Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 01-03
Looks like enough people bought the DVDs then. This is the continuation of the shenanigans of the most negative teacher in the world and his class of stereotyped characters, all vying for his attention. Yay! So Long, Mr. Despair is back!
If you’ve never heard of this before, it would be unwise to leap right in now. Otherwise you’ll be like the “new customers” that the show lampooned last year. The first series is called Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (look for a.f.k.’s fansub in the usual places), the second series is Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (fansubs incredibly patchy – go with a.f.k., then Uu, then anon, then volans) and the third series is a collection of OADs called Goku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (looks for gg’s fansub). While the manga has been licensed and is currently being released, the TV series hasn’t been touched. Funimation have been linked to it, but they haven’t announced anything yet.
Anyway, on to the new series. It didn’t have the strongest of starts, in my opinion. SZS always has amazing openings (though it’s a running joke that SHAFT never have it done in time for the first few episodes). This one isn’t immediately obvious. The first openings of the previous series both have an immediate catch in their oft repeated lines (“Bure!” and “Rumba!” in the always awesome tracks by Kenji Ohtsuka), but Ringo Mogire Beam! doesn’t immediately stand out in comparison to its two predecessors. But as with songs of any substance at all, it took a week or two for it to settle in.
Then episode three came along, and the full animation was completed. Wow.
The above sequence. The Michaelangelo-style art giving it a touch of class. The glowing cat-like eyes of Nozomu’s students hinting at the inherent evil. The SHAFTiness throughout. It all adds up to an OP animation that isn’t as absolutely fucking crazy as Goku’s openings, but still retains a touch of their mad genius. Throw Ohtsuki’s husky singing voice and the Despair Girls in there, and you’ve got the recipe for an extremely good opening.
But what about the actual content? As usual, SZSs mix of obscure Japanese pop culture references and its surprisingly universal home truths clash together wonderfully. The first episode wasn’t the best of starts, though mediocre Zetsubou-sensei episodes are still quite good.
The second ramps up the meta-content nicely. They’re still the ones that make me laugh.
How to watch Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei:
1st pass, watch
2nd pass, pause and understand the contents
If you can’t understand, connect the nearby conversation, actors, and recent news.
3rd pass, rewatch understanding the contents.
Buy 3 DVDs, one to watch, one to save, and one to take with you.
So true. Especially when recent news doesn’t really apply to us at all.
The second episode continues to get better into Russian Time Song chapter, with a brief reappearance of Nozomu’s chain of stalkers from series one, a reflection on the state of the anime industry, magical positive girl Kafuka and other assorted fun that really makes this series of SZS so endearing.
The third episode continues in the same vein. It did remind me that there’s been much more violence in this series. Chiri seems much more yandere this time around, much more readily turning violent and dark. Not to mention Nozomu’s body double being shot dead my Maria’s “friend”. It makes me excited to see where SZS is going this time.