s pretty equally eccentric here), they whip out superpowers and save the world by encasing Sasami in chocolate, which makes her brother ecstatic. Yup, it almost wouldn’t be a proper Shinbou joint without the complicated brother-sister relationship. Like we said, this looked great, sounded great, and moved at a good clip. We’ll see if this quality – and lunacy – can be sustained.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

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Zetsuen no Tempest – 13

Mahiro is out cold for an entire month, during which time he dreams about the events that have unfolded thus far, his childhood with Yoshino, his life with Aika, and the day he found her dead. When he awakes, it is to a world in which cities are being swallowed by the Tree of Genesis. Samon asks him if he’d be able to kill Yoshino.

If that seems like half the length of our usual pre-review synopsis, that’s because we were only given half an episode to work with. The other half was a recap, told from Mahiro’s perspective and sprinkled with bits of new material here and there, along with the pretty flimsy conceit for subjecting us to said recap: Mahiro is having a very long, very intricate dream, and has a lot of time to think about things thus far. The recap was a bit deflating after a week-long hiatus, but we should have seen it coming.

We’re at a crossroads: the Tree of Genesis is awake and kicking hard, devouring chunks of civilization and humanity with impugnity. Giant branches popping out of skyscrapers is a very irrational thing, so you’d think the Kusaribe clan would be on top of things, trying to restore balance to the world. Meanwhile, we have this slightly unstable looking guy Hanemura showing off some kind of magic. Is he part of another clan? Good? Bad? Who knows. Here the plot merely thickens; it doesn’t solidify.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Tamako Market – 01

Kitashirakawa Tamako is the daughter of a mochi maker in the Usagiyama shopping district. One day while visiting the flower shop she finds an unusual, pompous talking bird named Dera Mochimozzi inside a bouquet. He claims to be a member of the “royal court” searching for a bride for his prince, but ends up living with Tamako and her family at the mochi shop Tama-ya.

KyoAni’s latest series is an affable slice-of-life/comedy with a tinge of supernatural in that there’s this very strange and very proud, arrogant bird. The instantly-appealing shopping district setting has a warm, cozy, lived-in feel to it. Tamako has everything she needs in this district – her home, a mochi-making business in which she is integrally involved, family, good fiends, a potential love interest across the street. And now it seems she has a pet bird.

Mochimozzi adds an element of whimsy and unpredicability. He’s a frequent source of sight and sound gags, and his formal, aloof voice (provided by Yamazaki Takumi) gives him lots of character. Tamako herself, by contrast, is just your ordinary unassuming girl: friendly, hardworking, upbeat…and sometimes the unwitting target of shuttlecocks. This series wasn’t originally on our Winter watchlist, but it’s so darned charming we’re going to give it a go.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)