Thursday, 3 December 2009

Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei Bangaichi - Episode 1

There I was, bemoaning the end of another series of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei Bangaichi, while completely forgetting that the first episode of the two-part OVA which follows it was already available to watch and enjoy. Well, consider it forgotten no more, as I've finally found the time to enjoy the first half of Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei Bangaichi.

Of course, the general concept of the show should require no explanation by now, as once again Nozomu and his class set about the world in their own decidedly off-kilter fashion. This OVA starts with what I can't help but feel is a decidedly Japanese problem (although I suppose it happens elsewhere too), with demonstration turning into vacillation - In other words, seemingly strong feelings about a subject being watered down considerably by a simple "but" that enters your train of though. The core example here is protests about holding the Olympic games in China, which is of course followed by a string of "buts" that all but destroy any argument in the first place. Aside from some amusing nods towards other anime series, this was certainly more on the sharp social commentary side of the scale than comedy per se.

Commentary and comedy perhaps make better bed-fellows for the episodes second section, which pokes fun at the necessity people feel to pretend they understand and enjoy otherwise pretentious and complex subject matter - A slightly ironic choice of topic, seeing as I'm sure I've laughed at a few items in this very series that I don't have an exact grasp of. From pretending to enjoy stuff you don't understand, we naturally reach a point of comedy and people laughing at stuff they simply don't get, although in fairness the randomness of some of the outbursts by characters here was actually genuinely funny in its own right. Oh, and there were the berets - Laughing at berets isn't pretentious, is it?

Finally for this OVA, we get to meet Chiri's older sister, Tane Kitsu - A girl who creates a mess wherever she goes as a foil for her younger sister's meticulous precision and tidiness. Tane somehow filling a swimming pool with detritus was actually quite funny somehow, although that and the simple appearance of a new character were the real highlights of this particular chunk of the episode.

While this wasn't the funniest laugh out loud instalment of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei I've seen, I did still enjoy it for its keen focus on those very human quirks that we all recognise in ourselves and others - Sometimes this franchise is at its best when it's lampooning or gently poking fun at its own fans and viewers, and I can't help but think that was on show in spades here. I have no idea how much longer this series can keep ticking over before its popularity plummets, but to my mind Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei still very much has a twinkle in its eye.

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