Sarazanmai 8th episode PV thoughts and observations

 Well this week we have a lot going on!

Kazuki’s upset over Enta’s betrayal. I wonder if he gets why Enta did it, or rather if he’ll actually address and process why Enta did it and how he has feelings towards him. It’s about time he did.

Tooi is wearing that SuperGroupies backpack, how cute!

Enta’s wandering around Asakusa sulking. He’s eating a lollipop just like Chikai. They’re about to meet this episode.

Enta’s grandma is with him as he’s playing Smart Ball at Mimatsu-kan, another real life location in Asakusa.

Chikai shows up. I wonder if Enta’s resentment towards Tooi becoming friends with Kazuki will drive him to turn him to the police? A happier scenario would be Chikai revealing something about Tooi that makes Enta soften up to him instead.  

Reo and Mabu are looking to arrest Chikai. It says here it’s for shikotama fraud. Shikotama can mean a lot of things (literally), but it’s written in katakana here to draw attention to how similar it is to shirikodama.

It seems like Chikai will be our zombie of the week and that the lollipop will be the lucky item. I’m worried, doesn’t that mean he’ll die? 

Mabu offers Reo some of the Ningyou-yaki, the ones he made last time.

I think he might’ve aced them. I’m hoping for them to taste the same as they did in the manga, that would be great thank you!

Sara and Keppi are on a date? Either they’re watching a movie and having fun or scheming something. 

A precious Tooi. I wanted to add this here for many reasons, one of them being to comment on how much I love how Sarazanmai draws eyes up close. Reo’s looks really nice as well.

Anyway, Tooi seems to be on the phone with Kazuki who’s freaking out about something. I’m guessing Enta rather than anything that has to do with Chikai, since Tooi is alarmed, but not panicking. 

He simply walks away. This scene takes place at the harbour, where he and his brother has been seen hanging out before. Maybe he’s waiting for him?

Both Enta and his brother are busy sneaking around. 

They seem to get along?

Then they run into someone from Yurikamome. The teeth are interesting! I suppose this expression is supposed to mimic the gulls their group is named after, but birds don’t have teeth. I’m guessing they’re spiky because he’s a bad guy and they make him look more intimidating, rather than it’s because he’s an otter, but who knows. Maybe there’s an overlap and he’s both of those things. He’s also more tan like Reo, so maybe there could be something here…?

Is he also a stabber?

I’m loving that we no longer have any novel spoilers to worry about, but people have been almost worse when it comes to chatting about the leaks from the pre screenings. I don’t want to hear any details from those. I’ve heard that this episode feels like a filler and I’ve heard that it made people cry. I can easily see how both of those statements hold true.

The friendship bracelet

Anonymous asked me on tumblr:

so it’s interesting to note that the last shot in the ep 3 pv, kazuki’s leg that kicked the delinquents have a bracelet a bit different to the one that enta has on his box (it’s pink rather than green) so i kinda have to wonder if this is a flashback or not…

My reply:

There are different designs, but the one Kazuki is wearing when he kicks the bully is the same as the one in Enta’s box (green with red stripes). 

However the one we see Kazuki wear in the opening scene of the first episode looks different.

It’s also the one Enta’s holding on to in the episode 3 pv.

There’s also this shot in the episode 3 pv of what seems to be a third design (unless the colouring is playing tricks on us and it’s the second one). My guess is that it’s a flashback to their Golden Combo days and that was the first version of the bracelet. 

I wonder if any of these are Enta’s, since aren’t you supposed to get friendship bracelets in pairs? Like if that blue one is Enta’s maybe something happens to him and Kazuki starts wearing his bracelet? 

I think that the first scene is incredibly important and that it’ll turn out it’s a reference to the ending (similar to Penguindrum). Alternatively it’s a flashback. Maybe the blue bracelet was originally Kazuki’s but he threw it away or lost it and Enta retrieved it.

They actually highlight the bracelet while they show Kazuki running along Sumida, so it’s definitely important in the grand scheme of things and not just for Enta himself. 

I’m hoping that the bracelet situation in the next episode will help us make more sense of this. Right now my theory is that Enta dies or disappears. Or maybe they just start dating or rekindle their friendship or something and it’s Haruka who disappears since it’s his voice that Kazuki hears here?

Whatever it is, there’s something painful going on here!! Mark my words!

Thoughts after listening to Sarazanmai no Uta

Some slight Sarazanmai spoilers ahead!

So Kazuki sings about boxes, Enta about kisses and Tooi about soba (buckwheat noodles). I know these are also the first three chapter names of the novel and most likely what the first three zombies will be (actually I’ve seen people who went to the pre-screening mention the kiss-zombie, I know it’ll be there).

