At first when watching the trailer, I was thinking that Kazuki Yasaka and Sara could be the same character… But Since the series seems to be all about connections/links/bounds, maybe there is a connection between this cute boy and Sara?
Here’s my reply:
When I first picked up the manga I was thinking the same thing! Wondering if she could be the protagonist of the anime (even though there had been hints that it would be about a boy and not a girl). Yeah I mean there’s almost bound to be one? Reo and Mabu were introduced as “key characters” and their lives revolve around Sara for the most part, she’s been built up as someone special so she’s gotta have some connection with Kazuki!
Also, I actually think that we get a glimpse of Sara in the trailer! This girl here in the advert:
The pink text below spells out “Sara Television” and I think she has some of the same features as Sara the baby, mainly the eyebrows, eye shape and the way her hair is parted, although it’s not like those things are super unique or don’t change over time.
She doesn’t seem to be someone our protagonist could easily approach, being famous and all, but she also seems super important to the story so I’m sure that they’ll have some sort of connection or bond or fated encounter!
They accidentally uploaded a video early on youtube. I got a link to a lq version of it from an anonymous tumblr user.
For me the most interesting thing in the test video was a shot of a little green guy that was turned away from the camera, with a white plate on top of it’s head, a turtle shell on its back and a tiny tail. It’s a fucking Kappa.
Kappa’s if you don’t know, are Japanese yokai (demons basically) with humanoid and amphibious characteristics that inhabit rivers and ponds. They have cavities on top of their heads that are literally called “sara” meaning a plate or a dish. The sara is supposed to be filled with liquid that gives the Kappa its powers and keeps them alive when they’re on land.
Furthermore Kappas have many different names (one source is telling me there are up to 80) and one of the more common ones is kawaso, meaning otter.
You know what I just realised/remembered? Maru/a circle stands for being correct. At the start of each teaser we get a full circle splitting into four, can we derive something out of this?
Also this image contains both a maru ( O ) and a batsu ( X ), so something true and something false. Something right and something wrong.
The X is present only in this image, not during the beginning of each trailer or for the third teaser symbol. This image also has a very heavy feel, the other person is twisted and broken (or they both are). Are they being punished for doing something forbidden or are they a warning?
I’m finally going to talk a bit about the different symbols shown in the three teasers as well as their negative images that quickly flashes by.
For example, if everything passes by, even this world would become empty. I will tell you the truth. You are connected, but alone. Don’t let go, desire is your life.
In the first pair, we get the colour pink. The symbol or image in question is a pictogram of two male figures, possibly indicating male characters (it could also be used as a general human shape, though we got both male and female ones in Penguindrum). Behind them is a circular shape made up of lines, most likely representing a timer as seen at the beginning of the teaser.
They’re positioned in a very interesting way, they’re connected and facing opposite directions, head upwards resp. downwards. The image they form could be interpreted as a infinity symbol, which parallels the symbol used in the logo for the title. It’s also reminiscent of yin yang, the symbol for duality, that stands for connectivity and complementarity. This is further emphasized by how we’re shown two images, a white positive one and a black negative.
The pictogram shape differs from the others in the trailer. The hand on the figure on the left is not connected to the body. Likewise, there’s a gap in the head of the left figure, taking out about a quarter of the circle.Since the background behind the head has a splotch of black, this gives us the mental image of a wound, a gunshot perhaps? If we interpret it more symbolically it could be taken as another kind of loss. Have they let golike the narration warns them not to? Is this the emptiness?
The two are connected by sharing their right resp. left arm. This is their bond. However, they’re facing opposite directions, which means they’re also alone.
Am I a lie? Is the world a lie? Are we a lie? We are connected. But I dislike it. But I want it. Who is the one with the strong desire? Don’t let go, desire is your life.
For the second teaser we’re treated with a light blue colour. The symbol is an otter inside a heart, playing with a ball. This will be the mascot character this time around, similar to the bears in YKA and penguins in Penguindrum.
