Posted on 3 May 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Sarazanmai

Despite the staff mentioned in early weeks that episode was gonna be a game-changer, nothing happens out of ordinary this week (except maybe for the after-credits reveal, which has become Sarazanmai tradition now). Prior to what Kazuki said (which kinda negate what I’m about to say), I’d single out the similarities in these main characters’ relationships. It’s true that the main theme regarding the trio is their “connections” to the ones they love, but this episode makes it quite clear that they’re in for destructive relationships themselves. A good analogy is that they’re charging their heads into the thick wall. “I’ve decided I’d live by nii-san’s side for his sake, I don’t care what anyone says about me”, Toi said so in the episode. The issue with all that is, the other person doesn’t ask for it. Whether it’s Toi’s brother Chikai, Kazuki’s bedridden brother Haruka, or Haruki himself don’t really want to receive that connection, not that way anyway. For Toi, Ikuhara has planted many symbolic objects that inform his relationship to others, and they are udon, gun, lollipop. For example, the motif of this week, udon, tells us about his relationship to his family. Gun represents his leap to this dark, violent upbringing and serves as the loss of innocence for him. Finally, lollipop represents what maybe his devotion to his brother. But on that last point I’m not going into details because the imagery of Lolita messed me up.

I’d regard this episode a success, if not for the fact that it brings up the conflict of Kazuki asked Toi to help him kidnapping the idol girl Sara Azuma, and then completely abandons that plot thread. So did Haruka be able to meet the real Sara Azuma? The way Kazuki seems to be oblivious of a lot of things (last week’s Enta’s crush and this week Toi’s problem) start to get on my nerve. His character is very inconsistent for me so far and I don’t think I am fond of it. Not because of the cliffhanger by all mean. Actually I believe the reveal that he doesn’t cosplay for his brother’s sake make their relationship more intriguing. As for now I suppose it’s a mixture between love/hate relationship, like he might be jealous with all the attention his brother has, but we won’t know for sure until we see more of his motive. That reveal makes me wonder, then, that maybe Haruka knows about Kazuki impersonating after all?

The flashback of Toi, on the other hand, is quite solid overall. One important detail from his backstory is that he was the one who pulled the trigger, and that his brother shot the poor man down so that Toi doesn’t carry the guilt. On the visual side the flashback goes for more simple, soft art-styles, which works wonderfully for me. Sarazanmai also ties up his past with the case of this week, soba Man and his crime of stealing a freaking bathwater because he wanted it as a soba broth. Now that the trio all have their turns in the spotlight, and now that the Cops promise to be more active, it’s time for Sarazanmai to shake off this current formula and take a new direction. Well, it better be given more than one third of its length is already gone.

Sarazanmai weekly lottery: what crazy object is going to float around next week? 4 episodes and Ikuhara hasn’t disappointed once. My random 3-take for next week: lollipop (Toiiii), dress (since Kazuki crossdresses), and elephant (I don’t fucking know why but now that idea won’t leave my head)

Posted on 29 April 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Sarazanmai

Sarazanmai spends this episode on the remaining lead of the trio, Enta, and answers some questions, while at the same time, asks more question into the mix. I’ll be honest, while I still enjoy this episode immensely, I find this episode my least favorite so far of Sarazanmai, by a small margin. Most of that because I find Enta’s the least intriguing character out of the lead trio. If you are about to scream at my face with “WHAT”, I said that because apart from his queer crush (which is totally risque and admirable by the way) to Kazuki, there’s not much about him we can elaborate on. True, there’s also his older sister who gets herself into bizarre situation this time, which I will get to that later, but I don’t feel much of a emotional connection here. His mind is squarely about Kazuki and about wanting to express his love to Kazuki (to the point of multiple hilarious day-dreaming) that it overshadows everything else. A dealbreaker for me for now is that we don’t learn anything about Kazuki’s response towards Enta’s crush. When you think about it, the Memory Leaking would inform Kazuki very well about Enta’s affection towards him, but he acts totally oblivious. If by next week, Sarazanmai doesn’t address this issue I’d certainly feel very cheated and I’m gonna mark the show down for that.

