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EP. REVIEW: Sarazanmai


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Aki_Leaves



Joined: 05 Sep 2013
Posts: 38
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2019 12:14 am Reply with quote
This series just isn't gripping me like Yuri Kuma did, and I feel like something is missing. Maybe it's bias since I'm a heterosexual male who likes yuri... Though Yuri!!! On Ice was my favorite anime of the season, my wife and I adored it.

Also, my wife who prefers yaoi over yuri (she does like both though) preferred Yuri Kuma as well.

I can't put my finger on it, but maybe it's all the butt stuff? I feel like a "high concept" series like this should be up my alley, but it just feels disjointed to me in comparison to the director's previous works.

Anyone else having the same issue?
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wolf10



Joined: 23 Jan 2016
Posts: 368
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2019 7:23 am Reply with quote
Aki_Leaves wrote:
Anyone else having the same issue?

It definitely has more of a bite to it than the overly-accepting Yuri!!! or the overly-metaphorical Yurikuma, and it has basically nothing to do with "yaoi" or the BL genre in spite of having three male leads with vague (and not-so-vague) same-sex attractions. All that said, though, as a gay male who has been following Ikuhara for more than a decade, I'd say this is easily his best yet.

Especially now that episode 6 seems to have directly addressed the endings to Utena, Penguindrum, and Yurkuma, specifically the spoiler[self-obliterating acts of sacrifice] that capstoned all three. I've always chosen to interpret those as spoiler[the leads literally exiting the story once their role was over], but it still left a bit of a sour aftertaste, especially in Penguindrum. I suppose there's still a chance that all three of our precious boys will take that plunge, together, later, but the increasing focus on Reo and Mabu has me wondering if Ikuhara's finally come up with a new ending, one that won't have one or more of our kappas spoiler[throwing away their connections in order to save them].
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dm
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Joined: 24 Sep 2010
Posts: 404
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2019 10:31 am Reply with quote
Gosh, Jacob, your review of episode four was certainly worth the wait. Thanks! Looking forward to what you have to say about the next two episodes.

I have to admit that I am enjoying this series on the most shallow of bases: it's beautiful, it's clever, and it's constantly surprising. Reading about themes and symbolism is just icing on the cake.

What were the parents thinking when they named their boys Chikai (near) and To(o)i (far)?

And now I understand Sara's affectation of adding "dish" to her sentences (which I guess should have been obvious). I am wondering what her role is in the otter/kappa world, since she does seem to have a kappa alter-ego in the opening.


Last edited by dm on Sun May 19, 2019 2:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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vonPeterhof
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Joined: 10 Nov 2014
Posts: 679
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2019 10:51 am Reply with quote
dm wrote:
What were the parents thinking when they named their boys Chikai (near) and To(o)i (far)?
To be fair, the character Chikai's name is written with stands for an unrelated word meaning "vow", so there's at least some plausible deniability there Very Happy

Although if you were to overanalyze the word's etymology, there's apparently a theory that it comes from a compound meaning "blood mixing", likely referring to some sort of blood oath..
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BodaciousSpacePirate
It's Over 9000!It's Over 9000!


Joined: 17 Apr 2015
Posts: 2715
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2019 11:57 am Reply with quote
treeofjessie wrote:
just a friendly note for talking/writing about spoiler[ disability: assistive devices like wheelchairs are actually helpful, not harmful for the people who use them. so folks who use a wheelchair are able to ambulate more with it than without, thus are not bound by/to the device, but are rather a user of it. this is a little like calling an able-bodied person stairwell-bound or sidewalk-bound haha. those things are positive and helpful, not burdensome. so Haruka is a wheelchair user, not wheelchair-bound.]

it's fairly common for spoiler[abled] people to not be aware of the difference, so this is fine, i just thought i'd try and help y'all out. Very Happy


On the same topic: spoiler[wheelchair-usage] is one of the things that I felt Cheer Fruits portrayed better than any other anime I had previously seen... and while I'm pretty sure that show wasn't influential enough for Ikuhara to directly emulate it, I do hope that Sarazanmai will end up being similarly true-to-life in its own way.
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Zeino



Joined: 19 May 2017
Posts: 720
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2019 3:35 pm Reply with quote
Episode 6 spoiler[breaks the pattern for good. Haruka is the first of Leo and Mabu's victims to get "love" at the coin toss, which means he was just gonna get thrown into a giant grinder instead of zombified. And Kazuki reawakens his love of soccer just to save him.

