Posted by psgels on 23 December 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews


When I first started out writing reviews, I reckoned it would be best for shows with a sequel to wait until I got the chance to watch everything of the sequel, before writing the review of the entire series. Then, Red Garden came along. Along with its sequel Dead Girls, which seems to have gone up into smoke. At this point, I honestly doubt whether I can still write an accurate review of that series that ended nine freaking months ago. Hence my decision to just write a review after the end of every series, regardless of whether or not they’ve got a sequel coming somewhere.

Anyway, onto the review. I’m not sure about others, but my favourite type of comedy is the witty one. The kind you see in Blackadder, Monty Python and Stephen Fry for example. That’s also the reason why I’m a large fan of the British humour. In any case, it’s a shame that there aren’t many anime like this, though Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei turned out to be one of them. It’s Akiyuki Shinbo’s new show, and really, it’s probably his best series yet.

Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei has really been one of the smartest comedy-anime I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t take anything for granted, and takes its comedy further than most other anime. It’s one of the few series that actually builds up its jokes. It’s quite formulaic, it starts with one concept, introduces it, and then makes it increasingly more ridiculous. And yet, it works, and the final episode showed no signs that the creators were running out of inspiration.

I’ve also never seen a comedy-anime that addresses so many taboos as this one. There are indeed a lot of stereotypes in this series, but each and every one of them is made to look ridiculous. To make things even better, it also takes the Mick out of the anime-series that try to divert from stereotypes by adding the most obvious personality-trait to said stereotype. The series is also not afraid to keep carrying its jokes further and further. This might lead to repetition in most other shows, but Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei uses this excellently to flesh out its jokes further.

The main character also fits this series perfectly. He’s basically a teacher with an incredibly pessimistic outlook on life, and he’s seen committing numerous suicide-attempts throughout the series. The graphics for this series are also absolutely gorgeous, both the character-designs and the background-art. Like expected from Shinbo, his unique sense of direction also adds an extra spark to this series.

If you’re into comedies, then I see no reason not to recommend this series. The only bad thing I have to say is that it tends to delve into useless fanservice at times. Especially episode five was bad in this, and all it does is distract from the jokes. Apart from that, though, we’ve got ourselves a gem here. The characters are smart and complement each other perfectly. There’s always at least one character that has critique on a certain scene. Now let’s hope that the second season, which should air in less than two weeks, will remain with the same freshness.

11 Responses

  1. i-k says:

    Very nice with a comedy that is not the usual slapstick ecchi. One of my favourite humour series ever for sure.

  2. yoshi927 says:

    This was a good one, definitely. I think the thing with it, though, is that the jokes aren’t the greatest the first time around, and yet I find, when I have some free time, something I’ve seen in the latest episode will pop into my head, and it’ll be hilarious, even if I didn’t think it was before. It’s kinda hard to explain. But, this is definitely a good series.

  3. marmot says:

    Hmmm I really loved the first 5/6 episodes where it was introducing the characters however after that I felt the series started to stagnate. I liked most of the satire element and how the series questioned conventional wisdom but some of it just got way too repetitive. The catchphrases often just seemed pointless and often irrelevant to the thing being satirized or what the character was doing. It’s still a good series but I think it knew it and often got a bit lazy. Also the summaries of it are incredibly misleading. But still good and it was refreshing seeing a series confront some taboos (especially the one about how the original manga must be followed), keep up the great work psgels.

  4. marmot says:

    Hmmm I really loved the first 5/6 episodes where it was introducing the characters however after that I felt the series started to stagnate. I liked most of the satire element and how the series questioned conventional wisdom but some of it just got way too repetitive. The catchphrases often just seemed pointless and often irrelevant to the thing being satirized or what the character was doing. It’s still a good series but I think it knew it and often got a bit lazy.

  5. marmot says:

    Oh yeah the summaries of it are incredibly misleading. But still good and it was refreshing seeing a series confront some taboos (especially the one about how the original manga must be followed), keep up the great work psgels.

  6. L.A says:

    No…you have to realize that not all episodes were just supposed to be funny….
    Some of the comments went way too further than just jokes and it really gave serious offense to certain groups of people…
    And really I have no idea how Western people can fully understand all the satires in this series.

  7. omo says:

    Well, it’s more fun to watch than Welcome to the NHK I guess.

    It’s a bold show that went somewhere, even if it’s not that funny. It’s the kind of show that is actually substantive if you think about it.

  8. Archer says:

    ok i will start saying that this is a great anime ,more than it is a great comedy because i think this anime is a lot more different than any other comedy’s i have seen it is not meant just to make u laugh it also uses some important themes(some considered taboo as psg said),some will find some episodes not that funny but those episodes are great trough the messages they send to us,some parts of this anime are just like in literature : people can read a book but i doubt many understood it’s message,of course i am not saying that this anime is that profound but at least it tries to be different than most animes in it’s genre and so far it has succeeded
    and i don’t think that western people cannot understand the satires in the anime(maybe some just don’t wanna try),every part of this planet was a culture and i think satires can be found in each one,satires are art so art can be understood by everyone with a open mind and some knowledge

  9. marmot says:

    ooh dear sorry about the triple post, seems blogsome didn’t like my comment initially for some reason, shoulda been a bit more patient. I agree that I am obviously not the target audience and for the most part it seemed to have a point and it may not have always meant to be funny but I feel that the combination of a satire on japanese culture and comedy derived from characters have a certain character trait didn’t always work very well and diminished the point they were making.

  10. asdf says:

    people keep saying “taboo” and i’m just wondering what kind of taboos? i’ve only seen the first episode so far

  11. Windspirit says:

    Stalking, hikikomori, suicide, death, bullying due to unsociableness, schizophrenia, illegal immigration, photoshopped net idols…

    Oh, and since the opening (which should appear to you in episode 4) was done under drugs, the girls are portrayed in bondage (sadomasochism meaning) poses. :)

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  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:03 AM)
    @Aidan: meh … I think Madoka could’ve also been better if it used a more rigid style. I heard a lot that the moe made it more shocking for some people, I guess I can see that even if I don’t personally feel that away at all. I think Madoka was a good series that brought a wider shonen type of audience to more adult themes, but some of the fan-praise to me is a little halfbaked and unfounded.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:49 AM)
    I’m fairly fond of the artstyle sunrise used back in the 90s also.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:46 AM)
    Actually with old artstyles in mind, I watched an old ova called california crisis recently, the character design stood out for me, the ova itself is fairly trashy however, more of a guilty pleasure.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:31 AM)
    I still don’t like the art in madoka regardless though.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:29 AM)
    “Even if a series which has detailed backgrounds and a sharp dark tone features moe characters the show would be considered lighthearted and Moe, and any violence will come off as forced or even comical.”
    Madoka says otherwise.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:24 AM)
    But still even in terms of cutesy looking female characters, I’m still going to pick the old art over the new usually.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:23 AM)
    In general I would prefer character designs fit in with their genre usually. I do however believe that moe, fanservice and those oldskool designs have their place and where they are or aren’t appropriate.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:11 AM)
    @Emma: the old Madhouse style was also my favorite. Even tho they were cartoony it was still a much more realistic approach. I think we talked in length about how moe just took over the industry, to the point of making anime synonymous with that specific style.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:00 AM)
    Shiki was another example where I could forgive the terrible character designs because I was invested in the plot.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 03:55 AM)
    But where older art styles are concerned, its the character designs found in the likes of ninja scroll, ghost in the shell and wicked city that catch my interest most.

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