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Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

There’s one in every class and then there’s one that puts even them to shame every generation.

What They Say:
Step into classroom 1-2 and meet the coolest guy in school. In fact, Sakamoto may just be the coolest guy ever. And that’s not just because he makes his student uniform and glasses look like a fashion magazine cover. There’s also the fact that nothing ever seems to surprise or rattle him. The girls are all crazy for him, of course, but even the most macho delinquents start to feel a little funny when he’s around.

However, Sakamoto never seems to notice, let alone take advantage of the attention. He’s too busy being cool and mysterious without even trying! This does drive some people crazy, but the more someone tries to challenge Sakamoto, the more they start to fall under his spell. Intrigued? Then come join the class and get a lesson in cool from the master in Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with an English language dub, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The series is one that is certainly more focused on dialogue than anything else but it also works a range of other things with the way Sakamoto moves and some of the things he gets involved in. These areas are fun as they move and flit about the screen, particularly when Sakamoto moves as he does in unusual ways, but there are just a lot of little bits with the jobs and actions that he and others get involved in where it stands out a bit more. Dialogue itself is fairly straightforward since Sakamoto himself keeps it short and limited but there’s some decent placement from time to time and lots of the other characters react and act out a lot to what he does in order to give it a bit more activity.

Video:
Originally airing in 2016, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs in a nine/three format with the OVA on the second disc as well. Animated by Studio Deen, the series has a distinctive look because of its character designs and it’s very well detailed while playing to simpler facial designs. This is also balanced with some really good backgrounds that avoid going for oversaturated colors and keeps it grounded and allows for the details to be distinct and clean. The color palette is almost a little soft in some ways but it’s one that works well to make it feel distinctive when combined with the Sakamoto character. The encoding brings all of this out really well with its look as the colors are clean and rich, details hold up well, and there’s a good smoothness to it as a whole.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs against the interior walls. The front cover artwork is a familiar key visual that I understand why it works but doesn’t work for me. We get the full-length visual of Sakamoto in his school uniform where it’s all serious and we also get a close-up to the left in a light background piece where there’s more of a magical quality about him. Neither really clicks for me and it just feels like they don’t know how to sell the show. It’s just off-putting. The logo along the bottom is similar in that it feels like an awkward mix of things with the font, the angle, and the black/white aspect of it. The back cover goes for a darker background where it feels like an old school comic book with the font and the word balloon as we get some Sakamoto key artwork along the left. The right has a few shots from the show and a decent breakdown of the premise with the summary here. The rest is given over to the production credits and the technical grid that breaks it all down clearly and accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for this release goes in a kind of garish way where the right side features some character artwork. The first disc, for example, has Sakamoto with a red filter but with a yellow background of an energy burst which fits with the high upbeat music tied to it. The left side has the navigation that’s done in black and white with zip tone as there’s some manga-style pieces behind the selections. There’s a decent block approach to it and I know what it’s all going for but it just doesn’t click well for me in the same way that the cover artwork doesn’t. The navigation itself is quick and easy to use both as a top level menu and as a pop-up menu during regular playback.

Extras:
The extras for this release are simple and straightforward as we get the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences as well as the Japanese promo material ahead of its original broadcast premiere.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Nami Sano that has four volumes to its run between 2012 and 2015, Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto is a twelve episode TV series and an OVA that aired during the spring 2016 season. Animated by Studio Deen, it’s a fun play on the high school gifted boy that presents him as someone that’s flawless and capable of anything but in his own quiet and restrained ways deals with an insecurity about how he may not really understand other people. There’s a certain interesting aspect to that, which of course is underplayed, but what we do get of it and what you can read into it adds a nice layer to the show.

The structure of the show is one where you could easily see the series being released twice as long, if not more, with each episode having two or three stories to it. It’d almost work better in a way because there’s a lot of Sakamoto to take and doing it in marathon form could dilute it a whole lot. The premise is straightforward enough in that we have our singularly named Sakamoto as a first year in school where he’s incredibly popular yet kind of oblivious to it. The girls are all over him and do their best to get closer so they can woo him while the guys are generally either indifferent or actively trying to sabotage him, though that tends to be the punk types that are interested in that. Sakamoto is, quite simply, gifted in that he seems to be able to do anything. He’s very smart, creative, and capable physically in ways that regularly shock everyone because it’s so unexpected.

With the show focused on shorter events and gags I actually find it a little difficult to talk about in a way, especially since it’s so odd in how it achieves things. An early episode has him helping a student that’s being bullied for the money his mother gives him for meals and that has him getting the classmate a job at the local burger joint. It’s the kind of piece that helps to give the kid confidence because he’s now earning his own money and will fight for it when someone tries to take it. It’s kind of all over the map with what it does in that story as we get Sakamoto working there as well and because of his appeal the business is very busy with all the girls that keep going there. You know how it’ll all play out with the moral of the story but seeing the weird paths it takes along the way is something that just feels quirky as hell when you get down to it.

One of the regulars on the punk side that’s continually trying to show him his place in the scheme of things definitely has little in the way of luck with it. Sera found himself kind of humiliated early on when a giant yellowjacket was in the class and he tried to show up Sakamoto’s perceived manliness but it was just a disaster. A rematch of sorts gets underway later in the season with a fight at the rivers edge that instead turns into a game of sumo style balance that’s made so because of the arrival of a cop that won’t let an actual fight get underway. The dynamics of it are hilarious with what it does but just seeing how Sera has to cope with the situation to play it legit in front of the cop is hilarious. That it actually helps to make him a better person by the end with an all-seeing Sakamoto watching from the side pushes the boundaries but that’s the nature of the show with what it wants to do. And it does it well, once you give in to a kind of semi-surreal approach to it all. Presenting him as the ultimate cool character without it being true showboating or puffing himself up like you might see in other shows there’s a strangely humble side to it all that works very well.

The only real downside to the show is that as it goes on, and notably around the halfway mark, when it’s made clear that Sakamoto can essentially do anything and be anything in his own way, it can kind of grind on you a little – hence recommending not marathoning it and taking it in doses. Sakamoto is the classic cool to almost cold confident type, reminding me of a non-wealthy Mendou from Urusei Yatsura when he’s not acting out. It’s definitely enjoyable watching his antics, particularly the episode that focused on him securing adult videos for the guys, as it moves in such surreal and creative directions. But that sense of him being able to survive any situation takes its toll as the season wears on and he becomes a bit too much of a victim of his own success, at least in my eyes as it just further separated him to a whole other category of superior human.

In Summary:
Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto is the kind of absurd comedy that works really well but likely not in a fully mainstream kind of way. The surreal aspects of it, the character designs and facial expressions, and just how weird it can go with its lead character may be a couple of steps too far for some. I actually had a lot of fun with it but I found it best to space it out over a few days rather than burn through it. There’s such a strange earnestness to it that it’s kind of refreshing in a way because the cast is generally inspired to do better by themselves and others, sometimes in their own weird way, and seeing that kind of growth and change in characters is definitely fun even if overplayed. Sentai’s release is a strong one, and one I’m still surprised got a dub since comedies are really hit or miss in this area in getting them, but it works really well.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Promo, Clean Opening and Closing Animations

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

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: November 21st, 2017
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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