First Impression: Sarazanmai (TWWK)

MDRMN’s first impression of Sarazanmai just went up and saved me the difficulty of trying to explain episode one of the series, but in a sentence, three boys lose their Amazon boxes, which are full of desires, before being transformed into kappa by losing said desire which had been stored in the butts and then, as my cohort wrote, “It gets gross at times as they enter a monster’s anus to remove it’s power, restoring their humanity temporarily from the butt of a monster.”

But that’s Ikuhara isn’t it? Anytime he releases an anime, which is very seldom, it’s an event, but this time it’s also a question (at least for me)—Will he be returning to form? Utena is a classic and Mawaru Penguindrum is one of my favorite series (one of the best anime endings EVER), but I couldn’t make it through Yurikuma Arashi, in which Ikuhara put all his creative energy into style and forgot the substance. As funny as it may sound, the obsession with anuses and going into and extracting items from them (“Shirikodama extraction!” is sure to become the big transformation saying from this series) seem to be hiding a real story in Sarazanmai. The theme of hiding oneself is at center stage already, and a bit of meaningful background has been revealed, too. Ikuhara is walking a line between Penguindrum and Yurikuma, while also continuing to use elements from those series and Utena in this episode.

And so far, it works. It absolutely works. I haven’t laughed so hard at an anime in who knows how long. I also haven’t grimaced this much since Golden Kamuy. Who knows how this will turn out, but from the musical number to the Kappazon boxes to the very idea of kappa zombies, episode one hit so very many high notes. I never once thought that of Yurikuma, and that’s got to mean something.

Sarazanmai is available for streaming on Crunchyroll



2 thoughts on “First Impression: Sarazanmai (TWWK)

  1. To be entirely fair to Yurikuma Arashi, once you get past the first three episodes or so the show definitely *is* talking about something: heteronormativity and conformity, in the same sense that Utena’s movie was to a degree. It’s a rant about how “cute girls doing cute things” are basically ubiquitous in Japan (and have their origins in the yuri-esque-yet-chaste ‘Class S’ genre), and people love seeing relationships between cute girls….as long as they don’t involve sex. As long as *actual lesbians* don’t disrupt the fantasy that these girls will grow up to marry men (the presumed audience of most moe anime). The bears are, as it were, real lesbian women with real sexual desires, who aren’t tolerable images in the chaste world of quasi-yuri shows.

    All that said, it’s true that Yurikuma suffers compared to his other shows because he didn’t have enough time to expound on his more complex ideas, as compared to the labyrinthian epic that is Penguindrum (also one of my favorite shows actually). Hopefully he’ll have figured out how to pace this one.

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