“You know, my dad owns a gun shop, but, you know, he doesn’t like to admit it, but I think it makes him real nervous when I work there, ’cause anytime I get a gun in my hand, it just automatically points to somebody’s head. Sometimes I think, maybe I wanna join the army. I mean it’s basically like FPS, except better graphics, but what happens if I get lag out there? I’m dead! I mean, I even heard there’s no respawn points in RL. What do you do, when you’re person like me, when you’re born to play FPS? There’s just nothing left to do but play FPS!” —FPS_Doug, Pure Pwnage
Sabagebu! (Survival Game Club!) is another one of this season’s offerings, following one Momoka Sonokawa and her recruitment into her high school’s Survival Game Club. As previously noted in the season preview, I decided to follows Sabagebu! for what appeared to be a series not dissimilar to that of Stella Women’s Academy: High School Division Class C³, but after three episodes, it becomes immediately apparent that Sabagebu! is far removed from C³; black comedy dominates Sabagebu! in all of its moments, and by the presence of an in-show commenter, clearly presents itself as an anime that’s driven by whacky, cruel humour one cannot help but crack a smile at. Such an approach, though unorthodox, is remarkably refreshing and fun to watch. With this said, some moments do come across as rather excessive, despite being presented as a comedy, and as such, the brand of humour in Sabagebu! might not be for everyone.
- I’ll start by introducing the main characters: from left to right, Momoka Sonokawa, Maya Kyoudou, Urara Kasagono, Kayo Goutokuji and Miou Ootori. Sabagebui! looks like just another survival game anime with moé, but those coming in might be surprised, and Momoka even tells viewers to sleep if the show isn’t to their liking in the opening cue.
- Miou’s equipment, though suitable for desert combat, stands out in urban Japan. She’s carrying a SCAR-L, an assault rifle that is characterised by its lower caliber and shorter barrel compared to its cousin, the SCAR-H. I’m not sure if I’ll have the opportunity to crack too many references to Battlefield 3 here: it’s been a while since I’ve played properly, so much time have I spent within Deus Ex: Human Revolution, to the point where I’ve now got muscle memory problems and end up meleeing when I make to aim down the sights (I bound the middle mouse button to melee for Battlefield 3 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution has the middle mouse button for aiming down sights).
- After Momoka’s words lead to misunderstandings, she gets bullied by her classmates. It takes Miou’s intervention to sort things out, but Momoka unearths her twisted side here. For some reason, it is ridiculously entertaining to see Momoka’s revenge sprees. Nothing is taken seriously at all in Sabagebu!, leading to moments of pure comedy.
- Momoka is taken to a gun shop by the others to get her a weapon after she joins the Survival Game Club (against her will); the Beretta M92F becomes her weapon of choice, and despite being a sidearm, Momoka uses it to great effect in her earliest battles. Miou uses the Desert Eagles, while Maya prefers the M4A1. Urara uses the Glock 26C, and Kaya walks onto the battlefield with MAC-11s.
- As a gravure model, Maya is not afrait to flaunt her assests, constantly incurring Momoka’s wrath and envy. Whether or not this indirectly leads to Momoka’s unnatural performance in her first battle is left ambiguous, although the fact that Maya is the first to be downed may be indicative that Momoka won’t be getting past Maya’s appearance any time soon.
- A EOTech 512 holographic sight can be seen on Maya’s M4A1. From my perspective, I typically never run with a holographic sight in Battlefield 3; even though it has a slightly higher magnification, the sight zooms in more slowly and results in a loss in the field of vision owing to its size. I typically roll with a Kobra RDS or the reflex sight to accommodate for a more aggressive play-style at close quarters.
- Urara “enjoys” a moment with Momoka; in trying to remove her from the Survival Game club, she accidentally triggers a misunderstanding during the second episode that leads the others to believe that Momoka is setting them up for an ambush exercise.
- In an unexpected turnaround, Momoka makes to shoot at a praying mantis and somehow downs everyone else. She later gets her revenge on Urara, but unintentionally brings out Urara’s masochistic tendencies in the process.
- Kamo is a platypus who acts as the club’s mascot: after being brought there by Miou, he hangs out at Momoka’s house more often, indulging in breakfast on a few occasions. It seems that previously, Momoka had very few friends: her mother makes note of this after Miou visits earlier on, and when Urara visits, is similarly pleased that Momoka is getting along at her new high school just fine. At home, Momoka is referred to as “Mokarin”, which clearly evokes memories of Girls und Panzer‘s Saori, who calls Miho “Miporin” and Yukari “Yukarin”.
- The sort of ‘training’ Momoka subjects Maya to in preparation for a natto commercial crosses the line twice. The scenes are simultaneously hilarious and cringe-inducing at the same time, leading one to wonder how Momoka manages to get away with half the stuff she does. She may be the series’ protagonist, but anti-hero would probably be a better descriptor.
Now that I’m three episodes in, it’s clear that Sabagebu! has not let up with its dark spin on survival games and, in particular, the colourful cast of characters. The first things that comes to mind is Momoka’s fiery temperament; Momoka’s vindictive side is sociopathy at its finest, but rather than detracting from her character, it adds to her distinction from most transfer students. Rather than shying away and looking to gain new friends, Momoka upfront about dispensing vengeance on all those who cross her, pulling no punches in exacting justice. This unique personality, paired with her natural ability with BB guns, makes her a perfect fit for the Survival Game Club. In particular, Momoka’s inclination towards solving problems via excessive force has also has one unintended side-effect: after fragging Urara Kasugano in revenge for the latter mistreating her, Urara develops limerance for Momoka. This brings to mind Ika Musume!’s Sanae: both girls develop a macabre love of having their faces remodelled by their respective crushes. Besides Momoka and Urara, the Survival Game Club also has a boisterous president, Miou Ootori, who was held back for an alledged misconduct. She is widely respected at school for her personality, but expresses a keen interest in Momoka. Maya Kyoudou is another member who works part-time as a gravure idol, while Kayo Goutokuji is a taciturn individual who joined to further her cosplay interests and in fact, brings to mind The Melancholy of Suzumiya-chan‘s Nagato Yuki-chan, who has a similar personality and love for cosplay. Armed with such a diverse cast, Sabagebu! excels at allowing the characters to bounce off one another.
