The hot food battle anime is back!!

“The hot food battle anime Sarazanmai, or speaking of sushi, Sushizanmai! Welcome!
Ikuhara kept up with the joke of Sarazanmai being a hot food battle anime from last year lol. Sushizanmai is a sushi chain restaurant in Japan that Japanese...

The hot food battle anime Sarazanmai, or speaking of sushi, Sushizanmai! Welcome!

Ikuhara’s twitter

Ikuhara kept up with the joke of Sarazanmai being a hot food battle anime from last year lol. Sushizanmai is a sushi chain restaurant in Japan that Japanese Sarazanmai fans have joked about since day one. 

Sarazanmai Radio Translations/Summaries Masterpost

I stopped writing summaries for the PreZanmai radio show after the 4th episode (I was busy with other things and didn’t feel I had enough skills to give you reports that would be both relevant and accurate enough). Luckily Shipper’s been doing summaries on her blog! As of posting this they have done 9 episodes here:

I’ve copied them below since I don’t trust tumblr anymore:

In January, Ikuhara Kunihiko and Suwabe Junichi began hosting a weekly online radio show meant to promote Ikuhara’s upcoming anime Sarazanmai, which will begin airing in April, and since I haven’t seen anyone translate any of it, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I know I’m mainly a Yoi blog but Ikuhara is known for LGBT themes in his anime, so I think his upcoming show will be of interest to you guys and also Suwabe voices Victor, so that’s enough of a connection haha.

The synopsis of the anime goes as such:
The stage is Asakusa.
One day, three second-year middle school students — Kazuki Yasaka, Toi Kuji, and Enta Jinai — meet a kappa-like creature named Keppi, who is the self-proclaimed heir to the throne of Kappa Kingdom. 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.” 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, try to do something at the police box where they are stationed. 

I will try to update this post weekly as new episodes come out. Without further ado: (inserting a cut to preserve space)

Episode 1

Most of the show is just one of them asking the other a question and this time, Suwabe asked Ikuhara this: “What was your motive for creating Sarazanmai?”

Ikuhara: “The number one reason is… because I need to make a living.”

Suwabe: *laughs*

Ikuhara: “My anime have pretty bad luck [when it comes to sales, I’m guessing], so if I don’t keep making them, I’ll have nothing to eat.”

As his second reason, he said that he came up with it when thinking about experiences everyone could share in this ever-changing world. He wanted to capture the idea of “old” and “new” in the word “connections”. He said that now thanks to technology we can all connect with each other, but back in the day, it wasn’t so easy, so what will we do now and in the future with all these easy to make connections? That’s the question he wants to share with the viewers “What does it really mean to connect with people?”

That’s the gist of it (the episodes are only 8 minutes long lol).

Episode 2

In this episode, Ikuhara asked Suwabe this: “When voice acting in my anime, what do you pay attention to?”

Suwabe: “It’s so stressful to be asked this by the director when you’re sitting right in front of me! Huh…? I do my best to not catch a cold, does that count? Well, no. Of course, this goes for any project, but I put my heart into it and do my best, but when it comes to your anime specifically, like when I worked on Yuri Kuma Arashi, original anime with no source material, I feel like it’s particularly different, because usually you’ll have a sound director who relays the will of the director to the voice actors, but Ikuhara tells us what to do directly, sometimes asking us for some really crazy things. *laughs*”

Suwabe also said that before the recording of every episode, Ikuhara would enter the recording booth and explain the entire episode to the cast and he found that very unusual.

Ikuhara explained that he does it just because when he started working on anime, it was as a sound director, so he does the explaining not because it’s his own anime, but because he thought that’s what he should be doing lol.

Suwabe then said that he actually likes that Ikuhara is directly there in the studio so that he can immediately clear things up and answer questions if anything comes up and get straightforward feedback. He said he also likes that if them, as voice actors, feel like getting creative and going more all out, Ikuhara is often alright with that and doesn’t try to limit them.

