Sasameki Koto started as a yuri manga written by Ikeda Takashi. The anime adaptation only covers the first part of the manga’s story. It was made in 2009 by AIC. Sadly, there has not been a second season yet. Now, I liked this anime when I saw it a couple years ago. Just let me re-watch it so I can properly articulate why. And then I’ll tell you all about it.
The story is a relatively simple romance plot. A girl named Sumika is in love with her best friend, Kazama. There’s just one problem, Kazama likes cute girls and Sumika is really tall and more cool than cute. As for the story itself, it does a really good job of showing a gradual relationship progression and it blends in some charming slice of life aspects and some well done comedy. That being said, I do have one complaint about the story layout and that’s episode seven. Just episode seven. It has no charm, no funny jokes, does nothing to advance the plot whatsoever and is just generally horrid. To make matters worse, it doesn’t even get mentioned or alluded to again after it’s over. Meaning that they just put it in to take up space. I genuinely pity anyone who saw this as their first episode because they were hanging out with a friend who was watching it or some such thing. For that matter, I feel sorry for the friend who had to explain themselves because people don’t generally believe you when you tell them “no, really. It’s not usually like this. This is entirely atypical.” That aside, the anime does a really good job of setting up the characters’ relationships to each other and starting their development. The story is incomplete, but that’s because the manga is fairly long and they really couldn’t have completed it in thirteen episodes. They do pick a pretty good ending spot though and if you’re curious about the manga the anime will certainly provide a good sample of what’s in it so that you can ascertain whether you’d like it or not.
Now, with a simple story Sasameki Koto relies a lot on its characters to carry the show and they do so magnificently. One of my professors once said that well written and developed characters can make even minor tension seem important and dramatic, whereas poorly written characters can be involved in global stakes without anyone caring. Sasameki Koto confirms the first part of her claim. Sasameki Koto makes waiting for a phone call into a dramatic event. It works because all of the major characters are portrayed very realistically. They’re largely sympathetic while having faults.
I can especially identify with Sumika. She loves Kazama which can cause her to act petty and say thoughtless things, but she’s also always there for her and genuinely wants her to be happy, even if it’s with someone else. She wants to tell Kazama her feelings but she’s afraid of losing her friendship so she puts on a straight girl act and keeps things bottled up. Azusa is another very sympathetic character. In many ways she’s kind of a brat, but she’s also sensitive, shy and creative. All the characters in this can be petty, thoughtless and do stupid things, but their faults aren’t exaggerated or done in an overblown or obnoxious way. Instead they serve to make them more relatable. Even the minor characters feel like real people, mostly. The one major exception only appears in one episode. In case you can’t guess which one, it’s episode seven because all the worst parts of the series are episode seven. And that’s Akemiya’s sister. Okay, technically she makes a very brief appearance in an earlier episode, but she only gets two lines and there’s nothing to indicate that she might be what seven develops her into. Seven develops her, but it does it very badly. Whereas every single other character has sympathetic qualities, she’s portrayed as a sociopath who borders on having an incestuous crush on her brother and you’re supposed to forgive her for being horrible because she’s young. No comeuppance whatsoever. Ruddy episode seven.
The art is excellently done. There are some really good details, the characters are well done, the scenery looks good and the backgrounds are nice and lively. There is one problem with it, and that’s that it abuses art style changes for comedic effect. I mentioned this when I talked about Fullmetal Alchemist, but for those of you who didn’t read that I’ll go over it again. I don’t generally mind when the art briefly changes style to a more deformed mode for comedic effect. The problem I have is when an anime does it too often. They try to use it for emphasis and it loses its impact when it happens too often and Sasameki Koto uses it too often. Now, one thing I really like about the art is that it mostly refrains from using fan-service. Even when there’s a setup that could easily lead to it and I admire that restraint. The most fan-servicey scenes are fantasies, which are pretty realistic for teenagers with crushes, and even then it’s kept pretty tasteful.
The voice acting is really well done. Both Takamoto Megumi and Takagaki Ayahi give really strong performances. I’m not sure how closely they actually worked together since their lines were recorded, but I can say that they have really strong chemistry. If there’s anything wrong with the acting in this it’s that there are quite a few exaggerated scenes, but I’m not going to complain about it much since I honestly think they work in context. I didn’t like the music as much. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good but it doesn’t add a whole lot to the atmosphere. Most of it is just really mellow. Which is fine, but I would’ve liked to hear more of a variety.
The yuri factor is a 10/10. Who ever would have thought that yuri anime month reviews would have such a high yuri factor? In addition to the budding relationship between Kazama and Sumika there’s a more advanced romance between Tomoe and Miyako and there’s Azusa’s crush on Sumika. One of Sasameki Koto’s strengths is that the yuri is handled fairly realistically. Unlike some yuri anime, they go to a school with a largely straight population and Kazama’s crushes tend to be one-sided as a consequence. It’s a move that makes the characters more sympathetic since they are outsiders of a sort and seeing them find camaraderie really works well because of that. The relationships themselves are really strongly developed in a way that feels completely natural.
Now, my final rating for Sasameki Koto is an 8/10. It’s a great anime, except for bloody episode seven. My biggest complaint is that one episode but ignoring that, the characters are excellent, the romance is handled very well, the voice acting is great and the art, when not shifted to the humorous style, is amazing. I do suggest giving it a try, and skipping episode seven because it seriously is just awful. If you enjoy the twelve good episodes you should check out the manga, because it, unfortunately hasn’t gotten another season yet and it might never. Well, that’s it for yuri anime month. Next month I plan to look at Katanagatari, Blood+, and Durarara because my lovely fans requested it and I can’t say no to reasonable requests from you guys. Even in those rare cases when I know it’s going to be painful to re-watch something. There was something else coming up, but I can’t recall what it was right now. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll think of it eventually. That was my way of alluding to the hundredth review, which came after Katanagatari and Blood+ but before Durarara.