- Momoka misinterprets Kaya’s desire to talk to about cosplay and winds up engaging her in a firefight. The two are so caught up in their battle that when Miou, Maya and Urara join, they are wiped out instantly. Momoka brings her vindictive side to the table again here, shooting down Kaya after the two reach a stalemate and the latter declares a draw.
- Sakura-sensei is the Survival Games Club’s advisor, and despite her clumsy, easy-going demeanor, is feared amongst the Survival Games Club for her unnerving talent to bring disaster wherever she goes. The build-up to this scene is clever: viewers are anticipating something scary, which contributes to the humour once it’s revealed that the daemon is hardly intimidating from a matter of appearances. Her assignment for the Survival Games Club, on the other hand, puts me to fear.
- Back during June, a wasp queen decided that the light fixture in front of my house was the perfect place to make a new colony and began building a nest there. For a while, I was wondering why guests and visitors were so hasty about entering and exiting, but once we caught on, we had to remove the nest. Thankfully, at that point, the nest was still small enough so that we could remove it using a plastic bag, ending the wasp’s colony before it even started. Here, the Survival Games Club shows us how wasp removal is properly done; Kaya’s mask evokes a similar feel to the masks from Call of Duty: Ghosts.
- Sakura’s mannerisms, though cute, epitomise the sort of behaviour that leads to a spot on the Darwin Awards. While the wasp nest we took out was about two inches across and only held the queen (plus its larvae), the basketball-sized one Sakura is holding looks mature and houses anywhere from three to ten thousand individuals.
- Despite how spectacular it may look, setting fire to a wasp nest is not the best idea, since the fire won’t likely kill all of the wasps at once, leaving a bunch of angry wasps who will seeking revenge with the same intensity as Momoka. In keeping with Sabagebu!‘s mood, the girls do succeed in wiping out the wasps, but also burn their clubhouse down in the process.
- My weekend was spent relaxing: this post was originally supposed to come out two days ago, but on Saturday, I was out for Dim Sum with the family, then went to Kilkenny’s to celebrate a friend’s birthday. After that, I was invited for tea and decided to try Darjeeling tea. Yesterday, I spent most of the day practising for my advanced license, then went out in the evening to The Keg, where I ordered the steak and half lobster. The steak was very flavourful, and I was somewhat surprised, though impressed, that “half a lobster” was indeed half a lobster, which went great with the garlic butter.
- It somewhat bothers me whenever a high school student is forced into a showdown with an elementary student: here, Momoka squares off against Roselia Haguro of Chino Elementary School, who wields a G36C. The two reach a stalemate, and Miou decides to end it by challenging both to retrieve the club’s platypus after a battle-hardened crow makes off with it. In what is a hilarious equivalent of the Goldberg machine, Momoka somehow wins.
- In a flashback, Roselia was denied a prize during a summer festival. Miou intervened and used her sharpshooting skills to win everything, but was not generous enough to give Roselia the prize she had sough, a stuffed bear. Since then, Roselia has held a grudge against Miou and sought to challenge her, but wound up angering Momoka by insulting her.
- After Momoka wins, Miou decides to give Roselia her bear, and shoots a real bear, who pursues them. The narrator mentions how absurd the whole situation is, adding to the feel that yes, this is a comedy and things aren’t necessarily supposed to make sense, or be taken too seriously. Looking back, the past weekend has been quite taxing on my eating patterns: on Saturday, Dim Sum saw a lot of fried shrimp dishes, while I had a Shepard’s Pie dinner. Then yesterday, there was the aforementioned sirloin and half-lobster; I’ll be resuming my normal schedule tomorrow and shouldn’t have too much trouble lifting the weight gain away.
- The bear Miou shot doesn’t even have any malevolent will towards anyone and is seen in an outdoor hot springs with Chino’s survival game club, Momoka and all of the animals involved in that well-crafted Goldberg machine sequence. After three episodes, I’m going to continue watching Sabagebu!; I’ve decided to change things up a little for the next while for the blog, and do a “after-six” for both Aldnoah.Zero and Sword Art Online II. Both anime are holding my attention and entertaining me quite nicely so far, but as I am keeping up with them somehow, I feel that knowing what happens after three episodes, but restricting myself to three episodes’ worth of discussion, may make writing a solid discussion more difficult.
As with Rail Wars! and Futsū no Joshikōsei ga Locodol Yattemita, Sabagebu! is a series that has enough positives going for it to hold my interest; here, the interplay between its black comedy and characters lends itself to the anime’s strongest point. There are moments where characters are bloodied by the physical abuse they subject one another to, as well as the delusions the girls appear to indulge in whenever they engage in survival games. However, beyond bloody scenes, everything in Sabagebu! is done in good humour (or at least, good humour for the viewers). Momoka’s cruelty streak alone is enough to motivate me to continue watching this series for how over-the-top it is, but between the comically overdone combat scenes and colourful characters, Sabagebu! is probably the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 in its genre, representing a welcome change of pace from existing anime about survival games.