Looks like the old saying, “third time’s the charm”, applies to this show. This is Sabagebu!
Genres: Action, Comedy, Girls with Guns, Yuri
Themes: Military, Airsoft, milsim
Number of episodes: 12 + 6 OVAs
Plot Summary: Momoka Sonokawa is an (initially) average high school girl who wanted her high school life to be as “normal” as possible. All that changed one day during a train ride when she was “rescued” from a pervert by an awkward girl named Miou Ootori. She is later coerced into joining the Sabagebu, thus begins Momoka and the other four club members’ days of playing airsoft and whatever other survival games pop up in their heads.
Before Sabagebu there were two previous attempts at showing an anime about a group of girls playing airsoft. The problem is both shows flopped because they tried being serious by applying “Cerebus Syndrome” to their plot when it was not necessary in the slightest. Upotte!! failed because it needlessly integrated advancements of sexual harassment, inferiority complexes, ego trips and gang wars along with pointless teacher drooling. The underaged fanservice didn’t do it any favors either. There was some yuri but it felt like pandering and was bland. Stella Jo-Gakuin C3-Bu fared somewhat better than Upotte by removing any male involvement, toning down the fanservice and delivering more focused airsoft battles. Unfortunately it too failed to reach its full potential by once again implementing cerebus syndrome in the second half. While the message was appreciated and internet critics masturbated to its “epic storytelling” the whole 180 turn came out of left field and was better suited for a military drama than a slice of life girls club show. Sabagebu has NONE of that stuff (much to paid reviewers’ chagrin) and remains an oddball comedy from beginning to end. That was all I (and hopefully more people) asked for.
The one disadvantage to the show remaining comedic in nature with very few “dramatic” moments (I think there were only one or two instances of drama but they were quickly brushed off by the end sketch punchline) is that several sketches, the airsoft matches in particular, came off as formulaic. Despite the different settings each fight took place in, the end result would usually be the same with few exceptions. This also means continuity is scarce. Sometimes past events are brought up and changes that took place one sketch prior are carried over to other sketches but they are again brushed off. The writers were aware of this and made sure that the girls took advantage of each setting they were in and parodied as many classic media as they could such as Aliens vs Predator, James Bond and even Mad Max.
They also borrow Stella C3-bu’s fantasy warfare presentation as an excuse to slightly ramp up the violence by including fictional blood and headshots that’s all in their heads.
When the girls aren’t busy gunning each other or their opponents down they engage in other “survival games” or whatever they deem qualifies as such like 12-hour meditation or salvaging one’s womanhood.
One would wonder if the show’s sketches have any noteworthy morals…I guess there are some but I doubt anyone would pick this show up to have their lives forever changed.
The animation quality is decent but the soundtrack, save for the cool OP, excellent ED and main battle theme is forgettable.
Might as well go over the main cast next.
First up is Momoka who was seen as a breath of fresh air for some as far as female protagonists are concerned. I personally think it’s cool to get occasional female protagonists like her in comedies but I’d prefer her archetype be occasional rather than common. See, Momoka is self-centered, egotistical, greedy, vengeful, merciless, crude, rarely kind (when she pities someone but mostly when it benefits her), deceptive and an all-around jerk. She will however use her “nice girl” facade with other people she doesn’t know unless they too insult or threaten her. Basically she’s self-absorbed and an egomaniac.
Miou can be best described as a young adult woman who is both a role model and extremist at the same time. She’s a respected bishoujo to her peers but when she focuses on something or makes a vow she will follow her words or actions to the very end and only breaks them if it messes up her mojo or gets the other members in trouble.
Maya, unsurprisingly, is my favorite character on the show. The nicest girl of the bunch. Unfortunately that means she is the weakest member of the club. She is also very sensitive leading to occasional emotional breakdowns.
Kayo is the resident quiet girl of the show. She only gets serious (meaning reacts to something) whenever an opportunity arises for her to cosplay, discussing anime or when upset. Otherwise she’s just there reading manga or working on her latest costume, which she can change into in seconds.
And then there’s the girl I assume is the fan favorite (unless it’s Momoka), Urara. She is known for three things: Being deceptively cute, a masochist and a lesbian. The second trait is what, for the most part, defines her love for Momoka. Think of her as a less adorable but more dangerous Chinatsu.
Overall Sabagebu is what I was looking for in both Upotte and Stella C3-bu. Although usually formulaic and lacking of a general storyline it is not meant to have one, instead focusing on several amusing short sketches with a beginning, middle and end that sometimes have continuity. I am not certain who to recommend this show to other than viewers who shared my disappointment for the previously two mentioned shows. For everyone else check out the first episodes and see for yourselves.
PS: Platy is boss!