Otter in Japanese is “kawauso”. If we take this word apart we get “kawa” – “river” and “uso” – “lie”. In Japanese folklore otters are known to fool humans. In many of these stories they shapeshift into beautiful women who then lure and kill men. Here we can imagine them shapeshifting as the image flashes negative. Desire is the keyword, which is something the heart symbolises. The violent imagery from the first teaser goes together with these stories. All Ikuhara series have been dark so we can expect the same from this, which is something the narration also strongly suggest.
The ball that the otter is playing with contains three splashes of paint in the first image. The number three has been recurring (symbol in the logo, three adjacent pictograms, three colours, etc.) and it’s hard to say whether this is a deliberate inclusion or just a coincidence. Hardly not. In the second image the ball loses its round shape. It is reminiscent of a jumping fish, food for the otter, something it desires and needs and preys on. There’s also a white dot slightly beneath it, next to the heart. It’s hard to say what it could be or represent.
Cross that river. Because returning is no longer possible. For example, even if everything passes by and this world becomes empty, I want to protect this connection. Don’t let go, desire is your life.
The third and last teaser is yellow. The symbol is another set of the pictograms used earlier and throughout the teasers. This time they’re all drawn fully, facing head down, on different levels and with black spots under their heads, increasing in size the lover the figure is. Like in the first set of images there’s a circular shape made up of lines behind them that covers two of the three figures.
The narration completes the wordplay with the otter by mentioning a river. This is also significant considering what the rest of the teaser shows us, with the text and imagery flowing by like water.
The number three is further emphasised and we can expect to get three main characters. They’re all faced the same way, and/since they can no longer return. Are they perhaps in the process of crossing the river? Has the one on the right come the furthest indicated by the largest black spot, and is this a good thing or not? They are at different stages, but what these stages are is yet unknown. In contrast to “desire is your life” could the dark spot mark death? Could that be seen as equal to the emptiness?
Lastly as a curiosity, once the images switches to the negatives, there are some differences to be observed!
In the first set the main pink splash of colour disappears and only the small black one remains. In the second set the splash of colour remains, but changes its shape and position. In the third the splash stays exactly the same. The first set is the only one to use two different colours of splashes, having pink as the main one and black as an accent.
I’m guessing this is a hint regarding the fates that our three characters face. Possibly a reflection on their personalities or circumstances? One changes completely, one just slightly and the third one stays the same.
Interesting analysis! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
The image on the left
reminds me heavily of a crime scene, like two corpses laid out next to each
other, where the victims were holding hands in their final moments. The black
splotch (white splotch in the black and white version that flashes) makes me
think of a pool of blood that has spread from a wound in that person’s body.
The black splotch also
makes me think “shadow.” In Yurikuma, for the girls on the “lily” side of the
wall, their “bear” selves were sort of like Jung’s shadow, a part of themselves
they disavowed, at least publicly. This, combined with what I mentioned in the
previous paragraph and the fact that this image has the color pink and that the
featured figures are male symbols, makes me wonder if the image is hinting at a
similar thing regarding (traditional) masculinity and how it views femininity.
Like, maybe the image
represents two aspects of the same boy/man, with the upright, relatively
unblemished figure being the idea of masculinity they’ve learned from society
and internalized as they grew up, and the upside down, “murdered” figure
representing a feeling they have of their own sense of self that doesn’t gel
with society. Maybe they have traits or characteristics that are typically seen
as feminine, and somewhere deep down they feel like it’s a valid part of
themselves, but everything they’ve internalized from society regarding masculinity
and femininity has caused them to disavow that and bury it, figuratively
“killing” that aspect of themselves. Could the pink splotch point to the idea
that, from what this person has internalized regarding gender (roles),
femininity in a boy/man is seen as a stain?
