Can’t sleep, might as well update the old top ten anime list. Today’s entry was one that really came out of nowhere for me. I wasn’t expecting it, truthfully, I don’t really remember what drew me to it. But it’s one I’m really glad I didn’t miss out on and one I think a good many more people should try and see for themselves.
Originally Aired: 11th April to 20th June | 11 Episodes | Created by Kunihiko Ikuhara | Coming of age, Fantasy, Action
You know those people who know nothing about anime, but still seem to believe it’s this utterly bizarre nonsense factory put on screen when asked to describe it. Sarazanmai the kind of show that gives that weird viewpoint a real foothold, showing there is no smoke without fire I guess.
What a weird, progressive and melodramatic show this was. Looking back though, I’m surprised I ended up sticking with this show after the contents first handful of episodes.
In the beginning, the show is extremely formulaic. It stars three boys who find themselves stuck in the middle of a war between Kappa and Otters. Having the misfortune of being turned into Kappa themselves and the forced to combat the literal manifestation of human desire, that often comes in the form of a guy hunched over on all fours…
It’s kind of hard to explain to be honest. Each episode in the first half dozen ended with the same, re-purposed animation of a musical action sequence, a very nice looking one mind you. However, I can fully understand why people did fall away from Sarazanmai when they did. Those that did stick with it though really found themselves in for a treat, as it’s only at the half way point where things get juicy and the formula gets messed with.
If you ignore all the facade, at it’s core this series is about these three kids and their connections to their friends, family and one another. Focusing on how they act on the surface, compared to how they really feel deep down. These feelings are quite literally laid bare to one another during these repeated action sequences. In order to overcome the monsters who have become overcome by their desire, they need to open up their heart, which ends up revealing some of their dirty laundry to the other two in the process.
I think how juicy and melodramatic these revelations were ended up being the thing that kept me interested in the early episodes.
Little by little, we learn about these characters and their deepest fears. Kazuki’s immense guilt over feeling he was responsible for his brother being in a wheelchair, Enta’s confusion of being in love with Kazuki and Toi’s admiration of his criminal brother who he apparently murdered another gangster to protect.
Each of these early episode ends with a revelation so juicy and so over the top that I just couldn’t take my eyes away. As events came to light and we learned more about these characters, we see the core of their relationships with one another, their neurosis and their insecurities. But through them being open with one another, they can actually accept and support one another property.
And to that end, the show is really just a heartwarming story about three friends supporting one another through some pretty serious personal issues. Outside of the multidimensional war of Shadow Otters and Frog Yokai of course. By the end I was really invested in not only these three kids, but also their villains. Wanting to see their story and hoping to see them come out on the other end okay.
Don’t get me wrong through, this show is still really bloody weird. What with all the homoerotic visuals; I mean the kids need to fly up the anus of of the monster to pull out the thing causing their rampage. But the series owns its progressiveness in a really positive way. With at least three of the major characters being gay, Kazuki’s cross dressing and the excess of “butt stuff” going on. I’ve talked a lot about the warm and fuzzy core of the show, but on a surface level, someone with a low tolerance for this kind of thing might find it perverse.
Sarazanmai is a genuinely great show telling a very heartwarming story, all in a weird wrapping that people are either going to love or hate completely. It’s a shame I’ve not heard more people singing it’s praises if I’m honest. If anything I’ve said here even remotely sounds interesting to you, I really do recommend you search it out. Not to mention it’s once good looking show stylistically and has both great opening and ending sequences.