Major, major spoiler Warning!!
“Holy shit.” I’m sure many have by now said that in response to Sarazanmai episode 8. It was an intense, eventful chapter of a beloved anime. When I said I was expecting drama between the boys because of Enta’s petty betrayal, this is about what I imagined. An angry Kazuki who doesn’t understand. A quietly respectful Kuji who tries to leave the picture for the sake of the other two. An upset Enta who’s clinging to stubborness and jealousy. I also can say I expected the hot cops to be pretty villainous, and I’m not surprised they shot someone on the street.
However… I did not think so far to expect the conclusion of the episode. I imagined a humorous kappa fight or something. But what happened was very human, and very brutal. My question is whether Enta is really dead. Until it’s absolutely confirmed, I don’t generally believe anime death scares. Mabu said there was hope for Enta if Kazuki got him help soon. But the title of the episode certainly suggests that a character will die. If Enta lives, I suspect he’ll be in a coma or otherwise completely unable to interact with Kazuki. If he dies, well, I expect someone (like Keppi) will have to pull Kazuki out of deep despair, before he gives up or throws away his life. With Keppi frozen, though, I guess it will have to be Haruka. I can’t wait till next week to see!
The reveal at the beginning of the episode was one of those that make you say, “Oh, an Ikuhara moment” with slight frustration. I seem to remember things like this in Utena and Penguindrum, where a character has conveniently forgotten something from childhood that is quite important to the story and/or the other characters. We must suddenly and completely shift our perspective of the episodes past now that it’s revealed Toi knew Kazuki long ago. Given how things worked in Penguindrum, though, I guess I should be used to this.
Let’s look at this in a more general sense. Episode 8 was very well-done and almost sort of cinematic at the dramatic moments. The over-arching story is moving along, like it has been since episode 6, but with upped intensity now. The art and character designs are cute, colorful, and eye-catching, and I have no complaints about the animation. I like how it can get goofy in style sometimes. For example, take Enta’s reaction when he finds out Kazuki originally got his soccer anklet from Toi. Such exaggeration reminds me of early 2000s anime. The music is nice in this series and this episode. The voice-acting is mostly on point, though it’s probably not the most impressive of all the episodes.
All that to say, Sarazanmai is a good show, especially if you like the characteristic weirdness of Kunihiko Ikuhara. But I feel it’s important to note that compared to Utena, and even Penguindrum, there isn’t as much psychological depth or meaning. At least, that’s how it feels to me. There are some profound themes, like the bonds between siblings and connections to others in general, but it doesn’t seem like much compared to what I remember in Utena. The characters of Sarazanmai, though, are the driving forces of the story, and the reason I keep enjoying the hell out of it each week. They offer plenty of depth in their interactions, histories, and motivations. At this point in the series, I would rate Sarazanmai as 7.8/10 or maybe even 8/10.