I wrote about Revolutionary Girl Utena a while back, which as near as I can tell was about schoolgirl lesbians finding love in their shared sword wound fetish. There was a lot of talk in that show about desires and connections, so it’s clear the creator, Ikuni, was trying to communicate some truth about life before his anime gland exploded and he hemorrhaged Earth Chickens and Destiny Apocalypses onto the page. But now he’s trying again with a series called Sarazanmai, and it does feel like he’s dialing this message in:
The show opens with a thesis statement about exploring the connections between human beings, while the art reduces those human beings to stickman caricatures with only our protagonists fully realized:
Because that’s how these characters see the world: Themselves as complex islands, and other people as simple sketches — at once vacant and so impossibly dense they could never be understood. That’s some prime arthouse anime stuff right there, and my worry now is more that this will be boring, and less that I won’t fully get the metaphorical significance of the Earth Chicken laying an egg that is the Nega-World.
Let’s get into the setup: A social media idol accidentally takes a selfie in front of a kid breaking into a car.
He doesn’t want evidence of his crime posted on social media because this was pre-2021 before we celebrated that practice, so he chases the idol around a corner. He loses her, and instead finds the young boy from the intro praying to a strange statue. He asks where the girl went, and our hero is uncooperative, so it’s time to murder him.
The statue is destroyed, and out pops the prince of the Kappa – Japanese turtle monsters that, based on context so far, must be somehow associated with desire and connection.
I don’t actually know much about Japanese mythology, and I hate being dismissive of another culture just because I’m unfamiliar with it, so I generally assume that when anime shows me eighteen straight minutes of crying mushroom schoolgirls rolling around on giant testicles, it’s actually a clever and subtle reference to folklore that I just don’t have the cultural grounding to understand.
So with that in mind, I can’t tell you why the Kappa is so immediately interested in two unattended young boys, or why he’s always suggestively sucking on a cucumber. I will generously assume this is not exactly what it looks like, and that the rest of this high-budget arthouse anime is not going to be based around butthole violation.
Anyway, we’ve got this Ghibli-esque setup going and if we’re holding true to the myth structure, one of the boys must make a mistake in dealing with the folk character and become stuck in his world.
Sure enough, our hero accidentally calls the turtle prince a frog, and he is infuriated.
You see where this is going: The Kappa Prince flies into a rage, rockets across the courtyard, and sucks the young boy in assfirst until he is devoured, and then transforms into a cake-ass turtle exoskeleton with a traumatized child for a pilot.
I don’t know what you’re confused about. That’s literally the plot to Evangelion, probably. You can’t fuckin’ prove me wrong!
So now that our main character has been devoured, the Kappa Prince’s designated asshole-sucking organ sucks this child’s asshole until his soul comes out. Again, I don’t mean to assume anything about the proud and noble nation of Japan, but this cartoon is telling me they believe the soul is stored in the butt.
The soulless turtle husk that used to be a promising young man is then shat out by the Kappa Prince, whose rosy cheeks and carefully animated poop shivers will haunt me to my grave.
To my very grave.
Now, I’ve thrown a lot at you — most of it butthole-related — but I do think it’s important to once again explain that this is not pornography.
This is not intended as pornography.
This is definitely weird, it’s definitely niche, but it’s on TV and not bottom-shelved behind a bead curtain in a gas station/video store.
I also think it’s important to note the extreme trauma on that freshly rear-birthed turtleboy. This is not a fun entrance to a whimsical fantasy world for him. You just watched a therapist buy a boat in that child’s eyes.
The kids are seriously just ruined by this process. Two more children’s assouls are devoured before the Kappa Prince explains their fate:
There’s a famous art meme about this tiny muscle in the human forearm that’s only visible when you extend your pinky – and yet Michelangelo thought to depict that in his statue of Moses.
Look at that animation above, that facial expression on the newest turtleboy. This scene is complete. It has missed nothing. You understand everything that poor kid is going through. He’s realizing that, from this moment on, all he can ever be is shit. Once you’re shit out of something, that’s it. There’s no unbecoming shit. All you can be from that point forward is exceptionally good… for a piece of shit.
It’s such a powerful and emotive moment that you almost miss the bloodstreaks in his hair from the Kappa Prince’s ruptured hemorrhoids.
Moses’ pinky muscle!
Hi, if you’re just joining me, what a weird thing to do: open an article and jump halfway down to read the worst line out of context. I don’t know why you’re doing this — maybe you’re trying to shake the Internet Cops based on a wild misunderstanding of how tracking cookies work — but I should explain that we’re still in the opening of the show.
If you’ve been with me this whole time, the horrified Bastian to my long-suffering Atreyu, I know you feel like you’ve gone through a Biblical amount of unease already, but you’ve only just finished meeting the main characters.
See, we need those empty-assholed turtleboys because demon seals are stealing everyone’s Amazon packages and I’ve just checked: My wife is indeed making toast. I did not have a stroke. That’s really what the show is about.
