Sasaki and Peeps – Episode 1

By: Caitlin Moore January 6, 20240 Comments

What’s it about? On the cusp of 40, Sasaki has worked at the same job his entire adult life. He’s never gotten a raise and lives more or less in poverty, but the only source of dissatisfaction is that he can’t afford a pet. But then, on an impulse visit to the pet store, he hears a tiny voice calling, “Pick me!” The source of that voice is a little Javanese sparrow, who he takes home and names Peeps. But it turns out, talking isn’t a trick Peeps picked up—he’s the reincarnation of an otherworldly being, and he has standards. Standards that Sasaki can’t meet, until Peeps teaches him the spell to teleport to his home world. Sasaki’s about to have a hell of a midlife!

I really feel like I should have liked Sasaki and Peeps. The central premise holds a lot of interest to me: a middle-aged man picks up a cute little bird at a pet shop, the bird starts talking to him, and things snowball from there. Peeps (Pii-chan in Japanese) turns Sasaki’s life into a mishmash of light novel genres: he hops back and forth between worlds, selling modern Japanese wares for high prices to wealthy pseudo-medieval customers. He uses his capital to start a restaurant in the other world. He uses his magic to save a woman from an attacker, and she turns out to work for a secret government agency that employs psychics. Oh, and the middle school girl who lives in the one-room apartment next door to his own and regularly just sits out on the walkway to get away from her mother seems to have a crush on him.

Sasaki against a white background doing a magical girl pose

Alright, that last part I’m not thrilled about. But regardless, Sasaki greets all these twists with a mix of eagerness, pragmatism, and growing exhaustion that probably isn’t too far off from how I, a working adult who is old enough to think of Hibiki Ryoga whenever she hears “Pii-chan,” would respond to my life taking a similar turn. He’s excited and interested in starting new projects, but he doesn’t have the boundless energy that a much younger man would have. He’s constantly worn out, but he feels like he’s in too deep to quit. He’s just like me, fr, fr.

The problem is, Sasaki and Peeps is really, really boring. Anime studios have gotten way too comfortable with extra-long premieres. Occasionally they’re necessary, as in the case of Oshi no Ko, but this time, they absolutely could have made it work in a standard-length episode. I checked the progress bar after Sasaki met the psychic agent and let out an audible groan when I realized it was only a bit more than halfway through. If they had cut a bit of content for time, and there was plenty that could have gone, they could have stopped there, ended the episode on the cliffhanger, and the show would have been better for it. But noooooo, they had to make an overly-literal adaptation and keep every single bit of narration.

Sasaki looking shocked with Peeps sitting on top of a muscular stone body typing at a computer. Subtitles: It's a golem!
This is one of the three times I laughed at the episode

Yeah, narration. Sasaki and Peeps runs into the same issue that a number of light novel adaptations do, where they have absolutely zero faith in the audience to process visual information and instead narrate every. Single. Thing. That happens. Can’t just draw a woman with visibly heavy eyeshadow, Sasaki must comment on her heavy makeup! Can’t let the viewers interpret body language, facial expressions, or actions, Sasaki has to interpret what’s going on for us. I don’t know whether to blame the writer Akao Deko, the director Minato Mirai, or some producer making demands for this, but guys. Please stop. It’s literally ruining shows that I genuinely think I’d like otherwise.

I’m not sure cutting the narration would save Sasaki and Peeps, though. The pacing is, as previously noted, kind of a disaster. The writing is startlingly humorless for such a wacky concept. Sasaki is the kind of protagonist that things just happen around, and that’s fine, but the story needs to move at a much snappier pace so we’re not just sitting inside an unengaging character’s viewpoint. Peeps is fun, and I chuckled at the visual gag of a little Java sparrow furiously shaking a piece of high-grade meat while Sasaki contemplates his finances in the other world, but he’s not always available for Sasaki to play off of. Not even Sugita Tomokazu and Yuki Aoi can save this.

Sasaki handing Otonari a chocolate bar outside of her apartment. Subtitles: I won it in the convenience store raffle.

I haven’t really dug into Sasaki’s neighbor, who is literally named Otonari, because there’s not much there yet. At first she just seems like a bored teenage girl who Sasaki is nice to, but when she gets jealous seeing an adult woman stop by Sasaki’s apartment… well, if I hadn’t already been checked out from spending 40 minutes drudging through the episode, that would have done it for me. Before there was a slim chance I’d give it a bit more time, but in that moment, that chance slipped away. Bye, Peeps. Your beeps were cute, but I’m out of here. Maybe I’ll watch Sasaki and Miyano instead.

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