Release date: April 6
Director: Nobuyuki Takeuchi, Kunihiko Ikuhara
Animation production: MAPPA, Lapin Track
Let's cut straight to the point: Sarazanmai is one of, if not the most bizarre, idiosyncratic, visually audacious, and thematically evocative anime to air in 2019. Describing just exactly what the hell Saranzanmai is to someone who has never seen an anime directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara (Revolutionary Girl Utena, Pengiundrum, Yurikuma Arashi) is about as difficult as it would be to describe the concept of 'water' and what the hell it means for something to be 'wet' to an alien. But, put simply, the show follows three middle-schoolers -- Kazuki Yasaka, Kuji Toi, and Enta Jinnai -- as they are transformed into kappa, amphibious beak-faced demons, after releasing Keppi, the guardian spirit of Asakusa, from the statue containing him and accidentally insulting him. To return to human form, the three are tasked with exorcising "kappa-zombies," malicious poltergeists, by performing elaborate dance numbers in a liminal dimension to steal the zombies’ shirikodama, magical spheres representing human desire, by forcibly removing them from their anuses. That is the tamest, most perfunctory description of what Sarazanmai is about, and it only gets stranger from here on out. Ikuhara is known for writing shows with socially-conscious premises powered by avant-garde visuals laden with labyrinthine levels of subtextual depth, and Sarazanmai is no different. Even knowing that, nothing can quite prepare you for the surprises this show has to offer. If nothing else, know this: It is one of the most daring, earnest, and empathetic series to air this year, and save for having watched one of Ikuhara's works in the past, you won’t see anything else quite like it.
Available on: Crunchyroll