Follow TV Tropes

Following

Anime / Sarazanmai

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/sarazanmai_poster.png

Never let go. Desire is your life.
Advertisement:

The stage is Asakusa.

One day, three second-year middle school students — Kazuki Yasaka, Tooi Kuji, and Enta Jinnai — meet a Kappa-like creature named Keppi, who is the self-proclaimed heir to the throne of Kappa Kingdom. When they anger Keppi by accident, Keppi forcibly takes the students' shirikodama (a mythical organ kappa steal through a person's anus) and they are transformed into kappa. Keppi informs them, "If you want to return to your former selves, you need to connect in 'that way' and you must bring me the shirikodama of zombies." If they do this for him, he will give them Dishes of Hope, which will grant the boys' wishes. Will the three boys be able to connect and take the shirikodama of zombies? At the same time, two policemen, Reo Niiboshi and Mabu Akutsu, interrogate suspects of widely reported crimes at the police box where they are stationed that have mysterious origins.

Advertisement:

‘’Sarazanmai’’ (さらざんまい in Japanese) is an original 2019 anime by Kunihiko Ikuhara of Revolutionary Girl Utena fame and animated by MAPPA. It has character designs by Misaki Saito and it is regarded as his first anime to center on male protagonistsnote , something he has stated he wanted to do for a long time until an idea was finally greenlit.

It premiered in April 2019 on the FujiTv’s Noitamina block in Japan, and is available for streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

It has a spin-off Manga by Misaki Saitō, titled Reo to Mabu: Futari wa Sarazanmai (レオとマブ~ふたりはさらざんまい~ in Japanese) that takes place before the events of the anime. It centers on characters Reo, Mabu and a baby version of Sara and was published in Boys' Love magazine Rutile Sweet with releases up until the anime’s premiere. A proper adaptation of the anime is to be released later in 2019.

Advertisement:

The series also has a two volume light novel available, which gives a bit more context into the motivations of the characters. The writing team admitted that some of the content was also things they couldn't fit into the show proper.

You can watch the trailers for the anime here.


This show provides examples of:

  • Acting Out a Daydream: Enta does this twice over the course of the third episode: he accidentally puts the miçanga he wanted to give to Kazuki on his sister the first time, and the third time he full on smooches Keppi.
  • Actor Allusion: Reo's Happy Dance in episode 9 references his seiyuu Mamoru Miyano's then upcoming role as Tony in a Japanese production of West Side Story.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The light novel does elaborate on a few scenes and has a few extra lines of dialog (ex. Kazuki's father stands up for him against his grandfather after the adoption reveal). Reo and Mabu also have a few book exclusive scenes that give a small glimpse into their old relationship.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the spin-off manga, Reo and Mabu are depicted as kind police officers raising a baby they found together in a fairly light hearted and for the most part, mundane setting. In the anime, however, they’re Ambiguously Evil partners with different personalities. Reo comes off as more disdainful than his Manga counterpart and Mabu appears to be more stoic than his originally seen Cloud Cuckoo Lander nature. They also perform “Desire Extractions” on whoever comes into their police station, which ends up killing the unlucky victim and turns them into the zombies that the main characters have to remove the shirikodama of. While their true motives have yet to be revealed, what’s made clear is that they’re far less kindly than their manga counterparts.
  • All There in the Manual: Reo, Mabu, and Sara are all more detailed in the prequel Manga.
  • Animal Motifs: Kappa, being also what the characters are turned into. Otters are also given importance, since they're said to be a kind of kappa in some areas of Japan.
    • Chikai's former gang, Kamome, is often associated with seagulls; they have an emblem of one on their official jacket, their boss has a Signature Laugh resuming a seagull's cry and a long nose evocative of a beak, and the other members that come up make cawing sounds and poses.
  • Animation Bump: Reo and Mabu's dance is animated much more smoothly than anything else in the show.
  • Art Imitates Art: In the final episode, Reo and Mabu crowning Sara is styled in a manner reminiscent of a more baroque Coronation of the Virgin.
  • Art Shift: When Keppi brings the kappas to the battle, the pathway is illustrated in CGI.
  • Bad Future: The final episode has the Kappas give our protagonists one final "leak": in multiple different scenarios, they are shown struggling to maintain their friendship due to Kazuki suffering from a Career-Ending Injury, only to fall back into their old habits and break their fellowship for good. The whole sequence was said to be "an image of what they used to be" and "an image of the future for what they used to be", exemplified by how all three boys power through each tragic memory and desire to keep the friendship even knowing dark times are ahead for them.
  • The Bad Guys Are Cops: Local cops Reo and Mabu are the ones responsible for the zombie attacks. The latter half of the series implies that they're not even real cops, as some actual local policemen don't recognize them.
  • Baleful Polymorph: The premise of the show is the three main protagonists having their shirikodama forcefully removed, turning them into kappa.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: The Transformation Sequence when the boys have their shirikodama removed shows them spinning around in extremely simplified and detail-free nudity.
  • Big "WHAT?!":
    • Kazuki and Tooi do this together twice in episode one, with explosions accompanying the scenes.
    • Enta does it too, in the episode two after learning he had taken home the wrong box.
  • Bland-Name Product: The cardboard boxes featured in the first episode have a "Kappazon" logo on them.
  • Book-Ends:
    • Chronologically, Tooi and Chikai's relationship ends the same way; the first scene and the last scene we see has Chikai toss blood money at Tooi so he can feed himself. The last time it was rather literally dyed in his blood after being shot.
    • The series starts with Kazuki running by the water alone before the "A" symbol falls on top of him. When Toi gets back from juvie, he jumps off a bridge and falls into the "A" symbol on his way down before Kazuki and Enta reunite with him in the water.
  • Breaking Old Trends: A meta example, as this is regarded as the first Kunihiko Ikuhara anime to center on the male protagonists, rather than being female focused. note  This is also one of the few works to have an unambiguously happy ending for all of the leads and eschew self sacrifice.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: With how little focus the female characters get, the show is very much this.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • A literal gun example. Tooi's brother is seen with a gun in his desk; later on in the episode it's fired by Tooi, who kills a man. The gun disappears for a few episodes but comes back again when Tooi uses it to stop Kazuki from sacrificing his shirikodama at the last second.
