Sarazanmai Episode 1 [First Impression]
Okay so you know that old joke, “You can’t spell ‘subtext’ without ‘buttsex’”? This is that taken to its logical extreme. And I have no idea what to think so far.
I didn’t really think anything of this show when I first noticed it while filling out the Spring 2019 preview, but over the following couple of weeks I found myself going back to it and remembering how much I liked Utena, which was my only real prior experience with Ikuhara. So in the end, I decided to give it a go. Aaaand my feelings are very mixed, but I could see myself enjoying this.
The general premise of the show is based around the legend of the kappa. Or more specifically, the kappa’s habit of stealing the shirikodama. Which is an organ in the ass that harbours the soul and all human desire, apparently. Damn, I had no idea the prostate was so important. To be honest, this is my central problem with the show: the butt stuff. I know it’s a cultural difference between Japan and the West, I know it’s not as weird for them as it would be for us. But I just… I don’t really want to see that much butt stuff. Call me a prude, but I can only take so many fart gags per episode.
And then there’s stuff like, uh… this.
Sweet Jesus, they’re really going for something here.
But despite my squeamishness over the main conceit of the show, I found myself intrigued while watching it, and there was an awful lot that I liked about it. Plus Enta, the Kazuki’s best friend, makes a Captain Tsubasa reference and I feel like that’s kind of a sign that I should keep watching.
So then, things I liked! I absolutely love Ikuhara’s direction. His signature melodramatic, jerky visual presentation style is dynamic and beautiful and reminds me of Utena (though to be fair, the visual direction is about the only similarity) – I find something about it really exciting to watch, and the music accompanies it perfectly, setting a slightly uncanny tone at times. The art style itself is also very pretty, which makes the aforementioned butt stuff slightly more pleasant to watch than it might otherwise be.
I also find the main theme of the show pretty interesting, even if they’ve used an odd framing device for it. Essentially, it’s all about hidden desires: the three main characters (Kazuki, Toi, and Enta) have been turned into kappa and tasked with defeating “kappa-zombies” by stealing their shirikodama. In order to kill the zombies, they have to do the “Sarazanmai”, an incantation which results in a member of the group’s secret being revealed to the other two (this time, we found out Kazuki has a double life as a cross-dressing idol which was amazing). It’s a concept you can do a lot with, and I can see this show getting pretty deep with it despite its absurdist nature.
To be honest, I think I’m probably going to watch this one all the way through, and I’d potentially like to continue covering it, depending on how hard they lean into the whole ass thing. Because if the whole thing is a weekly 23-minute ass joke, it might get a little draining, even if everything else about it appeals to me. But to be fair, I guess it’s only slightly more scatological than Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt, and I loved that (I mean, the first episode featured a poop demon. If I can power through that, I can give this a fair shot). So I’ll give it the ol’ college try.
Possibility of Blogging: Moderate
Possibility of Watching: High