I also noticed that
the only bit of black on the upright figure is on their knee closest to the
upside-down figure. I wonder if this is pointing to the idea that disavowing
their feminine characteristics kneecaps their ability to be a fully formed,
On a different note,
I’m not sure if this adds anything, or merely reinforces already-existing
ideas, but the image on the right, of the three horizontal figures, makes me
think of the kanji for “river”: 川
I recall a different
post you made talking about how you think the three colors pink, blue, and
yellow are what they are because they’re primary colors. I’d be curious to hear
if/how you think that ties in with your analysis in the post I’m responding to
I further replied to them:
Thank you, I’m glad it piqued your interest! And thank you for sharing yours as well, I love reading about what other people think!
I agree it’s very
reminiscent of a crime scene, with drawn outlines of the bodies and the pool of
blood, although very rigid and artificially positioned.
I think your idea that
it represents different sides of the same character is really interesting!
Right now I’m thinking it really is just that, the same person and their two
sides, one of them twisted (something they’re repressing or hiding? something
happens and they change completely?). Further I get new thoughts regarding the
hand that doesn’t connect with the body, maybe it’s not about letting go but
performing an action, whereas the head is about a change of/in the mind? Is the
hand here causing harm in a dualistic sense or providing protection since
they’re connected by the other?
masculinity/femininity ideas are quite fascinating, but personally I’m not
really viewing it as something that has to do that so much. That could
certainly be a theme, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what it’ll be about
knowing Ikuhara’s other works, but I don’t think there’s enough here to speak
for it yet.
I don’t think pink
stands for femininity quite as strongly in Japan as it does in the Western
world. It certainly does, for that and for everything cute, which is usually
viewed as girlish, but it also has a masculine association since the pink
cherry tree/sakura blossoms are said to represent young samurai who lost their
lives in battle. Overall the most common association for pink in Japan is
spring and springtime, due to the sakura blooming then. Spring symbolizes
rebirth, renewal and new beginnings. Here that could have something to do with
discovering something new about yourself or changing yourself? A changed/new
world? We also get an allusion to the passing of time (seasons) by the timer
shown here in the background.
Another thing pink
stands for is erotisism, and that does tie in with the key-word desire. A
couple of times when I tried to look up meanings to the colour pink in
Japan/Japanese, if I chose my search words carelessly and what came up was porn
and erotic establishments. “Pink films” (Japanese low-quality, soft-core
pornography) are a thing after all, pink referring to nudity, I think.
(I just had to add
this image here)
As a side note, pink
in Japanese can also be 桃色 [momo-iro]
or “peach-coloured” in reference to the colour of peach blossoms.
For the other colours,
blue represents water and the river quite clearly, with the otter and all. It’s
also a colour that represents purity and cleanliness, and to contrast what’s
been mentioned before, I’ve seen claims that young Japanese women wear blue to
show their purity. The Japanese word for blue (and at the same time green) 青い [aoi] also stands for “youth”. For example if we
combine this kanji with the kanji for “springtime” 春 [haru] we get 青春 [seishun] which
means “youth” or “adolescence”, which ties things nicely with what
the colour pink could stand for.
However, since the
pictogram is that of an otter, I’d go for the river imagery instead.
Interestingly, blue usually also represents calmness and stability, reminiscent
of the sea, the opposite of rivers that are constantly moving even if the world
around remains still. Since I don’t think I’ve mentioned it elsewhere this
might be a good place to add that rivers also symbolises the passage of time,
which seem to be a recurring theme.
And let’s not forget
that it’s the colour for coolness as well 😉
Yellow is an important
colour in Buddhism (especially in China), which could be of relevance if we go
by those interpretations of the title where “zanmai” refers to the
Buddhist term “Samadhi”. Furthermore it’s a colour used for warnings, and
in the teasers we get plenty of those with “KEEP OUT” being the most prominent
Other than that yellow
stands for light, clarity and curiosity, as well as happiness, optimism and
energy. That’s not at all the vibe I’m getting from Sarazanmai though,
especially not the last teaser, apart from maybe reaching enlightenment (those
circles being halo’s) and taking action? However there’s definitely something
going on, and we need to be alert, so a yellow caution sign it is.
