「つながりたいけど, 裏切りたい」 (Tsunagaritai kedo, Uragiritai)
“I Want to Connect, but I Want to Betray”
With Kazuki back to how he used to be after saving Haruka and returning to his human form, things are looking to shape up with our three boys and Keppei. Or so you think! This episode of Sarazanmai works to shift back into the other characters that surround Kazuki as Enta finds himself conflicted on whether to feel threatened by Kuji getting more of his crush’s attention. At the same time, we get a deeper insight into why Reo has been concerned and distraught about Mabu’s condition.
It was a nice change of pace for Kazuki’s current struggles to be currently resolved because it opens the window for other characters to get attention. A major component of Enta’s motivations to help Kazuki have been to get him to cheer up again so that he would be excited about the prospect of sharing his time with Enta more. However, Enta didn’t account for the possibility that Kazuki’s happiness wouldn’t guarantee that he wouldn’t try to incorporate Kuji into their friend circle and tend to him far more. Despite Enta’s previous decision to prioritize Kazuki’s happiness over his affection, it still leaves a sour taste for Enta to have to share him with Kuji and use the dishes to keep him in the picture. This means having to unearth Enta’s dirty secret of being the person who repeatedly vandalized his soccer hangout so that he can continue cleaning it with Kazuki, snapped Keppei’s cucumbers, and stole all the dishes. It will be interesting to see what lasting consequences that knowing all of this information could have on Enta considering the lengths he went to obscure the dishes that Kazuki had already promised specifically for Kuji’s wish. With many of Enta and Kuji’s conflicts left up in the air, to see how the next few episodes will tackle all of this, especially with how Enta has all of the remaining dishes in his possession, will be fascinating to see unfold. Are there underlying consequences to what Enta just did with how his friends will treat him? What will Kuji do now that his brother has put him in a situation where he has to leave? What would happen if the dishes were combined to grant a wish. Given the Mephistopheles or Calypso direction that many wish-granting items tend to gravitate towards and knowing that the dishes already bungled Enta’s cucumber roll wish, there would have to be some serious consequences to restoring Haruka’s ability to walk or finding a way to make Kuji stay in Asakura. But will it be too late once the dishes are combined to make some kind of wish for Haruka, Kuji, or something out of left field? The episode ends abruptly so one can only mull about these questions until next Thursday, but it makes the wait all the more agonizing.
This episode also did the most to make sure that we understood Reo and his commitment to Mabu. After being mortally injured in his confrontation with the Kappa Kingdom, Mabu is reincarnated as a mere shell of his former self. The leader of the Otter Kingdom knows full well that he’s merely a machine that they brought back as a way of manipulating Reo into doing his bidding. Under the illusion of bringing him back to how he used to be, Reo continues to charge forward under the hope that he’ll eventually be able to get to see his true partner again. However, Reo is in despair for most of the episode as he is becoming increasingly disillusioned by what he’s doing as the present Mabu keeps on trying to replicate his old partner’s habits even though he’s only a replica. Whether this means that Reo will eventually try to go against the Otter King or if he’ll find a way to regain Mabu’s soul by doing the Otter King’s bidding should also be something to keep on the lookout for. Similarly, Keppei’s romantic relationship with Sara should definitely set some alarms for wondering how this pairing will factor into the ongoing war between kappas and otters as their conflict spills out into the human realm.
While Enta’s antics are kinda shitty, they’re nothing irreversible (litter can be cleaned, he didn’t break or exchange the dishes yet, and it’s not like cucumbers are a rare fruit). At most, the one thing he could be causing is that Kuji loses his chance and is forced to leave – and well, we need a segue into his character arc sooner or later anyway.
What I see from Kazuki’s character arc is that this narrative might be veering into a message of “confront your problems with your own power”. The Dishes of Hope seem too good to be true, and none of the problems that these characters have seem like something only a miracle would fix – Is rehabilitation not an option for Haruka? Isn’t Kuji better off being apart of his brother? Can’t Enta just… confess, get a definitive answer, and go from there?
The other problem I see is Mabu. Leo seems hellbent into getting “the old Mabu” back, but Mabu wants Leo to be able to love him the way he is now, even making a rather big effort to “ease” Leo into it. Is that really a situation that needs to end in Leo “seizing his desire” and getting the old Mabu back, or is the current Mabu someone that would deserve a chance at being loved? Who knows where Ikuhara wants to go here…
True, you have some people who made a larger deal out of what Enta did. What the leak exposed was his responsibility for trashing their hangout spot and taking the dishes, but for the most part, it never showed him doing anything with the dishes. Unless he chose to break them or try to make a transaction using the remaining dishes, the next episode will likely focus on the dishes that Enta stole. Whether he returns them or goes full crazy and steals one of his friends’ dishes to make another wish is bound to be discovered in the remaining episode, but for now, Enta’s misdeeds don’t have the same gravitas as shooting someone or stealing a housepet.
The worst that could happen would either be Toi suffering as a result of Enta finding the last dish to use for himself or backlash that Enta would face if Toi and Kazuki shame him into giving the dishes back. But as the series goes on, I can definitely see the Aesop being that many of the issues they want to solve with dishes could and should be more easily resolved by being more open and upfront about their desires instead of repressing them to the point of becoming unhealthy or malicious. The dishes are bound to either overlook some of the deeper intricacies that come from a particular solution for issues like Haruka’s walking ability, Toi staying with his brother without leaving, or Kazuki falling for Enta. There’s no way a supernatural wish-granting solution wouldn’t backfire on wishes like those.
For Mabu, it’s a complicated situation as it’s hard to gauge how much of the real Mabu is in him. Whether he’s the reanimated body with an artificial soul or Mabu’s soul trapped in an android would determine how much of him was created by the otters for the purpose of using Reo how ever they wish. Reo is in the same position as the main boys (mainly Enta) with wanting to return to a point where his relationship with his partner were as they were, but at the same time, finds himself repulsed when recreating those same moments don’t end up the same because Mabu isn’t the same Mabu he remember. It will depend on what direction Ikuhara wants to go with it though; if they want Reo to eventually grow fond of the newer Mabu, if he’ll try to find a way to restore his original heart, or if he’ll have to give him up to let him pass on.
I was really happy when Enta’s true feelings on the matter spilled out in the end. It felt off that he had no kind of reaction when Kazuki was trying to integrate Kuji more. It never dawned on me he might be internalizing it. I am so used to everyone wearing their heart on their sleeves in anime. This show, man. So good.
Yeah, it was interesting how they were able to keep many of the context clues of Enta’s frustration hidden up until the leak occurred (save for him crushing the cup). It even seemed like a set-up on Enta’s behalf where he wanted them to find out by being the one to fight the CBT kappa zombie. That way, he would be able to force himself to tell them that he wants Kazuki to notice him more than Kuji.
… they really want us to read the spin-off manga don’t they? -_-
So we’re finally getting some familiar Ikuhara territory: otherworldly, cute, glowing, black animal spirit things who are evil and try to make things hell for the heroes. I also like Enta less right now.
I read it a few weeks ago.
I want my time back. I guess you could just see how Mabu was … before? I guess? Those two guys act like silly, hyper reactive schoolgirls who don’t know a thing or have a serious side at all. It was weird.
I read the first couple chapters, but they didn’t give us as much to work with since it’s about Reo and Mabu’s parenting skills. Not sure how it’ll factor in though since it is alot fluffier and doesn’t have as many clues towards their roles in the current anime.