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Sabagebu: Survival Game Club Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

8 min read

Sabagebu DVD CoverWho ever said that playing with guns isn’t fun … especially when there are bullets and blood flying everywhere?

What They Say:
Momoko’s family moves a lot, so she’s always “that new girl” and the schools she’s attended have all blurred together. Until her first day at Aogiri High, that is, where she’s rescued by an armed vigilante, assaulted by a platypus and coerced into joining a secret organization of gun-toting female commandos. Okay, maybe that last one is really just the school’s survival club, but the platypus is real and so are the extremes that club president Miou is willing to execute to recruit Momoko. Can uber-jaded Momoko’s body armor-clad heart resist the charms of a girl who’s all too ready to whip out her twin Desert Eagles in defense of another girl’s virtue? Especially when it turns out that Momoko has her own talent for air pistols and senseless violence? Their course is locked and the odds are loaded as the rest of the club joins in the firefight in Sabagebu! -Survival Game Club!

The Review:
While the audio presentation for this release is a Japanese only track in Dolby Stereo 2.0 and encoded at 224 kbps, this is satisfactory for this series since the majority of the sounds are fixed on dialogue and the repetitive output of the Airsoft pellet guns. However, while a nothing is sacrificed for these elements, it does help if you have a good sound system for the playback.

Where this series excels is the powerful usage of music to set the tone for the various sequences within the episodes. Everything is set up with the upbeat opening theme YES!! by Ayaka Ōhashi; while it is your typical J-Pop song, this piece really emphasizes the true meaning of the series: looking towards the future by relying on your skills and talent. Then to move the story along, we are introduced to each fight scene by a stirring action movie soundtrack – either a rousing classical sequence or a briskly rhythmic guitar riff which excites the viewer by wonderfully meshing with the gunfights. Finally, to close the episode, the ending theme Pitty Patty Survibird by Gesukawa Girls (the characters’ seiyū) is a nonsensical song but the animation makes the song all the more funny with chibi versions of the characters dancing around in a mocking fashion.

The series is broken down into three disks of four episodes each, encoded in the standard DVD media MPEG-1/2 video format and 720×480 resolution. The playback is acceptable for this media with no visible digital artifacts considering the complex palette used within the series. With each character a different pastel color is utilized for their hair, thus they stand out from the rest of the drab commonplace background images. And as such, when anything happens to one of them, it stands out and this is especially true when the guns are pulled out.

Even though the narrator reiterates several times at the beginning of the series that all of the battles are in the girls’ imaginations, there are gratuitous amounts of blood which shower throughout of the anime. It seems that the animators made sure that we saw every drop of this bodily fluid by accenting it thoroughly with a brighter shade of red than normally relevant. And as such, whenever someone is killed, there are great gushers spouting out, making a dramatic death scene even more so via that visual cue.

Sentai Filmworks has chosen to make fun of the imaginary violence within the series by displaying Momoko and Miou in front of the school with their weapons drawn and the latter shooting us with a finger gun. This defuses the comical violence and also helps to enlighten us to the daily school life image within the show which is also displayed by the screenshots from the anime on the back cover. But the best part of the packaging is the artwork silk screened on the disk set: each disk has a pair of characters in a laughable scene, all clothed in atypical dress and contrary to their attitudes within the show, but at the same time, we can also picture them doing something like the action displayed.

The same decorating scheme used on the disks is used on the Menu selection screens – the girls are shown in comical poses on the right side with the episodes listed out on the left. The generic icon has replaced with Momoko’s pistol which allows you to select each title quite easily. However, the major flaw in this area is the repetition of the first minute of opening theme YES!! is blaring in the background; while this may have been down to get the viewer ready for the show, it quickly gets tiresome after it restarts at the end of the cycle. It would have been better if Sentai had a method to switch off the music, but they might not anticipate the viewer to spend that much time in this area.

