The Sabagebu Specials: A Reflection and Review on the OVAs
August 28, 2015
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“The dumber people think you are, the more surprised they’re going to be when you kill them.” —William Clayton
A glance in the blog’s archives show that the last talk on Sabagebu! was made back in October 2014, nearly ten months ago. Released between October 2014 and February 2015, the Sabagebu! OVAs were bundled with the BD releases; there are a total of six volumes and consequently, six OVAs, each dealing with a variety of situations that wind up being remarkably entertaining to watch. I had a separate talk for the first OVA and was intending to do separate talks for each, but my own schedule precluded a proper review. However, with the summer fast drawing to a close, and my frequent promises to write about the remainder of Sabagebu!, it’s time to actually buckle down and discuss the OVAs.
Given that I’ve already viewed and reviewed the first of the OVAs, this talk will deal primarily with the remaining five OVAs and their contributions to Sabagebu!. This contribution appears to be insubstantial prima facie, given that all five of the OVAs are purely comedy-driven and do not serve to extend Sabagebu! further. However, Sabagebu! capitalises on the unique freedom offered by the OVAs to present Sabagebu!‘s characters in a variety of situations, using a variety of formats. Each of the individual OVAs thus stand out from one another, and possess a memorable aspect: the second OVA deals with April Fools’ jokes and energy drinks, the third with an unexpected sleepover at Momoka’s place, the fourth give Miou and Yayoi a chance to bounce off one another and the fifth turns things as simple as lunch and hanami into comedy gold. The final OVA represents the pinnacle of humour, making use of meta-humour to send off Sabagebu! in style. Together, the Sabagebu! OVAs demonstrate the series’ talent for executing black humour in new and refreshing ways without ever making the show tiresome to watch. Anime such as these are quite rare in this age, so it’s always welcoming for such shows to make it onto the market.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Sabagebu!‘s OVAs follow a very whimsical pattern and manages to pack in a great deal of humour into a short period: each OVA is roughly eight minutes long (if the opening and ending sequences are omitted), and the first of the Saba-Shorts opens with April Fools. I noted in the above passage that I had originally intended to do a separate talk for each OVA. However, I soon realised that doing a single post would save me around 60 percent of the effort (one post with twenty screenshots, rather than five posts with ten screenshots each). Unless otherwise informed, I’ll stake the claim that this is the largest collection of Sabagebu! OVA screenshots on the ‘net at present.
- Here, Miou’s background means she’s unable to lie, and she turns her considerable resources towards making true certain things (such as her initial lie to Maya about the presence of cheesecake, which reminds me of a delicious chocolate cheesecake I had earlier this month). Both Saba-shorts are broken up into small segments: in Japanese, they’re called さばよん, and in this case, よん refers to the formatting, which takes after the four-panel (yonkoma) comics. As such, each segment ends with an outrageous joke or reaction, acting as the punchline that is seen in comic strips.
- The second half of OVA 2 deals with energy drinks after Momoka comes to club one day in a sleepy state and the others recommend various energy drinks for her. I’ve never felt the need for excessive consumption of such things: the most I’ve relied on coffee was during the second term of my graduate studies, where I drank a mug of coffee during the mid-afternoon prior to my evening tutorials.
- This term, I’m hoping to be a TA for an iOS development course, which ends at six in the evening. Hopefully, this means I’ll have office hours instead, so there won’t be any evening tutorial sessions. Returning back to Sabagebu!, decause this is an OVA, the narrator reasons, it’s possible to get away with more; the choice of image here reflects that notion, but on the whole, the Sabagebu! OVAs manage to be quite disciplined with respect to how much fanservice there actually is.
- Maya, Urara, Miou and Kayo arrive in Momoka’s room through unknown inter-dimensional means to kick off a sleepover. There’s a shout-out to Yuru Yuri here: Kayo is wearing tomato-themed pajamas, which mirrors that of Kyouko’s during the first season’s finale. Of all the characters, Kayo seems to be directly inspired by The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi-chan‘s incarnation of Nagato Yuki, being into cosplay and all things anime while retaining excellent academic performance and a quite manner.
- It was quite refreshing to see the Sabagebu! cast partake in an event that is frequently depicted in the west, right down to pillow fights, card games and love stories: refreshing because here, Sabagebu! has its own spin on things, which allows their variant to be quite memorable and distinct from the countless other iterations seen elsewhere. Apparently, this is supposed to be a rite-of-passage of sorts for youth as they develop connections with others.
- The third OVA thus ends on a high note after an episode that, despite being a little zany at times, feels the most normal. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and as Kazue finds the next morning, the girls do end up exhausting themselves and sleeping soundly.
- Yayoi Isurugi was only mentioned once during the season review as the student council’s president whose misfortunes lead her to dislike Miou. Sporting braids during the anime, I prefer her appearance with her hair down, and here, she slips on a banana peel that Platy left behind. It turns out that Platy’s voice is not generated entirely by an electronic means: a special contraption and some skill is how they do it.