Suwabe: “Before we actually started recording for Sarazanmai, Ikuhara-san told me ‘Excuse me, Suwabe-san, but we’re taking the approach of ‘everything goes’ this time around so don’t hold back’ and I was like ‘…what will they ask me to do???’ but I only said ‘I understand’.“

Ikuhara then said that he sees Suwabe as an artisan, and he’s impressed with it, but on the other hand, he looks for moments when he gets unprepared or careless and says something in an unintentionally funny way, since he really likes those moments and find them interesting.

Episode 3

This time, when Suwabe was introducing the anime, he asked Ikuhara “It says here, that the anime is planned to begin April 2019, but can I just say that it will definitely air in April?”

Ikuhara: “I wonder if you can say that… *laughs*”

Today’s main question was to Ikuhara: “What do you pay attention to while creating the draft for the anime?”

Ikuhara: “Well, the main thing I think about is ‘what would I think of this story if I were a teen?’, like how would I feel about it if I were in middle school or high school and someone showed me the anime, that’s the first thing.”

Ikuhara then went to say that original animes always take a long time to make, especially all the necessary preparations, and that when deciding what he wants to do, all of that relies on a lot of people who are essentially sponsoring the project. So when people tell him no, he said that knowing when to keep pushing for something, when something is important enough of a subject to keep fighting for it is also important.

When Suwabe asked him if originality is important to him, Ikuhara said he doesn’t really worry about it and to him it’s more about staying true to himself, and he only cares about personally finding the anime interesting. Ikuhara also added that anime isn’t something he can make on his own, and sometimes it’s a three steps forward, two steps back thing, like he’ll have a very clear idea but then the people he’s working with will tell him it’s impossible and he’ll have to figure it out all over again. He said sometimes it’s even “three steps forward, five steps back”.

Suwabe: “Does that upset you, when that happens? What do you do to cheer yourself up?”

Ikuhara: “Me? I… look up sites with sexy contents and stuff.”

Suwabe: *laughs*

Ikuhara: “Most guys do that, I think.”

Suwabe: “You cheer yourself up with something sexy? I see. *laughs* Do you also drink a lot of alcohol or cry or yell or something? Do you let your feelings out or do you keep them in?”

Ikuhara: “No, I don’t think I can do that, I keep it in. Do you let them out? Like do you drink alcohol and then lose your cool?”

Suwabe: “No, I don’t really do that, but drinking or eating something nice usually helps. Though I do complain sometimes. But I’m not the type to dwell on anger.”

At the end of the show, they also had this exchange:

Suwabe: “This anime will air in April… right?”

Ikuhara: “…probably. *laughs* I hope we make it in time.”

Suwabe: “Alright, then Sarazanmai, airing probably in April.”

Episode 4

In this episode, Ikuhara asked Suwabe this: “What did you honestly think of the Sarazanmai script when you read it for the first time?”

Suwabe: “Wow, to be asked this so directly as the director himself looks me in the eye, this is so stressful. What am I suppose to say here… Well, I definitely got the ‘it’s an Ikuhara world’ vibes. Just reading the script for episode 1, with no visuals, there were some scenes I couldn’t imagine, like ‘what’s going on here?’. I needed an explanation from the director to get the full idea sometimes, and even then I didn’t really get everything, but well, with good communication, everything falls into place eventually. I think it’s best to not try to look for logic here – I mean it is logical, but rather trying to understand it with logic, I think it’s better to appreciate it emotionally. Though there are some plot twists that will make you go ‘what’s this, where’d this come from???’, I feel like working on Ikuhara anime always feels like opening a box of surprises, watching them might be a similar experience. Hearing that, does that upset you?”

Ikuhara: “It does irritate me. No, I’m kidding. But even coming from me, I must admit that for anyone reading that script, immediately understanding it would probably be impossible.”

Both: *laugh*

Ikuhara: “If they immediately said they got it I’d be convinced they were lying.”

Suwabe: *laughs*

Ikuhara also said that he used to think that being different was his most important attribute, but as time passed he realized the most important part of creating anime was making sure the audience could sympathize with the characters because without that, you can’t write a story, and he’d only realized that recently.

Ikuhara: “I’m surprised I made it this far without having realized that earlier. *laughs*”

In the end, Ikuhara asked again: “So honestly, what did you think of the script?”

