“I Want to Connect, but You’re So Far Away”
Thursdays at 3:55 pm EST on Crunchyroll
Kazuki comes to Toi with a shocking request for help. They are interrupted when a zombie kappa targets Toi’s family soba shop, ultimately revealing the secret behind his current circumstances
This episode did a brilliant job flipping our perceptions of who Kazuki and Toi are as people. Up to now, Kazuki has seemed desperate but still mostly sympathetic as he has been trying to keep his sick little brother happy. Toi is a legitimate criminal, and it looked like he was being led astray by his gangster brother. After the events of this week I’m questioning Kazuki a lot more and feeling much more sympathetic for Toi.
There were some big, obvious ways this was accomplished. Showing Toi’s history with the family soba shop and his desire to simply be reunited with his brother is an easy way to get us to like him more. Having Kazuki make a wild kidnapping request with no hesitation and then reveal he actually hates his brother instantly makes him more suspicious.
What I find impressive are the more subtle ways the show has prepared us for this. Take a look at how each boy has treated other people up to now. Kazuki always looks distant, uninterested, or even annoyed by everything going on. This even extends to when he’s around his supposedly precious little brother. You can also look at poor Enta. I wondered last week why Kazuki didn’t react to Enta’s sarazanmai reveal, and now I realize he probably saw it and just doesn’t care. Enta is not even a blip on his radar.
On the flip side, look at how Toi treats other people. His choice of words can be harsh, but what he actually says and does is not. Using Enta again as an example, he has been quite kind and sympathetic to him after last week’s reveal. He’s also surprisingly receptive to listening to Kazuki’s insane scheme this week. So when it’s revealed he has some unselfish, even sympathetic motivations for his present lifestyle, it all adds up.
To my ongoing point about Sarazamai being the most straightforward Ikuhara anime, I thought about Toi’s flashback compared to the flashback in Penguindrum where we see Ringo’s parents splitting up. You could swap in any flashback from Penguindrum for this comparison, but let’s go with that one. In Ringo’s story, they used snippets of dialogue and creepy stuffed animal stand-ins to give you the idea of what was happening. They don’t give you all the details, but enough to let your mind fill in the rest. Making your brain process what happened combined with the off-putting visuals helps you experience the tension and uneasiness of the situation.
For Toi, they just show us what happened. It’s interesting and compelling, but I kind of miss the abstract creativity we’ve come to expect from Ikuhara. As fun as the weird visual elements in Sarazanmai are to look at, they feel more like set dressing than something that is adding to the storytelling. We’ll need to see how the show finishes to judge whether this is better or worse.
I do want to shout out one random weird moment: I laughed pretty hard in the post credits scene when Enta does his random crab walk in shock from seeing Kazuki give his plate to Toi. The bomb at end has me really excited to see where they go with Kazuki’s character. I’m assuming he doesn’t actually hate his brother and it will be something more like resentment, but even if that were the case why is he devoting his entire life to keeping him happy? Guilt? Something weirder? I can’t wait to find out.