Sakugan | Anime Review: Too many questions, not enough answers.
The “Labyrinth” is an expansive space deep underground where humans live in clusters known as “colonies.” Over the years, the surface has become a distant memory—even perhaps only a fantasy to those who have never experienced its wonders.
Making sure humanity survives the harsh conditions of the underground, a colony’s citizens can take on a variety of specialized jobs. These include “Workers,” who mine precious ore to fuel the colonies, and “Markers,” who journey into the Labyrinth’s surprisingly lush environment to bring back information that eases navigation. However, humanity also faces a threat to its existence—creatures called “kaijuu” whose sizes range from that of a small child to an enormous building, and are hostile to any human they see. Moreover, kaijuu that are large enough can force their way into the colonies, further increasing their threat level.
Memenpu is a nine-year-old college graduate whose inventions have greatly benefitted the Workers in her local colony. Recently, however, she has been dreaming of a place with a neverending ceiling not bound by bedrock. These aspirations fuel her desire to become a Marker and explore the Labyrinth’s vast unknown in search of such a fantastical place. Despite her father Gagumber’s vehement disagreement, a certain incident with the kaijuu jumpstarts a dangerous yet exciting adventure that will surely alter humanity’s course forever.
Looking back on Sakugan, I cannot help but feel a little disappointed. After an extremely well-done first episode, Sakugan felt like an anime without purpose. We follow Gagumber and Memenpu’s journey throughout the Labyrinth to reach the place in Memenpu’s dreams. We get to experience a lot of different colonies in the underground. This is fine; however, in terms of an adventure anime where we see our characters explore their surroundings, this is where Sakugan falls very short of the mark. Maybe it’s because Sakugan felt like a largely episodic anime. They would visit a place, spend time there, the move on to the next location.
Which again, is all well and good, however, when every place they venture off to isn’t all that eventful and at times very mundane. For sure, each of the eleven episodes or so had left something on the table. Maybe we could have seen a little more action here or there, perhaps we could have experienced a little more drama, maybe there could have been a lot more happening. There were moments that I thought were very interesting, like what Gagumber and Zackletu fought. However, that fight alone was a one-and-done deal, and everyone was back, adventuring together as if nothing had happened.
One of the contributing factors to Sakugan’s downfall is the lack of information about each of our characters or the events that happen throughout the anime. Like for example, the kaijuu we saw at the beginning of the episode and seemed to chase Gagumber and Memenpu around for another few episodes before disappearing from the face of the earth. We’re not told anything about the kaijuu, its origins or why it’s even there in the first place. What about the Shibito and their quest to kill these rainbow children? The anime didn’t even really tell us anything about these rainbow children. All we know is that they’re different from the others. Sakugan was also able to confuse us more by telling us that Gagumber isn’t actually Memenpu’s father while also adding a few things that didn’t make any sense to me.
For example, why would Memenpu, as bright as she is and arrogant as she is, believe a THING that the Shibito was telling her? In a span of a few minutes, they were able to convince one of the most intelligent people in the anime that Gagumber isn’t her biological father and that no matter what happens, he won’t be able to protect her. And that somehow she was the cause for everyone’s suffering and therefore should be killed. Memenpu, out of all people, BELIEVED every word they said. Like what?! How does all this happen in twenty minutes?
Furthermore, the Shibito had every chance to kill Memenpu, something they intended to do but decided to feed her lies for five minutes straight, allowing Gagumber to eventually make his way to Memenpu, saving her. We also got no answers regarding Memenpu’s mom or the mysterious woman appearing at multiple points in the story and in Memenpu’s dreams.
The anime has so many grey areas and things that they left unanswered. None of which will be resolved anytime soon because they literally have a scene where it says “To be continued… NOT” at the very end of the anime. So the studio is perfectly content with leaving all these questions with no answers, and you know what? That’s a terrible way to end an anime. Especially one where I thought the father-daughter duo was the only thing making this anime remotely interesting. I will admit to this, Gagumber and Memenpu are as powerful as a duo I’ve ever seen. They’re so entertaining to watch, and they live and die together. It sucks that such a good duo is wasted on an anime that didn’t help them in any way.
Overall, Sakugan is something I won’t be thinking about any time soon. I also don’t think I will be recommending this to anyone because I do not believe it’s worthwhile. It’s a shame, honestly. Sakugan, an anime that falls flat.
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