While Mieruko-Chan is giving us a beautiful friendship between main characters Miko and Hana, Sakugan is really going all in on the odd-couple dynamics of father-daughter duo Memenpu and Gugumber. Which kind of works because they are fun enough except that it kind of feels like any growth these two make toward accepting the other and working together kind of resets at the start of each episode and we’re back to shouting and smug one-upping each other.
And that is probably my biggest complaint so far with this series because everything else is pretty solid from the fun opening song to the ongoing journey this team is on, Sakugan keeps pushing forward and each episode moves along at a pretty rapid pace bringing us to the next event that the pair encounter.
Sakugan is a fun romp but with the characters feeling stagnant it may not rise to be more than that.
This episode of Sakugan begins with Gugumber imprisoned for whatever it was they did in the labyrinth that the regulators didn’t like. However, while waiting to find out what the penalty for that is both Gugumber and Memenpu are left to explore the colony of Jolly-Jolly.
It’s the viewer’s first look at a colony outside of the one we began in and while on the surface level it looks much the same (given it is a subterranean city) this one has all the trappings of a pseudo Italy with an ancient colosseum, fake canals that trains run down, pizza and other Italian specialties as foods to purchase.
Memenpu takes to tourism in a flash happily taking in the sites and we get a montage of the two doing the tourist thing. It’s actually kind of a sweet father-daughter moment. Then Sakugan pushes things forward again with Memenpu running off to try a new restaurant and Gugumber heading to the bar to try to pick up a date.
It goes about as well as you would expect.
After repeated rejections the girl he does pick up is clearly following him and up to no good and naturally he ends up embroiled in a situation well outside of his control. Despite separating Gugumber from Memenpu they still bring her back to the bar in order to put in yet another visual gag where the father-daughter team are so embroiled in their own argument that they don’t see the gangsters entering the bar until it is too late.
The scene works but it makes you wonder why they bothered to send Memenpu off in the first place if they were going to use her to set-up the next sequence.
The rest of the episode of Sakugan is more or less Gugumber being held by the gangsters, rescued by the lady he was trying to pick up, and a series of chase and fight sequences. It’s all pretty silly and clearly doesn’t have much bearing on anything other than introducing the sassy female character who is apparently going to turn up again. But it doesn’t really need to. It’s fun to watch and the episode comes full circle with the regulator stepping back into the scene for the final word on the caper.
I still would like more from the central duo here. As much as the story is fun and I’m loving the adventure they are on, I really want to see some growth from the main pair. It’s what will change this from being fun to being great but right at the moment it isn’t quite there. I kind of hope Sakugan manages to be great.
Images from: Sakugan. Dir. J Wada. Satelight. 2021
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