Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto Series Review [Spoiler‑Free]

Cool! Cooler! Coolest!


Have you ever known someone who just embodied the term “popular”? Oozed charisma? Was the overall essence of “cool”? And no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t find anything wrong with them – no chinks in their proverbial armor. Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto (or Sakamoto desu ga?) is the tale of such a person, and the conflicts that arise from everyone else trying to get the better of him. Does it hold up, or just leave you angry at the “do-no-wrong” character archetype?

Story

Sakamoto lining up a fake billiard shot and being COOL by the chalkboard
Sakamoto lining up a fake billiard shot by the chalkboard

Sakamoto desu ga? is the story of high school wunderkind Sakamoto (naturally), a new student who joins class 2 during the first year. He quickly catches everyone’s attention with his stylish sensibility and quirks, creating a division between those who adore him and those who envy him. Even though the students that resent him try their very best to make him look like a fool, he never seems to falter. Whether it’s performing cleaning duties, handling bullies or dealing with the supernatural, Sakamoto doesn’t miss a beat. He simply keeps on going like it’s the most natural thing in the world.

The anime was originally released as a manga from 2011 – 2015, and was written and illustrated by Nami Sano. From what I can find, Sakamoto is her only manga so far, which is rather impressive as a debut publication. If I had to describe the show, I’d say it has all the makings of a slice of life, except exaggerated to the nth degree. It features simple moments like feeding birds, running late to school, or even working a job in fast food, but heightens them to the point of ridiculousness. My only complaint (if you even want to call it that) is that nearly every episode follows a specific formula, and you generally know how it will all turn out. While you’re never REALLY worried for Sakamoto, you always have to wonder how he’s going to get himself out of his predicaments.

Characters

Sakamoto Characters Collage (Acchan, Kubota, Aina)
Acchan with his delinquent friends, Kubota, & Aina

As with a lot of shows, there are a number of stereotypical characters in Sakamoto, such as the shy girl, the strict school teacher, and the delinquent classmates. However, it does a good job of turning those tropes on their head, not unlike Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun did a few seasons ago. While there are quite a few to list, I will just stick to a handful of examples from his class and let you watch to find out the rest!

  • Acchan – One of three delinquent boys who tries to get the better of Sakamoto through pranks
  • Kubota – An overweight boy who is befriended by Sakamoto, and who cares deeply for his own hair
  • Aina – a female student who makes all the boys do her bidding, using a set of guidelines referred to as “Love Lessons”
Sakamoto's classmates fangirling over him
Sakamoto’s classmates fangirling over him

The great thing about this show is that nearly every person gets some amount of screen time, and aren’t just background to fill the scene up with. They react to situations differently and have distinct personalities, which is a wonderful experience. In fact, because of their interactions with the title character, they all manage to change and evolve throughout the season. The only downside is that, due to the nature of his character, Sakamoto isn’t able to grow and change with them.

Art & Animation

The background changes color and sparkles when Sakamoto does something over the top
The background sparkles when Sakamoto does something over the top

I’m not sure if it’s just a recent trend I’m seeing in anime or “slice of life” shows, but it seems like Sakamoto has a hazy brightness to it. This creates a certain dulling to the art, which I’m not sure I like. Produced by Studio DEEN, who are also responsible for Fate/stay nightFull Moon o Sagashite and Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju (among many others), the show tends to use natural/neutral coloring to give a more realistic vibe. There typically aren’t any pops of wildly saturated colors to contrast the moments, but that just puts the characters at the forefront. The only time it’s inverted is to accentuate some way Sakamoto is being amazing, highlighted even further with speed lines and sparkles or freeze-framed with descriptive text.

Sakamoto Manga & Anime Comparison
Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto Manga & Anime Comparison

I can’t really say that the art style & animation are gorgeous or beautiful, but they adequately convey the characters and events. From the manga images I’ve seen, the show takes most of its cues from the source material, and does a fairly good translation of the style. Honestly, I’m neither overwhelmed or underwhelmed by it. I’m just whelmed, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Music

Sakamoto pretending to play the guitar with a broom in the opening song "Coolest"
Sakamoto pretending to play the guitar in the opening song “Coolest”

In my mind, there are 4 distinct pieces of music in this show, and each one just WORKS. First is the opening song, “Coolest” by Customi-Z, which is practically a rock anthem introducing the audience to this insanely talented character. It’s upbeat, it’s catchy and it makes you want to shout words like “Wake Up” and “Break Out” for no real reason. The second and third are both part of the instrumental arrangements composed by Yasuhiko Fukuda. The 2nd features slow, melodic moments of calming serenity and light background noise to tie the show together, while the 3rd is a brassy number coupled with a driving beat that serves as Sakamoto’s main theme.

Sakamoto making coffee in the show's ending sequence
Sakamoto making coffee in the show’s ending sequence

Finally, the show ends with “Nakushita Hibi ni Sayonara” (Goodbye to Lost Days) by Suneohair. The tune FEELS like an ending song, as though things are coming to a close and it’s time to bid adieu, but you know it’s going to be fine. On top of that, add in montage clips of Sakamoto doing things like bubbling coffee in a science classroom flask, and you’ve got yourself a winner in my book.

Final Thoughts

Sakamoto dramatically opening a package
Sakamoto dramatically revealing his lunch

If you’re looking for a show to bring a smile to your face, then look no further than Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto. From the opening credits to the ridiculous end sequence, it’s an entertaining ride that doesn’t ask much of its audience. While the story gets a bit formulaic, the growth of the characters and seeing Sakamoto stay collected under crazy pressure is good fun. You really can’t hate him, and might even grow to respect him. Besides, he’s just like, the coolest, you know?

The Good

  • Light-hearted mindless fun
  • Three dimensional supporting characters
  • Dat opening song doe

The Bad

  • Can feel predictable at times
  • Sakamoto's character never changes
  • Blurry bright backgrounds

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