The extras for this series is where Sentai Filmworks outdid themselves for this series. While they did enclose the standard Japanese promotions plus clean opening and closing animations, the inclusion of six original video animations is what gives the viewer the incentive to look through the Extra menu. These additional shows have nothing to do with the series proper, but the chance to see more of the girls’ comical activities just gives us more to enjoy. Each piece is like one of the sequences within each episode and is approximately eleven and a half minutes apiece, so if you take them all into consideration, we have been given three more episodes for the same price. What more can we ask for?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sabagebu! Survival Game Club! follows the adventures of Momoko, a typical high school student. However, due to her father’s job, the family has been forced to frequently move, so she never has any time to make any friends. This has caused her to become jaded and accept the fact that she may never have a normal school life. But when a perverted man tries to grope her on the train, a strange girl armed with two massive guns intervenes. She saves her but is hauled away by the authorities before Momoko has a chance to thank her savor. Once she arrives at class, a forced smile and painted on personality are her only defense from this monotony which she is sure will change once her family moves again.

As she is leaving, Momoko spots the heavily armed girl cocking her miniature cannons as she prepares to depart for the day. Out of curiosity and boredom, she timidly trails the strange character to an isolated bunker behind the main buildings. Posted on the door is an odd sign signifying that this is the Survival Game Club!, with a cute pink heart accenting it as a period. Not sure what to make of the post, she turns to leave, only to be trapped in a snare, which propels her upward and into unconsciousness. When she does awaken, the members accuse Momoko of being a spy and start to interrogate this nosy person for intruding upon their haven, with multiple weapons drawn. As she attempts to stutter her way out of the situation, the assembly introduces themselves, and these people are even stranger than their leader: she is a charismatic but absent-minded rich girl, then there is the scatterbrained gravure model, the kind but later sadistic masochist with freakish strength and a silent otaku cosplay fanatic.

Once they release Momoko, the timid girl turns to leave but is given a gun in an attempt to hit a distant bull’s eye. What she assumed were real weapons in actuality turn out to be Airsoft replicas which fire pellets, but the adrenaline rush she receives still gives her the realization that this club might be more than what she thought. The group’s commander Miou asks Momoko to write her name on a piece of paper, which in truth turns out to be an application form. And so congratulations are now in order, she has just joined this oddball party. What harm could result in this simple mistake? After all, they are playing with simple BB guns, how could they get into any trouble?

In Summary:
While the concept of the series, a survival game club, may sound like it will have a very limited range as to what can be done with the subject matter, the anime itself never takes itself seriously. They break each episode into acts and within those the girls go on a mission, by which they attempt to further their understanding of how to stay alive long enough to win the contest. But of course, each trip either takes a wrong turn or someone misinterprets the objective and the bullets go flying; however, in the end, they always make up and try to understand how they can do better next time. In short, the show is an over the top action series with bouts of masochism disguised as comedy. While they do try to make the violence seem less tame by constantly reminding us that it is all imaginary, the repeated spouts of blood negate their attempt to do so.

The real saving grace for the series is the wide range of subjects which are breached in order to gain a laugh – no one subject is safe as long as we remember that none of the brutality is real and it is all done in parody. We have action classics used as archetypes: the Predator, Chuck Norris and Arnold are deemed as saviors when someone is not sure of what to do in a particular situation. Violence is fine if it is used to settle simple problems and then the strangest paradox of all, when in doubt, use usual opponents to make the audience cringe and get the joke across: elementary schoolers, government officials and weirdest of all, a set of elderly gun enthusiasts.

If you remember those simple points, Sabagebu! Survival Game Club! is a funny series that is unusual in its attempt to use violence as a comedic tool. Forget about slapstick when a bullet to the head and squirting blood will do the trick. As long as you remember that you should never take life or yourself too seriously, then this anime might be the right fit for you.

Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, OVAs, Japanese Promos, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: C+
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: September 22nd, 2015
MSRP: $49.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sharp LC-42LB261U 42” LED HDTV and Sony BDPS3200 Blu-ray player

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