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.
“The more boxes you have, the happier you’ll be! Take a Happy Selfie, send it to your special someone, and you’ll be even happier, dish~”
-Sara Azuma, Sarazanmai, Episode 1
Prior to Sarazanmai‘s television debut, director Kunihiko Ikuhara said in an interview with Pash+ “We live in an age where, with our smart phones and social media, connecting with people is a daily activity––so I wanted to ask, what does that all mean? What do we want to do with [those connections]?”
Sarazanmai is the most outwardly direct Ikuhara has been in a series premiere. Even the tagline of Sarazanmai‘s first episode, “I Want to be Connected, But I Want to Lie” neatly bookends the entirety of episode’s fairly self-contained plot. Naturally there’s a lot more to dig into, but in terms of Ikuhara premieres, this one was surprisingly succinct.
In two weeks, director Kunihiko Ikuhara’s latest original anime, Sarazanmai, will air in Japan. I’ve found few anime as immersive, both coy and direct with their symbolism, and as emotionally-affecting as Ikuhara’s original works, which include Revolutionary Girl Utena, Mawaru Penguindrum, and Yurikuma Arashi. They all have something important to say and reward watching (and rewatching) with a careful eye. To say that I’m looking forward to Sarazanmai is an understatement.
I rarely preview series, but in the interest of digging into Sarazanmai as soon as possible, and organizing my own thoughts before the first episode airs on April 11, here is a collection of themes that the series may be looking to tackle, based on the information available thus far and Ikuhara’s previous work.