After accidentally breaking a statue and releasing the kappa deity inside, three boys are turned into kappa and tasked with defeating “kappa-zombies” whose desires run amok. Only by connecting and chanting the sound “Sarazanmai” can they defeat the zombies. The catch is, every time they do so one of their secrets is revealed to the others.


Caesar E.S. (The Indonesian Anime Times)


….is something any viewer would probably say, whether they’re familiar with director Kunihiko Ikuhara’s (Revolutionary Girl Utena, Penguindrum, Yuri Kuma Arashi) repertoire or not. The director is well-known for his quirky and unique shows packed with symbolism touching upon various themes. At their best, they’re shows that use the most imaginative ways to visualize something like, say, a person’s struggle to earn their independence (Another person transform into a car and they ride it to freedom). But exactly because of that, the shows are weird and obtuse in all senses of the word. They’re definitely not everyone’s cup of tea.

So how does Sarazanmai fare? Both better and worse depending on how you look at it. Those unfamiliar with the kappa lore are certainly going to be shocked at the show’s shirikodama extractions. But there’s a strong comedic sense to Sarazanmai that makes these scenes downright hilarious. Sarazanmai is a funny show, and the slick, bright visuals help offset the weirdness that might be off-putting to some viewers. Setting the show in real life Asakusa in Tokyo (mixed in with some creative liberties here and there) makes for a visually stunning show. Nowhere is this more evident than in the ending sequence, where the characters are juxtaposed against real life footage of the district. This might just be Ikuhara’s best-looking show yet.

Storywise, Sarazanmai still offers a lot of mystery for eager viewers to dig into and speculate on, but a lot is explained through the characters’ interactions as well, leaving less room for confusion. There’s a strong theme of “connections” and “wanting to be connected to others,” and the show manages to pull a great job even in its quieter moments. Perhaps even more so than in its loud ones. Of note is how Sarazanmai is the first of Ikuhara’s shows to feature mainly male protagonists. You’ll be curious as to how the three boys’ relationships and connections develop moving forward as they learn more and more about each other’s secrets.

So in short, Sarazanmai is all sorts of weird and fun. And while that might not appeal to everyone, it’s definitely worth giving a look.

Facts and Figures

Alternative Title(s) さらざんまい
Source Material Original work
Casts Ayumu Murase as Kazuki Yasaka
Junichi Suwabe as Keppi
Kenjiro Tsuda as Chikai Kuji
Kouki Uchiyama as Toi Kuji
Mamoru Miyano as Reo Shinsei
Mariya Ise as Otone Jinnai
Shun Horie as Enta Jinnouchi
Teiko as Sara Azuma
Yoshimasa Hosoya as Mabu Akutsu
Director Kunihiko Ikuhara (Revolutionary Girl Utena, Penguindrum, Yuri Kuma Arashi)
Chief Animation Director Kayoko Ishikawa
Art Director Ayaka Fujii
Series Composition Kunihiko Ikuhara
Teruko Utsumi
Opening Theme “Massara” by KANA-BOON
Studio MAPPA
Lapin Track
Official Site
Broadcast Date 11 April 2019, (1355 GMT/2255 WIT/2455 JST)

Screenshots and Trailer


The Indonesian Anime Times

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