shinsengumi's Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei Tv Review

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei tv Review

Story & Characters

Note: this is a "preview" review written after watching the first half of the series.

Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei follows the travails of Itoshiki Nozomu, an eccentric schoolteacher with a penchant for traditional clothing and a relentlessly pessimistic outlook on life. As the kanji characters for his name look like the kanji for "despair" (zetsubou) when written sideways, he becomes known as Zetsubou-sensei, an extremely fitting nickname from which the anime (and the manga it is based upon) derives its title. In complete contrast to his comically negative nature is the indefatigable optimism of one of his students, Fuura Kafuka (a name evidently derived from that of the surrealist author Franz Kafka), who rescues him from an attempted suicide in the opining of the first episode. However, the wordplay doesn't end there, as other girls in his class include an obsessive-compulsive perfectionist named Kitsu Chiri (a play on kicchiri, "precisely"), a stalker named Tsunetsuki Matoi (a play on tsune tsukimatoi, "perpetually tagging along"), and a completely ordinary girl named Hitou Nami (a play on hitonami, "average person"), to name but a few.

As this series is largely a slice-of-life comedy, it is the characters who make or break the story, and this ensemble cast of head cases fails to disappoint. Although there are boys in the class, it is the girls who dominate, and -- as is strangely common in anime -- quite a number of the female students fall for Itoshiki. On paper, this may be cliche, but it manages to work in its own way to enhance the comedy here simply because of the various psychological afflictions manifested within the cast roster and the absurd situations that result.

Rating: 8


I must admit being impressed with much of the animation and art direction thus far as it -- in addition to being of surprisingly good quality -- definitely helps to reinforce the contrasts that help make the show as amusing as it is. What makes the artwork particularly striking is its use of static textures in place of solid color, which makes the animation reminiscent of moving paintings.

If there is one thing that may be disconcerting about the art direction, it is the occasional (and oftentimes arbitrary) juxtaposition of the mangaka's face over the artwork. At times, it's used to censor parts of the image while other times it is simply just another element of the vast arsenal of random material used in the anime. Although such a use may be amusing at first, I do find it visually jarring, particularly given the general quality of the animation, but that is simply a matter of taste.

Rating: 8


For the most part, I really have little to say about the use of sound in Zetsubou, which is not a bad thing. All of the voice acting and background music works well for the characters and scenes being portrayed, respectively. Little touches such as the jirojiro ("to stare") whispered by Tsunetsuki while she's stalking Itoshiki only serve to enhance the comedy.

As for the opening and ending themes, the former is appropriately wacky and random and the latter is a catchy, big band-esque, affair. As a whole, the sound work is certainly solid, but not particularly breathtaking.

Rating: 7


As a whole, Zetsubou is a quirky and nonconformist series where the amalgamation of absurd situations, clever wordplay, witty humor, and quick-fire jokes come collide to create something that manages to be both amusing and addictive, if not particularly deep. At times, dwelling upon a single joke may make things drag a bit, but one can always expect something entirely random to spice things right back up. As noted previously, much of the humor revolves around inside jokes and wordplay, and as such those not particularly familiar with Japanese culture may fail to catch quite a bit of the more subtle or clever humor. Even so there is enough material there that even if viewers miss out on any given joke they're bound to catch another.

Taken as a whole, this quirky show is likely the best comedy series of the season, and it's a real shame that the entire series is only a dozen episodes long. That said, I certainly hope that the rest of the series (which has already finished airing in Japan) continues to meet the standard of quality (and randomness) set by the first few episodes.

Rating: 7

Final Verdict

7.50 (good)

Reviewed by shinsengumi, Oct 11, 2007


  1. Hachiko Oct 12, 2007

    I would rate the series a bit higher, but that's just me. Good review.

  2. tareren Oct 14, 2007

    Hmm, I would give the art a bit more =) but then again, that's me.
    The story gets a bit boring sometimes though >_<

  3. eonir Dec 15, 2007

    Boring? I wouldn't say so.

    This series is unique not only because of the art, idea of Zetsubou-sensei, but because it gets in contact with many subjects often ignored by media. Each key character represents a troublesome group of the Japanese society. Depressed antisocial people, hooray-optimistic naive people, hikkikomori, shy insignificant people with complexes, pedants et caetera.

    Taboo topics that Zetsubou brings up in every episode are also something that makes this series stand out in the ocean of worthless cliche anime mass-produced by studios that came up with one good idea in the past and try to survive on the wave of money.

    Anyway, thanks for the review. I'm looking forward to your next review after watching the whole series :D

    PS. BTW, Your note about "preview review" reminded me of one episode about previews of everything ;D

  4. peta14 Dec 23, 2008

    A good review. Although personally I didn't like the series very much. I guess it wasn't my cup of tea. But I do agree with the artwork rating. The quality of animation was very good overall.

  5. rukasu04 Mute Member Apr 20, 2009

    Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is a good anime, but this review isn't so good. :x

  6. Hypnovell Jul 19, 2009

    Just an excellent anime, sadistic humour, despair and certainly many way of thinking about theses situations ^^

    Nozomu has left us in despair \o/

  7. ResonantSoul Jul 23, 2009

    LOOOVE IT <3

  8. SchRita Aug 24, 2009

    Thanks for the review!

  9. nainoi Sep 12, 2009

    many funny characters

  10. SchRita Oct 31, 2009

    Thanks for the review!

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