Suwabe: “No, it was fun.”

Ikuhara: “Really?”

Suwabe: “Though I felt like I got a taste of something strange. Like ‘Kappa? Shirikodama?! What’s this about?’ and reading the stage directions in the scenes I’d be like ‘Can this be aired on TV???’”

Ikuhara: “No no, it will air on TV! FujiTV is up to the challenge.”

Episode 5

Suwabe opened the episode by asking Ikuhara about the April premier date again: “Are you confident about it?”

Ikuhara: “I wonder what’ll happen…”

Suwabe: “It’ll be fine! Or, that’s what the producers should be saying, because we’ll be in trouble otherwise.”

This time again, Suwabe was asking Ikuhara the main question of the episode: “While creating anime, do you worry about its reputation in the industry and among fans?”

Ikuhara: “In the past, by which I mean, like 30 years ago when I enter the industry things were much different, I feel like the distance between the creators and the fans has been greatly reduced recently. In the past, when I worked on anime, what mattered most was ratings. Like every Monday we’d get the results and have staff meetings discussing them. I think that still happens, but not as much. I mean, my recent anime all happen to be late-night anime so ratings don’t matter. But the main thing in the past was that most of the reactions from fans came in the form of postcards, and sometimes maybe they’d publish some opinions in magazines, that was all. And then in the 90s online forums became a thing and people started discussing anime there, and actually having deep conversations and stuff. And the mode of communication really changed from there.”

Later, Ikuhara also added: “You know, back in the day, I had to look for people’s opinions, but now, because of the internet, they appear even if I don’t ask for them.”

Suwabe: *laughs* That’s true, whether you like it or not.”

Ikuhara: “Because we’re all connected.”

Episode 6

Suwabe began the episode by saying: “This radio show probably has the highest average age on this network.”

Ikuhara: “The old menz.”

Suwabe: “Some may say we’re like vintage wine.”

Anyway, this episode Ikuhara asked Suwabe this question: “As a seiyuu, do you worry about the reputation of the animes you starr in?”

Suwabe: “Do I care about it? Of course I do, there’s no way I wouldn’t care about it. Well, there are different types of people out there, some seiyuu feel like their job is over the moment they finish acting. I mean of course we also have to do some promotional events, but there are seiyuu who feel like their job begins and ends in the recording studio. I mean, they’re happy if the anime is praised, but once they finish acting, it’s not really their problem anymore. But personally, I care a lot, actually. And you know, when we voice anime, the animation isn’t at all complete, and there is no music or sound effects, so seeing how the anime turned out, including our voice acting and everything else, is really interesting to me and I watch the anime to see that. And I’m really curious how people received it, so I often read people’s opinions online and any letters I receive from fans. It’s a good reference for my own approach to acting, and it’s interesting how people interpret your acting, whether or not you were intentionally trying to convey the emotions they hear there, and I appreciate them thinking so deeply about it. But there are also some times where I think really hard about conveying something and do my best, and reading the comments I realize it didn’t come across at all. So, considering all this, I wonder how all of you will see Sarazanmai when it airs, since it’s a really problematic anime. *laughs*”

Ikuhara: “Someone said it opened a new door, right? *laughs* Opened a new door within Suwabe Junichi.”

Suwabe: “When I got involved in this anime, he told me ‘everything goes’ and I was like ‘what does that mean??’, well, you’ll see what it means.”

Ikuhara: “You know, I’ve heard it from many people now ‘is it okay to air this on TV?’”

Suwabe: “*laughs* Will it be okay though?”

Ikuhara: “It will! It’ll air from April!”

Suwabe: “Because you know, from episode 2, things get…”

Ikuhara: “Maybe it’ll be all bleeped out. *laughs*”

Suwabe: “Anyway, the answer is: yes, I do care about the reputation of the anime I starr in.”

Episode 7

Today’s main question was to Ikuhara: “How did you come up with the three main characters of Sarazanmai?”

Suwabe: “They’re all 2nd year middle school (8th grade) boys, right? How did the creation process go?”