The meaning of kisses is easy to understand. Enta’s in love with Kazuki. It’s not going to be as simple as that though, however I can’t tell what sort of additional issue he’s having with it yet and there are far to many possibilities for me to try to narrow it down.

Soba is trickier to interpret. Since I think it’ll relate to Tooi’s relationship with his brother maybe he has a memory of them eating/making soba together, or something happening at a soba restaurant? As a fun fact “soba” also means “near” so you can make a bunch of puns with that and their names, since Tooi means “far” and Chikai means “close”.

As of for now I feel like Tooi is looking up to his brother and is trying to follow him, even if he’s still just a child and it’s not a suitable lifestyle for him. The gun in his box indicates that either one of them might’ve been involved in a more serious crime, or that they’re planning on committing one.

Sarazanmai Main PV analysis

Third time’s the charm. With Sarazanmai airing tomorrow I finally want to go through the main PV and give you my thoughts and impressions and observations from it.

The timing hasn’t been too bad since the official English subbed trailer came out yesterday when Crunchyroll announced they would add Sarazanmai to their simulcast for Spring 2019.

I don’t really have any authority to comment on the translation. It’s professionally made and it’s good. There are some translation differences to mine (I never translated the main PV, but they reuse a lot of the phrases I’ve translated in the past). For the most part I’ve been more literal (mainly so that I can retain as much original information as possible, even at the cost of it sounding chunkier).

Japanese is a very contextual language with room for many interpretations, especially when the full context is missing, so seeing differences in the translations are to be expected. The only difference I find eye-catching is the phrase “Suck out the greed” since they clearly use 欲望 desire/lust. Maybe the translator knows something about the upcoming episodes that I don’t? 

The PV starts with the same beautiful gloomy music from the Tsunagaru PV and Kazuki jogging/running in Asakusa. He’s wearing the matching bracelet he shares with Enta around his ankle. We specifically see shots of the red Azuma Bridge as well as Tokyo Skytree and Asahi Beer Hall in the background on the other side of the river. The stage is Asakusa alright.

Then there’s this wild spark in the middle of Kazuki’s melancholic narration about wanting to connect but not being able to.

Pink’s an unusual colour for sparks but plays on Ikuhara’s typical use of colours. It seems to be revealing a grid of some sort. This also feels very Ikuhara, he has a habit of combining the whimsical with the mechanical and technical. Think about the whole “ROCK OVER JAPAN” sequence for example.

The tone shifts, the upbeat ending theme “Stand By Me” by the peggies starts playing and Sara greets us cheerfully. She looks like an idol with her sparkling starry eyes and own TV program. The ア is everywhere. It seems to be used in her show a lot. There’s still no indication what exactly it stands for though.

This screenshot is pretty interesting. The text under “Fortune of today” says “lucky selfie divination”. Is Sara a fortune-teller? Are these her mysterious powers in action? The smaller text says “dish. I can’t see regular people. SARAtto report + Looking for the Prince. Characteristics are [ikevo?] a good smell and fair complexion”. Is that going to be Keppi or the mysterious figure from the last chapter of the manga? Or are they the same?

The focus shifts back to Kazuki. He’s talking about only needing three rules in his life, which could be good or a bad depending what those rules are. Okay let’s face it this is Ikuhara they’ll be bad. 

First he’s on his phone like in the earlier PV’s and then we see him with the kappazon cardboard box in his hands walking among other people. We get a quick glimpse of a weird golden kappa statue that makes the same kind of pose I assume the boys will do when they transform. What looks like a phone strap with Sara’s kappa-like creature swings by. It’s probably Kazuki’s and he’s a fan of Sara. There’s also a not-so-hidden ア that’s just on a tile on the pavement, showing us that they really are everywhere.

Next up we have Tooi. We’re shown a calendar (that I think is hanging on a classroom wall) with an overview of July and August (covering the summer vacation). Is that when Sarazanmai takes place? The illustrations for the calendar are of kappa. One highlights that kappa like/need water in their “sara” plates, the cavities on top of their heads. The other one depicts their love for sumo-wrestling. These are both typical kappa things we know from having studied the lore!

Tooi himself is along the river talking to his older brother Chikai. “Let’s get this over with. You and I aren’t very different”. There’s also one of the funniest reveals yet when we see Tooi’s weapon up close and it turns out to be a ruler. As a final touch there’s another ア to be seen right next to the brothers.

