- Titles: Sakugan Labyrinth Marker, Sacks&Guns!!, Sakugan
- Genre: Science fiction, mecha, drama, adventure
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: Satelight
Memenpu is going to be a marker! Oh, by the way, the markers are the people who explore stuff. You know, they “mark it” on maps. That’s why we call them markers. Life can be kind of difficult in the labyrinth but it’s going way easier once we figure out where everything is! Right?!? But markin’ ain’t an easy job. There are all kinds of dangers out there. Like Kaijus and earthquakes that are bound to get you, if you don’t just plain old starve to death before, that is. That’s probably why Memenpu’s dad, Gagumber, wants her to stay with him, nice and safe in the colony. They can be workers there and enjoy a relatively peaceful life. It’s normal for a daddy to want to keep his precious little princess safe. Oh, and did I mention that Memenpu’s nine. Yeah, she’s a rugrat. Of course, no one’s going to give her some super dangerous job. But at nine, Memenpu already has multiple university degrees, and if there’s some way to get what she wants, we’ll figure it out. And after that, she’ll figure out the secrets of the labyrinth!
I just realized that it’s kind of hard writing a summary of Sakugan. There’s a lot going on here. It was an early favourite last season with people pointing to it as one of the best first episodes of fall 2021. As such, I was really looking forward to starting it for myself.
Sakugan looks pretty good. Actually, it looks great. Animation is very lush and there’s a lot of attention to how things move. The Kaiju have a lumbering quality that really makes you feel their massive size and weight, the mechs have these little jagged movements that can only be mechanized and potentially in need of oil. A lot of this is rather subtle and might go unnoticed by the majority of the viewers but I think it adds a lot to the world-building.
Designs are always up to the eye of the beholder. At the end of the day, you either like the look of a show or you don’t. Or most of the time, you sort like it but it’s not your favourite or anything. This was the case for me and Sakugan. I liked the designs well enough but I didn’t love them. Personally, I think Zack was a bit of a low and occasionally looked more like a draft but otherwise, characters looked fine. I will say, however, that the character designs stayed pretty consistent regardless of how much movement or distance was involved.
Because of the nature of the story, locations are a tiny bit repetitive. Everything is underground so that naturally makes the settings and backgrounds a bit more uniform. But once again, I thought that added a lot to the world-building. On top of that, the contrast of having the characters find occasional patches of nature was really nice.
Story & Characters
When I started watching Sakugan, my mind immediately went to Deca-Dence. For the record, I really like science fiction so I tend to get excited when a new anime comes out in the genre. I also quite enjoyed Deca-Dence (more than most) which made me even more enthusiastic about Sakugan.
There are a lot of similarities between both shows. They both feature what seems to be the human race after some sort of world-altering cataclysm. They both introduce the idea of the world itself being somewhat antagonistic or at least very dangerous to humans, which forces most people into voluntary confinement of some sort. Both shows have mysterious monsters and both have a father/daughter relationship at their core. I’m into all of that.
However, when you take the similarities away, these are rather different stories.
Sakugan is in many ways primarily an action/adventure. There is a lot of running away from enemies or escaping would be capturers. The mysteries of the labyrinth are certainly an important aspect, but they sort of exist in the background of the more personal action happening on screen. Throughout season 1, there is no particular urgency to getting at the deeper story.
It’s only in the last few episodes, with the introduction of “rainbow children” as a concept, that the story really opens up. Although, I guess this is as good a time as any to let you know that Sakugan season 1 is not a complete story.
It does have emotional closure for some of the character arcs and it doesn’t feel like the show just ends mid-sentence. However, it’s what I would call the first season of a longer anime. A lot of the more interesting concepts and parties involved, only get introduced at the very end. There’s little time for explanation and no time for exploration at that point. And the characters are all left in a precarious position at the end. I think that no further seasons have been announced at this point, so we’ll just have to make up our own conclusions.
But what does that all mean for Sakugan in general? As it currently exists, the show is a series of smaller arcs that come together as Memenpu’s quest to find the place of her dreams. Literally, she keeps dreaming about this field. These smaller arcs are often dramatic character moments and are almost always high-action. I thought some worked better than others. However, none really sucked me in that much. I was always more interested in the more general what is the labyrinth and what is going on question, than in the individual quests.
And to be honest, I never got that attached to the characters. I don’t dislike any of them. But I also found them sort of forgettable. They certainly all have very distinct personalities and backstories, yet they somehow struck me as generic. Like I had seen these characters before, and these weren’t the ultimate form. Does that make any sense? I would take the cast of Sakugan over a lot of anime characters, but in all likelihood, I’m not going to remember any of them in a month.
As such, my personal enthusiasm for the show waned as the show progressed. Not to the point that I ever found watching it a chore, but I stopped being excited about the next episode. Like I mentioned, I was always intrigued by the deeper lore so I probably would watch another season if it ever got made. I’m just not that sad if it doesn’t.
You might like this anime if:
You like either mecha or sci fi anime and want to see another one and you’re ok with a lack of conclusion
My favourite character:
Big Tony! also Yuuri!
- Every time Gagumber and Memenpu bicker – take a sip
- Every time a kaiju shows up – hide
- Every time DJ K. is on the radio – take a sip
- Every time anyone calls Gagumber “Gail force” – take a sip
- Every time Memenpu talks about her dreams – take a sip
- Every time anyone calls Memenpu a kid – hmph
- Every time anyone mentions Urorop – take a sip
- Every time anyone is drinking – join them
- Every time Yuuri’s an optimist – raise your glass
- Every time voiceover narration – listen
- Every time anyone gets really hurt saving Memenpu – take a sip
- Every time anyone mentions the Shibido – take a sip
- Every time anyone says rainbow child/ren – it’s the title of the post!
- Every time there’s noodles – get a snack
- Every time we see Linda – pour some out
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.