The way Sarazanmai introduces the its bizarre theme of this week, on the other hand, is pure genius. It starts with Enta’s kiss, which was the cliffhanger from last week. It both serves as a continuity, and much later on do we learn that everything happens in this episode have to do with the “kiss” puns – kisu fish, the kiss, and the poor criminal named KISU who steals women’s kisses and transforms them into kisu fish. Ikuhara, you’ve got a perfect 100% score for originality here!! Of course, “kiss” theme here has to do with Enta’s affection towards his childhood friend, as they were together as a golden duo during their soccer team together, and he considers their playground as his sanctuary. It’s certainly praiseworthy to see him so determined to express his feeling for Kazuki, but for an Ikuhara show I would prefer them to deal with it right way, and not fake out by presenting them as Enta’s fantasy. It still works in this episode, I just hope that it won’t remain the case in the next ones. His sister, who we see interacts with him in several occasions, eventually gets mixed into this week’s phenomenal, but I feel that plot thread is under-developed in order to squeeze out some thematic relevance about it.

With this episode, we also learn that the Cops trying to capture and turn these criminals into Kappa Zombie in order to extract and store up their Desire, and they are served under sone Kingdom, which for now my take is that that Kingdom has totally opposite functions compare to that of Prince Kappi. We also learn that the person who becomes Kappa Zombie will have their existence erased if they get their shirikodama pulled out from their butt. At this moments, there’s a lot of mystery behind this world – with Ikuhara, nothing is ever straightforward – but at the same times, we get enough information and characters’ motivation that we don’t feel lost of overwhelmed over the huge amount of symbolisms. While narratively it’s not as complex or fresh than the first two weeks, this week gains a huge bonus point for its sheer determination of portraying queer crush of a middle-schooler kid. Speaking of that, Ikuhara’s latest interview, where he admitted that he didn’t mention “butt” in his pitch, but added later on instead, is pure bliss. It’s so Ikuhara thing to do and it is another statement for an auteur who isn’t afraid of back down on their own idea, even to a fault. And that is exactly why I always admire the man. We, as the audience, will have to follow their vision and whatever they cook up with, not the other way around.

Posted on 23 April 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Sarazanmai

And the wild ride is here. In turn for cardboard zombies last week, our three kappa-who-are-pooped-out-by-someone-else have to fight cat zombies, an acid bee-themed amusement park, a person with a cat face who clearly reference Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lamb, weeds and a (yuri) kiss at the end of the rainbow. It’s too much of Ikuhara’s quirks for sure. Does the whole episode make sense? Well, yes and no for me. There are still many unexplained threads, and sometimes it feels as if Sarazanmai is bizzare for the sake of weirdness, but there’s certainly charming and fun. First, It might not be clear what exactly are these cops, and what their true motives, but we do learn in this episode that they are in fact the ones who create the zombies. There is not enough information to classify them as villains, however. While it’s clear that they’re manipulative, for now I consider their action as trying to pull out something, whatever that something might be. Desire? Possibly since they shout “desire extraction” right there, but for what purpose? Nevertheless their theatrical performance inside the police station reminds me a lot of his previous works, especially when one pulls the heart out of the other, literally. Striking? Yes. Self-indulgent? Yes, as well. For this bit alone Ikuhara just repeats himself right there.

As with all Ikuhara’s features, well except maybe Yuri Kuma Arashi, there’s a big play on repetition here. At least, the formula pans out the same as with first episode. Kappa Zombies will appear in the sky in some bizzare forms (let’s take a random guess on what could appear next, I’d say, cucumber?), these three characters turn into kappa and do their musical sequence to get the shirikodama out of their butts. So what is the catch? Well, please welcome “the Dishes of Hope”, which can grant anyone’s wish. In fact, the main conflict of this episode lies not in the fight between them and zombie, but within the cast themselves. It’s where things get a bit more complicated, but more relatable. Kazuki wants the dish so that he can support his brother, Haruka, whom he has been crossdressing as an idol Sara Azuma for. It’s clear after two episodes that he would go for such length to protect his brother’s smile, but I still believe there are more than meet the eyes here. Whereas Toi has another sibling issue as well. His brother is a gangster and is apparently in some kind of debt, and within these two episodes we can see that Toi is playing with fire. He carjacks, he sells weeds and he has a gun (and doesn’t hesitate to use it). This sets off the first real character conflict and so far it’s nicely done.

