Sarazanmai 6: "...So I'm Not Giving Up"

Hey, the episode title changed! Now it’s something positive! We must have reached some kind of inflection point—well, I guess we just passed the half-way mark in an 11-episode show.

The theme of this post is Missed Translation Wordplay Opportunities.

We start off with the boys, who are still kappa because they failed last time. The show teases Enta for a bit in a way that’s probably not fair.

Enta: "Is this another fantasy?"

I don’t think this section was mean-spirited, just awkward in the way that any unrequited crush can be awkward. But I don’t know if Enta and Kazuki ever talked this out properly.

Enta: "I can make a casual pass to Kazuki right now."

Missed Pun-tential #1: “pass to” vs. “pass at”. I don’t know Japanese slang well enough to know if there was something equivalent in the Japanese here.

Meanwhile, Kazuki’s family—they’re really your family, dang it—is worried about him, especially Haruka. And—

Haruka: "I don't remember installing that app."

NO NOT HARUKA! And just when Leo was being honest for a bit. Stupid ulterior motives. (Although, as it’s revealed later, his ulterior motives are more “getting Ginoza Mab back” than “supporting the otters”.)

"Otter Empire?!"

Missed Pun-pertunity #2: “Otterman Empire”. We get the backstory I looked up in the previous post, and then the boys and the prince infiltrate the Door Factory from Monsters, Inc. to find the door box that Haruka’s in. I was reasonably entertained by all this, but I’m going to skip ahead to them being too late.

Which I was a little impressed by, actually. I expected them to make it in time, and they basically didn’t. I was pretty sure they were still going to figure out how to save Haruka somehow, but it was still a surprise.

Keppi: "We can transplant your Shirikodama into him, kero."

Keppi: "Yasuka Kazuki will have never existed in this world, kero."

Here it is: the devil’s bargain from Madoka, and the promised explanation of the disappearance of the kappa zombies from photos when defeated. Enta and Toi are horrified about both parts, and their part in making it happen (though, I suspect, not enough to stop fighting the zombies in the future), but Kazuki’s mind actually works quicker than mine—rare for a show like Sarazanmai that likes to spell things out.

Kazuki: "Haruka's accident never will have happened, either?"

…Dang.

Dang.

(Dang.)

That’s…actually fairly compelling at this point. It’s not just a life for a life; it’s a life for a life and undoing a mistake. Or what Kazuki views as his mistake. I had two thoughts on this; the first was that I’m a fairly logical and not so out-of-the-box thinker, and I’d probably come to the same conclusion as Kazuki. Would I give up my life for my brother? Of course I would, and this just tips the scales.

The second…

Kazuki (thinking): I can't connect, so it's the only way I can make things right.

…is that this is close to (what I know of) thoughts around suicide. Yes, a sacrifice is a little different, but some of the rhythm is the same: “my life isn’t worth anything, and I’ve screwed up what things I do consider meaningful. I might as well just—”

If you’re feeling this way, I’m telling you that you probably have people who would react like Enta and Toi. You’re not disconnected.

National suicide hotline (US): 1-800-273-TALK. There are also specific hotlines for those with AIDS, seniors, trans people, gay people, and many other categories, if you want someone who’s familiar with particular issues. Despite the site design, http://suicidehotlines.com looks like a very thorough resource for this.

Anyway, speaking of “reacting like Enta and Toi”…

(Toi pulls out his gun.)

If I had to choose one image to represent this show, it would be this: a cel-shaded kappa holding a detailed-textured handgun in the middle of a forest of pipes and girders. The staff must have been cackling when they made this.

The gun stops Kazuki’s sacrifice, and so Haruka’s fate is to be determined by the otters.

"LOVE or LIBIDO" machine readout: "Result: Love."

(The machine lifts Haruka's box back up, right in front of Keppi.)

…Pause.

First of all, the machine says “LOVE or LIBIDO” at the top—in English, even in the original—and it’s interesting that the Japanese script is implying that 欲望 is “libido” (or “lust”, we also get in the subtitles), when for most of the show we’ve been getting an English translation of “desire”. It’s not that any of these translations are wrong, but they do have different connotations in English. Haruka’s a kid, so “libido” or “lust” don’t really seem appropriate, but would they register, say, his past desire for a cat?

The next thought I had was noticing that Keppi didn’t see this coming, or at least acts like he didn’t. Would he have gotten something out of Kazuki’s sacrifice? Or does he assume humans only act in self-interest? Or did he not know that the otters were looking specifically for “desire”? Or…what? I’d leave it at that except that the “Result: Love” screenshot also caught something interesting: in very small letters at the bottom, the machine is labeled “Kuro Keppi System”. (“Kuro” means “black”.) Is this machine something Keppi himself made? Had a hand in making? A corruption of something he made? Or a technological replacement for what he can do, similar to the extraction gun?

My friend J called this recently, that neither the kappa nor the otters were going to be good guys. I wonder if that’s where we’re going.

The last thought I had was that there’s a value judgment here, although it’s so subtle that I wonder if I’m projecting: “love” is “better” than “desire”. The otters don’t need it, sure, but Haruka is being saved because he’s a pure soul, or something, and the other victims of Simba and Glasses perhaps deserved their fates. And, in the same spirit as L’s commentary from earlier…boo on that. Desires are real, and while most of these proto-zombies have been doing harmful things with them, desire itself is not inherently wrong. I mean, what a moralistic position to take.

But again, it’s not actually said, and not focused on either. So I might just be projecting from what I imagine the culture to be.

This is getting kind of long, so let’s wrap up. We get an explanation of why Haruka had Kazuki’s birth mom’s “sachet”, though it’s a bit contrived; we also learn that Haruka’s blamed himself for a bunch of this mess. Which, okay, feelings aren’t logical and especially not when you’re a kid, and it does seem to give Kazuki some perspective—the tipping point he needed. The show gives a thumbs-up for that by letting him play soccer again.

Kazuki: "I'm not going to give up on you anymore!"

Also somehow this magically defeats yesterday’s kappa zombie, whatever.

Finally, in the post-credits scene, we get another view into the kappa/otter wars.

Leo, to Mab: "Why would you protect me?"

Why does the Otterman Army have humans in it? Whatever.


I enjoyed this episode fine, since it had a lot of light stuff in addition to what I’ve already discussed, so…where do we think this is going?

  • Kazuki’s resolved his problems without wish dishes. I think that means Enta and Toi need to end up doing so as well, but how?
  • I’m not entirely sure I believe how much Toi’s come around to all of this, but then again shared traumatic experiences can do a heck of a lot to bring people together, and also he is a lonely middle-school-aged kid.
  • Leo (I’m going to keep calling him that) is not a good person, but he does want Mab back—the real Mab, who still has desires. I’m guessing he’s going to betray the Otterman Empire, and his past crimes are going to go relatively unacknowledged when he joins Keppi and the boys.
  • There’s going to be some kind of break with Keppi. It might be as simple as Enta or Toi calling out that he almost got Kazuki erased for no reason, but it could also be something more serious.
  • Still don’t know why the otters are harvesting desires. “It powers our ridiculous machines and our dark gods” is a valid but boring answer, and I hope there’s more to it than just that.
  • And OH YEAH SARA-CHAN IS A KAPPA WHAT’S UP WITH THAT‽ I didn’t mention it last time, but she has weirdly pearlescent purple eyes; clearly something special is going on even if we write off the “escape” sequence as a surreal joke.

Well, we’re past the half-way point. Five episodes to go.