First Impression: Sakugan

A little girl is running from a man with a gun through a sci-fi city. The tension grows. He is near. He looms over the square, then jumps. She won’t be able to escape. But, as they capture each other with sci-fi traps, they start arguing and bickering. As it turns out, Gagumber and Memenpu, father and daughter, live in an underground colony, and he just frustrated her umpteenth attempt to escape and join the Markers in their exploration of the Labyrinth, the mysterious tunnels between the colonies, aboard their mechas. She is a 9-year-old genius who has already graduated from college, and whose inventions (managed by Gagumber) sustain their little family. He is goofy and loud, and the house is a mess. The mother left them a long time ago, and Memenpu (albeit bickering and ranting) insist that it’s her father’s fault. The Labyrinth is complex, deep and dark, inhabited by dangerous kaiju, but Memenpu is convinced that she could manage it, and find the place she dreams about again and again, a white tower under the stars in a place where there is no ceiling. But when the other Markers arrive, it turns out that Gagumber is friends with their famous and popular leader. He used to be one of them, after all. “You’re determined to keep her far from the Labyrinth”, the leader says, “no matter what she thinks of you.” And then, he warns Gagumber that he won’t be able to keep his brilliant daughter away from risk. Gagumber is not ready for that, but danger and adventure may be coming for them…

So, what to make of this? Judging by this episode, Sakugan is a bold, loud and noisy show in the tradition of, say, Gurren Lagann, Kill la Kill or Diebuster. Which means, blink and you may miss a curveball. It throws sci-fi concepts here and there and somehow, incredibly, the crumbling world-building holds. Family arguments are accidentally broadcasted throughout the colony. Everyone knows our protagonists and their antics. The comedy is fast, unapologetic, and exaggerated. The world feels both like a parody and like the real thing. It’s like a tall tale coming to life, impossible to believe yet compelling. The show is not afraid of becoming serious all of a sudden, and clearly knows how to pack an emotional punch. So, I’m puzzled with this one. The story kept drawing me in and putting me off every few minutes, and managed to surprise me even when what was going to happen was almost spelled out beforehand. And have I mentioned the music? The jazz, the rhythms, the sci-fi tunes are just on point. Hum. I don’t know if I’ll be watching the second episode next week, but I’ll be sure to write down the name of this show.

Sakugan can be streamed at Crunchyroll.

Leave a Reply