The three primary
colours together are used to create all other colours, as well as black (not
going that deep into printing techniques, since they actually don’t create a
perfect black). I’ve actually played around with the images using photo editing
software, but there are no hidden signs if you overlay them all on each other
and so on. I did notice that the splash of colour used is the same in these
So it could be fun to
think that the otter is behind that wound or change of mind. It could also be
the designer being effinient by reusing the existing pattern.
I haven’t been able to
spot the yellow splash in the other images. Additionally I was trying to see if
I could make out any shapes and I started to see it as a lower torso cut in
half and now I can’t unsee that. The separate splashes or spots could be the
hands and the head too.
I always wondered how
people find hidden secrets by playing around with images, but I have my answer
to that now. Some simply become obsessed and try everything.
That’s a lot of information about the colors that I didn’t know, so thanks for taking the time and effort to go in-depth!
I don’t think I really
have anything more to add at this point, haha. I definitely agree with you that
there’s nowhere near enough info right now to think decisively about the masculine/feminine
stuff I mentioned. I was basing that analysis off of what little I understand
of Ikuhara, his works, and his influences (and I haven’t seen Penguindrum, and
have only the vaguest, most general memories of Utena; Yurikuma is his work I’m
most familiar with, but even then there’s a lot I don’t yet understand about
One thing about the
trailers I haven’t seen analyzed so far is the word “charge” in the banner
along the top and bottom. In addition to a clock or the idea of time, that
circle forming also makes me think of a gauge showing that something is
charging or loading. Do you have any thoughts on this? The only thing I can
think of at this point is, with the talk of taking action in a couple ways in
the teasers (e.g., “cross that river,” “don’t let go of your desire”), maybe it
has to do with an increasing intention to take action? A general idea in Utena
and Yurikuma is the idea of systems and how they perpetuate themselves, so I
wonder if the whole “charging” thing is maybe hinting that one or more
characters who are being oppressed by the system is/are finally getting to a
However, that’s also a
common thing between how Utena and Yurikuma play out, with characters
eventually gaining a better understanding of the system, getting fed up with
it, and finally just opposing it outright and/or leaving it, so it seems a
little odd that it would get its own symbol in the teasers. But if so, maybe
Sarazanmai will address this common thread (at least common to Utena and
Yurikima) more explicitly? Maybe in terms of how people negatively affected by
systems react to them, and what the consequences are for both the individuals
and the systems themselves?
I’m putting this
together out of the barest scraps, so this is essentially just me conjecturing
about hypotheticals without much certainty or decisiveness.
I replied to them again:
No problem, I had fun looking things up and sharing my knowledge and ideas 🙂
do still wish to be wrong with my scepticism. I think a work exploring
masculinity/femininity would be wonderful, it’s just very rare to see those so
I have to keep reminding myself that Ikuhara could actually do a series about
that, or rather he already has. (Well I still need something else to go on off
to develop those ideas here).
actually been planning on writing a separate post about that! “Charge” can be
interpreted in a couple of different ways after all, especially together with
the timer/gauge meter increasing and the other clues in the teasers. I also get
the feeling that the world of Sarazanmai will be centered around a system of
oppression and/or control of some sorts, it was something that was prevalent in
Penguindrum as well. I wonder if the “charging” is in reference to what
individual characters deal with before the pressure becomes too much for them
and they break or they’re “ready” to move to another level of sorts or do
something on a larger (societal) scale. Alternatively it could be more of an
collective that targets all of society or focuses on smaller societal groups
and for them to get their/enough individuals to a certain point and place.
right this might be a bit too straight forward and too much of a superficial
interpretation, or rather there’s definitely a deeper meaning we won’t have
access to yet just based on the teasers. The narration does give off an image
that the world is greatly flawed in some way and that the characters are aware
of it, so yes I could see the series be about how they deal with that being in
the focus more explicitly than it his previous works.
