The anime “Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto” appeared in 2016 and received much acclaim. It was a refreshing 13 episodes based on the manga by Nami Sano. Here’s five reasons to like this wonderful warping of the traditional high school hero story.
Guest blog post by David F. Pendrys
The show relies basically on one joke set up throughout. The idea that Sakamoto, the hero, will not be able to solve a problem, and then he does. The audience is fully aware of this, but it doesn’t matter. Whether the challenge is absurd or not, in the end he does resolve it throughout the earlier episodes. I will leave it to the viewer to watch and see whether he can in the climactic finale because that is a different story.
Of course the method Sakamoto uses to save the day is always amazing. Most of the time, viewers will not see it coming. Usually the conflicts appear in short bursts, leading to an even larger climactic obstacle to overcome. Though in episode three they really draw out just what is happening-tweaking their own formula.
The show utilizes briefer segments, cramming two or three short stories into each episode usually, rather than a full episode devoted to one plot. This helps prevent any dragging and allows the punchlines to be delivered quickly. It may not be possible to keep the comedic effect maintained over a full length episode regularly either, so it is a wise choice.
Sakamoto has no interest in receiving accolades for his successes. He is very much disinterested in making a fuss. He will also often try to cover up for the actions of the villains even after they try to destroy him. A trait shared by another problem solving high school protagonist, Onizuka, from “Great Teacher Onizuka.” Though Onizuka was the chaotic type and Sakamoto is a calming figure.
Well, one piece of the soundtrack anyway. Sakamoto’s signature theme is jumpy and slightly dopey, but also smooth. The appearance of the BGM whenever he averts calamity adds to the experience. It’s a theme we probably all wish we had behind us when we are doing something awesome.
In an era when we expect anime companies to be cutting costs and taking shortcuts where they can, Sakamoto’s creators do take a few, however in general the animation is solid. As well, they do reserve the best color work and action sequences for the climactic moments and it results in some high quality scenes. The show does utilize well drawn stills at times, but it works fine and actually fits the climate of the show perfectly.
A fairly obvious point is there are a lot of anime shows out there and they are very easy to access. Gone are the days where we watched only a few shows because that was all we could find. Fortunately, some of those shows were amazing, but nowadays the series that are unique are especially valuable in a massive market of options. A show with the premise that a hero is dealing with various goons in a high school is not new. However, “Sakamoto” is fresh, creative, and twists what we’re used to seeing to perfect effect. There is a plot threaded throughout the full series, though I’m not sure it entirely matters in the end.
Also unique is the perspective of the show. We don’t know what Sakamoto is thinking, we know what everyone around him is. They are the eyes through which we see him. The wide variety of side characters whether benevolent, malevolent or neutral react to this exploits with a wide range of psychological results. The suspenseful anime trope of side characters introspecting between battles (or in this case challenges) is utilized well and absurdly.
The series also draws upon the typical anime technique of special attacks being announced and written across the screen. However, the nature of the special attacks are hilarious as opposed to serious.
The show also could have fallen prey to Superman syndrome in that the expectation is that week to week a belief that “of course he’s going to win, he’s Superman” could set in. But that doesn’t happen. I don’t know if the show went 100 episodes that would be the case, but over the 13, it doesn’t become an issue.