After defeating the zombie in the last episode, Keppi awards the boys a golden dish, telling them it will grant them anything they want…although Enta immediately wastes it by accident by wishing for cucumber rolls. Next, we get to properly meet Kazuki’s younger brother Haruka, the one who he is desperately trying to maintain a connection with through Sara. We also learn that the two of them look after a stray cat called Nyantarou sometimes. Meanwhile, Kuji also has an interesting relationship with his own brother – his older brother, that is – and both are involved in some kind of criminal activity (either centering around or including growing and selling weed). Nyantarou ends up stealing one of the weed packets, causing Kuji to pursue him.
Speaking of cats, ‘cats’ is the lucky word of the day according to Azuma Sara’s Lucky Selfie Fortunes, and when Kazuki searches for a cat to take his Sara-selfie with, he ends up having to defend Nyantarou from Kuji. (As Nyantarou swallowed the baggy of weed, he wants to gut him to retrieve it) Both the boys end up pursuing Nyantarou around Asakusa and eventually through an amusement park – which just happens to be holding a ‘couples only’ day, forcing them to hold hands or else be thrown out. Eventually Enta catches up with them both to warn Kazuki about hanging out with Kuji – as it turns out their boxes got mixed up and Enta received Kuji’s with the gun inside. But before they can really dwell too much on that, the next zombie has appeared, and this time its trying to spirit away all the cats in Asakusa – although this time we get to see exactly how they are made. The two otter cops seem to make them by first snaring potential wrong-doers through some kind of smartphone app and then extracting their desires in a bizarre ritual that kills their mortal bodies and turns them into zombies. This episode’s zombie turns out to be a guy who, as well as resenting cats due to his girlfriend preferring them to him – wished to become one in order to regain her love.
The sarazanmai ritual ends up revealing that Nyantarou was actually not a stray, but somebody’s pet whom Kazuki had stolen and ‘made’ into a stray – going so far as clipping his ear in the way neutered strays are – solely because Haruka expressed the desire for a cat. The boys do receive another hope dish – although this one is a silver one, which can only grant a wish when five are gathered. Is every synopsis gonna be this long?
Well, I already have one correction to make from the first episode review – I said that Haruka was Kazuki’s sister. While I should have realised that from the fact that they share a room, I do think this misdirection was intentional. Haruka’s gender may be an important plot point later on – he looks pretty feminine, he is obsessed with a cutesy idol which likely isn’t so typical for a boy so young, and Haruka is a gender-neutral name which is likely a deliberate choice. But, the main mystery at the moment is why Kazuki considers his particular kind of connection with his brother to be so important – and why it has to be a secret one – considering that Haruka has absolutely no idea that the Azuma Sara who messages him is not only not the real thing, but his brother. It’s something that has even driven him to steal someone’s beloved pet. Kazuki also says that he needs a Hope Plate for Haruka, and at this point we can still only really guess what wish he needs it for.
The other two sibling bonds shown in the episode are completely different again. Kuji and his older brother seem to get on well, although Kuji is clearly wrapped up in something that no boy his age should be (weed aside (which by the way is extremely illegal in Japan so these scenes likely come across as more criminal than they do a western audience), he is also shown helping his older brother waterboard somebody). Kuji expresses the desire to gain one of the wishing plates for his brother’s sake as well, which is just as cryptic as Kazuki’s. Lastly, there’s Enta and his sister – who is also their teacher. Their relationship seems a little more strained, with her often scolding him, and him getting angry at her for going on dates. Whatever their deal is, it doesn’t have the sense of urgency that Kazuki and Kuji do with their siblings, but there’s still something…off about them, despite their relationship being more mundane.
So long as I’m talking about the characters, I can’t not mention Reo and Mabu – the otter cops. Now, I know that there is an ongoing manga about these two that started several months before Sarazanmai started airing, and it may or may not contain spoilers for the rest of the show so I’m in two minds about checking it out. Doing so would probably clear up a lot of things about them, but at the moment they are the most cryptic characters in the entire show to me. They get their own song and dance routine (an odd fusion of idol-y and obon dance style moves, ending with Reo tearing out Mabu’s (mechanical?!) heart Utena-style, while in the background the ‘desire’ is removed from the human shell (and then apparently left as a corpse in the river to be discovered later) while the zombie is processed almost factory-style down Tokyo Sky Tree. There is something extremely disconcerting about the whole sequence that I still can’t put my finger on, although it’s also kind of fun. (I do wonder if we will have to see it in every single episode though, because we got the same song the kappa-boys sing as well) The thing is, Reo and Mabu are clearly being framed as villains…and yet what they are doing is basically exactly what the kappa boys do when they extract the shirikodama – they’re extracting a desire. Why these desires take different forms and result in different things depending on whether a kappa or an otter does it will likely also be important later. (Not that Reo and Mabu have revealed themselves to actually -be- otters yet, but they’re always surrounded by the otter mark and they clearly have supernatural abilities, and given that this is an Ikuhara show its possible they are either transformed otters (otters do have that ability in mythology after all), or there’s some cutesy mascot-looking otter character that gives them powers, as Keppi the kappa did.
All that aside, the other major plot development was learning about those Hope Plates – and seeing that they are already a source of friction with the three kappa boys. Which shouldn’t be surprising – only two of them are actually friends (and its potentially a strained friendship), while Kuji is an outsider roped into this by circumstance. This episode did kind of push the idea of Kuji and Kazuki together (forcing them to hold hands and everything), which was kind of ridiculous (the entire amusement part segment was pretty ridiculous though), although the episode surprised me after the credits by going for the EntaKazuki angle as well, with a stolen kiss on a sleeping Kazuki. Two episodes in and we already have hints of potential romantic drama between the two boys – but, more importantly – it’s the most surprising thing Enta has been able to do this entire time, as he’s otherwise just been kinda…there. Both these episodes have had Kazuki getting a secret leaked after the sarazanmai thing, so maybe the next one will be Enta’s turn. (It is interesting though that Kuji’s clearly secret endeavours are shown as a normal portion of the episode’s events, so any secrets he may have to leak must be something he wishes to hide even more than that)
Since this review is now way too long, I’ll wrap it up here by saying that I’m still enjoying this show and it’s doing a good job at reeling me in with only so much revealed at a time. It just so happens that the ‘only so much’ is still a hell of a lot of content for a single episode, so much that it’s a miracle nothing in this show has actually felt rushed so far. Also it just looks really damn good, and I hope it stays looking this good.