The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. is a gag anime developed by J.C. Staff that ended last year after spanning two seasons and a special fifty-minute-long finale. Despite boasting a fan base of around a hundred thousand members at MAL, it felt to me that the show went under the radar of most people as the show didn’t offer anything special in its synopsis.
The show revolves around the life of Saiki, an individual who has been blessed with as many superpowers as possible. And like any other run-of-the-mill anime plot, Saiki wants to be free from this “drudgery” of having supernatural powers and live a normal, average life. He also showcases an anti-social attitude as seen in nearly half the anime that exist on the planet. In spite of how average the plot sounds, the whole show puts a number of predictable anime tropes in the same basket and subjects them to absolute mockery.
As someone who’s more accustomed to Western humour, I haven’t quite been able to wrap my head around the slapstick humour a large number of these gag anime carry. Watching the first season of Clannad, for example, felt like a chore to me even though it was required to get to the much acclaimed second season as the humour there relied on beating up lecherous dudes with combo attacks. I do acknowledge that Clannad isn’t a comedy anime; in fact, it’s far away from that, but the notion holds true for a number of other titles.
This is where Saiki K does it differently. The humour here is above par compared to most of the Japanese animated series I’ve seen and despite the show not really having a stiff arc, the plot elements in each episode seamlessly blend through, unlike a lot of Western shows that rely on randomness. It’s a fast-paced show and the subtitles might be a little hard to follow through at times, but they do a surprisingly good job at translating humour, something that is tougher to achieve.
The show itself acts as a huge diss at the unoriginality that can be noticed in modern anime. It doesn’t take the extreme route that Pop Team Epic follows, but shows the same intent as it stays true to its roots, barely going out of character. All the main characters portray a certain anime archetype one way or another. What the show creators did here is that they chose to deconstruct other anime and recycled the predictable mechanics to make a joke out of them. There are tsunderes, bland anime guys, bland anime girls, pointlessly optimistic class captains, explanations on why anime character designs have unrealistically dyed hair and even an entire episode breaking down the plot progression of mediocre sports anime.
The only downside is the finale. While it might not be as disappointing as the last season of Game of Thrones that you had to sit yourself through, Saiki didn’t quite pick up in Japan and as a possible repercussion, the finale was pushed out quietly with an extremely rushed 50-minute special. And after a little bit of digging, it turns out that the last two chapters of the manga weren’t even adapted. The manga does offer a bit of closure, regardless of whether it’s satisfying or not.
Despite the finale mishap, the show is definitely worth a watch as it stands as a strong contender for all the modern gag anime out there. The showrunners choose to fiddle with the feelings of those who are watching it but the teasing doesn’t deviate it from the purpose it was intended for.