You might have noticed a lack of reviews for episodes 10-12. There are a number of reasons for this, the primary being it wasn’t fun for me, and I doubt the articles were very fun to read. There was a fear that the last episode reviews would have devolved to unintelligible ranting, lo and behold, that’s exactly what I did while watching the final episode. I was yelling at the screen while watching Episodes 11 and 12. So, I will attempt to elaborate on why I hate this show so much, and approach it with a level head… well, I’ll try.
Without a doubt, Sakurako-san is the worst anime I have ever seen, no anime has left so cold, has insulted me so. I haven’t hated something this much since Pixels. However, it would be unfair to blame that solely on Sakurako-san. Ultimately, my hatred for Sakurako-san is a personal hatred. Sakurako-san reminded me that I’m still pretty new to the anime scene. While plenty of bad anime have entered this brain of mine, this was done with the knowledge that these shows weren’t that great. But Sakurako-san duped me. Fooled me. Tricked me.
Rewind back to September 30th, when I first posted about Sakurako-san, at this point nothing but a trailer, synopsis, and picture had been released regarding this show. This is what I wrote about Sakurako-san at that point. “I cannot wait for it to air.” Sakurako-san was the show I was most looking forward too. More than The Perfect Insider, more than Osomatsu-san, more than Lance N’ Masques, more than even One Punch Man. And yet here we are, twelve weeks later, we find ourselves at this scathing review. So… what happened?
The first episode drops and I really liked it, I saw some flaws here and there, but I ignored them. I was sure this show was going to be amazing. Along came the second episode, and I really liked it, or so I thought. In reality those ‘minor’ flaws were more apparent than before, I responded by piling on even more praise. An immature response to be sure, but I didn’t want my fears to be true. While watching the third episode though… it all broke down. From here on most of the articles were negative, hating on the show. I had never felt so betrayed by a show before. And that is why I hate Sakurako-san, even if it really should
With my therapy session over let’s discuss the actual show now. While the show has many little mistakes (read the individual episode reviews for those), it also has a few large blunders. From here on spoilers will be abundant. If you’d like a non-spoiler review for Sakurako-san here it is: Don’t watch it. Even if you don’t develop an irrational hatred for it, the show simply isn’t worth the twelve episodes it asks of you.
From day one Sakurako-san has advertised itself as a mystery show. Thus it would be appropriate to judge Sakurako-san based on its genre. So what makes a good mystery? Well, according to publishing house Penguin Books there are five major criteria to a good mystery. These are Character, Setting, Plot, Problem, and Solution.
There are two major sets of charters in most mysteries, the supporting cast and the main cast. Original, I know. I like to think of these two sets as the problem-presenters and the problem-solvers. In Sakurako-san, the main cast is composed of just Sakurako and Shoutaro. Whereas the supporting case is everyone else, including Yukino (annoying classmate/future romantic interest), Ume (caretaker destined to die for a plotline), Itsuki (teacher dude), Utsumi, (annoying ‘comic relief’ character), Hanabusa (the ‘villain’), and Hector (best character in the entire show).
The main cast is one of Sakurako-san‘s biggest flaws, neither Sakurako, nor Shoutaro are very interesting.
It’s no surprise that Sakurako is heavily inspired by the most common type of detective, the Sherlock. This archetype is a detective who is insanely smart, can tell a lot from simple observations that most would miss, and often come across as rude. Done well, this archetype strikes the perfect balance between incredible intelligence and measly manners. Creating an imperfect, yet lovable and quirky lead. Sakurako-san utterly fails in this regard, in both intent and actually getting that balance.
First in intent, the Sherlock archetype needs to come across as rude, aloof, with a dash of sociopathic tendencies. You aren’t supposed to love everything about the character, real flaws are there, the viewers cannot ignore them, but should accept them. While just about every well-written character have these flaws, it is an integral aspect of the Sherlock archetype.
Sakurako-san makes the mistake of treating ‘flaws’ and ‘quirks’ like synonyms. Let’s cover the ‘flaw’s that Sakurako has: she is a bit rude, loves cake, and is obsessed with bones (about as much as the show itself). Now how many of those could be considered real character flaws? In my estimation… none. All of these ‘flaws’ are either played for laughs, or a fun quirk. Sakurako is essentially a flawless character, a sure-fire way to tell this is adapted from a light novel.
The short of it is, Sakurako-san is trying to sell you a character, a Mary-sue. Perhaps it’s due to my cynical nature, or over exposure to that tend in Light Novels. Sakurako is just another power fantasy, this time an intellectual power fantasy.