Then we get Enta’s presentation. At first he’s playing soccer by the river and then we see him holding on to the bracelet he shares with Kazuki. The in-between frame shows us a fish shop. What’s remarkable about it is that all the signs on it say “kiss”. Then we get a box that flies away. Enta talks about having a strong bond that can’t be easily broken. Based on what we know it’s safe to assume he’s talking about Kazuki.

Then things get weirder when it’s Keppi’s time to appear on screen. He’s holding on to a cucumber, which is another thing that kappa love. He tells the boys that they’ve been turned into kappa and that they need to get the zombie shirikodama in order to turn back. We see the boys all slimy and gooey in their new kappa forms. Kazuki still has the box, so it might be something that happens during this walk of his that we’ve been seeing the whole time.

This is a very interesting frame. The pictograms behind the kappa boys look like ghosts. Are they supposed to be the boys’ souls or something like that? Or are they actual spirits wandering around? Story wise them being the boys’ makes more sense, but from an artistic viewpoint I think it’s weird to suddenly draw something that’s part of the main characters in the style that’s deliberately simplified and created for background characters. There’s also the “DO NOT ENTER” sign with the otter symbol and a cross over it. Clearly the otter is unwanted, that’s been confirmed by the Reo and Mabu’s keeponly1luv twitter account as well.

The PV continues with its interesting imagery. The next shot is of this circular shape with the words “no start”, “no end” and “no connection” getting revealed. We’ve heard these words before so they’ll be important.  They all tie together, but we’ll have to wait and see just how. It’s possible that they each apply to one of the three boys. Kazuki can’t connect, Enta doesn’t want to let go (end) and Tooi doesn’t want to uhh… get involved and start anything?? I’ll have to think about this more another time, or please send me your theories!

The background isn’t the same as it was for the spark earlier, but it’s the same style. I wonder if it’ll have anything to do with what the cops are up to because they’ll be introduced soon and they were the ones talking about no beginnings or endings.

The PV continues and there’s a small explosion hiding the boys in a cloud of black smoke while they let out a surprised scream.

Then there’s a pling, which I think resembles the sound an elevator makes when it reaches the right floor and opens its doors. The background is a metallic grey so it might as well be where the scene plays out. Reo and Mabu appear with their weird new catchphrase “Suck out the greed” (or desire!) and there’s some mechanical action that starts. Lights get turned on, gauges reach their max and a bunch of signs with the kanji 吸 “suu”, to suck or inhale appears.

I guess this is their machine for sucking out the greed? Or desire. I’ve pointed out the heart in the upper right corner before but it’s worth pointing out again. Earlier I wondered if this machine was somehow alive, but now I’m thinking that it might just stand for “desire”.

This is all controlled by the otters, the next cut shows us otters decals that are peeling. The otters seem to be controlling some circular objects, not unlike the construction we saw light up earlier.

Then there’s the “desire extraction” that covers all of Asakusa. The cops throw their hats. Celebrating their success? In an attempt to be dramatic? You decide.

Next up the opening there “Massara” by KANA-BOON starts playing and we see the three boys striking poses while in their kappa forms. I’m guessing it’s from the actual OP although it might be part of their transformation sequence.

Following this there’s a scene where the otter symbol all over Asakusa (or Sumida where Tokyo Skytree is located) burning red. It definitely looks like a bad infestation. There’s also a spiral with text reaching down from the heavens. The text is the same as we got in the first teaser PV’s and says “CHARGE” and “desire”. As something new there’s also ハコ which is the word for “box” written in katakana. I think this is a reference to the Box Zombie which is supposed to be the first zombie we’ll be introduced to. There are certainly boxes everywhere in the following shots while the zombie seems to have a lust for more cardboard.

Are the otters summoning the zombies? There’s definitely a connection between them.

Then we see Keppi run with a cart (or whatever it’s called) where the kappa boys sit. They seem pretty chill so I wonder if this is after their fight with the zombie? Next up we see one of these legendary shirikodama balls. It’s a ball with the kanji for butt on it. Then the three kappa boys are flying around, apparently connecting through the sarazanmai. They managed to connect in one way at least by holding on to each other’s hands.

I also find this next image interesting, it really plays up the “connection” part of Sarazanmai. We get the ア again and what looks like a mobile signal. It’s a very modern and a very literal interpretation. Ikuhara has mentioned the era of the internet and how easy it is to connect through the use of smartphones and apps several times when he’s talked about the inspirations behind Sarazanmai. Old vs. new has been another topic and this highlights that as well.

After this we see another shot of the Asakusa Sara TV program. The text is the same as previously but this time the image is of a traditionally drawn Japanese woman. Is this where the “old” is brought in?

