Spring’s been an awesome season for anime all around, but Sakamoto desu ga? (“Haven’t you heard? I’m Sakamoto”) is easily my top pick. This week’s mini episode featuring Hayabusa’s culinary ventures with Sakamoto hit a particularly sweet spot…and perfectly timed for Father’s Day.
The premise behind Sakamoto desu ga is a series of comedic vignettes based around Sakamoto, the incredibly cool and popular high school guy that everyone loves to love and hates to hate (inanimate objects or supernatural beings are no exception to Sakamoto’s charm). His reflexes and natural affinity for birds and all things cool are absurdly god-like, but there’s a humility to him that’s attractive to us. Yes, Sakamoto’s the weirdo that makes a part of us wail in green envy at his sheer competence with everything, from catching bugs, blowing bubbles and generally defying the laws of physics, but he’s also the dependable guy we’d trust to watch our backs or to lend a helping hand if the occasion calls for it.
In this week’s character sketch, “What’s Lacking”, we are treated to a softer side of Hayabusa, a second year delinquent at Sakamoto’s school. While fierce, smart and handsome to boot, Hayabusa is a man of honor and, as we find out, quite the dutiful son.
Adults in Sakamoto desu ga? typically are treated as incompetent, fairly one-dimensional caricatures of actual adults who serve as antagonists for Sakamoto. While Hayabusa’s dad certainly continues the trend of incompetence, it’s nice to see not only a fairly normal, well-meaning adult, but a doting father. In a twist to the traditional single mother as caregiver, we have Hayabusa’s father as the single father as the head of their lively household. Although there is a brief note of melancholy as the scene settles on a shot of Hayabusa’s mother–presumably deceased–Hayabusa’s father brings up the idea of introducing a mother into the family for the sake of raising the kids. Our gruff delinquent’s not exactly gung-ho about it, but seems open to meeting Dad’s new special woman. Only there’s one caveat.
It’s easy to condemn our parents for lying. But parents are humans too, and are, of course, prone to lapses in judgment, especially when their kids are involved. Poor Hayabusa’s dad’s self esteem is so low that he thinks he needs to fabricate a wealthy bourgeois background to find a suitable woman to date. A pretty big lapse in judgment we’ve got here and he’s shoved it onto his son to navigate through the tangled mess of lies he’s woven.
What makes Sakamoto so compelling is that there’s always a quirky serious intent to its gags for which Sakamoto is only the vehicle for expressing. This episode’s gags are appropriately revolved around what one lacks. Hayabusa’s father thinks Hayabusa and his brothers need a mother. Hayabusa lacks the class and refined manners to bluff a wealthy cultured lifestyle and needs Sakamoto, the classiest guy around, to teach him.
It’s hilarious to watch Hayabusa/Sakamoto marionette their way through a full course French dinner (complete with a rumble with some eye-offending escargot) but also satisfying to watch two navigate two very different realms–the classy, bourgeois atmosphere of high dining and the gritty, seedy world of dark alleys and extorting thugs. Of course, the kicker is that Hayabusa’s classy efforts are all for naught as Dad’s had the excellent taste to pick up an extortionist for a girlfriend, which gives Hayabusa the perfect opportunity to give Sakamoto a “helping hand” or two as they creatively terrify the living daylights out of the muggers after his dad.
“I swear, you’re such a dumb, stupid, moronic, helpless father, aren’t you? I guess, we just have to make up for what the other lacks.” -Hayabusa
Aside from one swooning dad, our tale ends well. The sticking point of our father-son tale is that while we can’t all be as cool as Sakamoto, we are definitely blessed with far more than what we often perceive. Hayabusa doesn’t need a mother–given how he’s turned out, Hayabusa’s father hasn’t done a half-bad job at raising him.
Here’s a Happy Father’s Day to all you dads. We might occasionally (or a lot) rag on you, but in all honesty, we love and appreciate all that you do for us.