You would think a high risk environment with life and death hanging in the balance of every decision that you would put aside your personal baggage and work constructively with the person whose actions may very well cost you your life. Not so it Sakugan where dysfunctional father and daughter team, Memenpu and Gagumber, continue to flail their way through the labyrinth following a glowing map to a dream tower.
In case that makes it seem like the episode wasn’t fun to watch, I apologise. This was a very fun episode. Not really logical and there’s no reason why either character should still be alive but seriously the dynamic between father and daughter established in episode 1 continues to be a blast even if it isn’t overly helpful.
Sakugan’s Motto: I Can Do It Alone; Until I Can’t.
The opening sequence this week has Gagumber collecting some pink crystal thing and then Memenpu locking him out of the controls and claiming she’s going to do better. She probably would have except that she gets distracted by something in the distance and ends up crashing, skinning her knee in the process.
As usual though, this isn’t the time for either character to learn a lesson in communication. Gagumber continues to be snide and sarcastic, and throughout the episode gives Memenpu directives and ultimatums that she promptly ignores, and she continues to think she’s above him, knows everything, and brashly charges into danger.
You would think one or two life threatening scenarios would be enough to teach her some basic caution but about the only consideration she gives Gagumber’s words this episode is taking on the notion that if you feel right you should go for it. And admittedly, on this one point in common the two do sync very well for a brief moment at the end of the episode.
Given the episode of Sakugan is called Brains and Hearts, it isn’t too hard to see what they were going for in this episode. But if that were the case you would think they’d make Gagumber’s case a little more solid. Largely he sits back and waits for Memenpu to fail rather than trying to explain to her what the potential problems are with her plans. Or he just insists they are going to do things his way without giving her a reason why.
Understandably, someone like Memenpu isn’t finding his arguments particularly compelling and ultimately she does things her own way. Whether that has her falling from a cliff, nearly sliding into a waterway, running into a blocked passage or in one case nearly devoured by bugs, doesn’t really seem to have her change her mind that she is somehow right.
However, despite the plot feeling as rinse and repeat as watching Wile E Coyote trying to catch Road-Runner, where Sakugan shines in episode 3 is in the fact that despite both of these characters being pig-headed and butting heads constantly, you can still feel the sense that these two are genuinely family.
In Memenpu’s most desperate moment she does call out for Gagumber and Gugumber, while he might grumble and complain, trusts Memenpu enough that he doesn’t pluck her bodily from her chair while she’s controlling the robot even if she’s taking them a direction he doesn’t want to go. While they are coming at everything from a different perspective, the two of them are alike in stubbornness but also alike in that they are connected.
The other enjoyable part of episode 3 of Sakugan is that we finally really get a look at this Labyrinth. We learn about red flags and marker routes and we get to see the dangers of the earthquakes and shifting paths first-hand. Also, a close-up look at some of the monsters and dangers that lurk in the darkness.
I’m definitely looking forward to more of the journey these two characters are on even if this anime is a little light on logical consequences.
Images from: Sakugan. Dir. J Wada. Satelight. 2021
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