momoka oginome

The Kunihiko Ikuhara school for teachers (why Wonder Egg Priority’s Sawaki is bad actually)

Is Shuuichirou Sawaki all that bad?

I’ve seen this question asked fairly frequently as Wonder Egg Priority has continued to air. Sawaki, who is protagonist Ai Ohto’s teacher and visits her house frequently, hasn’t technically done anything wrong. Even in the series’ latest episode, his desire to date Ai’s mother (which is his most egregious action thus far) isn’t bad per se. Most of Sawaki’s actions are framed as suspect, but could still be written off as over-caution or a negative bias on Ai’s part due to his presence in Koito Nanase’s life (and, presumably, her death).

Although Kunihiko Ikuhara isn’t involved in Wonder Egg Priority‘s production, his influence is present throughout the series. I wanted to take the time to talk a bit about Ikuhara characters found at schools and how Wonder Egg Priority is framing Sawaki in a very specific way.

Spoilers for Revolutionary Girl Utena, Mawaru Penguindrum, and Yuri Kuma Arashi.

(more…)

Kappas, kawauso (otters), Mawaru Penguindrum, and more early Sarazanmai speculation

One of the most striking images from the main Sarazanmai preview trailer is of a red stain expanding outwards from an icon of an otter in a heart. The stain looks like a blood droplet spreading across Asakusa just above (or below in relation to this map, which is rotated) the Sumida River. Sarazanmai‘s Asakusa policeman duo of Reo Niiboshi and Mabu Akutsu appear to set this reaction in motion by throwing their hats in the air and yelling about extracting desire — complete with a transformation sequence that includes a lot of rising otter icons and the character “吸” for sucking or extracting. Given that the basic outline of the story involves three junior high school students transformed into kappa in search of tiny balls (shirikodama) inside the anuses of kappa zombies, Reo and Mabu’s presumed transformation where they “milk desire” is already an interesting addition.

The relationship between kappa and otters (kawauso) goes back to Japanese folklore, much like the existence of the shirikodama itself. Sarazanmai director Kunihiko Ikuhara used a kappa and otter motif around the parents of Mawaru Penguindrum‘s Ringo Oginome in a rather insidious way that could tell us a lot about his plans for a similar motif in Sarazanmai.

Major spoilers for Mawaru Penguindrum.

(more…)