Then this is another one of my favourite shots! It’s the Niimi Yoshokkiten kitchenware department store, that’s also the building where Reo and Mabu’s “Asakusa Sara Kouban” is located. Their police box/station is the red structure at the bottom of the building and I think we can see their silhouettes inside of it. What I really love about this image though is the otter that’s next to the giant chefs head on top. To be clear, the chef’s head is actually there in real life actual Asakusa while the otter is something the anime added there. I think this highlights the fact that Reo and Mabu are working under the otter (literally! – pun not intended).

The signs on the building are a bit difficult to decipher, but I see ウソ a lot which means lie. There’s also something about the world and food/eating? The text on the top that says “kawau” is probably in reference to “kawauso” which means otter.

As a side note I want to point out that the second teaser PV that featured the otter symbol had a narration about lies and otters. Could it be about Reo and Mabu? Who’s the one with the strong desire…

Right after that split second image we get this one. That’s an otter! Clearly controlling/ordering all the other otters around! Mabu makes a comment that someone tries to get in their way, which we can assume will be the three boys. Are they confirmed villains now? I feel like a lot of people aren’t buying it. With Ikuhara first impressions are often deceiving and characters can have good reasons for their seemingly horrible actions, so I wouldn’t count in it.

Next Asakusa Sara TV reports on flying boxes. The text that is show on screen is absolutely horrible to read and full with silly puns on Sara’s name and her using “dish” instead of “desu”. It’s cute as long as you don’t have to translate it yourself. The time here is 19:00 which makes me think that this PV covers the entire first episode and will end here with this (it was 7:55 at the start).

Reo and Mabu have their little quasi villain speech and then Keppi talks to the boys and says “you’re as dead as you are alive”. Does this have to do with the “turning into kappa” process and the “ghosts” I mentioned earlier? Are the boys’ actually half-alive, half-dead? Isn’t that what zombies are? Suddenly things are starting to make more sense!

There’s quite a lot going on visually. Keppi’s eyes look terrifying. They’re large, read, black and purple. He seems to clapping, so I’m guessing this happens after the boys have dealt with the zombie successfully. One of the ア signs falls down and is heavy enough to break the pavement. There’s a close-up of Kazuki’s face where he looks kind of frightened and surprised and then in classic Ikuhara fashion there’s a shot of hands trying to hold on to each other but not being able to do so. However, unlike in his previous works there are now three of them. It’s most likely for the three boys, although it could also be one boy using both of his hands.

Then there’s text on the screen that says “even if you connect”. Tooi fills in that he “won’t let you have it”, Enta says that he “doesn’t ask for anything else” while Kazuki “can’t bear to lose his connection”. Tooi’s just angsting in front of the lockers, Enta’s shown where he was practising football, but what’s interesting is that he has a kappazon box right next to him. It looks like the one Kazuki was carrying. Could it be the same? Could it have been for him? Kazuki’s chilling somewhere (at home?) out of frame with his phone in his hands. He has the Sara strap on it and a tiny otter icon appears on the screen.

Then the most mysterious thing in the PV happens with all these ア signs flying around and uhh… through Kazuki? The pink things look a little bit like buildings, are they perhaps reflections? The sparkles and the rainbow give this image the impression there’s something reflective. I really don’t have that much else to say although I’d love to be able to do so.

The PV ends with the three boys appearing as kappa yelling “sara” and “sarazanmai”. The final shot shows us the iconic look over Asakusa and Sumida with the tagline “Don’t let go. Desire is your life.” The ア’s are everywhere.

Asakusa in Reo to Mabu: Futari wa Sarazanmai

Sarazanmai and its spin-off manga Reo to Mabu: Futari wa Sarazanmai both take place in Asakusa, a district in the Taito special ward in Tokyo, Japan. Asakusa is located in the North-Eastern parts of central Tokyo, next to the Sumida River which separates it from the Sumida special ward in the East.

Asakusa is most famous for the Senso-ji Buddhist temple and for being a former entertainment district (Shinjuku took over after WWII). It’s the home of many restaurants and kitchen & food related establishments and has a more traditional Japanese atmosphere than the rest of Tokyo.

Sumida is most famous for Tokyo Sky Tree and Asahi Beer Tower. Tokyo Sky Tree is a broadcast, restaurant, and observation tower. With a height of 634 meters it’s the tallest tower (and second tallest structure) in the world. Asahi Beer Hall is one of the buildings of the Asahi Breweries headquarters. It’s famous for the huge golden structure at the top which is meant to resemble a flame, but is often jokingly referred to as a turd.

Here’s a map of Asakusa and Sumida with a focus on the temple area. I’ve marked the most notable locations that we can spot in the promotional material and manga.