    • The miçanga Kazuki used to wear. It was originally given to him by a younger Tooi right before he prepared to leave Asakusa with Chikai, and is considered the cornerstone for all of the bonds they made later. Delivering that miçanga to Kazuki becomes the climax of the show.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: Soccer. All three main characters have an interest in soccer that's important for their relationships, but this skill comes into play dramatically in episode 6, when they use their soccer skills to lob Keppi, morphed into the shape of a soccer ball, into Haruka, knocking him out of the shredder.
  • Chromosome Casting: The main cast is primarily made up of boys, with only a handful of girlsnote  being important to the narrative.
  • Central Theme: Connections. All of the PVs have the characters talk about being socially isolated from other people and the bonds humanity shares, and Sara's trailer has her sing a song from the perspective of someone either spiritually or physically isolated from her classmates. Desire also plays a big part into the story, with Keppi and Reo and Mabu focusing on that.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Every character is assigned a color.
    • Kazuki is red.
    • Tooi is blue.
    • Enta is yellow.
    • Keppi is green.
    • Reo is white.
    • Mabu is black.
    • Sara is purple.
    • Chikai is golden-brown.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: A genre that was listed for the show.
  • Character Blog: Reo and Mabu have one, which was updated up until the anime’s release. The account strangely takes place in 2007, about ten years before the beginning of the anime. It updated only once, to coincide with the events of episode 10: Mabu posts a message to Reo saying that he's always loved his partner, and then the whole account is deleted now that Mabu is Ret Gone.
  • Childhood Friends: Kazuki and Enta.
  • Clothing Damage: When Keppi turns the boys into kappa, all of their clothes are torn off before he swallows them whole.
  • Coordinated Clothes: Downplayed since their outfits don't exactly match, but Kazuki's parents and Haruka all wear striped clothing. Kazuki is the only member of the Yasaka family who doesn't wear anything with stripes, due to feeling isolated from his family after finding out he was actually adopted.
  • Creator Cameo: In Episode 9, an unseen convenience store cashier is voiced by Kunihiko Ikuhara himself.
  • Creator Thumbprint: This anime has quite a few signs of Kunihiko Ikuhara's typical style, such as dramatic poses, repeated phrases, wacky animal hijinks, surreal imagery and Stock Footage.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Where do we start?
    • Before they're turned into zombies, the antagonists have some serious Subculture of the Week vibes. Since desire is stored in the anus, and the boys have a strangely anal bead-looking attack to extract shirikodama... Episode 7 does away with any lingering subtlety by having the Ball Zombie love the sensation of the boys entering him.
    • A successful Sarazanmai requires the boys literally laying themselves bare and looking into each other's embarassing secrets.
    • Mabu's maintenance scene in episode 7 consists of him nude, touched all over by the Otters with a pleasured but pained expression while Reo is helpless to watch; in another, he's practicing cooking while an Otter suspiciously shaped like Reo is touching him from behind. Coupled with the latter's previous comments of Mabu having "betrayed" him, one would be forgiven if they thought this scene came from a Netorare plot.
    • The entire ordeal with Reo and Mabu basically boils down to a couple whose relationship is shattered by trauma, fueled by one of them not being able to perform or express themselves as well as they used to and the other desperately trying to get their relationship to what it used to be. Think "you're not the person I fell in love with" but with more fantastic elements.
    • Mabu's side of the situation reads more like a man who's been forcibly closeted. Either he allows himself to Express how much he loves his partner with disastrous social consequences, or he'll be allowed to stay with his partner as long as he never publicly or blatantly shows affection to him, which already does damage to their relationship as they're not intimate anymore.
    • A non-sexual example — Mabu and Reo brainwashing the officers to believe what they said happened may be commentating on police corruption.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: When all three of the main characters call Keppi a frog, he gets so angry that he swallows them whole, forcefully extracts their shirokodama and turns them into kappa.
  • Double Entendre: A subtle one; Reo and Mabu's use of "partner" when they refer to each other is both used in the platonic sense of police partners, and also in the romantic sense, given that they were a couple before the plot hit.
  • Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: In The Stinger of Episode 2, Enta comes across Kazuki while he's asleep and wearing his Sara costume, and proceeds to kiss him.
