As smart as Memenpu is, she’s clearly never heard the phrase ‘curiosity killed the cat’ and Gagumber has clearly learned that there’s no stopping her once she is set on something. Given the near disaster that occurs in this episode of Sakugan you’d hope that maybe she’d learn a bit from the experience but it seems unlikely that she’ll pause to consider the possible danger the next time something grabs her interest.
Sakugan brings a child-like joy to discovery and an adult view on the dangers that come with it.
In episode 4 of Sakugan, Memenpu and Gagumber were in trouble with some bureaucrat over their antics in the labyrinth and this episode sees them heading out to perform some labour to make amends. However, it is clear that Merooro, the bureaucrat, and Memenpu are kind of on the same wave-length as when they arrive at their destination they are both pretty thrilled by trees, wind, birds and just generally looking around.
In this sequence, Gagumber is most definitely the odd one out with limited curiosity or care for things that don’t serve an immediate purpose for him and largely he just wants to get whatever the job is done and get out of there.
There’s a solid attempt in this episode to link to our society as Merooro makes repeated comments about the need to preserve culture and locations, such as the forest in this instance, for the future. Unfortunately, it is about as subtle as a brick and feels like kind of unnecessary messaging intruding upon a story that more or less would have conveyed the same meaning without the heavy-handed approach.
I kind of feel writers need to trust audiences to get the point. We don’t need a character in Sakugan to lecture us and even if he was actually talking to Gagumber, it comes across as a little patronising.
Not to mention, Merooro as a character hasn’t exactly won audiences over. This weird guy who showed up last episode and has some quite quirky mannerisms being melodramatic about the destruction of an environment is hardly the best way to get the point across.
Anyway, turns out that there’s an area near the forest that Merooro names the ‘God of the Wind’ and for whatever reason its a giant ancient piece of technology that controls the winds and part of it is broken. Of course just getting to the broken part is going to be an adventure all on its own but Memenpu is on the trail of something new and exciting and she’s not going to let that go.
Though she suffers a number of set-backs in this episode, including two near-misses, it is disappointing to see that nothing really seems to have any impact on her as a character. While I love the dynamic between her and Gagumber, at some point on this journey I really want to see Memenpu start to grow up a little because after five episodes her character is pretty fixed in place and it just doesn’t seem likely that she could go through all these things and not change even a little.
Though Sakugan has brought Gagumber a little further than where he started. He now at least accepts that he can’t shelter Memenpu from everything. All he can do is go with her and try to keep her safe. A task made somewhat more difficult by her own choices.
I do kind of hope that Sakugan explores more about this old technology and the reason all these colonies are underground. I mean, I suspect we’ll get the usual kind of answer about some kind of apocalyptic scenario, but it would be nice to get some kind of answer about how all this came about.
Plus, I’ll give this episode points for cute vultures.
You don’t see enough vultures in anime.
Anyway, it was a fun episode of Sakugan with a bit of a mission, some sight-seeing, a random game of shogi mid-way along, some near-death experiences, cute vultures, and some more father-daughter moments. Looking forward to seeing what is next.
Images from: Sakugan. Dir. J Wada. Satelight. 2021
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