「つながりたいけど, 伝わらない」 Tsunagaritai kedo, Tsutawaranai
“I Want to Connect, But I Can’t Express It”
Episode 09 marks a turning point for Sarazanmai as the anime sets the stage for its final conflict. After being transformed into a kappa in critical condition, Enta is saved from certain death. In return, he becomes a ticking time bomb and if Kazuki is unable to recover the remaining dishes to save Enta, his life will expire as soon as his timer runs out. This tension is ramped up further with Reo discovering what’s been happening to Mabu behind closed doors and Kuji finds out why his time with Chikai wasn’t meant to last.
Kazuki’s saving grace in this episode was how he was finally able to piece together his memories through his interactions with two people closest to Enta; his older sister Otone and Kazuki’s little brother Haruka. Considering how quick the police under the otters’ brainwashing was to make sure Kazuki’s cries for help were left unheard, this leaves him in a highly vulnerable state and adds to the blame he places on himself for getting mad at Enta before his sacrifice. By hearing Otone out, she reminded him of his very first interaction with Enta where he encouraged him to join his soccer team and become the Golden Duo together. The narrative weaves together the connection that the trio’s favorite Brazilian soccer player, Lionel Kappa (a reimagining of Messi) has with their development, beginning with Enta seeing the man through the miçanga that Kazuki got from Kuji, creating what would become the admiration that Enta has for Kazuki. After Kazuki is given the motivation and encouragement he needed to focus on saving Enta, he pays a last visit to Haruka before he heads off to face the cops. Haruka’s parting gift turns out to be something even more revealing as his time in rehab with Enta contributed towards their shared goal of seeing Kazuki shine no matter what. Because this was drawn behind the magazine cover that had Messi on it, he was immediately taken aback when he remembered that the player’s posture resembled both the same pose he liked emulating with Enta and the pose that Kuji gave him before handing the miçanga to him. As our main focal point in the story, it’s nice to see Kazuki start to unearth many of the memories that would help him touch base on all of his connections with his friends now that the situation calls for more drastic measures.
On an oddly similar note, Reo’s resolve to use the dishes to revive the Mabu he used to know becomes screwier by the minute as he is torn apart by the psychological manipulation his fellow otters keep subjecting him too. As time passes by, Mabu is slowly picking up on his former self’s old habits, causing Reo to be overwhelmed with excitement about the possibility of having his partner back to how he used to be. This celebration is short lived though when he sees that the main otter has transformed into Reo’s desire to have Mabu to himself, causing Mabu to be shackled by the impulses and desires that Reo has to have the old him back. Because Mabu has been unable to reach out to Reo all this time, he could only find himself going back to the distorted Reo that embodies the toxic desires that Reo and the otters have towards using him for their own gain. While this will continue to push Reo towards finding the remaining dishes to return to how things used to be, it should be a harsh wake-up call for him to see that Mabu as he knows him is imprisoned by his push to have the old Mabu back.
On Kuji’s side of the story, his circumstances have gotten far drearier with the death of his brother Chikai. The trip already had a foreboding air to it as more guns start to surface on their boat and Chikai continues to try to push Kuji away from tagging along with him in spite of his wish to bond like they used to. Chikai’s personal ethos of survival of the fittest may seem like his excuse to kill those in his path, but he also tries to use it as a means to see if Kuji would try to stay with his friends, especially with Enta’s shooting being broadcast on Sara’s channel. Things get worse before they get better too as the brothers are forced into a shoot-out with the gangsters that want Chikai dead for his betrayal. The ending scene is particularly brutal as it is divided up into two sections; Chikai aiming a gun at Kuji’s head as he lets his personal ethos slip from his mouth and a shot is heard ringing off-screen, and Chikai being the one who was shot in the previous scene, making his way to the top of the boat as he succumbs to his wounds. The last scene was especially poignant and tragic as the family photo in Chikai’s pocket that has pen scratches everywhere except Kuji’s presence in the photograph causes Kuji to reminisce fonder times with his brother. Notably, he remembers the festival and the Messi poster that inspired him to take up soccer as his older brother encourages him along the way. With how painful it was for Kuji to see his brother die, it will be hard to see him take part in the finale without the burden of Chikai’s death weighing him down as he carries the memories with him.