Prior to the series airing, one of the predictions I made was that Sara Azuma, local idol of Asakusa and one of the faces of Sarazanmai, would end up being the series’ Greek chorus element, similar to the Shadow Girls of Revolutionary Girl Utena or Double H in Mawaru Penguindrum. One of her duties, in addition to being a mysterious, ubiquitous presence in the series — alongside the ㋐ icon — her reports would inform us of that particular episode’s events as well as overarching themes in the series as a whole.
Although it appears she’ll likely step out from behind the screen eventually, like her counterparts in prior Kunihiko Ikuhara series, here’s an update on what Sara’s messages could mean thus far, and how they’ve informed events and themes in Sarazanmai.
The caveat is that — like Shadow Girls and Double H — there may be additional meanings hidden in these messages that won’t become apparent until the end of the series. I’ll most likely end up revisiting these in a master post after Sarazanmai is finished to see how right or how wrong these early assumptions are.
Mild spoilers for the Sarazanmai companion manga, Reo and Mabu ~ Together They’re Sarazanmai.
Full translations of Sara’s reports courtesy of Good Haro, who has compiled them on her blog here.
Episode 1: “I Want to Connect, but I Want to Lie”
Lucky Selfie item: boxes
Following the mysterious events of the cold open, Sara’s report accompanies Kazuki Yasaka’s first monologue of the series present. He fervently wishes that her lucky selfie item won’t be “something weird” and it’s revealed to be boxes. The most obvious tie-in is the introduction of Toi Kuji, Enta Jinai, and Kazuki’s symbols of desire packed away in boxes as well as the box zombie that they fight later in the episode. Boxes also introduce Kazuki to Toi, as he accidentally stumbles upon Toi trying to steal a car while crossdressing as Sara for his lucky selfie of the day.
In every episode, Sara gives multiple news reports with crawling text and acts out related events to that episode’s plot with her otter-like plushie companion (to Keppi’s plushie kappa presence). Her first scrolling text in Episode 1 says that she’s looking for a prince and then describes Keppi specifically: “He has a sexy voice, smells good, has smooth white skin, and he is not a frog, dish. His favorite food is cucumber. Normal humans can’t see him.”
She later mentions that her prince is in a cold sleep and waking him will cause the waker to be cursed, much like how Toi and Kazuki accidentally break the kappa statue and Keppi turns them into kappa.
Her final text line appears during her report of boxes mysteriously flying through Asakusa. “I need a large quantity of boxes, dish. I’m hoarding black3der chocolate bars, dish. It’s a secret I can’t tell anyone, dish. [You] need boxes to run away in the middle of the night too, dish. I also–”
Although there have only been three episodes in total, already a lot of what has happened in the show recontextualizes this line from nonsense about hoarding chocolate, to a running commentary on the boys’ own desire box items as well as the items of the kappa zombies created by Reo Niiboshi and Mabu Akutsu. In the Sarazanmai companion manga, Reo and Mabu ~ Together They’re Sarazanmai, Reo and Mabu raise Sara, a magical child who they found on a dish in the middle of the street. Unlike Reo and Mabu’s relationship now — which seems a bit one-sided in affection with Mabu cold and distant and Reo the more affectionate, intensely emotional one — in the manga they’re an awkward and deeply committed domestic couple, struggling to raise Sara.
Given this connection as well as Sara’s otter companion, there’s a strong chance that Sara’s actions are somewhat related to those of Reo and Mabu’s “otter empire.” There’s also the tongue-in-cheek reference that what’s in someone’s desire box may seem stupid on the outside, and certainly isn’t the entirety of their desires, just a simplified, commodified version of it.
That being said, this doesn’t paint Keppi and the otters necessarily as adversaries. It also sets up Sara herself as someone who needs to collect something for her own wish (possibly related to her separation from Keppi), just like Reo for Mabu, Kazuki for his brother Haruka, Enta for Kazuki, and Toi presumably for his older brother Chikai.
Episode 2: “I Want to Connect, but I Want to Take”
Lucky Selfie item: cats
This lucky selfie item is revealed during Kazuki’s conversation with Haruka while they feed Nyantaro — the cat who is revealed to be stolen by Kazuki for Haruka’s “benefit” — but foreshadowed earlier with Kazuki’s conversation with Haruka as Sara. Through this, it’s not only Sara herself who is acting as a Greek chorus element, but Kazuki interestingly steps into that role while he’s pretending to be Sara for Haruka, chatting about cats prior to the selfie item reveal. Nyantaro, like the boxes in the previous episode, becomes the catalyst for this episode’s events, bringing Toi and Kazuki together again.
In Sara’s initial report, she mentions that she’s found her prince (Keppi). He looks different than she remembers, but her love is forever. The connection between Keppi and Sara is still unknown, but this hints at the fact that this many not be Keppi’s actual form, or that there’s still a lot separating Sara from Keppi.
Sara then goes on to talk about fishing in the mountains, listing fish that are delicious to eat, before her text talks about having cats as pets. “Cats are an absolute must-have if you live alone, dish. You can eat together, play on the cat tower together, take naps together, stare at empty wa–”
Although it’s a simple list of jokes about cat people, there’s a bit of a dark twist to it when thinking about both Kazuki and Toi in this episode and how the two of them push away people who try to grow closer to them. The two reach an odd understanding at the amusement park when Kazuki mentions that he’s going to great lengths for his brother specifically. Toi recognizes the similar desperation in Kazuki that he himself has. Yet if Toi’s relationship and thoughts are anything like Kazuki’s, his actions are only likely to separate him further from his brother.
Over Nyantaro, the star cat of this episode, we see the way that Kazuki treats Haruka. He keeps his younger brother at arms’ length and treats him coldly when speaking to him. This is not lost on Haruka, who admits in the following episode that Kazuki used to be happier, and that he misses that Kazuki. Sara’s reminder that cats are supposedly for people who are alone hits hard when you think of all of the emotional separation in this episode, especially between Kazuki and Haruka.