  • Evolving Credits: After Enta is shot in Episode 8, the credits sequence updates to show only two shadows at the end instead of the usual three. It reverts after the issue was resolved, but changes to one shadow in episode 11.
  • Fan Disservice: There's no denying that some of the characters are meant to be seen in titillating lights, but the context just makes it all wrong:
    • When Mabu is with the Otters, he's being touched sensually by them and either stark naked or in flattering clothing. He clearly doesn't enjoy it one bit, and the acts are always in conjunction with his feelings for Reo.
    • Any time when the Otters transform into Reo to molest Mabu as well, since what should be sexy moments between two heavily teased people is perverted by the fact that the Otters are manipulating and having their way with the man in the body of a guy he loves.
    • Enta and Kazuki sumo wrestling in the former's episode 6 delusions; for one thing, they're still in Kappa form, and for another, they're still kids.
  • The Final Temptation: The Otters end up doing this to the protagonists in episode 11, taking the forms of their most loved people in order to lead them to their side. Enta and Tooi are subjected to this like Mabu was; Enta rejects the false Kazuki, but Tooi is consumed by his desire to be with his brother.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Haruka is never shown standing up or walking at any point in the early episodes; he is always sitting down when interacting with others.
    • Before it's revealed in episode 3, Haruka tells Enta to give Kazuki his miçanga back because Haruka can't "run with him" himself. He means this literally.
    • Both the opening and the text crawls during the Sara News pretty much give away that Sara is a kappa right from the start. If the prequel manga wasn't enough indication.
    • Tooi's interest in soccer, which he still keeps in the present, foreshadows that he used to know Kazuki when he was younger. The miçanga Kazuki has is also rather blue compared to the red one Enta wanted to give him; blue is Tooi's color.
    • A young Tooi mentions that people don't realize they had connections until they lost them. Not only is this true for Chikai, who admitted his need to be with his brother in his dying moments, but it's also true for Reo and Mabu, who finally fully speak to each other the moment the latter sets himself up for oblivion.
    • "Kawauso Soiya", especially the second verse, is this big time to Reo and Mabu's backstory.
  • For Want of a Nail: Had Tooi never thrown out his soccer memorabilia and went to Azuma bridge, he would have never met Kazuki and gave him his miçanga. And had that never happened, Kazuki wouldn't be able to reach out to Enta, who would have remained alone and friendless.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • After Keppi swallows Kazuki whole, there are very brief shots of Kazuki's face while he's still inside Keppi's stomach. The same will go for the other two boys when they are digested instead.
    • All of Sara's news bulletins feature a message from her point of view.
  • Fun with Homophones:
    • Episode 3 is all about making kiss/kisu puns. The zombie of the episode is even named Kiis, a womanizer who runs a fish shop specializing in kisu.
    • Episode 4 does the same with words "soba" (a type of noodles) and "soba" (someone's side), from a man who wanted to cook soba with the bath water of the woman he loved.
    • For episode 7, we have balls and "balls" (testicles). While the Ball Zombie ends up stealing soccer balls, his greatest desire was also getting his testicles stomped on by his lady love. He also makes a crack about his soul (also tama or tamashii).
    • Mabu's character arc gets a bit of milage out of him being referred to as a ningyo (doll) and him constantly making ningyouyaki (a Japanese pastry common in Asakusa).
    • The Japanese word for otter is "kawauso", so there's quite a few puns about lies ("uso").
  • Happy Dance: Reo does one in Episode 9 while singing about how he and Mabu are "the ultimate couple" (since he thinks their relationship is finally back to the way it was). The dance itself is taken straight from West Side Story.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Each time the boys sing during the extraction sequences, their vocals are slightly off key and overall not professional sounding.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: "I Want to be Connected, but..." Usually the following segment would fill it in with "I Want to [X]" or "I Can't [X]", but the final episode breaks this trend with "So Let's Sarazanmai".
  • Idiot Ball: Enta thinks he can hide his theft of the dishes of hope from people who read his mind on a regular basis.
  • Invisible to Normals: The entire desire dimension and the kappas and zombies cannot be seen by normal people; they would have had to be transformed/altered to see it.