Identified locations in the manga

The first panel in the first chapter of the manga features a view that’s easy to recognize thanks to the giant chef’s head on the top of the building.


The building in question is Niimi Yoshokkiten (Niimi Western-style Tableware Shop), a kitchen tool department store. It’s located at the south of Kappabashi Dogu Gai (Kappabashi Kitchenware Town); a 800 meter long shopping street with over 170 shops specializing in kitchen & tableware.

This is also the location for Reo and Mabu’s Sarakoban, the “plate/dish” neighbourhood police station that they work at. In real life the station is located on the street across the chef’s head (under the teacups, white building with blue details), but here it looks like Reo and Mabu are standing in front of their koban right under the head.


Exterior shots of the koban, like this one from chapter nine compared to google street view images confirms the placement for it. I’m not sure if it’s simply an artistic choice or if something required the change (laws, regulations, the fact that it’s a sarakoban and not a regular koban).


Here’s another panoramic view of the area from chapter seven.

We see Reo and Mabu visit Kappabashi street in chapter three, when they take part in a summer festival lottery and win a scrubbing sponge. Unfortunately the manga doesn’t show us any locations that I’m able to recognize or look up, only a couple generic looking storefronts.

In chapter two Reo and Mabu go look for Sara’s parents around the temple area and we’re shown the famous Kaminarimon Gate, Nakamise-dori Street and the Main Hall of the Senso-ji Temple.


The Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) is the first of the two entrance gates to the Senso-ji Temple. Its main features are the large red paper lantern, a statue of the God of Thunder on the left and the God of Wind on the right.


Following Kaminarimon is Nakamise-dori (Nakamise Street) which leads up to the second gate and the temple. Nakamise-dori is 250 meters long with around 90 shops on either side selling snacks and souvenirs.


Reo and Mabu visit Nakamise-dori several times throughout the manga. It’s depicted again in chapter four when Mabu is on the search for Ningyou-yaki(Baked Doll) cakes and in chapter eight when Mabu was visiting the temple before encountering another handbag thief.


The Senso-ji Temple is an ancient Buddhist temple. It’s the oldest and most famous temple in Tokyo, built around the year 600. It’s dedicated to Kannon.

Apart from chapter two we see the Main Hall in chapter eight when Mabu visits it to pray for good health and being able to keep Sara.


In chapter eight we also get to see the second entrance gate, the HozomonGate, viewed from the Main Hall. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture from the right angle, but you can still easily see and recognize the different structures, like the tree large lanterns and the two waraji (straw rope) sandals on either side of it that are there to provide healthy feet and safe travels for the visitors.

Chapter six takes place entirely at the Azuma Bridge, crossing the Sumida River. The river passes through several wards and has a total of 26 bridges crossing over it. The two we are shown the most are the red Azuma Bridge and the blue Komagata Bridge.


This photo is taken in Asakusa, by the Azuma Bridge looking over at Tokyo Sky Tree and Asahi Beer Tower

Azuma Bridge is iconic for Asakuza. It was originally built in 1774, but has been rebuilt several times over the years with the current one being from 1931. The red colour matches that of the Senso-ji Temple. It’s a popular spot for photos thanks to the great view of Tokyo Sky Tree and Asahi Beer Hall, as well as to the nearby park where cherry blossom trees bloom during spring. There’s a boat stop right next to the bridge which is popular among tourists.


Here’s Komagata Bridge viewed from Azuma Bridge. Komagata Bridge was built in 1927 to replace a ferry and it’s another popular spot for photos.


In chapter seven Reo visits the Taito City Office. It’s located about 800 meters west from the Sarakoban (and did not fit not on the first map). If you live in Japan you have to visit your local City Office to register various “life updates”, such as every time you move, when you get married, have children etc.


Here you can see where the City Office/Hall is located and refresh your memory of where some of the other major locations are.

Huge thanks to @leafpool121 for letting me use their photos. I’ve also used my own and had to turn to google for a few. Asakusa is a nice neighborhood, although it’s very busy with tourists and other visitors, it’s worth a visit if you ever get the chance to go to Tokyo. Especially now that you can follow the footsteps of Reo and Mabu!

What’s going on and how will Leo to Mabu continue?

I’m trying to guess and imagine what the next chapter will be like, but I see so many possibilities it’s difficult to follow one path to the end.

To begin with I’m super happy Sara’s there to say goodbye to Leo and Mabu. Actual goodbyes are so important. I’m also glad they’re not aggressively forced to part ways, at least not seemingly so.