That leaves Enta as the least complex character out of these three… until the revealing of the post-credit. Well, objectively he’s still the least determined to get the Dish for himself, but damn Ikuhara doesn’t beat around the bush this time. He’s in love with Kazuki and I’m curious to see how this angle is going to play out. Visually, Sarazanmai is IMPRESSIVE, especially in the sequence where Toi and Kazuki pretend to be a couple to catch the weed-eating cat in the amusement park. The layers, and the level of details are so detailed and a feast to the eye that this single screenshot (the top left) becomes my favorite single shot of this year so far (thanks Wooper for sharing the shot to me). Ikuhara himself said that Sarazanmai is about “connection”, and if you’re familiar with his works he isn’t subtle, nor straightforward about his themes. The characters will repeat that phase multiple times in an episode, there are tons of symbolisms will be thrown around our faces (case in point: the cops’ musical routine of touching pulling out one’s heart). But, let’s me ask my the earlier questions again? Does Sarazanmai make sense? Yes (thematically) and no (narratively). Does it really matter? Not one bit. Sarazanmai remains one of the most refreshing visual medium (not only anime) that I’ve encountered in recent years.

Star Crossed Anime Blog

5 User(s) Online Join Server

Featured Posts

One Punch Man S2 – 7 [Class S Heroes]

Congratulations OPM, you found a new way to disappoint me. This time, OPM actually straight up cut content from the manga to try and fit it all conveniently into a single episode. All the while, gloriously screwing it up. Lets jump in, I promise this will be fast. Starting off I would like to say, […]

Dororo – 19 [The Story of the Amanojaku]

Hello all and welcome to a week of essentially filler for Dororo! We repeat plot points, Hyakki gets engaged and Dororo gets some funny faces. Let’s dive in! Starting off, I normally do production here, but with the contents of this episode that seems ridiculous. Instead, I wanna ask why this episode exists, because this […]

Kimetsu no Yaiba – 7 [Muzan Kibutsuji]

Hello all, and welcome to a big week for Kimetsu no Yaiba. This is the week where I move it up from a “Competent” Shounen to a “Good/Great” Shounen. You see, Yaiba finishes up another arc, Nezuko kicks some butt and Tanjiro meets the big bad 8 episodes in. So let’s jump into it! Starting […]

Mix – 07 [Worried?]

What’s with all the A-list seiyuu in Mix? The four main characters are voiced by some of the biggest names in the industry right now: Yuki Kaji, the Uchida siblings, and Kana Hanazawa as new character Haruka. I tend to dodge a lot of the shounen and harem series that feature Mr. Kaji, and the […]

Serial Experiments Lain – 3 [Psyche] – Throwback Thursday

Starting off, let me apologize for the lateness of this weeks Lain post. I tend to try and digest an episode before writing, and Lain makes that… difficult. As this week we get into the human psyche, the line between reality and the Wired blurs and Lain becomes multiple people. Lets hop right in! Starting […]

One Punch Man S2 – 6 [The Uprising of the Monsters]

Sigh Welcome once again to the sinking ship that is OPM S2. This week we see a fantastic character done dirty, botched pacing, and more boob shots than you can swing a stick at. Lets dive in. As always, production, and oof. OOF. JC Staff screwed the pooch this week. I won’t even talk animation, […]

Dororo – 18 [The Story of the Cape of No Mercy]