It also seems like Leo and Mabu aren't exactly on an equal footing after all.

…You know, I'm relieved that Kazuki didn't have to extract his brother's shirikodama. I guess even Ikuhara wouldn't go that far.]


Also spoiler[Keppi now looks extremely suspicious to me now. Not only he knew exactly where the Otters were and easily changed that crane's shape, that dark figure in the latest post-credits looks suspiciously like him, judging by the eyes. Granted, he did willingly let himself get mangled to save Haruka, so while he's undoubtedly got some dark secrets and a skewed worldview, he's probably not an outright villain. But still, I'm waiting on a plot twist ]


Last edited by Zeino on Sun May 19, 2019 8:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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ConnormonCat



Joined: 30 Mar 2016
Posts: 48
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2019 8:25 pm Reply with quote
I've been loving this series a lot, but episode 5 and 6 have almost been perfect episodes of heartwrenching goodness.
I love this tale of three kinda awful kids so much, and how they're finally moving forward in these episodes now has made me cry a lot.
I love all of Ikuhara's previous works but I'm almost still surprised by how much this has grabbed me.

Also spoiler[loving all the shots of Toi falling in love with Kazuki as Sara. I hope a transitioned Kazuki and Toi get together. Sorry Enta.]
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ConnormonCat



Joined: 30 Mar 2016
Posts: 48
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2019 8:28 pm Reply with quote
Zeino wrote:
Also spoiler[Keppi now looks extremely suspicious to me now. Not only he knew exactly where the Otters were and easily changed that crane's shape, that dark figure in the latest post-credits looks suspiciously like him, judging by the eyes. Granted, he did willingly let himself get mangled to save Haruka, so while he's undoubtedly got some dark secrets and a skewed worldview, he's probably not an outright villain. But still, I waiting on a plot twist ]


Yeah spoiler[that ending seems to be when Keppi was last in his Prince form, and what darkness seemed to escape from there into his current Kappa form seems to be what destroyed Mabu's heart. Which is heartbreaking, and even grey than I was expecting for the confrontation between the Otters and Kappa. Also makes sense why this is so personal for Reo, outside of being in love with Mabu.]
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Oggers



Joined: 29 Nov 2017
Posts: 80
Location: Ontario, Canada
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2019 8:58 pm Reply with quote
ConnormonCat wrote:

Also spoiler[loving all the shots of Toi falling in love with Kazuki as Sara. I hope a transitioned Kazuki and Toi get together. Sorry Enta.]


TBH, spoiler[at this point, the idea of Kazuki being trans doesn't seem very likely. Unless the anime ever delves further into things, Kazuki's reasons for dressing up as Sara have been pretty clearly laid out and don't really have much to do with gender identity, at least from my perspective.]

As for how relationships between the boys will develop, I'll take them as they come, whether any of them end up together or not.
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Super_M



Joined: 08 May 2018
Posts: 99
PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2019 2:19 pm Reply with quote
Oggers wrote:
ConnormonCat wrote:

Also spoiler[loving all the shots of Toi falling in love with Kazuki as Sara. I hope a transitioned Kazuki and Toi get together. Sorry Enta.]


TBH, spoiler[at this point, the idea of Kazuki being trans doesn't seem very likely. Unless the anime ever delves further into things, Kazuki's reasons for dressing up as Sara have been pretty clearly laid out and don't really have much to do with gender identity, at least from my perspective.]

