Formula for Despair

When the first installment Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei aired around two years ago, it impressed me with just how artistically and skilfully it presented dark, sarcastic humour. The second series, Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, set the bar a bit higher by speeding up the pacing and cranking up the insanity, while the Goku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei set of OADs perfected what Zoku paved the way for.

Now we’ve reached the third TV series–Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei–and it’s become quite clear that making an episode of this show has changed from an art to a science. Techniques which were once bits of artistic experimentation have become common place, and the way in which an episode flows is no longer surprising.This isn’t a bad thing at all. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei’s premise lends itself to being repetitive, so whether or not you enjoy the formula will dictate whether or not you’ll enjoy this follow up.

The one thing working against Zan is probably the franchise’s previous installment–Goku. I can’t say this with any certainty, but I believe SHAFTXSHINBO thought Goku would be the last hurrah, so they went out of their way to make those three episodes as insane as they possibly could. As such, the tone present in Zan feels a tad toned down.

That, however, doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the geniuses at SHAFT have found a way to mass produce a television show in which each episode is of relatively high artistic quality. And that’s just… amazing.

The best part of this all is that with the Zetsubou Sensei formula nailed, Shinbo can focus his efforts on what is quite possibly the best thing airing this season: Bakemonogatari!