I think Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is kind of like the Japanese antithesis of “Welcome Back Mr. Kotter.” But I could just be making that up, since I’ve never actually seen an episode of WBMK in my entire life.
Itoshiki Nozomu seems to be having a case of the blahs that’s lasted about… his entire lifetime. While attempting to hang himself (or make himself taller, depending on who you ask), he’s saved by one of his future students, Fuura Kafuka (Kafka!).
They get into an argument of sorts about how it’d be literally impossible for someone to try to kill himself on such a nice day! Strangely enough, I think Kafuka wins the argument. As explained by the narrator, Nozomu is someone who can only see the negatives in life, while Kafuka can only see the positives. It’s like Jack Sprat and his wife, except instead of eating, outlook on life!
So yeah, it’s not really a surprise or anything when Nozomu walks into the class and sees Kafuka there. The teacher introduces himself, and in doing so, causes a string of gags about his name to occur. Once again, he can only see the bad things about his name. I personally vote for adding a star to the middle!
Finally, the class is asked to write their top 3 hopeless wishes on a piece of paper. I think it’s usually their top three hopes, but in Zetsubou-sensei’s case, he wants to show the class that their dreams are meaningless. I think normal Japanese high school does that well enough. Anyway, Kafuka’s three are to be a god, a time traveler, and a pororokkasei-jin. Whatever that is…
Shaft (the animation studio) has a knack of making dialogue-heavy anime really interesting to watch. This first episode was pretty much 100% dialogue, and still it seemed to move really steadily along. The art style and the characters all look great. I really love what they do with the colors, like in this part, or this part. The only thing that really pissed me off was how they kept on sticking the director’s (I’m assuming) head on everything. That’s only funny if Nabeshin does it, otherwise, you’re a tool!
Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei is sorta giving me a Welcome to the NHK feeling. Like how Sato had such a messed up view on life, and how Misaki tried her best to be optimistic. I’m not sure what ended up happening in NHK, though. But yeah, the story seems really interesting and I want to see how things play out with two such strongly opposing viewpoints in one classroom.
The first episode’s got me hooked (which is pretty much a requirement for me to watch any anime), so I’m adding Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei to my anime watching lineup. Which may shrink or expand without further notice. If you only pick up one anime from the Summer 2007 season, I’d say Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is a pretty safe bet.