Right, so we know I don’t like comedy anime and I’m not a big fan of anime set in a high school, but I do like supernatural stories or stories about characters with some sort of power. Hmm. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K really is one of those anime I just had to watch to decide whether or not I liked it.
I’m going to save some people some time and just come out and admit I didn’t like this anime and I won’t be watching the second season. And yet, I did watch all of the first season because as much as I didn’t like this anime, there was something quite interesting about it. The problem was, none of the jokes ever landed for me so I was never particularly amused by the show and as interesting as the premise is and as each new character who is introduced is, unless the humour is actually working for you it isn’t as though there is some grand plot of the like to keep you hooked. So once you’ve figured out what each character is doing and how they interact with the rest of the cast, you’re just kind of waiting for the next character to come along.
That isn’t really fair to the show. Some people find this very funny and entertaining and that humour manages to carry them through the whole season. But it’s kind of like a story that relies on being able to distinguish colour and being colour blind – a show relying on zany humour when you don’t find it funny is kind of just bland.
What got me through the show for the most part was the title character. Kusuo is an interesting guy in that he’s incredibly powerful but become entirely jaded by life because of it. He spends his days avoiding interactions with others and generally trying not to get too annoyed by the mundane world and fails miserable at doing so. Being able to read people’s thoughts he generally has a low opinion of humanity in general and while he isn’t on the path to being a super villain, he’s certainly become fairly dispassionate towards everyone including his parents.
One of the things I really appreciated about Kusuo is that he hasn’t given himself needless and petty restrictions about not using his powers in general. Kusuo uses his powers whenever it suits him, however because it would be a bother he does make sure to keep it low key as he doesn’t want it to become public knowledge. There’s no rule breaking or guilt about using his powers against his parents or classmates when it suits his current purposes. This allows him to also walk a morally grey line without the whole is he good or bad coming into the discussion. It isn’t about right or wrong. He’s a teenager making choices and mostly working off of self-interest. It makes for a change and is kind of refreshing that someone with powers isn’t forced to decide whether they’ll be good or evil. He’s just living his life on his own terms.
However, as much as I appreciate Kusuo as a character, the support cast only work in that they give Kusuo obstacles and interactions to deal with. While some people might enjoy each of these characters, for me each one was progressively more painful than the last and the episodes where lots of the support characters converge were particularly painful. My biggest issue being that because we only see these characters through Kusuo’s lens they really are all one note characters who exist to bring one specific type of conflict into Kusuo’s life. Potentially less characters and giving each character more depth would have worked, but I kind of realise that doing so would kind of undermine the entire point of most of these characters and kill the humour that they are supposed to be a part of.
I will also note I wasn’t the biggest fan of the art or colour scheme on this one. It all works and is consistent enough, but it just wasn’t to my general taste. The music is functional but outside of the OP I don’t really remember any of it after the fact so it didn’t leave much of an impression.
I kind of knew going in that The Disastrous Life of Saiki K was unlikely to work for me given what I had read about it. Still, despite thinking that when I started it, and despite not laughing once while watching, I don’t feel bad that I watched this. It was an interesting enough series for what it was and there were sufficient interesting moments with the main character to feel that it was worth the time. Still, I won’t go on to another season and I’ll never revisit this series.
Over to the readers: What are your thoughts on this one?
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15 thoughts on “The Disastrous Life of Saiki K Series Review: Increasingly Diminishing Returns”
Saiki amuses me. I can’t say that I have laughed out loud more than once or twice and I think those occasions happened in season two but yeah, I like it enough to keep watching. It’s relaxing enough to entertain my brain for 20 minutes. I can’t help but wonder though if it wouldn’t be a bit more funny if you actually understood the dialogue. I feel that a lot gets lost in translation. In many comedies like this one much of the comedy depends on the dialogue and I can imagine that there are a lot of puns that can’t be translated. I agree that the other characters are one dimensional and if you have figured them out they are just going on repeat. It gets a bit better in season 2 but it still is mostly the same. I don’t agree with what many say that this is some comedic masterpiece but yeah, it amuses me. I smile at Kusou’s inner monologue and psyhcic abilities.
Honestly I don’t think understanding puns would make this better given I find puns even in English fairly cringe worthy. It just isn’t my sort of thing.
I hear you. I’m not much of a pun person myself either. I have a rather dry and dark humor so it came as a surprise that I enjoyed saiki as much as I did. I might benefit from the puns getting lost in translation actually, now that I think about it. 🤔
Well, as you know…not big on the comedies, and after having read this post I’m not going to watch this. I had this one on my list because I read a post about it somewhere ( I can’t even remember where exactly) because the premise interested me. But now I’m pretty safe to say that I won’t be seeing this one 😊😊
A lot of people really do love this one and I can kind of see why, but it just isn’t for me. If you were curious, I’d say try the first episode because the style of humour is what carries through the whole show you can probably make a fairly quick decision about this one.
Hmm…well maybe I will try it out in September at some point in my vacation. Just to see what it is about 😊😊 Most likely scenario though? Won’t like it lol 😂😂
I love this show. Kusuo is such a great character the way he deadpans everyone and everything, which is made funnier by how wacky and OTT the other characters are. Plus it’s a wonderful satire on anime and its established tropes and plot beats, again handled with wit and tongue in cheek self-awareness. A guaranteed top ten of the year show for me. 🙂
Is it all comedies you don’t like or just the zany ones?
It is a rare comedy that for whatever reason just catches my fancy at the time and manages to make me laugh. Mostly I find comedy characters annoying and the lack of meaningful stakes in such stories really unengaging. But I get the problem is strictly on my end and that’s why I don’t go around calling every comedy anime trash. People who like comedy will probably get a lot more out of this show than I ever will.
That’s a shame really as there are some great comedies out there that I’d rank alongside this show. The ones that subvert the typical genres are the ones that work the best in my opinion, like Nichijo and current series Asobi Asobe. What makes me laugh most of the time is the outraged or deadpan reactions from the characters, which is why shows like Grand Blue are a real hoot for me. 😀
That said, anime comedies can be hit and miss, especially when they go down the fan service/lazy concept route like a harem or school life series with zero attempts at originality. But comedy is often about about mocking situations and people rather than exploring them with depth – that is what dramas are for. 😉
Maybe one day an anime comedy will come along that you’ll enjoy! 🙂
There are a few. I didn’t mind Acchi Kocchi, though I don’t know why I like it. Still, it is a great show to put on when I just want to zone out.
Didn’t check this one out. Didn’t look like my kind of thing. I had a similar experience with 91 Days. I didn’t mind watching it since it had it moments, but by the end of it I just felt indifferent to it. That color scheme in Saiki-K, barf XD
I know. Some people like the colour scheme but I just find it way too bright and mostly just want it all toned down a few notches.
Sad that you didn’t like it. I really enjoyed it but mainly for the sarcastic humour.
I kind of expected it given I knew it was primarily a comedy, but I”m not sorry I gave it a go. Still, not my thing.