English Dub Review: Sarazanmai “I Want to Connect, but I Want to Lie”

What’s in the box, Kazuki?!

OVERVIEW (SPOILERS)

Kazuki Yasaka wants to maintain a certain connection no matter what, the means to do so is contained in a box he carries with him everywhere no matter what. His classmate, Toi Kuji is in the middle of breaking into a car when he is accidentally caught in a selfie by Sara Azuma, a popular idol, so he chases her down only to find Kazuki holding her phone. When he attacks Kazuki instead, they end up destroying a nearby Kappa (Japanese amphibious demons) but then seem to forget the events shortly after. The next day at school, they begin imitating the behavior of a Kappa while hearing an odd ringing throughout the day.

They go back to the wrecked statue to investigate but find themselves being called by Keppi, who claims to be the prince of the Kappas. He’s there to ask for their help, but when Toi insults him by calling him a frog, he devours the boys and extracts their “shirikodama”, a magical organ that resides in the anus and holds human desire, and then excretes them as Kappas. Another classmate, Enta Jinnai, is mad at Kazuki for quitting their soccer team, but also sees a package he ordered online mysteriously floating away. He also comes across what’s been happening and also mistakes Keppi for a frog, leading to him being transformed as well.

The three boys are now cut off from communicating with the living world but have gained the ability to spot the evil spirits, Kappa Zombie Underlings, that are taking everyone’s Amazon deliveries. Keppi leads them to their source of the underlings, a Box Zombie, and must retrieve its shirikodama to get back all of the boxes. To do this, they must engage in a synchronized musical number about secrets in boxes and connections while laying a smackdown on the zombie. Soon they go for a spiritual prostate exam and retrieve the shirikodami, revealing that in life, the zombie used to get off by putting boxes on his head while naked. They then hand over the shirikodama to Keppi for the “Sarazanmai”, a ritual that also reveals Kazuki’s own secret: He cross-dresses as the idol Sara Azuma and sends pictures to his little brother, meaning the Sara that Toi met was actually Kazuki.

This allows them to return to human form, though Kazuki’s so embarrassed he might just die himself.

OUR TAKE
Throughout covering anime on this site, I’ve usually been pretty lucky in covering stuff that is generally accessible to a western viewer like myself. I guess that luck has run out because this show is VERY Japanese, digging deep into the ditches of mythology to tell a story that is, apparently, focused on the theme of “connections” between people. And somehow this is conveyed through what seems to be the Disney movie “Coco” but with ducks, vore, and butt-play. I’d probably be disgusted if I wasn’t so entranced by the admittedly dazzling animation, but that only goes so far to distract me from the fact that I’m watching three middle school boys being eaten and pooped out as demon ducks so that they can go rummaging around in the anus of a giant monster. What I’m saying is this show’s really goddamn weird and I’m not sure how to feel.

Though I have to admit I am really intrigued as to where this will be headed in the remaining ten episodes. As a cultural outsider to all of this, I’m naturally not going to pick up on the nuances and references and will have to take a lot of this stuff at face value, but what I think I’m getting from this is a very different take on a show about kids fighting monsters every week. Also of interest is that each of the kids has their own unique emotional struggles and complicated situations to deal with that seem to also be connected to the idea of beating monsters that are overpowered by their own desires. I could do without the pulling of things from the anus, but I also watched FLCL and Evangelion in my formative years, which gave me a heavy tolerance for really bizarre nonsense in my anime.

As said, the production quality of the animation helps a lot in terms of keeping my attention, though this is clearly not something I’m going to be watching with people around. But even a crazy-ass ass-show like this really only needs to be weird enough to get me to watch, which this definitely is. I have an odd criterion for this sort of thing, but it essentially comes down to whether or not I’m more bored than confused, and right now I gotta say I am confused. Yet, in the words of a Johnny Bravo meme, I am sickened, but curious.

David Kaldor

Green Lynx (David Kaldor): Aimless 20-something given a paid outlet for his thoughts on cartoons. Fears being boring slightly more than being outright disliked.

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