First Impression: Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (wow I wrote a lot)

The Good: Just about everything! Yuuko Goto’s even in it!

The Bad: Since it’s SHAFT the TV animation will be all over the place but fixed for the DVD release

Ok, if you hate this show you simply have terrible taste and can’t appreciate art. It’s that simple. You’re a moron if you hate this show.

So yeah. This is Akiyuki Shinbo’s latest opus, SAYONARA ZETSUBOU SENSEI. I would explain the premise, but this guy does it better. Probably because he can read and understand Japanese while I can’t. I couldn’t understand a damned thing in this show, but fuck was it beautiful. Animation wise and direction wise. This isn’t some cheap ass Negima!? or Hidamari Sketch– this show looks like it has money behind it. Well, at least the first episode. I don’t have much hope for the rest after this, but I know it’ll all be fixed for the DVD anyway.

On Hidamari and Negima!?, I noticed aspects of both in this. I had a theory that Shinbo was treating Negima!? as a playground for directorial weirdness (but eventually gets bored about 7 episodes in) and Hidamari Sketch as an opertunity to try new looks and styles. Some shots in the show are similar to that of Negima!?, such as the shots of the classroom’s name placard; while some shots borrow Hidamari’s style of using big blocks of solid colour, manipulating only the shapes with little or no lineart. Shinbo’s trademark dramatic lighting is here too, along with a lot of silhouettes, and odd colour palettes. Shinbo’s also taken on a very classic Japanese look with this show, but I’m not sure if that’s more the influence of the comic or him just indulging in his own interests.

Strangely enough, and this doesn’t happen too often, I noticed the background music in this show. It’s spectacular stuff! Really complements the feel of the show. I’ll be picking up this OST as soon at it happens. I don’t remember the opening and ending too well, except for that they were good.

The opening and ending animations on the other hand are also quite good. Well, this episode opens with an opening that’s all text, with photos of a bald guy flashing at some point (he appears throughout the episode too, sometimes as a censor to cover girls’ privates. It really kills my boner.) The ending animation is absolutely gorgeous. I’ll reiterate my first statement somewhat here– if you even care about the art of 2D animation, you will like this ending. It is a MASTERY of what 2D work can do. Ok, maybe I won’t go that far, but it’s quite fantastic.

In my mind I’d like to think this is Shinbo’s dream work, in the same way Paprika is Satoshi Kon’s dream work. I’ll come to an exact conclusion about that once I’ve seen the entire series though. It wasn’t too long ago (well, I guess it was) when I saw the first episode of Negima!? and caught the Shinbo bug, thinking the series was going to be great. Because of Negima’s steady declide of directorial merit (that said, it’s leagues above a lot of other crap out there) I’ll still approach this one with a degree of caution.

I do have to applaud it for successfully scratching a big itch of mine that has gone unscratched for far too long. The “extremely artsy fartsy dark comedy itch.” Been bugging me for years.