ANIME & MANGA - Review
11:00 - 1st May 2016, by NEO Staff

Sasami-san@Ganbaranai

Debilitating social anxiety has left first year high school student Sasami Tsukuyomi housebound. To cope with her affliction, she sets herself up as a cyborg of sorts, and now cameras and headphones are the senses through which she interprets the outside world.
Sasami’s only outside contact is through her oddball brother, Kamiomi, who’s equipped with a camera and microphone, offering a cure through exposure. Her other lifeline comes in the form of an online video game (somewhere between .hack//Sign and Gun Gale Online), the events of which increasingly bear on reality. Stranger still is that her brother appears to possess the power of the Great God Amaterasu, and unknowingly grants all of Sasami’s whims, unleashing a volatile power. It falls upon the kooky Yagami sisters to clean up the mess and reinstate normality.

As in Bakemonogatari, director Akiyuki Shinbo tells the story more as an anarchic slew of riddles, yet it neither has the slow-burn intellectualism of Shaft’s more impenetrable work or the immediacy of Madoka. Instead it’s more a sensual experience, one that plays on the viewer’s sight and sound. Of course, there’s still the avant garde, erotic and philosophical touchstones, yet the confusing bait and switch and Warner Bros. style humour disrupt any real consistency.

The nods to Serial Experiments Lain are evident in the techno-chasm of the household, in the hanging wires, towering processors and sickly screen light, but more than its visuals, it’s the central question that unifies both narratives. Sasami-san@Ganbaranai ponders whether the web is scrambling Sasami’s perception, or whether reality itself is slipping into chaos…

Like an unfinished novel, it’s clear that something crucial is missing, but there are enough ideas and images on display to glean the tour de force that could have been.
SCORE: 3.5/5
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