Ikuhara explained that it started with getting the idea, and then drawing a simple sketch of both the boys and their kappa forms. Then he would search for a mangaka that could properly draw the characters out. He also said that creating their personalities went side by side with writing the story itself, and that it’s difficult to focus on just the story or just the characters at once. He also said that since anime is something you make as a team, while creating a character, you may end up with different staff members having different characterizations of the same characters and that may cause conflicts.

And that’s basically that – this episode was a bit hard to understand but I did my best and that’s the gist of it. Ikuhara sometimes goes into more detail but I think this gets the main message across.

Episode 8

This time, Ikuhara asked Suwabe this question: “What did you pay attention to while voicing Keppi?”

Suwabe: “*laughs* As always, being asked this by the director himself stresses me out. What did I pay attention to? Well, Keppi is a Kappa-like creature, he’s not human, not a normal human, he has his unique form, and when the story starts, you wonder what he’s plotting, what he’s thinking, what’s guiding his actions – I can’t say much more here – but there’s a lot of unknowns about him. I’d asked you, director Ikuhara, ‘What is he? What’ll happen to him? He looks like this, but does he have other forms?’ and I got some information there. There are also flashbacks to the past, so we will learn something about that, but basically… I tried to approach him in a ‘fresh’ way. I mean, this goes for any character, but I feel like here Ikuhara-san pushed me a lot, he asked me for some weird things *laugh* like ‘improvise here’ and I did my best, thinking what would be the funniest. I feel like sometimes it’s easy to get cornered in this case, like Murase-kun was. They’d be like ‘whaaat? W-w-what am I supposed to do here??’, the seiyuu of the three main characters.

Ikuhara: “They’d ask ‘what voice am I supposed to use here, how do I convey this?’”

Suwabe: “And the seiyuu for the characters that will appear later in the anime [that haven’t been announced yet] they were like ‘how do I do this??’, and reading the script I also wondered how they’d manage. There were many moments like that. It’s almost like a game between the writers and us, the actors. It really feels like we’re being tested, and we panic a bit, but also do our best to smoothly overcome that.”

Ikuhara: “I think being fresh is important. I mean, the longer your career gets, the better you are, and you gain experience, but also you lose that freshness, right? I think it’s best when you come in acting like you’ve debuted last month. *laughs* How long you can maintain that youthfulness and pureness is important and it might be difficult for those who have been working here for a long time.”

Suwabe: “That’s true. I think we always need to be on the offense, no matter what character it is. You really can’t afford to get complacent. Especially with a character like Keppi. It’s like, what voice do I use, a really low voice, a high one, a hot guy voice, my regular voice? Anything could fit here, so I need to get across the director’s image, it’s always a challenge but working on the characters is really fun for us, for me, it’s fun creative work.”

Ikuhara: “You know, during casting, we partly choose people who can most likely get the voices right for the characters, but also, we like to choose people based on thinking ‘oh, they’ve probably never voiced a character like this’. I like to surprise the actors like ‘huh, I’m voicing THIS?’, I like to get that response.”

At the end, Ikuhara also added: “Being ‘pure’ or ‘fresh’ is difficult, right? Even in my line of work, the longer your career is, the less you want to take apart everything you’ve built up. You want people to tell you ‘it has to be you!’ *laughs*”

Suwabe: “Oh yeah, we want that. We want to be the “only one”. I mean “number one” is ideal, but that one’s a bit difficult to achieve.”

Episode 9

This episode’s main question was from Suwabe: “How did you come up with the characters of Niiboshi Reo and Akutsu Mabu?”

Suwabe: “They’re mentioned in the synopsis, and they have a spin-off manga that depicts their story.”

Ikuhara: “They’re policemen, right? There are many genres with policemen in movies and dramas, and ‘buddy film’ is one of them. They’re popular even in Hollywood films, like ‘48 hours’ with Eddie Murphy or ‘Rush Hour’ with Jackie Chan. The idea is for two guys to partner up and solve a case, and when they partner up you get to witness the differences in their personalities. I always wanted to try creating something like that myself. And for a while, I’ve had it as a potential project, and now, instead of focusing on it, it just so happens that we have two policemen here, so I’m using jokes and stuff that I’ve been wanting to make for a while, I’d combined them. I’m happy I could do that.”

