Finally the key visual for Sarazanmai is revealed. It turned out to be a visual were all the main characters are cheerfully jumping above the Sumida river that flows through Asakusa. Look forward to seeing what kind of stories will play out on the stage that is Asakusa!
I found a blog with a rundown of everything we know so far. I’ve done the same translations for the PV’s and characters, but they’ve included a report from the AGF2018 event which is worth checking out here:
Ikuhara and Suwabe gave a talk at AGF on November 11th where they introduced the series, talked a bit about recording and the themes/premise (along with tons of jokes about shirikodama). Some excerpts from various event reports below (these are reasonably close transcripts of what was said at the event).
Ikuhara: I’ve wanted to make a story focused on boys for a long time now. While there’s a lot of folklore about kappa, but no one’s ever actually seen one, which is why I’d like to say that the kappa that appear in Sarazanmai are the real deal! (lol) So the shirikodama is a pretty famous piece of kappa folklore and it’s a major motif in this series. Now, I know there’ve been plenty of anime series so far that feature youkai, but if you ask me those were all kid stuff––this series is going to be a real adult youkai story!
The Setting of Asakusa
Ikuhara: I actually started from the idea of making a story about kappa, and once I got into planning around that idea and doing research into various pieces of kappa folklore, I eventually settled on Asakusa. I figured, with its mix of old and new, surely there would be kappa in Asakusa. The Sumida River is right there and it’s a place that feels very alive––so I decided to set [the story] of these boys connecting with each other there.
The Theme of “Connections”
Ikuhara: We live in an age where, with our smart phones and social media, connecting with people is a daily activity––so I wanted to ask, what does that all mean? What do we want to do with [those connections]? And made those questions a central theme of this series, and I wanted to look at things like how there’s this conflicting mix of emotions where you have this desire to connect with someone, but that connection can also bring pain. If you maintain the connection, where does [the relationship] go from there? What happens to connections that are lost? Do we even need connections?
Regarding Recording Sessions
Suwabe: We’ve already wrapped recording for the series, but Director Ikuhara always made each session very warm and inviting by talking to us before we started. He’d get right in the booth with us and explain what each episode was about. If I’m being totally honest I think our director here is an extremely “unique” person (lol), and just looking at the text in the script we’d have many questions about what exactly any of it meant, but he’d always take the time to explain it to us. Of course, if he were to ever come in late we wouldn’t be able to start since no one would have any idea what was going on. It’s very much Ikuhara’s World here! But once he’d explain it, it would all snap right into focus and we could start.
From Comic Natalie
A video message from the voices of Kazuki, Toi, and Enta––Murase, Uchiyama, and Horie respectively––played on screen. Murase commented that, “Director Ikuhara is very particular about certain things. For example, he got really specific about the scene where the shirikodama are removed––he’d ask for us to add exactly this percent pain, and this percent embarrassment and to sprinkle in just a little pleasure. He even acted out [the moment of having one’s shirikodamaremoved] for us.”…
Concluding comments from the three of them: Murase––”We live in a society where we can easily connect with people over social media, but this series will make you think about whether those connections are real or not.” Uchiyama––”I hope everyone is looking forward to it too, but we’re really excited to see what the finished product looks like ourselves.” And Horie concluded by saying that he is, “[the type of person who] usually just one-sidedly spits stuff out on Twitter without really thinking about connections” and that “if anyone [in the audience] is also like that, I hope you’ll watch this series.”
KAZUKI YASAKA – 2nd year middle school student. Once a cheerful boy who liked soccer, now absorbed in “something”. (CV: Ayumu Murase)
TOI KUJI – A boy who transferred into Kazuki’s class. There are bad rumours about him so the class leaves him alone. (CV: Kouki Uchiyama)
ENTA JINAI – Kazuki’s childhood friend. When they were in the soccer club together they were known as the “Golden Combi”. (CV: Shun Horie)
KEPPI – The self-proclaimed first ruler of the Kappa kingdom and a mysterious kappa-like life form. Turns people into kappa by pulling out their shirikodama. (CV: Junichi Suwabe)
REO NIIBOSHI – A police officer working in a police box and Mabu’s partner. (CV: Mamoru Miyano)
MABU AKUTSU – A police officer working in a police box and Reo’s partner. (CV: Yoshimasa Hosoya)
The setting is Asakusa.
One day three 2nd year middle school students; Kazuki Yasaka, Tooi Kuji and Enta Jinai meet a mysterious kappa-like life form known as “Keppi”, forcibly have their shirikodama stolen and get transformed into kappa.
“If you want to return to your original form, connect in “that way” and bring the zombie shirikodama”.
Is what Keppi tells the trio. Can the boys connect and steal the zombi shirikodama?!
At the same time at the police station where Reo Niiboshi and Mabu Akutsu work something is about to happen.