Sabagebu! – Survival Game Club! –

Sabagebu! – Survival Game Club! –

20140802-131547-47747930.jpgSabagebu! is an anime that focuses on Momoka Sonokawa, a run-of-the-mill transfer student that has just changed schools. Almost accidentally she finds herself joining the school’s ‘Survival Game Club’ and getting involved in their survival-based exploits.

Momoka first realises that her new school experience isn’t going to be a normal one when, harassed by a man on the train on her first journey to school, she is ‘saved’ by a girl with two Desert Eagles. Naturally, her over-enthusiastic protector is apprehended at the station for walking around with firearms, but Momoka soon discovers that this gun-toting girl is a fellow student Miou Ootori.

With her curiosity piqued, Momoka follows Miou to a run-down shack in the forests behind the school… and suddenly finds herself the captive of the Survival Game Club. Alongside Miou, this enthusiastic club has gravure model Maya Kyodo, the young Urara Kasogano, eerily-quiet cosplayer Kaya Gotokushi and their odd, platypus-looking mascot ‘Platy’. Initially terrified that she is surrounded by girls with guns, it is a small comfort to Momoka that this club is only an airsoft hobby group and there are no real guns here (despite the anime’s attempt to make you think otherwise).

20140802-131549-47749317.jpgThe episodes in this anime are usually broken up into two or three segments, each telling its own ‘mini story’ which are usually humorously silly exploits involving the club members. Such skits so far include Urara’s jealousy of Momoka for her friendly terms with Miou (involving spiked melon bread and hilarious anime punches), challenging an overweight otaku gamer to a shoot-em-up game in the local arcade, and stalking Platy in order to discover just what exactly he is (everyone assumes he’s a platypus, but the average platypus doesn’t rock up to breakfast and moonwalk down the street like a certain king of pop).

20140802-131548-47748623.jpgFor this sort of light-hearted slapstick anime the animation is surprisingly detailed and effective. It can suddenly snap from static conversations to suddenly switching to fast-panned fluidity when the club members are engaged in airsoft battles. The incorporeal narrator has to constantly ‘remind’ the viewer that these battles are all in the girls’ imagination because these gun battles are surprisingly gory. The airsoft guns suddenly become real and the schoolgirls go all-out Rambo. The standard plastic pellets become hot lead, and any target hit involves gushes of blood and open wounds. It’s an amusing switch from club-going schoolgirl to the amusingly surreal fights to the death. Sabagebu loves its comedy violence, and any slap or punch dealt (for almost no reason) always ends in broken noses and spurting blood. I have to admit, it was a bit of a shock at first as I thought “What am I watching?” But I quickly got comfortable with the idea and saw it for what it actually was – comic effect.

20140802-131659-47819358.jpgHaving said that, Sabagebu doesn’t rely on the theatrical gun-flashes and blood-gushes to get the laugh. There is a slice-of-life facet to this anime which is just as funny. Things never go overboard, but the focus on certain elements really had me laughing out loud (fat Momoka is one of my favourites).

20140802-131549-47749014.jpgEven though episodes start with a warning from Momoka for the viewer to temper their expectations, Sabagebu has made quite the impression on me. The humour is quirky and generally funny and despite the obvious theme of exchange with gun-toting action, care is taken that this theme never gets stale. All main characters have their own personalities, which have yet to get lost in the plot or sacrificed for the sake of cheap jokes. This is another anime I am expecting consistency from this season.

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