Suwabe: “So that’s why there’s also a spin-off where the story can go forward a bit, and they’re also in the anime, even if not as protagonists, they’re there with profound, hidden meaning.”

Ikuhara: “I wanted to make that spin-off manga from the very beginning. I wanted to tell a story of buddy cops solving cases in a downtown area. There were a lot of dramas like that when I was a child, like Tommy & Matsu, and I really liked that, I liked their dialogues and dynamic. And from American dramas, I liked CHiPs, I was wondering if I could do something like that sometime. CHiPs might be the closest to my idea, it was lighthearted and set in a downtown area, with no huge incidents, and them just solving light cases. I was attracted to that.”

Suwabe: “Did you create both characters at once or did you come up with one and then based on that made him a partner?”

Ikuahra: “Hhhh I wonder… Maybe Reo, I guess. A lighthearted guy and a serious guy – that was the setting from the beginning. Like if you have a playful guy you need a bit of an aloof guy to balance it out. Even in Japanese dramas, you get that dynamic a lot. It’s fun to think about buddies, there’s all sorts of pairings* there.” [*pairings as in literally he uses the word for “ships”]

That’s the gist of it, they also briefly discussed different buddy combinations like different personalities vs young cop, old cop etc. They also joked about “will the anime be finished for the release date?” with Suwabe saying “IT HAS TO BE, IT’S MARCH, AND IT AIRS IN APRIL”.

More translations/summaries coming when new episodes are released! The show airs every Saturday, so I’ll do my best to keep up.

Asakusa Sweets – 10

From the official Sarazanmai Twitter account:

Chapter 10 of Leo to Mabu: Futari wa Sarazanmai is published today in Rutile Sweet #39*! This month the presented Asakusa sweets is Ganso Kimura-ya ningyouyaki honpo‘s “Ningyouyaki”! There are 4 different kinds of Asakusa motifs on these handmade soft doll cakes. With sweet bean paste or without, both were moist, fluffy and delicious!

*corrected 38 to 39 as the tweet got it wrong

PreZanmai episode 4

Suwabe uses the same voice as last week to do the introduction and I think it might be Keppi’s voice. It matches the one he uses in the Tsunagaru PV so if you want to hear more of it, please go and check it out!

This week it’s Ikuhara’s turn to ask Suwabe a question and he asks him what his honest thoughts were after reading the scenario for Sarazanmai. Another intimidating question to be asked by the director!

In true Ikuhara fashion there were things Suwabe didn’t understand, but the different pieces fell into place after some explanations. He adds that rather than trying to understand the work logically, it’s better to do so emotionally. With Ikuhara’s works there are always going to be surprises.

Ikuhara remarks that it’s probably impossible to really understand the script. Then he talks about some of his struggles writing and being wrong that I don’t fully follow.

Lastly Ikuhara asks Suwabe once again what his honest impression were to which he responds that he thought it was interesting. It was also strange with the kappa and the shirikodama and he wondered if they can air it on tv, to which Ikuhara replies that they can! It’s a running gag in these talks that they question and confirm that the anime will be broadcast in April.

PreZanmai episode 3

This week Suwabe does the introduction using a funny voice and I had to check that my device wasn’t the one acting up XD

It’s Suwabe’s turn to ask Ikuhara a question and he asks what’s important to keep in mind when making the key animation (genga). Ikuhara replies that the first thing to do is to seriously think about what you think of the story. Second, when it comes to original works the time to prepare for them is long. During that those with the money will argue about doing things differently or how it’ll be impossible to do certain things, and during those times it’s important to stick to your ideas regardless.

Suwabe then mentions that there has to be lots of ideas for the work during the long production, which if course was true for Sarazanmai as well. Ikuhara mentions how there were name changes and not just once or for one thing. As an example he mentions claiming that the kappa are definitely kappa and not frogs, despite making the same sound. Ikuhara continues that things can easily get changed 4-5 times and each time something gets changed back to what it was earlier, that’s proof of how strong the earlier idea is.

Then they discuss originality, which Ikuhara considers to be a difficult concept. Making anime isn’t a completely solitary thing; you need to have the staff and the producers on your side or you won’t get anywhere.

