Sarazanmai – 02 – Let Slip the Cats of War

As a reward for defeating their first kappa zombie, Keppi bestows upon the boys a silver “Dish of Hope” they can use to wish for anything. Enta snatches it and accidentally wishes for a hatchback-sized cucumber roll, shattering the dish and leaving the three with no reward (unless they’re going to eat that roll…which is on the ground).

Kazuki is eager to earn another dish that he can use not to fulfill his own wish, but that of his little brother Haruka. We learn that he is the “Harukappa” to whom Kazuki is sending selfies of himself-as-Azuma Sara. Kazuki’s only wish is that Haruka is happy, and a dish can only help that cause.

Meanwhile, Kuji Toi is up to more criminal mischief on behalf of his older brother, while Enta receives a Kappazon package meant for Toi—containing a handgun of all things—strengthening Enta’s belief he’s Bad News

When Nyantaro, the fat, awesome neighborhood cat Haruka adores, sneaks into Toi’s weed-growing lab and steels a shipment hidden in cat treats, another ludicrous chase ensues. Kazuki (dressed as Sara again) stops Toi when he threatens Nyantaro with his metal ruler, and refuses to get out of his way or stop following him.

The chase leads them to a couples-only theme park, an employee of which dresses the two up in bee costumes and insists they hold hands the entire time they’re in the park. Kazuki and Toi hold hands and chase Nyantaro on ride after ride, but can’t manage to close the distance, since we’re talking about a neighborhood cat here: if he doesn’t want to be caught, it’s not happening.

We learn a little more about the two bishounen cops from the end of last week, who appear to do an elaborate song and dance of their own to extract desire and create a new cat-based kappa zombie boss.

It’s apparent these two and Keppi’s three young helpers are working at cross purposes, but the cops’ specific motivations, beyond their commitment to “wring out the desire”, remain mysterious.

Not soon after their “performance”, thousands of cats start to float up into the sky, including Nyantaro, and Enta and Keppi (disguised as his date) meet up with Kazuki and Toi to discuss the situation. Enta warns Kazuki to stay away from the kid he’s currently holding hands with, but in order to get his little brother’s favorite cat back, he needs Toi’s help.

Events from there follow a pattern now familiar after the first go-around last week (in what I like to call the Ikuhara Formula): Keppi turns the three lads into kappa, they attack the zombie boss (this time a giant cat), and when they determine its secret (he kidnapped cats and shaved them to give himself a coat of fur so his girlfriend would take him back! Of COURSE!!), they  break through and extract its shirikodama.

Once that’s done, the guys go through the titular sarazanmai, during which it’s revealed that Nyantaro was owned by another family before Kazuki stole it so Haruka could have a cat (even if it was only a neighborhood cat). He defends what he did because he did it for his brother’s sake; his happiness trumping all other considerations.

With the second boss defeated, the lads receive another silver dish of hope, and Kazuki and Toi immediately argue over it, with Toi even brandishing his gun. Since both have brothers they want to make happy, and Keppi informs them they’ll need five to grant a real wish, Toi cedes the dish to Kazuki, but he’s getting the next one.

That night, Kazuki finally completes his mission to take a Sara selfie with a cat (specifically the rescued Nyantaro), to Haruka’s delight. Exhausted from the day of activity, he passes out right there in the park, where he’s approached by none other than Enta…who promptly kisses him! Looks like he’s got a secret too—one that re-contextualizes why he was so concerned with Kazuki hanging around Toi.

The two cops also now realize somebody is out there working against them. It’s likely only a matter of time before the two opposing groups clash. In the meantime, on with the hope-dish collecting!

After two episodes, I now have a better grasp of the beats and rhythms of a show that definitely dances to the beat of its own drum. With less head-scratching to do I could concentrate better on all the little details that contribute to making Sarazanmai such a fun and exciting little show that’s unafraid to challenge contemporary “norms”of gender and sexuality.

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ēlDLIVE – 01 (First Impressions)

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Kokonose Chuuta is a high schooler who avoids contact with others and is always talking to a voice no one else hears. One day he’s scooped up by ēlDLIVE, a space police force, who immediately put him to work apprehending an alien criminal, who turns out to be his buxom teacher.