As for how relationships between the boys will develop, I'll take them as they come, whether any of them end up together or not.

Maybe that's only me but I receive Kazuki cross-dressing as attraction for fangirls who like self-insert as boy(uke) who romance other boy.
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wolf10



Joined: 23 Jan 2016
Posts: 368
PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2019 5:21 am Reply with quote
Super_M wrote:
Maybe that's only me but I receive Kazuki cross-dressing as attraction for fangirls who like self-insert as boy(uke) who romance other boy.

I sort of saw him as an insert for Ikuhara himself. His crossplay game is strong.
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Dragonsandphoenix



Joined: 21 Jan 2015
Posts: 78
Location: Malaysia
PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2019 8:20 am Reply with quote
Anybody watch that preview for the next episode though? Cause whoo boy.
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Agent355



Joined: 12 Dec 2008
Posts: 4616
Location: Crackberry in hand, thumbs at the ready...
PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2019 6:13 pm Reply with quote
Aki_Leaves wrote:
This series just isn't gripping me like Yuri Kuma did, and I feel like something is missing. Maybe it's bias since I'm a heterosexual male who likes yuri... Though Yuri!!! On Ice was my favorite anime of the season, my wife and I adored it.

Also, my wife who prefers yaoi over yuri (she does like both though) preferred Yuri Kuma as well.

I can't put my finger on it, but maybe it's all the butt stuff? I feel like a "high concept" series like this should be up my alley, but it just feels disjointed to me in comparison to the director's previous works.

Anyone else havshing the same issue?

I like Sarazanmai much more than Yuri Kuma Arashi, actually. It seems less overtly sexual to me, despite the butt stuff, and there is less sexualization of the younger cast members. There was a single nonconsensual kiss which was clearly presented as, if not outright wrong, at least not ideal. The characters who get the most sexy focus, the cops, are clearly adults, which sits a lot better to me than Yuri Kuma's loli character designs. I'm glad Haruka hasn't been sexualized at all and that the main boys' sexualization has been more minimal than the girls in Yuri Kuma.

And the situations and characterizations are much more clear cut and relatable, even if you don't get all the symbolism. Yuri Kuma felt way more cryptic.
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Oggers



Joined: 29 Nov 2017
Posts: 80
Location: Ontario, Canada
PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2019 10:19 pm Reply with quote
Agent355 wrote:
And the situations and characterizations are much more clear cut and relatable, even if you don't get all the symbolism. Yuri Kuma felt way more cryptic.


I agree on that front. Some of Yuri Kuma's symbolism was just straight up confusing (especially the bears' "eating" of humans; sometimes it seemed like it was a metaphor for sexual assault, but other times it seemed like the bears were just literally eating people) and I honestly found many of the characters boring or unlikable, especially with that series' high death count which made it hard to get attached to most of the cast anyway. Maybe Yuri Kuma just wasn't for me in the end, since I'm enjoying Sarazanmai much more.
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Alexis.Anagram



Joined: 26 Jan 2011
Posts: 230
Location: Mishopshno
PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2019 2:07 pm Reply with quote
As much as I'm enjoying Sarazanmai for the pure, ahem, balls of it, I'm starting to feel like it could really do to sort out its stakes; I understand the mechanisms it's using to tell its story, and I get the thesis of the thing, but it's not clear to me at all what the core drive of it is, and I think that comes down to the characters feeling really thinly drawn. Over the past two episodes, and the last one in particular, I feel like there should have been some sort of crescendo to their arcs, but instead it feels more like they've been zig-zagging through conveniently plotted set-ups that don't really delve into their deeper anxieties or deliver on the promise of the first few episodes; frankly, I think having Harukappa get kidnapped as a device for Kazuki's emotional growth was too easy and cute coming right on the heels of that pretty outlandish episode where two kids successfully kidnap a well-known idol as a device for Kazuki's emotional depletion-- at a certain point it starts to feel like much ado about nothing. I really don't care for Harukappa's general role in the show, where he basically serves as a source of pathos for Kazuki and not much else-- I thought we were going somewhere really smart and biting when Kazuki left us with that, "I actually hate my brother" cliffhanger, but it turns out he just has more reasons to be sad than we thought. OK.