1. sal (tree) (Shorea robusta) 2. Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia)
I saw one Japanese twitter thread on how the “sara” could be from “sarasouju”. They didn’t go in depth about it but I will:
S. robusta has connections to Buddhism. You can check the wikipedia page on that. It ties in with stories about birth, death and attaining enlightenment. The brief flowering of the tree is used as a symbol of impermanence and the rapid passing of glory, etc.
This could work as a name in combiation with the 三昧【ざんまい】[zanmai] ending, refering to samadhi; the state of intense concentration achieved through meditation (or just indulging yourself in something).
The leaves have also been used as plates in parts of India and Nepal, which gets us back on the plate theory.
Additionally, Ikuhara loves flowers and flower symbolism, what would Utena be without the roses upon roses, or YKA without the lilies?
皿 【さら】(sara) – plate, dish, serving, course
The circles seen in the logo and teasers could be interpreted as plates. I’ve seen at least one person on Japanese twitter go in depth about how you could interpret different kinds of plates, and a few comparing them to some we’ve seen in YKA or Penguindrum, but it’s a bit too out there for me to share here (I know, right?).
Plates or dishes and food play an important part of our lives, you could say humans also feel a desire to eat and indulge in food. Considering how this meaning works very well with the few hints we’ve gotten about the series and how this word is what first comes to mind for most people when they hear “sara” i’d say it’s still worth keeping in though.
Also you know 回転寿司 or “conveyor belt sushi”? It’s a system where the ones who aren’t chosen get thrown away, this references Penguindrum and implies
I need to stop with the sushi jokes. If you’re wondering people are joking about “sushizanmai” which is a sushi chain restaurant with a very similar sounding name. It’s also funny since “sarazanmai” can be read as “three plates”.
私よりもサラ (watashi yori mo sara) – Sara than my
“Sarazanmai” if pronounced like “Sara zan mai” sounds like “Sara than my”
This made me laugh so I had to include it here. I think it’s time for me to go to bed now.
Today I was checking out the English speaking side of twitter. A few people there (and I think on some forum also) seem to be equating the three colours, pink, blue and yellow with the pansexuality prideflag, as well as the black and white contrast with the gender dichotomy.
While that would be cool and all, I don’t really think that’s what it stands for. I think we get these specific colours since they’re the primary colours.
I’m not really sure if there’s anything more to it than that. Anime uses a lot of character colours (I’m assuming we get three main characters with these image colours), it’s just a stylistic choice, it makes distinguishing the characters as well as marketing them easier. Furthermore pink, blue and yellow look really good together, since they’re a natural combination.
However since it’s Ikuhara, a pansexual character wouldn’t be revolutionary, same with exploring gender and I really wish we would get to see something exploring that once more.
Since this blog is me salvaging my old tumblr posts I’ll add an old reblog to this by forionby:
The scheme is indeed rather basic, yet it’s funny how the Ikuhara fandom team on Fandom Kombat ‘predicted’ this scheme back in 2015 %))
Oh bless, I saw someone tweet “since the otter has 36 teeth, I can’t help but think that the number 36 is of importance”
…wait that’s actually a twitter thread that starts with a tweet on how the trailer was released 3/6, the circle or timer in it contains both 36 thin and 36 think lines and the logo for Sarazanmai contains 36 lines both sides (I can’t believe I went and counted them to be sure…)
I lie, I always lie, of course I’m still here looking things up (or rather I tried and switched to twitter, but since I also started following those people there’s no escape)
You know one thing I’ve been wondering about a lot is those ア inside circles that move upwards in the background in the teasers. With thanks to those lovely twitter people I realised that it could stand for アニマル “animaru = animal” (ah アに丸 that’s funny since the kanji 丸 “maru/mal” means circle we get animal = a in circle!)