  • Karma Houdini: All things considered, Reo and Mabu are never brought to justice for framing Chikai and bringing their extraction victims to certain death, even if they are Asshole Victims. If you don't consider their "can't really be with the person they love" predicament punishment enough, their coming Back from the Dead is a reward for all their efforts.
  • Lucky Translation: Every episode has Keppi tell the boys to steal the kappa zombie's shirikodama with the command "kapparae!" ("snatch it!"). French just so happens to have the word "accaparer", which not only has a similar meaning but is almost an anagram and keeps the kappa pun, so the French translator went straight for it.
  • Kappa: Kappa are very prominent in this story, and the three main characters are turned into kappa themselves. The fact that they're turned into kappa by having their shirikodama removed is an allusion to many folktales about kappa doing that to their unsuspecting victims.
  • Magical Girl: Baby Sara is implied to be this in the Manga due to her ability to charm whoever looks at her. It’s unknown if this will carry over until the anime.
  • Medium Blending: The Connect trailers have the 2D characters animated over real shots of Asakusa. This is also done with the anime's ending credits.
  • Monster of the Week: The episodes generally follow this formula, as the characters will encounter a new zombie in every episode with very few recurring enemies.
  • Morphic Resonance: When the three main characters are turned into kappa, they still keep their hairstyles, and Enta still wears his glasses.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The first trailers make it look like the anime is about anime characters in the real world. It only shows up during the endings, however.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: In this story, zombies are monsters that used to be human, but with deviant habits. Their desires are extracted from them by Reo and Mabu, which kills them and makes them come back as zombies that look like giant humanoids with Non Human Heads. The characters must steal the zombies' shirikodama and connect in “that way” to return to their human forms.
  • Out of the Frying Pan: Haruka being chosen as a desire extraction candidate was bad enough already, but all seems well when his feelings are determined to be love instead of desire. When his box is taken away to be "returned", it goes from all the desire boxes straight in the direction of a garbage disposal where "love" is destined for.
  • Parental Substitute: Reo And Mabu act as this to a baby Sara in the Manga.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: The gangster that shows up in episode 8 gets shot clean in the head, but there was only smoke from both ends of his head to show for it.
  • Plot Coupon: The Dishes of Hope serve as this to the story; ordinarily they would only need one Golden Dish to make a wish, but the Zombies the gang fights only produce Silver Dishes. They now need to collect five of those to make a wish, and everyone has their own ideas on what to do with it.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Characters' refusal to really say what's on their mind become the center of everyone's problems in the story:
    • Kazuki's extreme guilt and overcompensating for being involved in Haruka's paralysis could have been easily avoided if he had just opened up about how lost he felt when he learned he was adopted. Likewise Haruka could have spared some heartache if he had mentioned his desires to keep being brothers with Kazuki despite the latter's desire to reach out to his birth family.
    • Invoked and exploited with Reo and Mabu. The Otters' entire point was to get the pair off of the same wavelength, in order to harvest their despair and gain some workers willing to take Desire energy.
  • Production Throwback: One of the special illustrations for the series (where the three boys play games at a summer stall) have quite a few references to Ikuhara's previous works. One can spot a rose in a vase, a penguin family and an apple, a honey jar, and a bear statue along with a kappa, a plate, and a cucumber.
  • Race Against the Clock: Enta is fatally shot in Episode 8, but in Episode 9 Keppi is able to revive him by turning him into his kappa form. However, Enta has a timer on his head indicating that he doesn't have long until he's Killed Off for Real, so now the other characters must find enough Dishes of Hope in time to wish him back to life.
  • Reality Ensues: After spending four years turning himself into a juvenile delinquent, Tooi finally gets treated like one in the eyes of the law. He spends three years doing time in a juvenile detention center, with all of the bitterness and solemn air it implies.
  • Real Place Background: The series takes place in Asakusa, a real district of Tokyo, and it uses real landmarks from there as backgrounds. It's an especially appropriate choice since the series also features the street of Kappabashi-dori, which ties into the Kappa motif. This is also done quite literally in the first PV and the ending credits, where the characters are animated over real shots of Asakusa.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: The end credits feature photos and video footage of real world locations that appear in the anime, some of which feature the animated characters standing around in them.
