Sasaki and Peeps Season One Anime Series Review – Review

Sasaki and Peeps surely represent the end stage of the Japanese light novel explosion. We’ve run out of endlessly iterative and overcomplicated isekai power fantasy concepts, flashy and violent psychic battling’s getting old, and magical girls have been deconstructed over and over until there’s nothing left but rusty wands and tear-stained, torn petticoats. So I can only imagine Sasaki and Peeps‘ author’s story pitch was “Screw ‘Less Is More.’ Let’s do everything. Just shove it all in there.” For better or worse, they succeeded. In its animated incarnation, Sasaki and Peeps is Overstuffed Smörgåsbord – The Anime.

Opening with a double-length first episode was a gamble that I’m not entirely sure paid off. I guess it was important to cram in as much of the extremely chaotic world-building as possible, but for an adaptation as sluggishly paced and leadenly directed as Sasaki and Peeps, it may well have driven potential viewers away. It took me two attempts to get through the opener purely because my eyes glazed over, and before I knew it, the episode ended.

I forced myself to pay attention on my second attempt, and I admit the unassuming and polite Sasaki somewhat took me, his delightful little bird sidekick, and the frankly deranged storytelling pattern. Sasaki and Peeps add handfuls of new plot points, such as the original author being a spirited kid attempting to relate an overly complex story. “And then this happened, and then this, and then this, and then this…” We’ve only just gotten used to the idea that Peeps is a former human wizard isekai-d to modern Japan in the body of a talking bird when he spirits the dumbfounded Sasaki to the Otherworld and teaches him magic.

But oh-ho! Back in his home world, Sasaki’s recruited by a shadowy government organization to use his new powers as part of their war against illegal psychics. Plus, Sasaki’s teenage schoolgirl neighbor has latent yandere tendencies and a worryingly developing fixation on him. Plus – a homicidal magical girl appears! None of these concepts get a chance to develop or breathe as the show plunges headlong into the next random thing.

It’s not as if these new developments happen organically, either. So much of the plot is carried by Sasaki’s humdrum narration, which is used for lazy infodumps. Characters don’t interact as much as Sasaki narrates their actions. You’d think an anime that rams so many fantasy concepts into a single season would at least be wild, uncontrolled fun – but it’s never more than mildly interesting at best and, at worst, deathly boring. The animation never rises above barely serviceable, even for what might be generously classed as “action sequences.”

Take the extended storyline about the incarcerated Marc in the painfully generic Otherworld. Sasaki and his various associates stress about how “oh no, it’s such a disaster” that this inconsequential non-character is in prison. I didn’t care, and several episodes focused on this most pointless of side plots while the rest of the show suffered.

The plots in Sasaki’s world are marginally more interesting – at least until we discover hyper-competent, career-obsessed psychic co-worker Hoshizaki is only a sixteen-year-old girl, draining her of all interest to me. Although Sasaki shows zero sexual inclination towards any of the female characters he meets, there’s an unsettling focus on him associating with minors. Elsa in the otherworld is an actual child with a crush on Sasaki, the initially antagonistic Shizuka looks like a little girl despite her apparently advanced age, plus there’s the aforementioned proto-yandere schoolgirl neighbor. An anime that associates a middle-aged man with a school-aged harem feels off-color.

Peeps himself is one of the show’s saving graces – voiced by the legendary Aoi Yūki (seriously, are there any roles she can’t succeed in?) – he’s adorably cute. Most of the scattershot humor that lands involves him directly. I like that he’s not completely perfect, despite his formidable powers – he screws up, sometimes hilariously. The rest of the supporting cast is somewhat lacking in charisma – especially in the Otherworld. Sasaki’s business of selling convenience store items at vastly inflated prices in a technologically primitive world would be a fun concept if it hadn’t been done multiple times before and better.

I can’t end this review without expressing my abject revulsion over the ungodly abomination that comprises the ending sequence animation. I can’t understand what kind of profound emotional damage or hatred of one’s fellow man drove the animators to produce this horrifyingly unnatural assault on all that’s holy. From Sasaki’s unchanging “I’m dead inside” facial expression to the shiny plastic terror of the characters’ bodies, this CG-animated cavalcade of pain will live long in my nightmares. That’s one way to leave a lasting legacy, I suppose.