So in the teaser when the ア moves upwards, that could represent animals (not necessarily otters) crossing the river!
さつき talks about how these animals crossing the “river of desire” can portray “(whether or not) animals adhere to the survival strategies programmed in their DNA*” which connects things nicely with Penguindrum, comparing “desire” to “survival strategy”.
おきしみ points out that the otters are moving along with the desire (in the running text), being flushed away with it, whereas the animals are crossing the river just fine (inside the circles).
So that’s something to think about!
*Kanba’s speech about fate at the end of episode 1 of Penguindrum
on to more things we can pick up from the teasers and just wild guessing!
really do wonder about what kind of characters we’ll be introduced to. Not just
what their purposes will be, but what their personalities are like, their
relations (family? lovers? friends?) and what the gender representation will be
(male? female? non-binary?). All Kunihiko Ikuhara’s previous works have focused
on females, with Mawaru Penguindrum having a pretty even mix and Yurikuma
Arashi having a almost full female cast. In these teasers however we’ve only
gotten to hear a male voice. The teasers have also only included
the male form as that human symbol, which is worth noting since in the
Penguindrum teasers they also used female ones. Additionally in comparison with
Penguindrum, in their four teasers all four children spoke, indicating the four
do wonder if this means Sarazanmai will have a male protagonist?
That would be something new coming from Ikuhara. Furthermore the number
3 is recurring, for example we get three main colours (pink, blue and
yellow), the logo contains some sort of infinity symbol looped three times and
we can see three human figures standing next to each other in the teasers, so
possibly we’ll get three main characters? Not to mention the three
sushi plates (that’s a joke on the name interpretations)
I want to discuss something I’ve seen people talk about online, could it be BL?
Homosexuality is a given with Ikuhara, from everyone being bi in Utena, to some
lesbians in Penguindrum (not forgetting about Yamashita either) and then an all
lesbian cast in YKA. If Sarazanmai will focus on men though, and with all those
mentions of “desire” this gives off a really sexual vibe (which
to be fair is always the case with Ikuhara) so that could be something indeed.
It’s further backed up by Ikuhara knowingly following both BL and yuri works,
he’s said so in interviews and trust me if you follow his twitter you’ll know.
He’s also been collaborating a lot with BL manga artists (fun fact! even Chiho
Saito released a BL-book. Yes, that Chiho Saito who is famous for going against
Utena and Anthy being in a relationship, though she later drew them happily
together. My mind is blown and this is all in my twitter feed thanks to him).
Oh and we can’t forget about the narrating voice most likely belonging
to Junichi Suwabe who’s worked with Ikuhara before with the role of Life
Sexy in YKA, and who’s worked before with MAPPA as Viktor Nikiforov in Yuri!!!
on Ice, sooo typecasting anyone? Lastly, my favourite theory, and I agree this
is slightly more out there than the rest of them, is that Sazaranmai will be
the depiction of the love story between Ikuhara and Anno. The continuation of
the love story between Kaworu and Shinji as you may.
second teaser used ウソ for uso (that is katakana, which is used for
lone words and as a stylistic choice void of inherit meaning like with kanji),
which is mostly viewed to mean “lie” 嘘 to fit the theme/make
sense, but is also a neat reference to “otter” which is 川獺 or “kawauso” in
The third teaser used 河 for river, rather than the commonly used 川 (that you can see in the kanji for otter or “river otter” as well). 河 is mainly used to represent large foreign rivers, particularly 黄河 or “Kouga”, the Yellow River, in China.
Additionally, I found out from this blog that
because of this connotation 河
is actually more used to represent large scale objects and matters rather than
rivers, like 銀河 for galaxy, 氷河 for glacier or 河馬
It’s interesting to see how they’re clearly
referencing otters, but not with the words you’d commonly use. I also get the
feeling that we’re in for something grand.