Suwabe asks Ikuhara what he does when he feels depressed in order to cheer up and Ikuhara replies that he likes to look at pages with sexy things, which causes Suwabe to burst out laughing. Ikuhara says that it’s a manly/boyish reply. Suwabe suggest other things such as drinking and going out. They talk about that a bit and Ikuhara mentions that he’s someone who easily forgets things. This really has nothing to do with Sarazanmai or even the production anymore.

The talk ends and I understand why they called it “adult” last week, although it wasn’t nearly as bad as what I was prepared to listen to. As always, I wonder what next week will bring us?

PreZanmai episode 2

The second episode of PreZanmai, originally broadcast on 12.1. is out on theSarazanmai website.

Like the first episode it begins with Suwabe thanking the sponsors and presenting the show. He actually reads out the entire introduction once again. The talk portion of the program, HanashiZanmai, where he and Ikuhara discusses Sarazanmai doesn’t start until almost two minutes in!

This week Ikuhara asks Suwabe what kind of things he was careful about when working on an Ikuhara production. Suwabe comments that it’s making him nervous to hear such a question straight from the director himself. He then jokingly suggests being careful about not catching a cold and taking care of his health.

For a more serious answer, he mentions always wanting to do his best, no matter what production he’s working on. As for Ikuhara productions he’s already been part of one, Yuri Kuma Arashi. When it comes to original works, works with no original work to go after, he mentions wanting to follow the directors’ instructions, even if it’s not always possible, and wanting to express what the director wants as closely as possible.

Ikuhara jumps in and they start discussing what it was like to record and how Ikuhara would only explain what was going on in the scenes they’d record on that day. Ikuhara goes further into why that is and his whole process. Although I’m more interested in what Ikuhara has to say, Suwabe’s so much nicer to listen to! I really have to focus on Ikuhara’s voice and even then I can’t follow everything he says, so I’ll leave the rest at this.

The episode ends with Suwabe advertising Leo to Mabu: Futari wa Sarazanmai, and Leo and Mabu’s twitter account. He and Ikuhara gives us their goodbyes and the sponsors get thanked once again.

Like last week, we didn’t get any news on Sarazanmai. Instead we got some small tidbits on what it’s like working on an Ikuhara production. I wonder what the next episode will be about?

PreZanmai episode 1

I’m listening to the first episode of the SarazanmaiRadio Programme PreZanmai, available on their website under ‘RADIO’. 

First of all, now I finally get all the “good voice” tweets Ikuhara, Suwabe and others were doing last week. Suwabe, being an established seiyuu has a very good, very “showy” voice and then Ikuhara’s just… like a regular person. Kinda dull in comparison, although he’s still good. It’s quite entertaining to listen to them!

Most of the episode consists of Suwabe advertising everything they have going on. He speaks super fast, but luckily it’s easy to follow along when I’ve already read the introduction and know about everything else.

For the actual program (HanashiZanmai) it begins with Suwable asking Ikuhara what inspired him to make Sarazanmai. Ikuhara replies that the number one reason for him is “to make a living”. Lol. Secondary reasons and inspirations are the fact that we live in changing times. For Japan one remarkable event is the end of the current Heisei era, which will occur while Sarazanmai is airing. Ikuhara also mentions new things and old, and how they relate to each other (mirroring what’s said in the tsunagaru PV!). 

Then they bring up how this is an era of connections and connecting. We have smartphone apps and the internet which makes it easy to connect in many ways. They continue with questioning what it means to connect and where we’ll go from here? Everyone from children to working adults are connecting online (save from some older people) and it’s an entirely different world from when we/they were kids. There’s also no going back from this, from the feeling of wanting to connect.

The talk ends in a joking manner when they bring up their own ages saying how they’re just two old men talking about today’s youth, while we’re out here waiting for them to retire! Ikuhara’s making Sarazanmai just so he can feel connected!

All in all it was a pleasant first episode. We didn’t really learn anything new, but it’s always nice with some more insight, even if it was mostly the same things we got to hear during AGF2018. I can’t wait to hear the next one!