Similarly, Enta and Tooi are pretty one-note in their own regard, and it feels like the series has wasted a lot of time on cutesy shenanigans instead of building off a robust assemblage of iconography intended to convey a sense of depth and scale to the events that are happening. Like just now we're getting this Kappa Kingdom exposition while Kazuki's personal storyline is still kind of in free-fall, and Enta and Tooi have had episodes and flashbacks dedicated to them but not much in the way of substantive narrative or thematic progression. We know who they are (kind of) but not why they're here, and taken altogether it gives the impression of a character drama that doesn't treat its characters all that significantly. It's like it's piling on the skeletal framework of its own symbolic vocabulary without really evoking the ideas ostensibly underscoring that approach, and it feels decidedly uninventive, like Ikuhara's just funneling the raw conventions of any and every anime soap opera through his particular over-the-top brand and calling it a day. Kazuki isn't an especially interesting or revelatory protagonist, but if he's a singing kappa for five minutes of every episode, isn't that "weird!"

The Otter Cops are still pretty great, though, and they're definitely my favorite characters so far.

Agent355 wrote:

I like Sarazanmai much more than Yuri Kuma Arashi, actually. It seems less overtly sexual to me, despite the butt stuff, and there is less sexualization of the younger cast members. There was a single nonconsensual kiss which was clearly presented as, if not outright wrong, at least not ideal. The characters who get the most sexy focus, the cops, are clearly adults, which sits a lot better to me than Yuri Kuma's loli character designs. I'm glad Haruka hasn't been sexualized at all and that the main boys' sexualization has been more minimal than the girls in Yuri Kuma.

I couldn't disagree more. I have my misgivings when it comes to Yuri Kuma, but I think one of its best aspects was the affirmatively nonchalant, and then outright indulgent, ways in which it leaned into adolescent sexuality as a feeling which queer girls and women are actually capable of acting upon and enjoying. It's so often sanitized from our narratives and it lent the protagonists in that show an important aspect of humanity which could then be compared against the animalistic interpretation of the "bears" as (sometimes) ravenous and insatiable.

And while I would argue that Sarazanmai is decidedly sexualized-- seems like some pretty strong cognitive dissonance to assert that having these teenage characters regularly stick themselves up the spiritual sphincter of strange men is somehow less problematic than a handful of shots of girls being naked together in bed-- what I'm not loving is how all the framing so far points to the pathological and fetishized elements that make up human "desire"; we have the "bears" in this show but not many "people" seem to populate it. Maybe that's deliberate; Enta's "desire" for Kazuki may be conveyed through chaste fantasy sequences that maintain a child-like sense of fascination for his best friend as a kind of cover for his actually unspeakable attraction towards him, but we have yet to explore what Enta really wants from Kazuki, and I'm concerned this show might never go there at all and thus end up speaking out of both sides of its mouth by keeping the attractions its kids feel for each other distant and virginal, confined to "subtext"-- the kind of "pure" romantic construction that makes adults feel good without reflecting the facts of what kids, especially queer kids, experience (or at least the emotions behind them). Male homosexuality is not a gag or a trope, and I was always suspicious this show might tip too far in the direction of indulging all the kinds of crass humor about, i.e., anal sex which is regularly weaponized against gay men and feeds into misogynistic narratives about men and AMAB folks who are not regarded as sexually "normative" without properly establishing a humanizing counterpoint.

Yuri Kuma Arashi felt distinctly like it was at least intended as a stark refutation of those ideas as applied to women. I'm not entirely certain that Sarazanmai shares in those aspirations, or maybe Ikuhara just isn't as direct in his approach this time around. I'm skeptical with a side of optimism.
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