「つながりたいけど, 奪いたい」(Tsunagaritai kedo, Ubaitai)
“I Want to Connect, But I Want to Take”
This episode of Sarazanmai can easily be summed up by the many topics it introduces to us: waterboarding, a cat that ingests marijuana, dancing corrupt cops, ninja dating, cat fetishists, and more! But above all else, this episode tackles the secrets that burrow within our three protagonists as the shame they have to unearth from the kappa zombie also brings out different shades of the trio.
As the shadiest of the three, Toi’s secrets are the most illegal. Considering how much he wants to help out his brother Chikai, he finds himself involved with much of his brother’s dirty work. This includes waterboarding a guy in his shower and cultivating marijuana so that he’ll be able to sell it and make money for Chikai. Toi finds himself chasing after his brother due to Chikai’s insistence on keeping Toi at arm’s length if he’d be unable to bail himself out without his help. To that effect, Toi puts pressure on himself to use the Dish of Hope and make money off of selling pot for his brother’s sake. For this reason, he is on adversarial terms with Kazuki and Enta, but when he has to work together with Kazuki to chase after Nyantaro, who ate a bag full of weed, he finds himself slowly cooperating alongside others. There’s a sense of normalcy that comes from Toi’s cordial interactions with Kazuki as he’s willing to negotiate with him to protect the cat on the condition that he gets to keep the dishes.
While Nyantaro’s early celebration of 4/20 is what drives Toi to chase after him, it’s Kazuki’s reasoning that drives the episode forward. It’s already established that Kazuki would do anything for his brother Harukawa, who is easily charmed by his new friend Sara Azuma. But it’s Harukawa’s desire for a cat that gives Nyantaro a deeper significance for the brothers as they look to Nyantaro as their very own outdoor cat that they can take care of whenever they wish. After taking the shame from the kappa zombie, however, there’s a far more significant reason why Kazuki sees a high level of importance in Nyantaro as the cat was actually someone else’s housecat that he stole so that Harukawa could have a cat that he could consider his own. It digs deeper into Kazuki’s complex as he finds himself going such far lengths to make his brother happy that he is more than willing to dress up as Sara and steal a person’s pet if it makes him happy. It’s a little admirable that we would be starting the series off so quickly with evidence that our three heroes are not the best role models
For Enta, however, his affection is on a much deeper level as his feelings for Sara and Kazuki emerge to its highest degree yet by the end of their second transformation. There were small signs that Enta had a particular attachment to Kazuki as he was upset that he wouldn’t be sticking with their school club together. In this episode, much of Enta’s screentime was dedicated to telling him to stay away from Toi as he is distrustful in how dangerous he can be, especially considering that he ended up getting Toi’s secret gun this time around. Other minor hints such as Kazuki showing up in Enta’s OP water tunnel sequence and the soccer band that appears in his box also connect the dots towards how Enta feels about Kazuki. All of this culminates in the episode’s after-credits shocker where Enta finds Kazuki in his Sara outfit napping on a park bench and kisses him. It’s an explosive moment that sets the scene for future development regarding Enta’s feelings for Kazuki, and manifest into a larger secret that could eventually be exposed to one another.
Thematically, the episode also draws attention to the two police officers, who are the root of the kappa zombies’ emergence. Their role in capturing the guy who collected cat fur to appease his girlfriend as a kink is thoroughly explored with the last episode’s interrogation being further elaborated on. By tugging on the thread of fate, the two cops harness the guy’s shameful desires to weaponize them and let them run amok in the city. They are slighted by the possibility of some force that’s undoing their work, but how their side of the story merges with Keppi’s point-of-view will be interesting to see unfold for the sake of giving the story’s lore some more detail. And in its essence, it’s what makes Sarazanmai such a rewarding anime to watch at this point. For Ikuhara, it’s impressive to see him give the cast more to work with by elaborating further on the roles that everyone plays in the story and how their motivations determine which direction they will sway in.