Welcome one and all to Dororo’s redemption, the episode that takes us back to first cour quality. We have demons, sword fights, and poignant character moments. Maybe, just maybe, I won’t be disappointed in 2 months. Lets jump in! First up, thank you MAPPA, for getting production right this week. Every aspect was, at the […]

Kimetsu no Yaiba – 6 [Swordsman Accompanying a Demon]

Welcome everyone to another episode of Yaiba! We are 1/4th of the way through now and Yaiba is 3 arcs in, with no plans of slowing. We arrive at the town, a hunt ensues and combat begins with our first super powered Demon. Lets jump in! As always, production first. I could go on and […]

Mix – 05/06 [You’re a Pitcher, Right?/When Spring Arrives]

Two weeks ago, I wondered how long Mix’s middle school arc would stretch, given that its ultimate destination was the Koushien tournament. Apparently the show had a similar question on its mind, as these two episodes pushed through an entire year’s worth of story. In fact, it was episode 6 that did the majority of […]

Latest Reviews

[Star Crossed Anime Exclusive] Code Geass: Lelouch of the Resurrection Review – 80/100

I was lucky enough to be at Sakura-con in Seattle on 20 April 2019 for the Funimation’s movie premiere of Code Geass’ third movie with the Director himself, Gorō Taniguchi, along with his senior staff in attendance inside a room full of raving fans. Was it was worth the decade-long wait to have a worthy […]

Paranoia Agent Anime Review – 67/100

In an era of the mundane, where every series is the same moe blob, the weird sticks out. Even the most mediocre series can get attention just by being weird. Paranoia Agent is not mediocre, and it is far beyond simply “weird”. Written and Directed by Satoshi Kon, Paranoia Agent is one of his last […]

Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019) (Winter 2019) Anime Review – 78/100

Just like the titular character, Boogiepop Phantom the series has become some sort of urban legend itself in this medium. Its Light Novels are amongst the first Light Novel ever released, dating back to mid-90s. Moreover, the franchise has endured the test of time, as it inspires anime, live-action adaptations and Boogiepop is a well-known […]

Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai (2019 Winter) Anime Review – 77/100

Coming to Kotobuki, there are lots of aspect that catch my attention: it’s from a famed director Tsutomu Mizushima who can turn the most trashable and genre-able concepts into something intriguing; it’s an CG show about air pilots: it has extended aerial combat set-pieces. Watching it till the end, I have to tip my hat […]

Kemurikusa (2019 Winter) Anime Review – 79/100

Kemurikusa is your very definition of an overlooked gem, one that never really gain much discussion anywhere, but one that has a distinctive style from an up-and-coming auteur who has full control of his projects. Coming to Kemurikusa, all the attention it has came from the fact that it is created by TATSUKI, a mastermind […]

Mob Psycho 100 S2 Anime Review – 87/100

Upon finishing this series, the only question on my mind was how many animators did Bones sacrifice on ONE’s altar to achieve this. Following their prior season, Mob Psycho 100 Season 2 continues Bones adaptation of webcomic and manga author ONE’s 4th work, Mob Psycho 100. ONE has also authored the critically acclaimed One Punch […]

Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai Review – 84/100

Anime draws on many different media types in its endless search for properties to adapt, but manga is still the king of the bunch. And why not? It’s a distinctly Japanese art form, their main demographics have significant overlap, and manga’s panel-based layout means that some of the anime staff’s work is already done. Plenty […]

Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru Anime Review – 93/100

Recently, sports anime have become a bit of a dying breed. Falling into the same hole as Mecha, aside from a passionate base audience, most are overlooked. There are the occasional hits like Haikyuu, Yuri on Ice, or Darling in the Franxx for Mecha, but those are few and far between, often taking years. Even […]

A quick and dirty review of Garo: Vanishing Line

What it claims to be about: A secret order of knights and alchemists, the Makai Knights and Alchemists, fight horrifying creatures called Hollows who prey on human weakness .Part of the media franchise spanning anime and live action shows, this iteration is set in modern metropolis and concerns the attempts of Sword, the strongest Makai […]