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!