Sasaki and Peeps volume 1: Toeing The Line



Sasaki and Peeps has been a series I’ve been… curious about since its release (in English) nearly two years ago now. The concept sounded positively absurd, it had a seasoned illustrator on tap, a first time novelist, and a supremely large page count for a first volume. Of course, because of that interest, I mindlessly tuned in to Silver Link’s passable adaptation, but found my interest to continue to grow through the series. Because of that, I finally caved and bought Sasaki and Peeps volume 1 this week… and read it all in a single day. All 312 pages. And let me say this:

Sasaki and Peeps (as a light novel) is not quite for the faint of heart, or those without much introspection.

It’s a weird balance, and is certainly something that will catch unknowing readers off guard- especially after having the anime aired. For, understandable reasons, there’s a great deal of change that faces the narrative of the anime. Overall, it is much lighter and plays into the silly and absurd nature of this story. Alongside that it really streamlines the story, condensing just shy of 600 pages into a single season. Now, that doesn’t mean that the Sasaki and Peeps anime is bad (in terms of narrative). Rather, I’d sooner liken it to the creative liberties taken with The Saga of Tanya The Evil, wherein it recognizes the limitations and challenges in the adaptation, and has chosen to pivot, providing a better overall experience as an adaptation.

Anyways, the anime as a jumping off experience for light novel readers is a pretty considerable misnomer for what the series presents itself as. For one there’s a surprising degree of violence, explained in rather “typical” detail, but the difference comes from who explains it: a meek middle-aged man that’s never fought a day in his life before this. The approach and the recoil that Sasaki himself provides to his own actions provides a rather unique sense of gore that can certainly take a bit to get used to. Though, it’s also not like it comprises the entirety of the work. Rather, it’s the financial and political escapades that Sasaki (and Peeps) find themselves on that eat up the majority of the run time for the volume- but the violence is still a point of warning considering the censoring that appeared with the anime.

Similarly, there is a…. challenging aspect of Sasaki and Peeps volume 1 that was effectively omitted in its entirety in the anime. There’s really not a good way to broach the topic, so just stick around after the following statement. The… interests of certain younger characters are rather “well expressed”, alongside some questionable tendencies with other characters. Now, I entirely understand that it plays like a complete deal-breaker upon reading, but hopefully I can provide a bit more context to the content. Sasaki and Peeps volume 1 rather quickly establishes the fact that this isn’t meant to purely be a light and fun work like the anime denotes, and within that the author explores some aspects that, well, toe the line.

Literacy is an incredibly important aspect in that regard, and while Buncololi certainly has a… penchant for the obscene in their previous works, they very much have a line that remains uncrossed. They’re perhaps a little too playful with those limits for some, and that is perfectly understandable. Younger characters and their relation to our 40-something main character do present a great deal of tension, but aside from one specific instance, I believe very few will find issue. But it’s just that, that one instance that is given its own point of view to express.

Is it entirely necessary? Absolutely not. Does it fit within the framework of Sasaki and Peeps volume 1? … I feel like it’s something that could go both ways. The darker (and evidently more sexual) tendencies of the given character can find roots that exist in the character’s arc, but I think that the writing surrounding it does ask a good deal of readers. It forces them to put together a picture of her background and history of abuse and household trauma beget in a cyclical fashion, and juxtapose that against Sasaki’s internal commentary throughout the volume- which is no doubt the monologue of Buncololi in explaining their decisions for content within this volume.

So with that said, you’ve been warned that Sasaki and Peeps volume 1 has a surprisingly high barrier of entry, but I think making it past that you get a series that remains deeply interesting and unique. Very rarely do you see light novels so well written within the isekai genre, and all but never do you see them so deftly weave together such a broad tapestry of powers, drama, money, and Kobe beef Chateaubriand.

It pulls together several storylines that offer a degree of parity, almost like the shimmering surface of a flowing river. Within those, it could have very easily chosen to explore but a single idea. Instead, it rises to the challenge, and most likely much like Sasaki, is wonderfully struggling to juggle all its different facets. The way they interweave though is positively curious. How psychics pose the question of a universal power system (yet throws a curveball with Sasaki using magic, and magical girls existing), or how the political drama of Peeps’ world is a loose mirror of the political subterfuge occurring in Sasaki’s. Or, if you want to go really simple, how Sasaki was offered to break out into his own company with a coworker, but ends up doing so in Peeps’ world.

It’s really interesting to see how all these different stories find similar threads in each other. Though, the most obvious (thanks to Buncololi’s name) is the prevalence of younger girls at the center of each story. Though rather indirect and in somewhat vague senses, each plot finds its girl to center under a bright light. Though, that’s not to say that Sasaki and Peeps volume 1 is unable to introduce male characters, and that they’re relegated to side-character status. As quite the opposite, Buncololi, almost sneakily puts together the symbolism of youth as an aspect of the characters surrounding Sasaki- extending that to Peeps, even. It’s a very interesting plot point, and I think really only works against the fuller worlds that Buncololi expresses through their similarly wide cast of male characters.

I think my only real complaint is the magic of Peeps’ world. It’s not shallow by any means, but it just feels a little… simple in its current form. It’s a case of, “this is how it is, and I’m okay with that”, which just feels a little out of place against Sasaki’s routine magic practice, and Peeps’ curiosity of the power systems for other worlds. Perhaps we’ll see explanation as to the history of a magic centered around pre-existing spells, but I’ve come to terms with that idea not bearing fruit, and still find the series worthwhile. It’s really more of a small gripe than anything against the backdrop of this story that mixes mental with mundane.

I’m a sucker for a well founded story with an interest that it explores in great detail, and I’m also a sucker for a series that’s doing something nobody else has dared to do yet. Sasaki and Peeps volume 1, almost magically (pun intended), manages to pull together the best of both of those (though includes some potentially extraneous and bold material) into a single, dense package. Once more, I must reiterate that this isn’t a light novel that everyone will enjoy (or similarly be interested in reading in the first place), but for those that felt intrigued by its concept (and C-grade adaptation) it will most certainly deliver on all the important fronts. Now, it’s just a question of when I get around to catching up with this series.

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