The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. is a short-form anime that centers around the high school life of the titular Saiki. However, his life is anything but normal thanks to his wide array of psychic powers.
When you think of psychic powers, you probably think of mind reading, but Saiki can do far more than that. Over the series so far, he has shown augmented physical strength, x-ray vision, teleportation, flight, and even the ability to rewind time in his immediate area. But while he has these great powers, Saiki views them as a hindrance. And he might just be right. Every time he uses his powers, things tend to go from bad to worse, albeit with comedic results.
The central joke of the series is that Saiki wants to be seen as “normal” even though he is anything but. He works hard at school to be neither loved nor hated: just an unremarkable class member that’s not worth paying attention to. While his powers would instantly make him the center of attention and the most popular kid at school, it’s obvious from episode one why he would not want this: his parents.
Saiki’s parents are quite accepting of their superpowered child–and by “accepting,” I mean more than willing to exploit him at every turn. While they clearly love him dearly, they often treat his powers like a tool. They use him for heavy lifting around the house and threaten to sic Saiki on each other in marital spats.
If Saiki’s powers were known at school, there’d be no end to it. Everyone would come to him for favors in a never-ending stream. And while their words would no doubt be humble and kind, he can see their true thoughts, motives, and feelings without trying.
That’s the big downside of Saiki’s powers. While he has full control of some of them, several of them are active all the time. His power-enhanced strength, for example, means that if he were to participate in even a lowly game of dodgeball, a weak throw of his could easily kill a normal person, even if he were trying to be careful.
As his mind-reading powers are always active, he has no choice but to see the true thoughts of all those around him. No matter where he goes, if people are around, he is hit with a barrage of their thoughts. Regardless of the outward faces we wear or the lies we tell ourselves, Saiki sees the true person beneath, which never seems to be as kind as one’s outward appearance.
This power also has the additional downside that there are few surprises or secrets in his everyday life. No one can hide anything from Saiki. This explains why TV is the one thing he loves. He can’t read the characters’ minds, and therefore is unable to predict both the characters’ motivations and the twists in the plot. Watching TV, unlike nearly every other moment in his life, he is the same as everyone else.
This is also likely why he surrounds himself with delusional and/or simple-minded people. While he complains about their antics, these are the type of people that are hard to predict even if he can read their minds. While he can understand their thoughts, he doesn’t quite grasp their natures. Ignoring a girl not used to being ignored causes her to become obsessed with him. Saiki’s odd reactions to a guy who literally says everything he thinks causes the two to become friends.
So while his powers often cause more problems than they solve in Saiki’s endless battle to stay in the background, Saiki’s life isn’t horrible or lonely. It is, however, plagued by an endless stream of hilarious minor disasters just as the title implies.