The voice belongs to an alien who lives within him, and with its help Chuuta successfully arrests the alien and is formally accepted into ēlDLIVE. Among the bureau’s members is his classmate and crush Sonokata Misuzu.

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Isn’t it always the way: you try to keep your head down and lead a quiet life helping your auntie at her muffin shop, only to be recruited by a bizarre space police unit? ēlDLIVE presents that rather outlandish scenario, and does it with a brisk pace, confidence, and humor.

Not only that, the person who had been the least human-looking character – Chuuta’s teacher – turns out to be an alien perp in disguise. His crush is pretty generically hostile to him, but at least she’s voiced by Hayami Saori.

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ēlDLIVE is fine harmless fun, but there’s not much to it beyond its vivid candy coating, and while it tries to go out there with kooky alien designs, the weird alien that harmlessly pops out of Chuuta’s chest just…doesn’t look that cool. Nor does Chuuta himself, who I guess is supposed to be an innocent weenie.

Still, both the premise and the execution smacks of a show with limited appeal for actual adults – this has Saturday morning kid’s cartoon all over it, unlike something darker like Parasyte. I don’t foresee ēlDLIVE lasting long on my Winter watchlist, but it is inoffensive and decent for what it is.

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Kotoura-san – 10

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Moritani is arrested under suspicion of being the perpetrator of the random attacks. The rest of the ESP Society visit her at the police station, and Kotoura gets through to the investigators, but they won’t accept her help. Yuriko and Kotoura decide to try to catch the criminal on their own to free Moritani. Muroto stands by Yuriko, but Manabe is staunchly against it. He and Kotoura get in a fight and he storms off, and another attack occurs that exonerates Moritani, who is released. Still wanting to redeem her mother, Yuriko decides to use herself as bait to lure the criminal, and succeeds…

As normal as Kotoura has been acting lately, she still believes she is somehow a bad person who doesn’t deserve the friends and love she’s gained thus far. This has been ingrained in her both by her parents and by everyone she’s accidentally hurt with her ability. It’s every bit as much about her inability to discern which thoughts to outwardly respond to and which not to that has gotten her into trouble so many times. And indeed, she is unable to have a conventional relationship with a boy simply because she cannot help but read his dirty, adolescent mind. It’s usually played for laughs, but its also somewhat tragic.

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Because she feels she doesn’t deserve friends, she decides to do whatever she can to help Moritani, even if she gets hurt in the process. Manabe is reliably protective of her, and with damn good reason: Kotoura’s gift of telepathy is rivaled only to her gift for self-destruction. Just because she can help doesn’t mean she needs to; that’s what police are for. But Kotoura’s guilt for having what she believes she doesn’t deserve, combined with her knowledge of Yuriko’s mother issues (we learn she was present when she hung herself…rough), compels Kotoura to act, regardless of the danger she puts herself in.

Manabe, to his credit, does not bend; he wants no part of Yuriko’s vigilante plan, and…he isn’t. He disappears for the rest of the episode and he and Kotoura don’t speak. Not long after their first date, it’s their first fight…which isn’t resolved by episode’s end. In fact, nothing is; we unfortunately get another cliffhanger with Yuriko about to be truncheoned in the head by the attacker. Though we’re pretty sure this series isn’t going to kill one of the main characters, and we’re almost positive Manabe won’t go back on his promise to stay by Kotoura’s side. For one thing, her gramps would put out a hit on him…


Rating: 9 (Superior)

P.S. Sorry for  the long review, but this episode was packed. We had to mention the Yuriko/Daichi relationship, how he always stays by her side (out of pity, obligation, loyalty, love, or a combination of these, we don’t know) no matter what, and a really nice close up of his hand taking hers, and her trembling stopping. These two clearly mean a lot to each other, even if they’re not remotely romantic.

P.S.S. We enjoyed Kotoura’s scenes with the old detective (though his secret thoughts were awfully stereotypical homicide detective) and Tsukino (who is a bit of a blunt airhead), and how she’s saddened by the fact Tsukino has no friends.