Kouki UchiyamaYoshimasa HosoyaMamoru Miyanokappa
Sarazanmai
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2019
Director: Kunihiko Ikuhara, Nobuyuki Takeuchi
Writer: Kunihiko Ikuhara, Teruko Utsumi
Actor: Ayumu Murase, Junichi Suwabe, Kenjiro Tsuda, Kouki Uchiyama, Mamoru Miyano, Mariya Ise, Rie Kugimiya, Shun Horie, Takaya Kuroda, Teiko, Yoshimasa Hosoya
Keywords: anime, kappa
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 11 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=21544
Website category: Anime 2019
Review date: 10 November 2020
sara zanmai
It's the latest absurdity from the maddest genius in anime, Kunihiko Ikuhara. I don't think it's his best work, but it's worthy to stand alongside the others, which include:
(a) Sailor Moon = one of two or three anime that have conquered the world, although that's a very early work for him and a straightforward (if genre-defining) magical girl show.
(b) Revolutionary Girl Utena = fairy tale French revolutionary super-stylish school duels with swords, surrealism and a Rose Bride.
(c) Mawaru Penguindrum = penguins, personality-changing magic hats, cool music and shockingly dark themes.
(d) Yurikuma Arashi = schoolgirl-eating lesbian bears. But weirder.
This one's about kappa, a frog-like creature from Japanese mythology that will steal a ball from your arse. (That happens to an outrageous degree. This might be the most arse-oriented non-hentai anime of all time. Ikuhara left that bit out of his pitch to the studio.) It's also about materialism, guns, love vs. desire and the connections between people. With lots of Japanese puns. To be honest, though, it's so outrageous and playful that the author isn't so much dead as laughing his head off while cosplaying as Sailor Mars.
It stars three extremely problematic boys, Kazuki, Tooi and Enta. The one who most needs help isn't the one who's been known to help his brother commit murders. Kazuki's made some choices of questionable wisdom and arrived at a daily routine that's somewhere between "weird" and "talk to someone now". He then compounds these in ep.5. Two-thirds of these boys are friendly and nice, but I was reminded once again that Ikuhara's protagonists are capable of decisions that in any other show would make them villains.
Once an episode, the boys get transformed into tiny green blob creatures (kappa) that sing a musical number to defeat a Kappa Zombie that got created by two vigilante serial killer gay cops who themselves do an idol song-and-dance number. That transformation involves arses.
The show exists on multiple levels. One is a straightforward-ish story of three boys who might be friends. Another is pure flamboyance, with musical numbers and visuals that make no apparent sense and are just thrown in to be mental. Yet another is very loud themes. You'd want repeat viewings to get it all straight in your head, although I admired how the final episode stacks up and underlines things that had been hiding in plain sight. I'm not brave enough to try to analyse all these themes, but the cops are clearly all-important. They're the opposite of our kappa boys, being a hot gay couple who are the show's poster boys for desire, have shirtless embraces and one would presume are having sex. In contrast, the kappa have connections. (Potentially, maybe, unless they mess it up and/or stay in denial about it.)
It's a world where half the population is a walking toilet sign. It stars evil Amazon. It has a villain who, literally, says "I'm a metaphor". It's going to be less controversial than Mawaru Penguindrum and Yurikuma Arashi, which means it's a bit less memorable than them, but it's also a gay voice that's never been heard in anime before. No, I should correct that: "in the world before". (Not even in Kunihiko Ikuhara's other projects.) We should bow and give worship.