Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto Complete Collection DVD Review

Originally published on The Fandom Post

What They Say:
Step into classroom 1-2 and meet the coolest guy in school. In fact, Sakamoto may just be the coolest guy ever. And that’s not just because he makes his student uniform and glasses look like a fashion magazine cover. There’s also the fact that nothing ever seems to surprise or rattle him. The girls are all crazy for him, of course, but even the most macho delinquents start to feel a little funny when he’s around. However, Sakamoto never seems to notice, let alone take advantage of the attention. He’s too busy being cool and mysterious without even trying! This does drive some people crazy, but the more someone tries to challenge Sakamoto, the more they start to fall under his spell. Intrigued? Then come join the class and get a lesson in cool from the master in Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto!

The Review:
This release comes with both the original Japanese audio and Sentai’s English dub. Sentai’s dubs can sometimes be hit or miss, but this is decidedly one of the hits. Aside from a few iffy background performances, the dub is solidly performed across the board. Houston Hayes in particular is excellent at conveying Sakamoto’s suave attitude without ever sounding like he’s trying too hard. Sakamoto is the key role here, so Hayes’ performances is more than able to carry when the occasional secondary character sounds off. Hayes is a relative newcomer to anime dubs, and I’m excited to see more of him in the future.

The soundtrack is full of light, breezy jazz that complements the comedy well, especially the theme that plays whenever Sakamoto does something cool. The soundtrack isn’t as important for a comedy like this, but it’s still good to see a comedy with a distinctive sound to it.

In terms of pure animation, Sakamoto falls almost square in the middle. It doesn’t do much to stand out, but it’s also never so visibly limited that it detracts from the viewing experience. There are some nice shots here and there that emphasize Sakamoto’s coolness, but that’s about it for visual presentation.

This set comes in a standard DVD case with fairly typical promotional artwork on the cover. The case isn’t anything noteworthy, but it gets the job done just fine and is sturdy enough that it won’t fall apart easily.

Similar to the packaging, this set’s menus are pretty bare-bones. The main page on each disc has a list of episodes, with separate menus for extras and options. It would’ve been nice to have a slightly cleaner version and a separate section for episode selection, but this works just fine.

On-disc extras are about as minimal as they come, consisting only of clean openings and endings and various trailers. This isn’t the kind of set for high-end collectors; it’s strictly meant to give us the anime and not much else.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto is the sort of show where you can tell what you’re in for based on the premise alone. Each episode more or less follows the formula the plot synopsis hints at: some new bully or tough guy sees how cool and popular Sakamoto is, tries to take him down, and ends up making Sakamoto look cooler in the process while being charmed by Sakamoto’s perfection. With a few exceptions, every episode more or less follows this format, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

As you might guess from the title, the anime lives and dies by one character: Sakamoto. Sakamoto is an enigma: nobody knows where he’s from, what his personal life is like, why he’s so cool, or even what his last name is. All we know about Sakamoto is that he’s perfect in everything he does and nobody can change that. Someone takes away his desk? He sits on the windowsill looking cooler than ever. A water fountain sprays him? A wet Sakamoto ends up charming even more girls than he already does. An upperclassman starts making him run errands? Sakamoto does everything so perfectly that the guys is scared away. So much of the humor relies on this same basic joke, but it’s a good joke to work with. We always know that Sakamoto’s going to come out on top, so the real fun comes in seeing how he does it. When you break it down, Sakamoto rarely does anything all that special. He just does mundane tasks while looking so cool that everyone is blinded by awe. His solutions can even get pretty silly, like bringing an umbrella into the bathroom, but work because he maintains a straight face throughout all of it, passing it off as nothing more than an ordinary guy going about his day. Even when people think he’s doing something spectacular like posing to call down lightning to win a fight, it always turns out to be something hilariously mundane. None of it would work with anyone else, but Sakamoto isn’t anyone else; he’s Sakamoto.

While the show’s clever framing, usually involving sparkles and bright lighting, helps sell Sakamoto’s antics, the show is at its best when there’s someone around to play the straight man. Someone, usually Sakamoto’s friend Kabota or one of his other classmates, being there to gawk at or misinterpret Sakamoto’s behavior only makes things funnier since Sakamoto himself is so deadpan. There’s a reason so much classic comedy relies on duos: one person acting strange can set up a joke, but someone else reacting to that can deliver a punch-line. Sakamoto’s punch-lines are fairly predictable, but always earn at least a chuckle, if not a full laugh. The show knows it’s one joke well enough that it always lands to some degree, even if it rarely hits too hard.

Where the anime starts to stumble is when it strays from the typical formula. There are a few episodes that focus on Kabota’s mom and are more tedious than funny. She also has one central joke, that she’s comically in love with Sakamoto, but it’s far less funny than Sakamoto’s one joke. She’s just not interesting enough to carry one joke across multiple situations, and the main joke isn’t funny enough to last that long, so her episodes end up more grating than funny. Sakamoto’s other stumbling point comes when it occasionally tries for something more serious, which always fails since we know from the start that Sakamoto’s going to come in and solve every problem while being perfect. Both issues are thankfully infrequent, so the anime is able to spend most of its time doing what it does best: setting up jokes around Sakamoto.

In Summary:
Though you can tell what the anime is going to be from the very first episode, that doesn’t mean Sakamoto is a bad show. It knows its main joke well enough that it always lands to some degree. It’s rarely hilarious, but always funny, rarely great, but often good, and generally a decent show without ever standing out too much. I wouldn’t call it a must watch, but Sakamoto is a great choice if you’re in the mood for some light comedy to brighten your day a bit.

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: November 21st, 2017
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 325 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 16×9 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
TSSTcorp CDDVDW SN-208FB disc drive in a custom built PC, ASUS VG248QE 24″ Full HD 1920×1080 144Hz 1ms Monitor with DisplayPort connection, Steelseries Siberia 840 Wireless 7.1 Surround Sound Headset

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