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.