Sabegebu! - Survival Game Club!
by Paul Jensen,
The “cute girls form a weird high school club” premise has produced some entertaining and sometimes heavily armed anime in recent years. Girls und Panzer took a group of quirky, earnest girls and gave them World War II tanks. Stella Women's Academy, High School Division Class C3 did the same thing, only with replica guns and survival games. Sabagebu! initially looks as though it intends to follow in the latter's footsteps, but instead asks a critical question: would the members of a girls' airsoft club really be as cute and pleasant as other shows have led us to believe? The short answer appears to be no.
The high school girls of Sabagebu! are completely unhinged adrenaline junkies. Short-tempered heroine Momoka has a habit of exacting violent revenge on anyone who crosses her, and she's one of the club's saner members. The end result leaves the sports and slice of life genres behind in favor of a rapid-fire gag comedy show. With each episode broken into multiple short storylines, the series is free to focus on extracting laughs from its eccentric characters.
In practice, this format ends up being hit-or-miss. Some segments are incredibly funny, while others end up being dull or downright uncomfortable to watch. A storyline on Momoka's sudden gain and loss of weight is in painfully bad taste, and another segment on hunting is awkward at best. Thankfully, these lows are balanced out by some comedic gems, and Sabagebu! proves itself able to use character quirks, sight gags, and absurd situations to good effect. With the average segment clocking in at less than seven minutes, the series is generally able to move from one premise to another before any single joke grows old.
One particularly strong point worth noting is the abundance of references to classic war and action movies. Famous scenes from The Matrix, Apocalypse Now, and other films are recreated in the show's own brightly colored style, often with entertaining results. This is a series that knows its intended audience and is happy to cater to action aficionados.
Eight episodes in, the only real danger facing Sabagebu! is that it will run out of jokes before it runs out of screen time. With very little emotional drama or character development to fall back on, this is the kind of series that will live or die based on its ability to consistently deliver fresh humor. As it regularly burns through two or three ideas per week, only time will tell if Sabagebu! can keep up with its own frenzied pace.
Sabagebu! is an easy sell for fans of action movies and gag comedies, who will find that the show balances out to a solid effort. If you've ever tried to act out a cinematic gunfight with your friends, you'll feel right at home. Anyone else would be well advised to try two or three episodes before committing to the series as a whole, as its boisterous sense of humor isn't for everyone.
Survival Game Club! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Paul Jensen also covers anime and manga at SharkPuppet.com.
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