Sounan Desu ka? – Anime Is Not Lost

From Sounan Desu ka’s (Are You Lost?) opening episode, it’s easy to recognise it as one of Summer’s more niche anime, running at only twelve minutes, and with a subject matter that is a little removed from usual, all considering. So, after reading MAL’s brief synopsis at the start of the season, it seemed to be far enough up my alley to give it a watch. I wasn’t wrong. Sounan Desu ka provides a good amount of laughs from a cast of characters that are all endearing in their own ways. And whilst it might never achieve Anime of the Season, it never tries to be more than it is. A feel-good show to watch between shows which are more engaging.


All washed up…


 

Sounan’s Value is in Shock

We’ve seen shows that are rather questionable in their ways. Whether that’s the themes and narratives themselves, or the production, visuals, sound design, etc… A  favourite of mine that fits under this tag is Koi Kaze , and even last season’s Domestic Girlfriend to a degree. These anime are supposed to shock, it is inherent to their value – in providing a kind of emotional  response that differs from the everyday lives we live. Humans are relentlessly curious, after all.


Yeah, good thanks…


The shock and awe appears through its comedy, and what are standard elements of Ecchi which are then encapsulated within an environment that is anything but standard. The set-up itself is also anything but extraordinary. In fact, it’s wholly ordinary: a group of four high-school age girls who find themselves in a precarious situation. Shows like School-Live!  and Angel Beats! come to mind when looking for comparisons. It’s easy to disregard these shows as trite, as though they contribute nothing towards the growing anime industry and the art – and therefore meaning – which is ascribed by anyone watching. Does the show have any value in it’s artistic expression, or does it simply exist for the detached purpose of entertainment, and gratification?

Everyone finds a different answer. And, does it matter?

It is fun, it is amusing, and generally the survival information is surprisingly informative, if forgettable. More than anything else, it’s simply a pleasure to watch. And in this case that’s all I judge the show by. After all, it has to be worth something in order to prop up the wall that is retaining all our backlogs. In this respect Sounan Desu ka fills the gaps between the longer, more substantial shows airing during the season. As it would be to binge through in the break, too.

 

A Thing For Survival

I’ve always been attracted to the idea of outdoor survival, and the mix of danger and self-sufficiency that comes from it. Growing up, I wouldn’t turn away from the television if bush-craft expert Ray Mears was on. I watched every one of his shows, and recount much of the information even now. So, I’m naturally endeared towards Homare – she understands what must be done, and how to do it, and some of the sacrifices that have to be made along the way. Despite the upbeat tone of Sounan Desu ka, she realises surviving is no joke, not something to take lightly in any sense. She is the tutor, the master, and the leader of the group, and for good reason.

The dynamic between all four characters shines through massively – Homare being their anchor to a reality they are entirely unfamiliar with, yet must deal with nonetheless. Each has something to offer that is individual to the group, no matter how trivial it might seem at the time, things which they thought weren’t valuable. Contribution towards survival is all that matters. Like Homare says: it’s the little things, the small victories which enable the moral, and the motivation to carry on against all the odds.



 

It’s All Very Fun

With the episodes being only twelve minutes long – including OP and ED – there is relatively little time for information dumps. There’s little exposition aside from some character backstory. Of course while this isn’t an anime to analyse frame by frame, or line by line, it just feels right: from standard animation, to the standard characters – nothing stands out as brilliant, but it all rests as good. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Not all shows can be Evangelion or Legends of the Galactic Heroes. I adore Sounan Desu ka’s over-the-top nonsense, how it never devolves into jokes that fall on flat ears, and how it uses tropes of its genre to propel itself forward in what otherwise might have been still water. Sounan Desu ka is humble. It just is. I enjoy that. Give it a watch, you might be surprised too.

 

Thanks for reading!

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