However there still seems to be someone or something forcing Sara to leave. She might have some kappa-related responsibilities to attend to, assuming she is a kappa-like life form. Maybe she was never supposed to stay with them for any longer than this. I can see a lot of rules and restrictions involving the magic that made her a baby, made her grow up, made her human. Very typical fairy tale stuff of being able to do x thing for y amount of time when z conditions apply.

I wonder if she was an actual baby that needed care and time to grow up, if it’s something typical for her species(?) or if that just happened because she transformed into a human for the first time. I wonder if the whole thing was some sort of experiment, like how humans would react to her, or if it could’ve had something to do with helping her powers emerge and grow? Could it have been a punishment? Or was it something she wanted to experience?

Could she be half-human half-kappa? The kappa mythology includes kappa raping and even impregnating women, maybe someone gave birth to her and abandoned her on a plate on the street, not wanting to deal with her?

I hope that she’ll be able to explain some things to Leo and Mabu and that they’re able to have an actual talk instead of her disappearing right away so that the rest of the chapter will be Leo and Mabu trying to find any traces of her.

I’m not sure at what point she grew up and sneaked out of the kouban, since Leo and Mabu were standing in front of it the whole time, but I’m also not sure if it’s super relevant. There’s also the possibility that the person who appeared in front of them is not really Sara and that the baby’s still inside, but that’s probably not the case.

I wonder how Leo and Mabu will react to her leaving? I’m sure they’ll try to stop her, or maybe they don’t really get that it’s actually her until it’s too late? Will this goodbye give them any closure, or will it leave them devastated?

I wonder what their relationship will be like in the anime, since now we know they’re all still aware of each other, unless someone manipulates their memories or something happens and they forget and lose the memories they once had.

It’s also a bit weird how she has to leave them now, but she’s still present in the anime. Are they still able to meet? When she says she has to go, does she only mean she has to leave their sarakouban and their cozy homelife and not Asakusa in general? Or maybe she’s been gone and has only recently returned. She’s already wearing her idol gear though… How does time flow for her?

I hope we’ll get a heartfelt goodbye and maybe a promise that they’ll meet again. That would be the ideal good, warm, fluffy way to end the manga. The tagline for Rutile is “Boys’ Cute and Sweet Magazine” so it can’t be too sad and cruel. In addition manga’s supposed to stand on its own as well, the ending can’t leave too many loose threads hanging or too many questions unanswered, waiting for the anime to continue the story. At least since the manga’s been published first as a spin-off story, rather than an extra later on I’d say it should work like that, someone else might disagree though. While I think it would be kinda cool to end the manga with some huge mindfuckery never to be explained or expanded on in manga format, it seems like a bad move in general.

My thought on the premise

DYCEAVERRUNCUS asked me on tumblr:

What do you think of the utterly crazy premise of sarazanmai? This show is already getting controversy from the synopsis alone( and the advant garde animation style)

Here’s my answer:

My initial reaction was “omg they really went there…?!”.

Being familiar with kappa mythology and getting the bl vibes made the inclusion of the shirikodama quite obvious as one conclusion to get to. I never would have dared guessing it would be included like this though, because how do you show it on tv? It was just an inappropriate joke!

Before the reveal I was also guessing that the boys could be the kappa since their hairstyles were the same and kappa mythology supports transformations and shape-shifting. I’m not sure if they’ll spend most of the series in their kappa forms or not. It almost seems like it, if Sarazanmai begins with them forcibly transforming into kappa and then the end goal is for them to regain their old forms. Then again I also feel like the boys need to be in their human forms for more impactful scenes and to better convey their feelings and emotions. Plus there’s so much promotional material of them like that…

I’m not a huge fan of “mascot” characters (they tend to be annoying and unnecessary), but I think the kappa and whatever Keppi is will be interesting to watch and follow along. Mostly thanks to how they’re proper mythical creatures or humans that have been transformed, so they’ll actually have stories and personalities, compared to some creature that’s there just to look cute or act as a comic relief. I really like Japanese mythology and yokai so it’ll be fun to see Ikuhara’s take on it. I’m not sure how they’re adding zombies to the mix as well though…

I haven’t come across much controversy yet, but I can definitely see it coming. You’ll ALWAYS have controversies with Ikuhara. He’s one of those creators whose style divides people and it doesn’t help that he has a habit of tackling controversial subjects.  

