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EP. REVIEW: Sarazanmai


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JacobC
ANN Assistant Editor


Joined: 15 Jan 2008
Posts: 3720
Location: SoCal
PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:57 pm Reply with quote
Secret spoilers about Reo and Mabu's past from the Sarazanmai manga: spoiler[They're actually Sara Azuma's two daddies! The manga revolves around their efforts to raise her as an infant in the late 2000's, but curiously, they haven't aged a day since then even though Sara has grown up normally.]
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zunderdog24



Joined: 08 Jun 2014
Posts: 241
PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:58 pm Reply with quote
That is absolutely insane that the first post is a spoiler.
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cotton_prima



Joined: 20 Apr 2019
Posts: 1
PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2019 11:43 pm Reply with quote
Given how much Ikuhara seems to like idea of a living death (people on the margins who are unable to self-actualize, but who keep on keeping on), it's surprising in retrospect that he waited this long to make a show with full on zombies. Adding invisibility onto the alive/dead paradox and it seems like he's going back to Schrodinger's cat quantum mechanics! It's less blatant that in Penguindrum, and he hasn't literally put a cat in a box (yet), but going from a box zombie to a cat zombie...well.

Not sure if this is anything, but even the otter cops are stationed in a police box. So the police put people with criminal desires into otter-stamped boxes...but they're in their own box too? Maybe everything is boxes.
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KitKat1721



Joined: 03 Feb 2015
Posts: 216
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2019 12:19 am Reply with quote
After reading both reviews: Well, I'm off to go re-watch those episodes again.

Sarazanmai definitely feels more dense than his most recent work, Yuri Kuma Arashi, did. As surreal as Yuri Kuma looked, its overall symbolism felt much more straight-forward from early on. I do wonder if some of that density comes from Sarazanmai being one of his most animated works of the past decade. Its a lot easier to break down still imagery and tableaus (which Penguindrum and Yuri Kuma had in spades) over Sarazanmai's just as detailed composition but fully in motion.

A lot of the stuff with the otters and zombie cops definitely escaped me during watching (although I still have that one song stuck in my head), but luckily, everything with the protagonists feels a lot more easily accessible. And I do love these protagonists, despite Kazuki's kitty-stealing. You... just don't steal someone's pet, man.

Weird that despite everything else the show has thrown at me, I'm most surprised about Kuji's whole weed side business, given the heavy anti-drug stance Japan has taken.
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Wingbeats



Joined: 23 Feb 2015
Posts: 271
Location: Boise, Idaho
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2019 1:06 am Reply with quote
A rather odd thought that kinda took me aback, as growing up in Colorado it's pretty dang normalized, but...

I think this is the literal only second time I've seen weed in an anime. The other time being Samurai Champloo. Huh. That alone kinda made me go !? even though there was an otter sexily ripping the heart out of another otter and all this other....stuff.
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leongsh



Joined: 30 Sep 2006
Posts: 131
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:29 am Reply with quote
Your analysis is well appreciated, Jacob. I managed to catch about ⅔ of what you have posted after watching the episodes a few times. The other ⅓ I did not catch is interesting. Will be following your write-ups to see how much I caught in my own viewings and how close or far we are from what Ikuhara is trying to commumicate with Sarazanmai.
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AmpersandsUnited



Joined: 22 Mar 2012
Posts: 199
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2019 3:45 am Reply with quote
KitKat1721 wrote:
Weird that despite everything else the show has thrown at me, I'm most surprised about Kuji's whole weed side business, given the heavy anti-drug stance Japan has taken.


Nothing about the character is portrayed in a positive light, so it's not as if the show is endorsing it.

None of the main characters are really portrayed in a positive light.
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Merida
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Joined: 21 Feb 2012
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2019 3:48 am Reply with quote
Very good reviews! There's definitely a lot to (re-)watch here, i'm sure i missed a lot. For now that damn song is still stuck in my head, zombifying people has never sounded catchier.
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wolf10



Joined: 23 Jan 2016
Posts: 367
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2019 7:13 am Reply with quote
I will admit I went into this one with way more trepidation than the average Ikuhara fan. Yes, I've seen everything he's ever made, but I still couldn't shake the impression that even with all the subtext (and the evil gay cops), this would still be about cishet boys with their cishet problems (I was reminded of the heavy-handed bearding in Dive!! a little), because who would really let Ikuhara go there? Did he even really want to?

Then episode 2 happened. I apologize for my lack of faith. Clearly this series is Ikuni's post-Yuri on Ice "hold my beer" moment.

---

Now to unpack a bit:

Back when this series was first announced, the various small pieces we were shown made me think of the oversexed gay nightlife subculture usually seen in media. Assuming the Otter Cops will be playing a similar role to the yuri judges in YKA, could the ultimate meta conflict be over whether same-sex attraction can really be love, or if it's just desire? So maybe our precious budding gay boys will find themselves torn between the imagined dichotomy of connecting-without-connecting (like the Otter Cops), or keeping their desires in a box, with the Dish of Hope as their only perceived hope of escape. Now that I write it out, most of that seems to be apparent already, but hopefully they can find a third (fourth?) option before someone takes a bullet or bomb or sword or something.

Also, Reo shows up next to the boys in his original, high-saturation color scheme at one point in the opening. I wonder if that's foreshadowing a heel-face-turn for him, maybe as he tries to restore a more personal connection with Mabu. Maybe he'll even be the focus of a classic Ikuhara protagonist switcheroo.
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Oggers



Joined: 29 Nov 2017
Posts: 80
Location: Ontario, Canada
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2019 7:19 am Reply with quote
I find it interesting how far Kazuki is willing to go to make Haruka happy. Considering the lengths he goes to, I can't help but wonder if there's something more to it beyond just pleasing his little brother.

