Sakugan ‒ Episode 11 by Global Anime

AbraxasDecember 17, 2021

How would you rate episode 11 of
Sakugan ?

Last week, I was pretty confuzzled about where exactly Sakugan was going, with the end of the season rapidly approaching and so much up in the air. After this week, we’re only a modicum closer to answering any of the many lingering mysteries, with this episode’s post-credits doing what I expected the previous one to do and ending on Shibito kidnapping Memempu. But it’s hard to feel miffed about that when “Sound of Dream” delivers the show’s best episode yet.

It doesn’t exactly start out that way though, as our crew make an initially confusing pit stop in Dream Colony, the underworld’s approximation of New York City, right down to a reminder I really need to see that West Side Story remake, I’ve heard it’s great. After last week brought our heroes face to face with the main antagonists, it seems like an odd time to slot in another episodic adventure rather than digging into the myriad mysteries we’re still waiting for some kind of info on. Heck, everyone besides Memempu and Gagumber spend the whole episode waiting for them to come back from using the bathroom. It’d practically be a bottle episode if it weren’t taking place in an entirely new setting. But then the show revealed that it was giving me a songstress character voiced by Saori Hayami and I officially stopped worrying.

Though Sina is actually great even if you’re not a total mark for Hayamin like me. As the “diva” of Dream Colony she’s lived a sheltered and controlled life, finally taking today as her last chance to enjoy the vibrant, exciting, mundane parts of the city she’s dreamed of experiencing since childhood. Like a lot of Sakugan‘s ideas, it’s a pretty classic setup of the sheltered princess sneaking out to experience the life of the everyman, but like previous entries the secret sauce comes in the execution. There are the small details, like Sina’s “basic” dreams (Memempu’s word, not mine) including a trip to a strip club and risking her life by eating a street vendor hotdog, that add some of the show’s usual irreverence. But more substantially is her relationship with Memempu, and how this young woman’s fleeting day of freedom impacts our heroine.

Memempu’s a child genius, intelligent far beyond her years, so much so that even her narrative foils are all considerably older than her. But while she’s far from naive, she still carries that sense of childlike certainty that usually gets tempered with age and the chaos of life. So of course she balks at the idea of somebody as cool and talented as Sina not following her dreams and just doing what makes her happy all her life, but also can’t understand the kids her age that just embrace the security of following their parents’ footsteps. To her, doing anything that doesn’t make you happy, “living for someone else” as she says, is a tragedy that requires betraying yourself.

It’s an interesting angle to take. “Growing up” can mean a lot of different things depending on who you are, but it’s pretty universal that, as we get older and have to make our way in the chaos of adulthood, we start to realize that you can’t always live solely for your own desires and ambitions. Maybe you can’t get your dream job because your family can’t afford college. Or circumstances force you to live somewhere far from where you always imagined. Sometimes you just figure out that being an astronaut is really, really hard and lose confidence. Regardless of the details, everyone has to make compromises and live with consequences we don’t necessarily like, and coming to terms with that is sort of a right of passage. But to a kid, especially one who actually is living out her far-flung dream, that all sounds like a cruel tragedy at best, and willingly giving up at worst.

That sounds heavy, but the show somehow finds a way to make it all surprisingly charming, even if the final scenes are steeped in melancholy. It helps that Memempu and Sina make great friends, and watching the trio just have fun in Cave NYC makes for a light and fluffy intro before the real pathos comes down. I also like that the show doesn’t imply Sina is miserable living her role as the Diva even if it’s not her dream. It’s not perfect, there are problems that she obviously wishes weren’t there, but she can still reach out and connect with others through her song. She can still find joy in life even if things aren’t how she first envisioned them. It’s muddled and complicated and a little contradictory, but that’s adulthood in a nutshell.

Also, like I said, the whole thing is capped off with a beautiful, bittersweet song from Sina that brings a perfect close to it all. So regardless of whatever problems this may bring up in resolving(?) the show’s ongoing plot, I have to respect a well told, emotionally resonant story first and foremost. This made for a gorgeous, meaningful episode that further explores our characters’ most pertinent emotions, and sometimes that’s enough.


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