Anyway, back to the premise, I was certainly taken aback by the synopsis and although I don’t think that the premise of them being turned into kappa by having their shirikodama stolen is too bad, because it’s taken from the mythology, the part where the boys need to steal the shirokodama from a zombie seems more sketchy, along with them having to connect in “that” way. Hopefully the boys won’t be pressured into having sex, especially without wanting it themselves? That could quickly get uncomfortable in a bad way, that not even good storytelling or the excuse of a dark story will save. I completely understand that people are worried over how rape-y this whole shirikodama business sounds. It’s partly the point (it’s a story! based on other stories!), but it’s also completely justified to not be a fan of it at all. I just wish that people won’t judge it too hard before we get to see how they’ll portray it. I think Ikuhara has done well with various uncomfortable scenes and topics previously, so I’m not too worried about it (although I’m slightly questioning). At least Keppi doesn’t come across as the worst bad guy out there. He seems kinda fun and full of himself? (being a self acclaimed ruler and all). Plus that cute small round form takes away from the potential gruesomeness.

Then I’m a bit disappointed, but also very amused that the synopsis only told us that Leo and Mabu will basically “be there”. I’m guessing that they’re the zombies, because of their greyish skin? I kinda like that they’re so secretive about their roles in Sarazanmai, it’s so much fun to try to make sense of it!

As for the animation style, I think that a lot of those who complain about it don’t realize that the anime itself won’t look like the pv’s. It was a cool promotional trick to have Tao Tajima work on them and to incorporate animated characters to live video of real life Asakusa, to highlight the importance of Asakusa and to make people take notice and talk about them more. Sarazanmai has Ayaka Fuji and Studio Pablo listed as those who will work on the art for the anime, and they do traditional drawn backgrounds (and a very good job with those).

Overall I think the stylistic choices have been great so far. I think that the pv’s were cool. They had very little animation, but the characters looked nice and smooth. I’m a huge fan of all the logos and symbols. My only complaint is that the character designs are a bit generic and not that exciting (although Migi’s works are amazingly beautiful). They’re not bad, and I like the softness of them, but that’s about it. Well Leo’s kinda hot. And you can never go wrong with Mabu’s looks either…

Back to the premise again, although it’s very “what the hell is this supposed to be!?!?!?!!” rather than “omg this sounds amazing”, it’s one of the things I like about Sarazanmai. I want to be surprised. I want to be offered something so ridiculous I could never have imagined it myself. I’m prepared to watch and love anything.

So yeah. All things considered I’m a fan of it!

Name meanings for the main cast of Sarazanmai

Short introduction: kanji can be read and pronounced in several ways. The different readings are divided into kun-yomi for words that originated in Japan and on-yomi for readings that are based on the Chinese pronunciation. Additionally many kanji have alternative readings when they are used in names. Here I’ve included the common kun-yomi and on-yomi readings of each kanji, but not any of the alternative possible readings that are used for names because they can be numerous.

When I write in English I write the character names first name first. Note that in Japan names are presented the other way around with the first name last(as I’ve done here with the kanji).

Now for the characters!

Kazuki Yasaka:  矢逆 一稀


Kazuki is made out of 一 (hito-, hito.tsu, ichi, itsu) which means “one/ no.1” and  稀 (mare, mabara, ki, ke) meaning “rare/ phenomenal”. These are good positive things that make for a nice name. They also point out that he’s special.

Yasaka is made out of  矢 (ya, shi) which means “dart/ arrow” and 逆 (saka,, saka.rau, gyaku, geki) meaning “inverted/ reverse/ opposite”.

Tooi Kuji: 久慈 悠


Tooi consists of 悠 (too.i, haru.ka, yuu) which means “permanence/ distant/ leisure”. Based on the pv his name seems to suit him and his solitary/distant lifestyle. His name also indicates that he’ll be calm and easygoing, or at least that’s what the ones who gave him his name might’ve wanted him to be.

Kuji is made out of 久 (hisa.shii, kyuu, ku) which means “long time/ old story/ eternity/ forever” and 慈 (itsuku.shimu, ji) meaning “mercy”.

Enta Jinnai: 陣内 燕太


Enta is made out of 燕 (tsubame, en) which means “swallow (bird)” and 太 (futo.i,, tai, ta) meaning “fat/ plump/ thick”. Note that “fat” is derived from the word for “big/ grand/ great”, so “a great swallow”.

Jinnai is made out of 陣 (jin) which means “camp/ battle formation” and 内 (uchi, nai, dai) meaning “inside/ within/ between/ among/ house/ home/ one’s own”. 

Keppi: ケッピ 


Keppi is written in katakana, which are basic characters with sounds but no meaning. Katakana is generally used for lone words and for emphasis (similar to italics). Keppi does not exist as a word in Japanese and is most likely derived from “kappa”, which seems to be what he is?

Leo/Reo Niiboshi: 新星 玲央


Leo/Reo is made out of 玲 (rei, rou) which means “tinkling/ the sound of jewels” and 央 (ou) meaning “center/ middle”. Note that his name is spelled as レオ (Reo) in Japan, but many English speakers prefer to call him Leo instead as it sounds similar, but is easier to pronounce. L/R are generally interchanged between Eng and Jp names for this reason, as there is no L-sound in Japan.

