Keywords: , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - MAPPA
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." At the same time, two policemen, Reo Niiboshi and Mabu Akutsu, try to do something at the police box where they are stationed.
(Summary Courtesy of Anime News Network)

11-episode TV anime that premiered on April 11, 2019.
Animated by Mappa.
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 9 8 8 7 9 9 Ggultra2764 [series:3670#1552]
Another weird mind trip directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara, Sarazanmai is the fourth anime TV series directed by Ikuhara dabbling into eccentric and sexually-charged symbolism. This new series focuses on middle school students Kazuki, Toi, and Enta being turned into kappa by Keppi, a prince of the Kappa Kingdom who tasks the boys to halt the desires of giant kappa zombies in an alternate world called the Field of Desires where they attempt to satisfy their personal desires that affect the normal world in varying capacities.

Sarazanmai's main focus throughout its run involves connections. The series dabbles into the joys and pains of experiencing connections through our three lead characters, as well as a couple of the foes they confront throughout the span of the show's run. For all the positives that social connections can have, there can also be unpleasant elements to them with embarrassing or hurtful thoughts and situations. This serves as the main crux of Kazuki, Toi, and Enta's character developments throughout Sarazanmai's run as the three face their own personal problems involving family members and any past strains that affected their bonds with one another. The boys all learn of their problems as each Zombie they defeat results in one of their personal memories being exposed to the other three throughout the show's run and learning to cope with the revelations to one another.

As far as the design aesthetics go, Sarazanmai's premise draws from traditional Japanese myths on kappas, amphibious demons with webbed limbs that have varying interpretations of their regard for humans that are mostly malevolent. The showing of pulling shirikodama from a demon's anus and collecting of dishes to grant a wish are nods to interpretations of kappa in myth. Shirikodama are believed to contain a person's soul and are usually sought out by kappa for consumption as part of their evil deeds. Plate collecting is in reference to the small dishes that kappas typically have on their heads that are full of water and exploited by humans as a weakness, as kappas are obsessed with manners by their nature and will respond to bows with one of their own which will spill the water in their plate with the kappa not leaving their bowing position until the plate is refilled with water. If refilled by a person, the kappa will become eternally loyal to them.

The storytelling style employed with Sarazanmai with "kappa zombie of the day" threats is a bit of a double-edged sword though. While the episode structure helps to further flesh out the boys and reveal more about the machinations of the antagonists, the way in which the episode story structure's laid out for much of the show's run is a bit repetitive and it does take time for the plot to start picking up steam when the antagonists start to become more proactive directly against Keppi and the boys. Plus, the kappa zombies are nothing compelling for the most part since they only exist to create each episode's conflict and their inner desires are rather exaggerated compared to whatever the major characters in the series are dealing with.

Gripes aside on the episode story formula though, Sarazanmai is still a mostly fun mind-trip to watch through compliments of Ikuhara's story direction and the show's exploration on social connections. If you have enjoyed any of Ikuhara's past works like Mawaru Penguindrum and Yuri Kuma Arashi, I'd still recommend checking the series out at least once.

Last updated Thursday, June 20 2019. Created Thursday, June 20 2019.

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