Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei (Goodbye Mr. Despair) is a show about a teacher named Nozomu Itoshiki who interprets everything in life in the most negative light possible. In the opening of the series Kafuka Fuura comes across him trying to hang himself from a tree and saves him (although she nearly kills him in the process). It turns out that she is an individual that sees everything in the most positive light possible. Throughout the series each episode focuses on some part of Japanese culture or human nature and we witness Nozomu’s negative interpretation as well as Kafuka’s positive interpretation. The result is an anime thats a wonderful satire on everything in Japanese culture (yes including a lot of anime references).
In addition to having one character represent the “negative” and another the “positive” we also get to see the reactions of other characters that are stereotypically 1 dimensional. There is Chiri Kitsu (the perfectionist), Abiru Kobushi (bandage girl), Kiri Komori (the Hikkimori…which is a recluse), Matoi Tsunetsuki (the stalker), Nami Hitō (completely ordinary), Harumi Fujiyoshi (yaoi fangirl), Tarō Maria Sekiutsu (the illegal immigrant), Meru Otonashi (doesn’t speak but is vicious in text messages), and Kaere Kimura (split personality, one representing the US and the other representing a typical Japanese woman). All of these characters were cleverly named, each name is sort of like a Japanese pun that alludes to what I put in parenthesis after each name above.
This…is the most incredibly hard show for me to write a blurb on…this show is just ridiculously hard to describe. Usually when I’m watching a show I’ll make a mental note of interesting things that happen…this show is nothing but interesting things happening all at once and very quickly. It’s just impossible to take it all in without pausing over and over and over again. My mind feels like it’s about to explode after I watch just one episode. This show has references on its references to almost every little obscure thing that happens in Japan and even a few references to events that have happened in the United States. This is one show that REALLY makes me wish I were Japanese because I know I would have an even higher level of appreciation for this satirical humor if I could relate to all the dilemmas and humor.
This series has 3 openings at least 2 of which have special messages that quickly flicker across the screen and these messages changed every episode. The first opening is just some text (this one has the messages). The 2nd one is just so completely crazy you’re just left going ” wtf ? ” after it’s done. But that opening was strangely addicting, I really liked it, the pace of the music matched the animated sequences well and it was just SO crazy! The 3rd opening was a lot less twisted than the 2nd (this one also has messages), it seemed to be mimicking a typical fun/happy opening to a shoujo. The closing throughout the series has a really cool art style, if you’ve ever seen the opening to Read or Die it sort of reminded me of that. It was also twisted in a fun/dark way like the 2nd opening. Also please note there are little skits at the end of the credits to watch out for.
The art style of this entire series is WONDERFUL! Everything really pops and looks great! I was sold on this series after I saw the first scene with Zetsubo Sensei (“A man who can only see everything in a negative light”) and Kafuka Fuura (“A girl who can only see everything in a positive light”). Kafuka Fuura is hilarious, finding a positive twist on every little thing in life ends up being funnier than you might expect. She often accidentally ends up having the most twisted opinion even thought it’s ridiculously positive. I will say though…the people who will get the most out of this show are seasoned fans of anime or people who are knowledgeable about Japan and its culture.