  • Running Gag: Frogs and Kappas being confused for each other, which only serves to make Keppi hopping mad. At the end of the show, the joke is retired by having the new Asakusa Teen Idol after Sara be frog themed instead of Kappa themed.
  • Sadistic Choice: Towards the end of the show, Mabu is given two choices: take a chance to finally tell Reo how he feels at the cost of his existence and transformation into a Zombie, or remain with Reo like they have been since his revival, which means they'll still be physically together but emotionally scarred/distant forever.
  • Scenery Porn: The trailers are filled with beautiful shots of Asakusa.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Towards the end of Reo and Mabu's dance, the way Reo pulls Mabu's heart out of his chest is incredibly similar to the scenes in Revolutionary Girl Utena where Utena pulls her sword out of Anthy.
    • In Episode 3, Sara and Migii parody the scene in Castle in the Sky where Pazu first encounters Sheeta.
    • At the end of Episode 3, Haruka tells Enta about a dream he had where he met The Little Prince. This comes up again in the finale.
    • Ikuhara cites Stand by Me as one of the inspirations for the anime. This is referenced by the ED song, which is also called "Stand by Me".
    • In Episode 6, Sara dresses up as Iyami from Osomatsu-kun and does his well-known "Sheeeeh!" Catchphrase and pose.
    • In Episode 7, Sara's report on the town's soccer balls suddenly flying away segues into a parody of the flying bicycle scene from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
    • Episode 9 has Reo dance home in excitement, shot for shot imitating a dance from the film version of West Side Story.
    • In Episode 11, Keppi enlarges himself for the final battle against Dark Keppi in a manner reminiscent of Ultraman.
  • Snowball Lie: Kazuki pretends to be Sara Azuma via texts with Haruka in order to connect with him, and takes selfies where he crossdresses as her. His friends find out, and it becomes harder and harder to keep the secret. When Sara comes to his neighborhood to do a fan visit, Kazuki enlists his friends in an elaborate scheme to maintain the lie that involves kidnapping the real Sara and impersonating her in front of a large crowd. It fails, and his secret is revealed in front of everyone.
  • Spoiler Opening: The fact that Reo is also shown with the boys doing a Sarazanmai sequence in the opening spoils the fact that he in fact gets to take down a Kappa Zombie in Episode 10.
  • Stock Footage: The transformation sequences often feature reused animation.
  • Swallowed Whole: Keppi swallows the boys whole in order to turn them into kappa.
  • Teen Idol: Sara is the local idol of Asakusa, shown through her daily news show and themed merch. She even sings her own theme song.
  • Title Drop: The "Sarazanmai" refers to a sound the three main protagonists have to make together once they defeat a zombie, after which they are literally laid bare and their secrets are revealed.
    • The final episode has a multiple episode title drop of all the episodes up to then.
  • Transformation Sequence: So far, there have been 3. One for when Keppi turns one of the boys or Reo into a kappa, a transformation sequence for the Monster of the Week and there’s one for when the protagonists turn back into humans before their secrets are revealed.
  • Triumphant Reprise: "Kawauso Soiya" gets an instrumental one during the final battle, when Reo and Mabu emerge from their links to help take down Dark Keppi, in the middle of a Triumphant Reprise of "Sarazanmai no Uta".
  • Un-person: When a zombie's shirikodama is successfully taken, any evidence of their human identities disappears and people will forget they existed. Episode 6 reveals that this can happen to anyone whose shirikodama is taken. Despite this, Kazuki is willing to give up his own shirikodama and disappear if it means Haruka can be saved, but luckily he doesn't have to go through with it. The only ones to escape this fate are Reo and Mabu, who are linked together after they die.
  • Wasteful Wishing: After Keppi informs the boys that the Dishes of Hope he'll give them in return for collecting shirikodama for him will grant any wish, Enta grabs it and asks if he can use it to wish for a year's supply of cucumber rolls. His frivolous wish is immediately granted by having an enormous cucumber roll drop down on them, and Enta realizes too late that he's wasted his wish and the Dish of Hope has broken.
  • Widget Series: Being an anime by Kunihiko Ikuhara this was inevitable. The first episode alone features some of the most bizarre imagery any of his series have had, most notably the rather strange and graphic sequence where Keppi swallows Kazuki whole and takes his shirikodama. The anime's frequent references to Kappa and the folklore surrounding them would also be lost on most non-Japanese viewers.
Top

Example of:

/
/

Feedback