Sakamoto desu ga?: An imaginative and unpredictable form of comedy [Review]

In Class 1-2 of Gakubun Prefectural High School, one student had the entire school’s attention from the very first day. He’s stylish carrying out class duties, at lunchtime and even when he’s sent to stand in the hall. Every single move he makes is Cool, Cooler, Coolest.

Sakamoto desu ga is the comedy show to take a Nichijou approach in blowing up simple situations into extravagant experiences. Following the coolest guy in school, the show explores themes both within and outside of the high school to create constantly varied adventures of a colourful and lovable cast. Studio Deen do a good job of managing a noticeably low budget to create a variety of amusing tales following the most popular guy in school.

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Consistently hilarious and exceptional dialogue

By crafting such a cool protagonist, the writers run the risk of the main character appearing disinterested in most events and creating such an arrogant personality that is utterly unlikable. Thankfully, Sakamoto is created with an idea of compassion and genuine care for his classmates and just about anyone in need of assistance. In some ways Sakamoto is unaware to how cool he appears to his peers and often is ignorant to the true intentions hidden within some of the darker characters. This aids the audience’s tendency to relate and like the main character as we see that while Sakamoto is clearly on another level, he’s still human and isn’t an arrogant asshat. The dialogue that arises from this decision is frequently both charming and hilarious to boot; not pigeonholing themselves to one single niche of the classroom also assists this concept. Sakamoto is seen with almost everyone in his class on a one to one basis which keeps the humour consistent as the viewer isn’t forced to watch the same few character repeat their tropes. Whether it be a group of delinquents, the first year’s sports team or the signature idol girl, Sakamoto always knows how to solve a problem and keep the audience engaged in the process.

sakamoto makes blowing bubbles look so cool.png

Refreshing change to the high school setting

As an avid watcher of the slice of life genre, it’s clear that the high school setting can be dull and overused. So many times audiences are  fed the same generic underdog character finding adventures in school usually through the medium of a cooler friend or a love interest. In an era where high school comedy shows are more abundant than fossil fuels, studios have to do exceptional things to make their ideas stand out from the latter. To my relief, this show steers clear from a concrete love interest and the typical whiny shy protagonist, it’s nice to follow a confident and popular personality for a change. Arguably this can be a disadvantage as the show doesn’t necessarily follow a tangible story line so don’t expect intense cliffhangers at the end of each episode. As a comedy show, it’s a good laugh and that’s all it really needs to be. Not only that but the viewer of often taken outside of the school grounds to help vary the situations and retain engagement. The settings are essentially simplistic and there isn’t exactly breathtaking scenery for an aesthetic tumblr blog, but being a character focused comedy doesn’t require stunning backdrops and exquisite lighting – they’re a nice bonus for sure but not a necessity.

i'm having nichijou flashbacks of the farmer's son.png

Surprisingly touching character interactions

While there is no overarching plot line, this isn’t just a bog-standard skit show either. The show follows an episodic format where each one follows a certain character’s interactions with Sakamoto – usually set up in about three scenes per episode. This format is highly effective as the secondary characters are just as (if not more) interesting than our protagonist. As an example, Kubota is a friend of Sakamoto and delivers a more frightful and panicky mind to the conflict which meshes with the more calm and collected nature of Sakamoto. Despite being labelled as a comedy show, there are some touching moments where the viewer can take a step back to appreciate the episode that just unfolded. Most episodes are basically someone in the school being jealous of Sakamoto and trying to knock him down a peg. When that character’s intentions and morals are revealed they can be rather engaging and understandable, unlike other shows where bad guys are mindless or tote around a “you killed my father” backstory as if that’s never been done before.

A visual spectacle effectively evoking humour

As you can probably tell from the images I’ve already posted, the show uses its visuals and composition to enhance the comedic effect of an ordinary or eccentric reaction. On multiple occasion we’re met with a close up still frame during an action sequence as big bold text pounds itself onto the frame. When discussing visual direction the most common phrases are akin to “to evoke the feelings of” or “showing the development in” which is fine for a show like Boku Machi. However, Sakamoto desu ga’s visual direction is just as clever and sophisticated albeit lacking the purpose of character development. A large reason we watch anime is for the animation and the effectiveness of conveying a story which would be lacklustre or impossible to accomplish in real life.Delivering without a doubt on that front, this show goes above and beyond to strengthen the effect of a joke by using the visuals to exaggerate an already crazy experience. These picture perfect frames of Sakamoto also give the viewer a look through the eyes of his peers – this is how other people see him – which aids the audience in relating to the secondary characters.

Final Thoughts

While searching for other people’s opinions on the show, I’ve seen this phrase come up alot:

“Sakamoto is like the One Punch Man of slice of life comedy”

I dislike using other people’s phrasing but I have to agree with the comparison, if you’ve seen Saitama of OPM then you’ll be familiar with the zero effort, maximum effect idea and that’s highly prominent in the character of Sakamoto. While this show was clearly on a lower budget than that of One Punch Man, the character shines through and helps carry an otherwise forgettable comedy show. In my opinion I would liken this to the humour of Cromartie High School in its exaggeration and out of the ordinary main cast.

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