The second mistake Sakurako-san has with its protagonist, is striking the balance between smarts and ‘flaws.’ Sakurako-san has attempted giving Sakurako’s ‘flaws’ a bit of focus. What happened? Sakurako was treated like a child. In Episode 6, with Shoutaro using an intercom to call Sakurako, like when finding lost children. It even said, “Your guardian is waiting for you.” It was played for laughs.
Sakurako isn’t a person, or even a character, just a Mary-sue.
In case it wasn’t apparent, Shoutaro is to Sakurako, as Watson is to Sherlock. In comedic terms, Shoutaro plays the straight man. Apprehending Sakurako whenever necessary, and apparently calling himself her guardian. Needless to say Shoutaro is a pretty boring character. That’s not really much of a surprise, as Shoutaro is also the audience POV character too.
There are some… issues. Primarily the fact that Shoutaro is apparently a black belt in martial arts, which he only uses once of course. Also, episode twelve revealed to us that he’s also a stalker?? So…
For the most part though, there’s not much to hate about Shoutaro, there’s also not much to like about Shoutaro, because there’s not much to Shoutaro.
Other (Human) Characters:
I was planning on cover every other character listed above like I have with Sakurako and Shoutaro. But every other character in the show can be summed up in a single sentence, “Every human character in Sakurako-san is annoying.” They all have their various reasons for being annoying, but that doesn’t make for a very good article so we’ll just move on the best character in the show.
Hector is by far the best part of the show, why? Because he is the least annoying. Why? Because Hector isn’t human, Hector is a dog. A dog needs little more than be non-threatening to be a decent character. Hector never had the ability to annoy me, thus he is the best character. Because Hector did what no other character could, not be annoying.
There isn’t much to say here, Sakurako-san doesn’t have that memorable of a setting, nor does Sakurako-san rely on it. The lack of attention to setting can’t be truly blamed as, despite it’s genre, Sakurako-san is closer to a crime procedural than a mystery. The only comment that can made regarding setting is that Sakurako-san doesn’t lack in diversity. Episodes range from being set in school (ugh) to the mountain woods, to the beach.
While it could be said that this is a missed opportunity, as Sakurako-san couldn’t use the setting to establish atmosphere… however Sakurako-san isn’t know for its atmosphere. So it’s hard to fault Sakurako-san.
Due to the episodic nature of Sakurako-san, the quality of the individual plots vary. For the most part the quality ranges from ‘decent’ to ‘terrible’. Rather than getting into each plot (we have episode reviews for that), I’d like to spotlight the best, and examine what this episode did that caused it to reach that ‘decent’ status.
The plot in particular is from episode four, it’s the first episode of the first two-parter in the series. In the episode review itself I begin to delve into why this episode was actually enjoyable, but I’d like to cover it once more, in a little more detail.
In short, it’s due to the narrower focus. At its simplest, the goal of any individual episode of Sakurako-san is to establish the scene, add tension, examine clues, and resolve with solution. Episode four only has to do two of these things, that might not sound like much, but the result is clear. While other multi-parter’s do exist in later episodes of Sakurako-san, the story attempts to balance character drama between the main cast, which, due to the lack of depth in the characters, is understandably flat.
But in episode four, the show is given plenty of focus on the little details, let the facts sink in. Episode four is the only episode I enjoyed, so it was doing something right. Or maybe I only like it because Hector was introduced then…
While the problem is technically almost identical to the plot with the same weaknesses, I’m going to use this opportunity to discuss the ‘villain’ Hanabusa. The first introduction to this villain is done in episode four (though he was hinted at in episode two), Sakurako-san then ignores his presence until the second-to-last episode. None of the main cast met this Hanabusa, yet once they knew of his existence, Sakurako began speaking as if she knew him. “Hanabusa is a very smart man! Always a few steps a head of everyone else. He never gets his own hands dirty, he can manipulate others to do his work!”
Speaking of which, his whole gimmick, being completely hairless thus above humanity, is completely ridiculous. No one in their right mind would believe such a thing!
Additionally more time was spent on Sakurako’s uncle, the probable plotline for a season two, then Hanabusa himself.
This is the bane of the show, Sakurako-san has terrible explanations. That’s the real reason episode four was the best it didn’t have any. The conclusions Sakurako makes are full of logical leaps and facts that are wrong (see the third episode review for more examples). Her observations make no sense, she’s apparently an expert in everything, and just aren’t fun to watch.
The observation scene should be the highlight of the show. It even has its own freakin’ transformation sequence for crying out loud.
This show is not worth the watch. That’s the long and short of it. Studio TROYCA has produced two shows so far, both have been gorgeous disasters. But, despite my hatred for it as well, I would have to recommend Ald.Noah Zero over Sakurako-san, it’s just as gorgeous, with better music and an interesting premise.
Despite hating their entire library, I haven’t given up on TROYCA yet, but damn if this didn’t bring me close to.