Also the stinger for Episode 2...wow. No wasting time there. I'm looking forward to seeing where that goes, even if it may get messy.
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Zeino



Joined: 19 May 2017
Posts: 720
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2019 8:03 am Reply with quote
I'm just glad that Ikuhara is expending his scope again. As good as Yuri Kuma was, it suffered from being thematic retreaded ground from Utena with the ending being a retread of Penguindrum's. Maybe he did need to make a much more direct "LESBIANS EXIST. THEY AREN'T A CHILDISH SCHOOL GIRL THING TO BE GOTTEN OVER. THEY DON'T EXIST TO JUST BE FETISHIZED. THEY ARE REAL PEOPLE WHO DESERVE ACCEPTANCE AND RESPECT!" avail of a message to Japanese Audiences in 2015 but the well of exploring queer experience through the female side was starting to run dry for him. He needed to evolve in his style again. And Sarazumi looks like it.

Also according to the Japanese fan theories that have reached Tumblr, Sarazanmai’s literary influence is based on the novel “Kappa” by Ryuunosuke Akutagawa: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kappa_(novel)

Oggers wrote:
I find it interesting how far Kazuki is willing to go to make Haruka happy. Considering the lengths he goes to, I can't help but wonder if there's something more to it beyond just pleasing his little brother.


Well, he might possibly be trans and not realize it yet. That's a topic that Ikuhara has never covered before and may want to explore.
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wolf10



Joined: 23 Jan 2016
Posts: 367
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2019 8:18 am Reply with quote
Zeino wrote:
Oggers wrote:
I find it interesting how far Kazuki is willing to go to make Haruka happy. Considering the lengths he goes to, I can't help but wonder if there's something more to it beyond just pleasing his little brother.

Well, he might possibly be trans and not realize it yet. That's a topic that Ikuhara has never covered before and may want to explore.

My perspective may be a little warped thanks to Law & Order: SVU, but I think it's something a little deeper and more selfish (not that I consider "selfish" a bad thing, per se). This is not to deny the validity of trans people, but my current reading is that Kazuki wants to become a girl (possibly by using a Dish of Hope) not because he personally identifies as one, but because he thinks that will make his love "acceptable." So maybe the crossdressing isn't actually what's inside the box, so much as just another box concealing a deeper desire to connect with boys/a boy, as a boy himself. Or maybe I'm just projecting. /shrug
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Dragonsandphoenix



Joined: 21 Jan 2015
Posts: 78
Location: Malaysia
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2019 11:19 am Reply with quote
These reviews will be my lifeblood for the next 9 weeks. The reasoning for Kazuki's determination to connect with Haruka is interesting and didn't occur to me while watching.

I really want a figure for Reo and Mabu's pose during that scene. Much fabulous.

I'm guessing next episode will be focusing on Enta and probably his "embarrassing secret" being revealed. I can already predict suffering and I'm not sure if I'm ready for it.
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gloverrandal



Joined: 20 May 2014
Posts: 379
Location: Oita
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2019 1:08 pm Reply with quote
Zeino wrote:
I'm just glad that Ikuhara is expending his scope again. As good as Yuri Kuma was, it suffered from being thematic retreaded ground from Utena with the ending being a retread of Penguindrum's. Maybe he did need to make a much more direct "LESBIANS EXIST. THEY AREN'T A CHILDISH SCHOOL GIRL THING TO BE GOTTEN OVER. THEY DON'T EXIST TO JUST BE FETISHIZED. THEY ARE REAL PEOPLE WHO DESERVE ACCEPTANCE AND RESPECT!" avail of a message to Japanese Audiences in 2015 but the well of exploring queer experience through the female side was starting to run dry for him.


The amount of lesbian school girl fetish in the show itself and all the merchandise made for Yuri Kuma Arashi tells me that wasn't his message at all. Ikuhara loves fetishizing lesbians.
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yurigasaki



Joined: 06 Apr 2015
Posts: 100
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2019 3:29 pm Reply with quote
gloverrandal wrote:
Zeino wrote:
I'm just glad that Ikuhara is expending his scope again. As good as Yuri Kuma was, it suffered from being thematic retreaded ground from Utena with the ending being a retread of Penguindrum's. Maybe he did need to make a much more direct "LESBIANS EXIST. THEY AREN'T A CHILDISH SCHOOL GIRL THING TO BE GOTTEN OVER. THEY DON'T EXIST TO JUST BE FETISHIZED. THEY ARE REAL PEOPLE WHO DESERVE ACCEPTANCE AND RESPECT!" avail of a message to Japanese Audiences in 2015 but the well of exploring queer experience through the female side was starting to run dry for him.


The amount of lesbian school girl fetish in the show itself and all the merchandise made for Yuri Kuma Arashi tells me that wasn't his message at all. Ikuhara loves fetishizing lesbians.


i'm not sure how to break this to you, but a majority of the fanservice in yurikuma arashi was pushed by the female staff members, one of whom is and out and proud lesbian who frequently publishes manga oneshots about queer women that often get a little racy.

you can criticize yurikuma if it's not to your taste, but dismissing the intent of a creator entirely when you clearly don't actually know much about how the show came to be is pretty ignorant and reductionist.
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