Momoka Sonokawa is a transfer student who, while riding a train on her first day of school, gets perved on by a creepy older man when a beautiful, but crazy, young woman named Miou Ootori pulls a Desert Eagle airsoft gun on the man. Momoka heads to school, thinking that was the last she'd ever see of the insane girl. However, to her chagrin, Miou not only attends her new school, she's the school beauty that everyone in the school is love with. Miou is also the president of the school's Survival Game Club, or Sabagebu for short, and she tries to recruit Momoka to the club. She eventually succeeds in getting Momoka to join the club, but only after drugging her and forcing her to join against her will. Now Momoka has to deal with a gang of eccentric girls who love guns. Does Sabagebu! hit its mark, or is it a misfire?
Momoka Sonokawa is far and away the biggest douche to ever be the protagonist of anything. She is petty, greedy, materialistic, and extremely vindictive with a mean streak that spans the Milky Way from tip to tip. She will exact an insanely disproportionate level of revenge against people for even the smallest things. An example of this is, early on as some girls are trying to bully her, they put a single thumb tack into each of her shoes. She gets revenge by overfilling their shoes with thumb tacks. And that's just a mild example, hell that's not even the worst thing she does to them. She only cares about herself, as shown when the club does play survival games, she almost always uses Urara, a club member, who by the way was punched so hard in the face by Momoka she became masochistic and fell in love with Momoka, as a human shield. Hell just look at that GIF above! Momoka got into a challenge with an otaku who is a master at light gun games, and he was winning their face off. Her solution? She smashes him in the head with her light gun, kicks his unconscious body, and then proceeds to finish the game, beating him. There is no way of getting around it, she is just an all around asshole. And that's why I love her! She's just such a massive prick that you can't help but love her! She is the gold standard of how you should do a douchebag protagonist.
It's no real secret that a lot of anime fans, when they first caught wind of Sabagebu!, thought it would be like last year's extremely underwhelming Stella Women's Academy, High School Division Class C3, or C3-bu for short. And there are a few parallels between the two shows. Both were Summer season series. Both are about a girl going to a new school where no one they know attends. Hell in both shows the main character's first interaction with anyone from the survival game club is with the beautiful Desert Eagle wielding club president. One of the first survival games they show in both series is the main character and the president going against the remaining members of the club even. But that's where the similarities end, and where the fun begins for Sabagebu!, because Sabagebu! absolutely rips into C3-bu. From the get go it doesn't pull its punches, utterly dismissing C3-bu for its infamously overly dramatic and "dark" story progression. Sabagebu! would again go after C3-bu by pointing out that doing survival games in swimsuits is an incredibly stupid idea, which is exactly what C3-bu spent a couple of episodes focusing on.
Schoolkids aren't the only people who play survival games in Sabagebu!'s world. For example, Momoka's mom is pretty badass herself and can wield a Smith and Wesson Model 500 like a boss. There's even a full on defense force of survival game players on the government's payroll!
Every survival game played in Sabagebu! is seen through the shared imagination of everyone involved. This means lots of explosions and copious amounts of blood and death, all with the pastel colors of the show mind you. Of course no one is actually hurt, but it is still awesome to see and puts most action films to shame. You haven't lived until you've seen a crab pilot a helicopter while a platypus mans its minigun. No...none of that previous sentence was a typo.
There are references to pop culture all over the place in Sabagebu!. Those poor souls above, who, by the way I am absolutely convinced are the only people to actually die in this series, because their crash happened outside of a survival game, came in as a reference to Apocalypse Now, Ride of the Valkyries and everything. The girls buy their survival game supplies from an Arnold Schwarzenegger look alike, they showed Chuck Norris, they reference both Aliens and Predators, they even reference Mad Max and Easy Rider, hell they even had a cameo by Columbo! Freaking Columbo, man! They even toss in a few video game references, mainly via Kayo Gotokuji, a cosplayer in the club. Her primary survival game costume is Jill Valentine's Resident Evil 3 outfit. There are simply too many references to list, really.
The narrator in Sabagebu! constantly breaks the fourth wall, but unlike most cases of repeated fourth wall breaking, it never gets stale, instead the narrator forms an important part of the comedy in Sabagebu!. He often calls the characters, particularly Momoka, on their crap. He also gives important explanations and plot details. Oh, and he's also the Arnold look alike that the girls buy their supplies from.
No, that's not the name of some kind of meal. That's actually the name of the light gun otaku that Momoka cheated against all the way up at the top of this review. He's rather creepy, and perverted, but he is also absurdly funny. I won't go into exact details why, just, he's one of the dark horse members of the cast.
While Sabagebu! is mostly a highly entertaining romp, there are a few dull spots. That's because each episode of Sabagebu! is split into multiple mini-episodes. Each episode has at least two of them, but many have three. The vast majority of these mini-episodes are top notch, high quality entertainment, but a few of them are a bit of a drag. Mainly because they lack the awesome action scenes and tend to have a lower amount of comedy compared to the rest. I don't know if they are bad, per se. I do know they aren't as entertaining as the rest, though.
There is no form of overarching story in Sabagebu!, but there is a very loose sense of continuity, as some mini-episodes will recall events that happened in other mini-episodes. Also, there is a consistency to the order the girls die in when playing survival games. Nearly every single time, they die in the same order, and usually in the same way.
Unfortunately Sabagebu! looks a little cheap sometimes. Now I don't mean it looks bad, far from it, but it definitely isn't going to cause TVs to explode from its visual fidelity, either. I kind of find it to be part of Sabagebu!'s charm, really. Just pointing out that those that want only the cutting edge in animation might want to look elsewhere.
Despite the name of the show, it isn't always about survival games. They do a variety of activities during the course of the series. Though to be sure, the majority of the show is about survival games in some form or another. This is more of a heads up that the title isn't 100% true for the entire length of the show.
While there are a few flaws in Sabagebu!, they aren't deal breakers, and are more nitpicks that anything. Really they are only really flaws when it comes to expectations. The positives this show has to offer far outweighs the negatives to an insane degree. As someone who was massively burned by C3-bu last year, I am glad that there is now a good airsoft anime that, despite what few flaws there may be, remains consistent the entire length of the series, instead of constantly changing what it wants to be. If you just want an insanely entertaining show to pass the time, there are few shows from this season that fit the bill better than Sabagebu!.