- Yayoi’s personality is quite hot (in the sense of creating a flaming aura around her, that is), and she decides to stick close to Miou with the intent of having her ill-luck transfer to Miou. It turns out that Miou herself is having a “bad” day. Unverified claims suggest that Yayoi’s gradually becoming infatuated with Miou, although one might have to pick up the manga to ascertain whether this is true our not.
- Yayoi’s fate at the end of the fourth OVA is somewhat unfortunate: after carrying her out of a classroom blaze (created when Yayoi slips and knocks over enough cooking material to create a small fire), Miou uses her as a cushion of sorts to safely land and seemingly kills her in the process. Thankfully, death is cheap in Sabagebu!: we recall that Urara was toasted by sharks in the previous OVA but returns nonetheless for the remainder of the OVAs.
- The fourth OVA returns to the super-deformed styles seen in the second OVA: similar to Lucky Star, a fair section of this episode deals with a single conversation topic. In this case, it’s Obento, the packed lunches common in Japan. After recollecting her experiences, Momoka feeds Urara the items she didn’t like before going on a hunt for food, only to find that Miou and Maya have some unusual propensities.
- I’ve no idea what motivates Momoka’s dialogue here, but shortly after, feathers begin flying as birds flock to Sakura, whose eating habits result in crumbs being dropped. It seems random, and that’s the point of the Saba-shorts, being able to turn a nonsensical series of events into something reasonably structured for animation.
- Miou’s bourgeois background means that she’s somewhat unfamiliar with eating more conventional food items: dango are dumplings made from rice flour and served on a skewer. Downing the first two with no difficulty, Miou tries to eat the third one in the same manner and winds up impaling the roof of her mouth instead.
- After seeing an alleged drunkard in the sakura trees, Miou breaks out a rifle to shoot them down. It turns out this is Sakura; much humour ensues from both Sakura’s irrational logic and Miou’s decision to shoot her (which understandably results in Maya and Momoka’s reactions here).
- After reaching a standoff when a disagreement regarding the leaf on their sakura mochi, the girls see Miou sucking the insides of her mochi out and decide that’s more offensive than discarding or keeping the leaf, subsequently proceeding to plug her, demonstrating yet another instance where the unexpected outcome of a moment lends itself to hilarity.
- The final OVA is probably the best one in a collection of already-excellent OVAs: making extensive use of meta-humour to reference the customers’ Blu-Ray purchasing patterns. The girls thank the audiences for having bought the entire collection, but Momoka wonders if it’s possible that some of the audience may have simply picked up the final volume, leading Kayo into a long-winded spiel about customer loyalty.
- From what I know, the sales for Sabagebu! were not bad, and viewers did hold out hope for a second season. While not unappreciated, a second season would also be quite difficult to market on the basis that there is a limit to what one can reasonably do with black comedy of this sort (even if the manga itself is ongoing). Consequently, I personally find that the decision to end Sabagebu! here would be a wise one.
- The final OVA deals with ōsama gēmu (King’s Game), where participants must draw pieces of paper, of which one is labeled as the “king.” It’s similar to the American game of truth or dare, the king gets to give out orders to any member of the group to which they must follow. After the order is carried out the pieces of paper are drawn again and a new king is appointed. Miou’s command is a bold one: she orders the system to swap Urara’s voice with that of the Narrator’s, yielding two minutes of solid laughs.
- To top that, Maya’s clothing gets shot off yet again for no reason: even as it’s happening, the narrator reminds audiences that this will be the last bit of fanservice that will be present, implicitly justifying why it’s to happen. It’s pleasant to behold, and one imagines this is why Maya is even in the anime to begin with. Maya’s clothing damage is temporal; a few scenes later, when Maya herself takes on the king’s role, her orders are for a shoulder massage.
- It’s appropriate that an anime about survival games ends with the cast preparing to engage in yet another thrilling round against one another. For those who’ve already seen the entirety of Sabagebu!, this final OVA acts as the proper conclusion to the entire anime, as it portrays a club whose members have accepted one another and are quite passionate about their club activities.
While there is not much in the way of themes and motifs that can be realistically explored in an anime about Momoka’s time in her high school’s survival games club, Sabagebu! manages to stand out from other comedies in being able to capitalise fully on the notion of airsoft, in conjunction with an anti-hero protagonist and a colourful cast of characters that, together, yield an anime that never fails to deliver hilarious moments: the OVAs succeed in doing so to the same extent that the anime did. The final OVA explicitly states that there will be no more animated adaptations of Sabagebu! for the foreseeable future (i.e. “never”), and knowing that Sabagebu!‘s OVAs act as the swan song, I find that as a whole, Sabagebu! earns a strong recommend for audiences looking for a comedy that’s something different, perhaps even a little macabre, to try out.