(Warning: Spoilers for Sarazanmai episode 10)
Enta only has a few hours left to live. He and Kazuki have one dish, and Reo has the other four. Speaking of that cop, he comes to get the last dish and takes Kazuki, Enta, and Keppi back to the Otter HQ. There, the Otter tried to manipulate Enta into giving up the fifth dish. Enta breaks free of the control, but also breaks the dish by accident. Now another will be needed. A lot of history and explanations about Reo and Mabu are explored next. For example, they were once subjects of Keppi in the kappa kingdom.
Because Reo kept rejecting him, Mabu tried let himself be turned into a kappa-zombie. Transformed into a kappa by Keppi, Reo takes Mabu’s shirokodama, thus turning him into a little kappa. It’s then that Mabu declares his love for Reo once and for all, which causes his mechanical heart to stop. He dies, and his shirokodama is eaten by Keppi to produce the fifth dish of hope. Reo can’t believe what has happened and goes crazy shooting everything, until Toi appears and shoots him from behind, killing him. Toi demands the dishes be used to bring back his brother, but Kazuki uses them to save Enta’s life.
In the very last clip at the end, Dark Keppi, the other half of the Keppi we know, appears together with Otter. They begin a plan to destroy every emotional connection in the world. That starts with taking Toi away from Kazuki. The episode ends there, leaving us wondering what Otter did to Toi and what will happen to the world at large.
Thoughts on the story?
Well, it’s still a weird af plot, but it flows more naturally and is easier to make sense of than either Penguindrum or Utena was for me. I think the storytelling is pretty good in this series. There were two or three episodes somewhere in the first half that were a bit repetitive, but I don’t think that took away too much from the story since the halfway mark at episode 6 was so intense. The show is essentially about the connections between the three boys, and the connection between the cops. There are also themes of connections to family and especially to brothers. The other main theme/meaning is that desires can get out of hand, and drive people to do terrible things.
If there was one slight weakness to the storytelling this episode, it’s just that things suddenly became on a much bigger scale than before, with no warning. Like the other two Ikuhara shows I’ve seen, Utena and Penguindrum, Sarazanmai suddenly becomes epic toward the end, with some twist involving the “whole world.” In Utena, the whole world’s hate was focused on the witch who betrayed the prince, and Utena took the place of the “witch” and thus all the hate and pain of the world. In Penguindrum, we suddenly discover that the world really can be rewritten by the power of the fate-changing Diary. In Sarazanmai, Dark Keppi and Otter announce that they’re severing every single connection in the world.
Thoughts on the characters?
The hot cops. The bad cops. The gay cops. Whatever you want to call them. Reo and Mabu, man. They were such importants part of this episode and this story as a whole. This episode review is already getting longer than I intended, so I won’t go into all the character details and information here. But the character arcs of Reo and Mabu come to a climax and then a conclusion in this critical episode. It’s moving, and fills me with mixed emotions. On other notes, I was pleased that Kazuki worked so hard to save Enta and ended up “choosing” his life over granting Toi’s wish. I love both Enta and Toi, though.
Thoughts on the art or audio?
The music was really fantastic this episode. There’s the scary theme that plays near the beginning of the episode. Also the music that starts around 14:30, with cello or violin or something, was gorgeous. It was awesome hearing Mamoru Miyano singing the Sarazanmai theme. “Torimodo sa nakya, ikenai mono ga aru…” Etc. The music playing when Mabu declares his love and then gets blown apart was breathtaking. The art was cute and cool as usual, but nothing in particular stood out to me as special. Well, besides seeing Reo and Mabu in cute, cute kappa forms, of course!
Otter Thoughts? (Other Thoughts)
The most interesting theme in Sarazanmai to me is human culpability. Are Reo and Mabu evil? After all, they’re murderers. But they were being manipulated by Otter, which is a metaphor for desire. Uncontrollable, and sometimes unconscious human desires. We are all subject to these. Willpower isn’t enough to counter them, and true free will is an illusion made by our brains. Can we be held responsible for our actions if we’re at the mercy of our genes and our brains acting on unconscious desires?
To maintain public order, yes, we must judge individuals for their actions, whether they are truly in conscious control or not. However, the focus should be on correcting the problem and isolating and minimizing the threat to public order, rather than “punishment.” Punishment and fear of punishment are obviously never going to stop crime in all cases. This topic is discussed in depth in the book The Moral Animal by Robert Wright. I’m glad the subject is touched on in Sarazanmai.
What did you enjoy most?
I enjoyed the drama, action, and serious, high-stakes atmosphere the show built up. It felt like everything led to this point in a beautiful way. I really liked seeing Kazuki so loving and protective of kappa-Enta. It’s so stinking cute. It was also good to learn the truth about Reo and Mabu and their past. All in all, this was a fantastic episode of Sarazanmai! I can’t wait for the last episode next week! Thank you so much for reading. 🙂
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