These packages represent the recipients’ deepest desires, so the devil seals are effectively robbing the human world of the ability to dream.
The Kappa Prince was going to just ask the boys for help with this problem, but it’s ultimately a good thing they’ve been rendered feces because now they, too, have the ability to plunder assholes.
So they meet their enemy and sing a song about taking back desire because —
Oh right, it’s also a musical. Did I forget to mention that?
I did. I totally did forget to mention that the butthole turtles sing. They sing little songs about sucking desire out of an asshole as they fight. I really should have mentioned that right off the bat. To be fair to me, I didn’t want to.
The natural enemy of the Kappa, as anyone can tell you, is a neon cardboard box giant.
You don’t exactly need a 10-minute YouTube walkthrough to find his glowing weak spot.
Presenting like an apologizing baboon does not seem like an excellent strategy when you store all of your secrets in your ass and you are facing opponents whose special ability is extracting things from asses. And indeed, it is not.
The three kappas link up into living anal beads and plunge into the cardboard box zombie’s asshole, which is a sentence I sure hope nobody ever remembers I typed…
And this happens.
I’ll do you a favor and not talk about that.
Once inside, the kappas seize the ass marble that, again, I guess is what the Japanese think of as a soul? The series does explain that it’s actually the organ that processes desire, but the rest of the show is about how that desire is what makes us people and without it, the boys literally lose their human forms. So yeah, the essence of mankind is located about three inches inside the rectum, and this cardboard box giant’s soul is helpfully labelled “BUTT.”
Real quick reminder that none of this consensual, if that’s our bar. I don’t even know anymore.
Now, I’ve spent years thinking in story structures and seeing in narrative arcs. If you’re anything like me, you get a few minutes into a show and you just sort of feel where it must go next.
That’s right, one of the turtle monsters becomes stuck in the cardboard zombie giant’s rupturing neon asshole and his friends, blinded by digestive spray, have to pull him out.
By working together they do manage to extract the giant’s butt soul, which explodes.
Revealing all of the giant’s closely guarded secrets. So what secrets does this naked box-headed creature have?
But… the giant was a naked guy in a stolen cardboard box helmet. His secret was that he was a naked guy in a stolen cardboard box helmet? This didn’t need three shitwarriors and a musical number about desire to solve, you could crack this mystery with functional eyeballs and no respect for knocking.
It’s not quite over yet! The Kappa Prince then demands the boys “do the sarazanmai.”
Which apparently translates to “three nude young men synchronized skate while ripping a curl.” It’s weird that Japan has one word for that concept, but I guess it might be context-sensitive. Like if Jared Fogle mentioned loving the Tuna Special, you would know just by the strategically placed serving tray that this is what he meant.
None of the boys know that this choreographed water dance will actually reveal one of their secrets by — did you guess it?
Of course you did.
It’s anal rupture again!
While I appreciate the heads up, slapping “this is what’s about to happen” over the iconography of three teen boys absorbing each other’s anal leakage is like when people use their turn signal only as they’re turning. It’s not a warning anymore. If anything, it’s like a taunting exclamation point.
The price for delivering the anal secrets of a boxed stranger is one of your own being revealed. In this case it’s that the protagonist is also the girl from the beginning. He’s been crossdressing on social media, and that’s all the shame our Kappa Prince needs for seasoning. Now the assoul marble is ready to eat.
So this is actually a story about how the soul of humanity lies in our desires, and being ashamed of and hiding those desires turns us into monsters. Only by sharing them — even if it terrifies us and opens us up to judgment — can we be true to ourselves. That’s actually a pretty good theme to explore, and the message did come across despite the many anal ruptures in the delivery system.
There’s a lot to take into account when you absorb a story from another culture. Japan can’t show human sexual penetration in even hardcore porn sold only to adults, but it can slap the inner workings of a boxgiant’s rectal mysteries on primetime, no problem. It’s a strange mix of body acceptance and sexual denial. And buttsucking turtleboys seems like a crazy way to convey the liberation of sexual repression, but it’s that lack of cultural grounding again. If I lived in a society that believed the soul was tied to desire and then shoved directly up the asshole, and there existed a folklore monster that robbed butts, it would only make sense to use that as my framework. It’s right there. It’s absurd to think you’d invent a new device to talk about sex, shame, truth, and desire when somebody already went through the trouble of inventing a cucumber gobbling water-headed turtle pervert just for this purpose.
So I understand, Japan. I understand why you did this to me. I can forgive it. What I can’t forgive, what was entirely superfluous and spiteful and has made enemies of us to the bitter end, is those lovingly animated poopshivers.
That was on you. You chose to do that. And though my body will die, please understand that my hate will live forever.
This article was brought to you by a hot tip from Ferroday, who also accepts all blame and legal responsibility for this article.