Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto ?
It's been a wild ride, but the time has come to bid farewell to everyone's favorite teenage man-god. The stakes are as high as they've ever been—which is to say “not very”—as Sakamoto imparts one final life lesson to his peers. Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto is many things, but “genuinely touching” typically isn't among them. Regardless, the finale's attempts at schmaltz and light drama are surprisingly effective.
With the seeds of discontent firmly planted, the highly impressionable Atsushi attempts to attack Sakamoto with a baseball bat during his address to Gakubun's latest graduating class. Of course, this being Sakamoto, not only does our hero effortlessly evade Acchan's efforts, he uses the whole affair to his advantage, impressing the student body in the process. After seeing the error of his ways, Atsushi once again proclaims his allegiance to Sakamoto, who finally has it out with Fukase. Sakamoto's calculating nemesis reveals that his refusal to graduate stems from a deep-seated fear of facing adult life. However, with some forceful encouragement from Sakamoto and his delinquent posse, Fukase ends his lengthy high school career and heads off into the great unknown.
As it turns out, Fukase's exit doesn't necessarily mean things will be returning to normal at Gakubun High. In the final minutes, Sakamoto informs his classmates that he'll be traveling overseas to assist NASA with a Mars colonization project—which he'd previously revealed to be his aspiration during his group date. After receiving a heartfelt farewell (a classroom-wide cream pie fight) from his peers, Sakamoto says goodbye to Hayabusa, who's convinced that the NASA story is a well-intentioned lie. Does this mean he's going to another school to influence another group of comically troubled youngsters? Is he an alien returning to his home planet? Or is he another sort supernatural being returning to whatever realm he originally hails from? Could there be some weight to the prevalent fan theory that Sakamoto is terminally ill and dead-set on enjoying his final year of life? Right up until the very end, the titular character's origins remain shrouded in mystery—and frankly, I think this was the right choice. Revealing too much about Sakamoto would take away from the character's mystique—which is a large part of what makes him so fascinating.
Tonally, the finale is somber compared to episodes past, but there are still enough Sakamoto-y touches to prevent it from feeling like an entirely different show. While I'm still not convinced this series needed a master villain, I think Fukase was used just the right amount. As with Sakamoto, we were never given too much or too little info on the show's only competent antagonist. I thought Hayabusa and company sending Fukase packing with minimal assistance from our hero was a nice touch. Sakamoto would never deign to acknowledge a bully—even one as menacing as Fukase—as a worthy rival.
My only real gripe is Atsushi's dramatic (albeit temporary) shift in personality. Crashing a graduation ceremony with the intent of doing Sakamoto bodily harm was a dark turn for this otherwise humorous character. In fact, throughout most of the first half, it seemed like he genuinely wanted to kill Sakamoto. Furthermore, the class instantly forgiving him without any repercussions for his borderline homicidal behavior is unsatisfying. It's a given that Sakamoto possesses the capacity for unconditional forgiveness, but Hayabusa and the other delinquents should have knocked some sense into him following the attempted assault.
All in all, Sakamoto's departure to parts unknown is a fitting farewell. After having a significant impact on those lucky enough to encounter him during his time at Gakubun, he makes his exit under suitably mysterious circumstances. Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto may be saddled with a limited concept, but if pure comedy is what you're after, you won't regret spending some time with this consistently hilarious series.
Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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