…but it is a magical boy show. It just has kappa instead.
I’m having a lot of fun with Sarazanmai, despite evidence to the contrary. This is because, as I hinted at in the OWLS masculinity livestream, I see in it the legacy of Boueibu and possibly what could have been of Kiznaiver. However, I gotta write an entire post, so I gotta go deeper than that: why is Sarazanmai reminding me of a magical boy show?
The first thing I’d chalk it down to is the structure of an episode. The set-up of a Sarazanmai episode starts by establishing the core pun for the monster and what happens in our main characters’ relationships, it moves to conversion of the monster and conversion of the stars into more fantastical forms (complete with song and dance numbers), then the monster is defeated and you have to watch the stinger at the end to understand where the next episode is coming from. It’s the description of a Boueibu episode, give or take what people call “Ikuhara-isms” like the kappa folklore. Admittedly, from my minimal experience with Ikuhara outside of this, Ikuhara seems quite fond of discussing relationships through folklore and real life events, although Sarazanmai seems to be the globalisation and commodification of such an exploration by moving the discussion to social media and Amazon.
The structuring is also present in the overall plot – it begins with the boys meeting their “mascot”, a critter who sets them up to gain magical items (and notably, like Dadacha and Zundar in Boueibu, the contrast between Keppi’s deep voice and marketable appearance makes for good laughs). Presumably, the story ends or will hit the climax with a confrontation between the Otter Faction and the Kappa Faction. (In Reo and Mabu’s case, there’s a lot of puns on kawauso...which means “otter” when in katakana.)
The second thing would be the colour coding. As you might know by the previous Madoka and DanMachi posts, I have a lot of fun unpacking the meaning of colour as it relates to characters. In Kazuki’s case, red is passion/main character status to contrast Toi’s blue/antagonistic stance while Enta’s yellow creates a bridge between the two. Interestingly, yellow and blue make green, the colour of kappa and cucumbers, while Toi and Enta don’t seem to get along too well (as of finishing episode 3) due to how the latter’s daydreaming clashes with Toi’s focus on reality.
Another thing would be the wordplay. In both Boueibu and Sarazanmai, unpacking the layers of puns is key to understanding the Plot of the Day, so using Japanese name order to better preserve the puns:
- 箱田 (Hakoda, episode 1) – If you write it as hako da (箱だ), it means “it’s a box”.
- 猫山毛吉 (Nekoyama Mokichi, episode 2) – This involves kanji for “cat” and “hair”.
- キースモットクレー (Keith Motclay(?), episode 3) – The pun is made apparent with the fish – the Japanese whiting, also known as kisu, and “kiss”. Motto, when not written like this, means “more” and kure is a slang form of the verb “to give” (kureru), so it means something along the lines of “give me more kisses”.
Sidebar: I couldn’t seem to remember Hakoda’s first name, so please chip in through the comments if you know what it is.
In the same vein, Boueibu has Itsumo Ichiban (“always number one”), Makuwa Uriya (a melon monster and with uri meaning melon), Kurotori Moteo (a black swan (kurotori) monster who wanted to be popular (moteru)) and so on.
I also find it funny there’s Toi (which is written on his character page as “tooi” and sounds like tooi (遠い), or far) and Chikai (meaning “vow” or “oath”, but which sounds similar to chikai (近い), or close). Notably, “Toi” doesn’t seem to be a common reading of the character used for his name (悠 seems to be read as yu/yuu), but it holds a similar meaning in that it means “long distance”. The connection to, well, “connection” is why I see Kiznaiver in it…plus of course, Maki’s twist.
The last thing would be the dissection of masculinity through having a mostly (or in Boueibu‘s case, all) male cast. Magical girls have always had that part of the fandom who show up for anything they can understand to be intimacy or anything of a sexual nature, so that transfers to magical boys as well. Sarazanmai is sexual in more of a “gross out” and “exploring fetishes” sense, but it is also tackling themes of homosexuality head on with Enta and Kazuki’s relationship.
I…think that should be all of that. Notably, I haven’t seen anyone do name breakdowns of Sarazanmai characters yet whereas they’re more common for Boueibu characters, so hopefully I’m the first to do so.
What are your thoughts on Sarazanmai? Did I convince you it’s a magical boy show?