There’s a variety of comedy genres prevalent in anime, such as slapstick, parody, and satire. But, what happens when you combine them all together? Boom. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K, otherwise known as Saiki Kusuo no Ψ-nan.
This anime is known for its layered jokes, ultimately leading to the jaw-dropping punchline. There are also so many things you can miss just from your first watch through of the anime. I’ve seen all the seasons completely around four times and I’m still learning new things to this day.
Let’s talk about comedy genres. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K pulls from a multitude of genres, creating its own ultimate genre. A small handful of the genres present in the anime include slapstick, parody, character archetype comedy, stereotype comedy, and observational comedy. Slapstick may be the most familiar term for frequent anime watchers since it is one of the most common comedy genres in the anime industry. For those unfamiliar, slapstick anime is a type of physical comedy that involves two characters, where one makes an exaggerated joke and the other retorts back, pointing out the exaggeration to the audience. Some good examples of a slapstick’s typical structure are Aho Girl and Asobi Asobase. Within The Disastrous Life of Saiki K, the side characters make the exaggerated joke and Saiki Kusuo serves as the character that retorts back. A great example is when Yumehara Chiyo has a crush on Saiki.
One comedic genre frequently overlooked in The Disastrous Life of Saiki K is its amazing pun humor. A title card will appear between each episode, with a title bearing the Greek letter Ψ. This letter serves as a replacement for any Japanese word containing the character “sai” or サイ. Take the photo below as an example:
For this title card, the Ψ replaces the サイ in サイレント (sailento), creating the pun “PSI-lent New Year’s” from “Silent New Year’s.”
The characters themselves are also puns of Saiki’s psychic powers. Below is a list of some of the characters’ names and their psychic puns. It may be hard to realize how it’s a pun in the first place, so try pronouncing the characters’ names slowly.
- Saiki Kusuo – psychic
- Saiko Metori – psychometry
- Kokomi Teruhashi- her last name is telepathy
- Hairo Kineshi – pyrokinesis
- Aren Kuboyasu – clairvoyance
My favorite pun is Shun Kaidou’s, mainly because he’s my favorite character and I want to give him a giant hug. Nevertheless, Kaidou’s name is a pun off of Saiki’s teleportation power. In Japanese, teleportation is pronounced as “shunkan idou.” Essentially, every character’s name in The Disastrous Life of Saiki K is a pun of some sorts. Fans have researched and compiled a list of a majority of the characters’ connections to Saiki’s psychic powers.
The last, and by far the most prevalent, comedic genre in The Disastrous Life of Saiki K is character archetype humor. Every anime fan is familiar with character archetypes. From the animal companion to tsundere, it’s easy to put many anime characters under one umbrella term. Within The Disastrous Life of Saiki K, every character is its own character archetype. Hairo Kineshi, for instance, is the exaggerated form of the inspirational character found in specifically sports anime. In the anime, Hairo is skilled in a variety of sports, frequently inspires his classmates to follow his ridiculous antics, and is backed by an uplifting music track titled “Unbeatable Battle.”
Another character archetype The Disastrous Life of Saiki K portrays perfectly is the chuunibyou. For those not familiar with the term, chuunibyou, or middle-school syndrome, is someone who’s developed the belief that they have other-worldly powers that no one else possesses. Normally, these people create an intricate persona and sometimes will write their own fantasy storyline. Chuunibyou is a negative term, which is why it’s frequently used in character archetype comedy. Shun Kaidou is The Disastrous Life of Saiki K’s chuunibyou.
His grand entrance happens in Episode 1, where he dons a tattered school uniform and styles his blue hair so that it stands up. His arms are wrapped in red bandages, and Kaidou tells other characters that the reason for the bandages is that it seals an incredible power in his right arm. Kaidou gave himself the name Jet-Black Wings and believes that the world is controlled by an organization called The Dark Reunion. He also belives he has superpowers, with the most popular one being Judgement Knights of Thunder. Ever since Kaidou first showed Judgement Knights of Thunder, his musical backtrack became a song repeating the words “Judgement Knights of Thunder” accompagnied by a powerful electric guitar. His backtrack by far is the most popular within The Disastrous Life of Saiki K‘s fanbase.
The last character archetype I will focus on is the “oblivious” school idol, Teruhashi Kokomi. I put oblivious in quotations because frankly, Teruhashi is not oblivious but instead acts oblivious. She is the perfect pretty girl—considerate of others’ feelings, kind-hearted, and not quick to judge. She calculates her actions and words so that she can maintain her perfect pretty girl image. She also never fails to make the male characters, aside from Saiki, gasp from her beauty whenever she walks past them.
This is just a snapshot of the long list of reasons why The Disastrous Life of Saiki K is a genius when it comes to comedy anime. Not only is it easily accessible on Netflix, but it’s also a great starter anime for those who like comedy. Trust me. I was able to get two of my friends to start watching anime by showing them this show.
Gabriella is a 21-year-old writer and artist from Texas and currently goes to university in New York. Her favorite anime shows include Mob Psycho 100, The Disastrous Life of Saiki K, and Kill la Kill. In her free time, Gabriella likes to watch anime, read manga, and play the newest games on her Nintendo Switch.
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