Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Supernatural, Kappas
First Aired: Spring 2019, 11 episodes
Summary: Let’s start at the beginning:
Kappa are amphibious demons found in Japanese folklore. They look like a frog, but possess human-like characteristics and personalities. They have shrines dedicated to them since their mythology runs deep in Japan. They are a mischievous yokai, often accused of assaulting humans and removing a mythical organ called the “shirikodama” from the victim’s anus. Now that we have explained the background of the yokai, onto the anime…
Three middle school students: Kazuki, Toi, and Enta, accidentally break a kappa statue in Asakusa, which happens to be the guardian god of the entire district. This results in the three being transformed into kappas by the prince of the Kappa Kingdom. They must assist the Kappa prince, Keppi, in collecting Dishes of Hope that fulfill the wish of whomever possesses them. The Dishes of Hope are acquired by collecting the shirikodama (see above) from the intended individual. This is the description of the show, and it is exactly what it sounds like.
Even by anime standards, Sarazanmai is bizarre. I understand the cultural differences and everything that goes along with it, but Sarazanmai does not shy away from leaning into the strange yokai culture of Kappas. That being said, it is genuinely entertaining to watch an anime that leaves you astonished at the end of every episode. It is a fun watch with quality animation, great characters, and an enjoyable “monster-of-the-week” vibe.
You might enjoy this if: You have been watching anime for years and have become numb to the unusual nature of the medium. Maybe you want to feel something stir inside you like back in the old days, back when you would watch an anime and think about how different it is.
You might not like it if: You tend to watch anime while others are around and they already think it is strange enough without the crystal clear depiction of shirikodama being removed.
Note to the Viewer: As if the Sarazanmai anime wasn’t enough, the creators went all-in and created a “medley of strange” alongside the show. In addition to the manga, there are light novels, a dramatized Twitter account, a radio series, and even a stage play.
Sarazanmai Opening – Massara
Sarazanmai AMV by Michelle Matsuoka
(This AMV showcases the truly bizarre nature of this anime)