“SaiKano: The Last Love Song on This Little Planet,” also known as “Saishu Heiki Kanojo” or “She, the Ultimate Weapon” is a dramatic, poignant story of true love. At least, it’s supposed to be.
Chise and Shuji are two high school students in a relationship in Japan during a time of war, however their town has been relatively untouched. One day while Shuji is shopping in Sapporo with his friends, the city is attacked by bombers. He gets hit by debris and falls unconscious.
When he wakes up he sees Chise standing amongst the wreckage — with metal wings and weapons grafted into her body. Against her will, she has become the ultimate weapon of the Japanese military and must kill for her country. This is their love story.
This anime has been praised for being a poignant, tearfully pure and realistic love story that develops as naturally as a relationship would in the real world.
Um… I don’t want to be rude, but that is incorrect.
Chise and Shuji are not realistic characters. Chise is a shy cliche. She does not become a character until she starts to deal with becoming a weapon, at which point she becomes a woobie. (This is a very technical term. It means “cute thing that is sad.”) She has the largest role, but unfortunately doesn’t have actual character development (discarding the aaaaangst) until the last four episodes. Then she finally takes action and the series gets infinitely more interesting. Unfortunately, she was not in time to save it.
Shuji is the most insensitive guy I have ever seen in an anime. In the first episode, Chise wants to share a journal with him. He tries to write and can’t. Logically, he decides a girlfriend is too much work and resolves to break up with her the next day.
I can’t imagine how he can behave the way he does in certain situations and say that he never wanted to hurt Chise. While in the latter-half of this show the situations are reasonable, in the beginning they aren’t and only serve to artificially heighten the drama of their relationship and Chise’s woobie-quotient.
The animation looks cheap. The characters have constant blush marks on their faces and I caught myself wondering why even after realizing it was a permanent side-effect of the style.
However, the anime’s treatment of war is wonderfully realistic. Instead of using war to lecture about the nature of humanity, it focuses on how people in the story are changed as the war starts affecting their lives. While life struggles to recover a suddenly precious normality, the characters search for a meaning, purpose and place in the war, which is easily the most moving and thought-provoking part of this show.
My problem with this series lies with the two leads and their budding “love” ringing false. Your mileage may vary. If you like the first episode, you will like the show. If you’re unimpressed, it’s not worth your time.
Saikano receives a 3 out of 5 stars. Saikano is distributed by Viz Media and can be found for sale in DVD-form online and elsewhere.
Cara Hillstock is a sophomore in English and theater. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org