Niiboshi is made out of 新 (atara.shii, nii-, shin) which means “new” and 星 (hoshi, -boshi, sei, shou) meaning “star”. Together the kanji are read as shinsei which means “nova” or a “rising star”.

Mabu Akutsu: 阿久津 真武


Mabu is made out of 真 (ma, makoto, shin) which means “truth/ reality/ genuineness” or “Buddhist sect” and 武 (take, take.shi, bu, mu) meaning “warrior/ military/ martial/ courage/ chivalry/ arms”. This conveys the image of him as a pure and proper “officer”. A “good cop” if you may.

Akutsu is made out of 阿 (, kuma, a, o) which means “Africa/ flatter/ pander/ fawn upon/ corner/ recess”,  久 (hisa.shii, kyuu, ku) meaning “long time/ old story/ eternity/ forever” and 津 (tsu, shin) meaning “haven/ port/ harbour/ ferry”. I believe this surname is taken from a place.

Sara: サラ


Sara is written in katakana and because of that the name doesn’t hold any meaning in itself. However we know that Leo named her after 皿 (sara) which means “plate”, because that’s what they found her on.

One thing that may be worth noting is that many of these names are quite feminine. Some of them can be gender neutral, but most are actually female given names. It might be a reference to typical bl-naming conventions, where the characters have feminine names.

Note for the future:

Sara shares her last name (Azuma) with the red bridge in Asakusa.

Toi’s brother is called Chikai which can be read as “close”.

Are they human? Is the manga a prequel?

Anonymous asked me this on tumblr:

Do you think Leo isn’t human anymore somehow or is it misanthropy after a bad break up with Mabu(I’m kidding here but he seems very different as you said…)

Here’s my reply:

I’m not sure if he ever was human actually. Both he and Mabu act so ridiculous at times, especially Mabu with his cooking obsession. 

I assume we’ll meet Mabu next week so it’ll be easier to say if anything happened to them then, but so far I wouldn’t rule it out 😛 Most likely something happened to Sara though to make him like that.

mirikins then replied to me:

And this is not a prequel to him meeting them?

To which I continued:

I’d rather say that Leo to Mabu (the spin-off manga) is a prequel to Sarazamai based on the fact that Sara (the baby they find in the manga) could be the same character that is shown in the pv’s, as she’s clearly more grown up in them!


Of course that doesn’t rule out the fact that the pv’s show whatever, or maybe the actual anime is all over the place chronologically. The pictogram humans actually all have what seems to be historical hairstyles, maybe it’s supposed to depict their old fashioned way of thinking, or maybe they actually are from the past and there are some crazy time shenanigans going on?


dyceaverruncus asked me on tumblr:

I’m not able to read Japanese so I wondering if you noticed sose potential theme or story elements in the sarazanmai promo material. Ive heard someone say it’s about bonds but I don’t know the basis behind that .

Here’s my reply:

Oh yeah, it’s most definitely about bonds, being connected, linked or related in some way!

Here’s my translation of the newest pv:

This world is overflowing with connections.
Blood connections, town connections, thought/feeling connections.
A world connecting everyone.
Yet, why can’t I connect with anyone?
I wonder if I could connect with you?

I also translated the initial pv’s here. They also mention bonds/connections as well as desire, not letting it go, something about truth and lies and as you can tell it’s all very ominous.

The word they used for desire can also be translated as lust or appetite, in the first pv’s I think it feels kinda sexual, but then the Leo to Mabu: Futari wa Sarazanmai spin-off manga and all the promos they’ve done for it has been focusing on sweets, so it could be more about that kind of desire, or then the manga is just a fluffier (symbolic?) version of what Sarazanmai will be about (this is almost a given). 

The manga is pretty funny and sweet. If you’re curious about it I’ve been buying it and blogging about all the chapters.

I’m not sure how much of what happens in it will show up in the anime or be relevant for it though.

So yeah, I think Sarazanmai will touch upon loneliness and emptiness and feeling and creating different connections and bonds with others. I think that would be a relevant topic in today’s world. It’s also going to be about desire of some sort and possibly seeking it out/daring to go after it/standing by it? They also mention “the world” a couple of times, so the themes will be grand like that. Then I think Sarazanmai will have some sort of fantasy element, similar to what has been present in previous Ikuhara series, because that’s just what he does and it’s been pretty much confirmed by Sara having a “mysterious power” in the manga, as well as by the kappa that can be seen in the newest trailer.