I was walking around inside of the bookstore I regularly go to and I then saw the manga of this particular show. I read the back of the book and I was a bit disturbed (though in a pleasant way; a way similar to how one feels to being taught about suicide through Micheal Moore, where the subject matter seems to be forced through a kind of 'happy filter' that takes out all of the negatives associated with that subject matter and makes out from that horrific subject matter a joke). I skimmed about through the book, when I was there, and I then placed it back on the shelf I found it on; I liked the premise of a teacher suffering from severe depression and of a 'main girl' trying to fix his brain through her speeches about springtime and about the bliss of everything and that the two having met one another is an astounding coincidence, however, I had no money at the time to buy the manga, and so I walked away from it and I had the story's title still inside of my head when I was at home and in particular, when I was at my computer. I watched the anime adaptation of the manga, and I have not yet read the manga fully, and so this review is only of the anime. Firstly, 'Zetsubou Sensei' is not about suicide in particular, and it is a satire.
"...A satire of what?"
"OF EVERYTHING," I'll answer to that whomever man or women. The author of the story did a fantastic job in establishing a simple premise, wherein many issues are discussed and sometimes answered; that premise is of the cynical teacher (who's name can sometimes read out as Zetsubou/Despair) who rants about the world and it's problems and the premise is also of his many female and (fewer) male students, who all often serve as his answer to a group rats that all have rabies, and he uses them to prove how awful the world truly is, since his students are (a decent number of them) insane and or murderous and or in denial of being insane or murderous, and or are just a bit strange. Zetsubou Sensei's/Mr. Despair's suicidal motif only serves to reflect the abnormally dark perception through which he views the world, and it also serves YOU, because it's strangely hilarious to watch the man try and hang himself from the side of the school or to place dynamite all over his body, and in his trained way of doing it all, and God really seems to enjoy watching him try and die also, and so he will not allow for Zestubou Sensei to die. The subjects that the series deals with all range from 'important' topics that even Americans can appreciate (illegal immigration, internet trends, cell-phones and depression, obviously), and then the show sometimes starts to nit-pick at life; on many occasions, the series pokes fun at little things like how people are dirty liars when they say that they are doing something 'half-way' or 'fifty-fifty' when they actually are not. There are also many otaku-culture related discussions thrown about (fan-service jokes and pedophilia, mostly), so the show will obviously alienate some newer anime fans and, of course, people completely foreign to anime. The characters are what keep me coming back, however. They all either have a kind of character-trait that their personalities are based around (Chiri is obsessed with perfection and Meru can only speak through text-messages), or they poke fun at anime stereotypes (there's the 'normal girl' and the 'forgetfull character in the background', and the 'girl who says sorry', and the 'bandage character', and the 'girl who looks evil and so people assume she is actually a good person but who in reality is as evil as she looks'); Chiri and Kafuka (the two other main characters) are the best examples of this all.
I think I love the anime more than what I've read of the manga, because of the director; I have never watched anything of his and I am going to now, because the man is a damn genius, who milks every individual frame of animation for jokes and who makes the show something to re-watch many times because of it, and who has a style of directing I haven't seen from anyone before (even in the anime medium) with the exception of Hideaki Anno, maybe. The manga did influence the kind of camera angles and shots there were, but the anime has a lifefullness to it that the manga seems to not have (however, I have not read too much of the manga, and so I have no right to judged between the two things). The animation is actually a bit average, but the style of the artwork is something different; it has a 'flat' two-dimensional look to it, with the exception of a few of the settings and set-pieces, which are often three-dimensional things, and there are added 'things' positioned here and there during the show, like the director's face on the school's clock or the director's face censoring the show's moments of nudity.
Every person dose a fantastic job at voicing their odd character, and that is rare thing for me to admit. No single voice actor gives a bad performance in this, and the three main seiyu (Zetsubou Sensei - Hiroshi Kamiya, Kafuka - Ai Nonaka, and Chiri - Marina Inoue) are truly astounding. The soundtrack is also astounding. It's one of the greatest I've ever heard in an anime, actually, and there isn't a Yoko Kanno in sight of it. The opening themes get to me especially.
Alright then; I'm not a professional reviewer and I'm lazy, and I'm reaching the text limit here, and so I won't conclude this too properly. Just watch the show.
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