The latest from the wild mind of visionary director Kunihiko Ikuhara, Sarazanmai is an offbeat fantasy anime set in Asakusa, a district of Tokyo famous for its historic buildings and traditional flair in the otherwise modern metropolis. After accidentally destroying a golden kappa statue, middle schooler Kazuki Yasaka and his two classmates Toi Kuji and Enta Jinnai encounter Keppi, the spirit who had been living within the statue, who transforms them each into kappas and tasks them with returning humans corrupted by their desires, called kappa-zombies, to their original form. This process involves the three boys working together to produce the titular Sarazanmai song and removing orbs called shirikodama from the kapa-zombies’ anus, which is both incredibly strange and surprisingly reflective of the actual folklore surrounding kappa.
With a weird premise, stylish execution, and a dramatic story focused on the relationships of the cast with themselves, their past, and their friends and family, Sarazanmai is a unique experience that stands out as weird even in anime. Keeping that in mind, we’ve put together a list of other shows that we think Sarazanmai fans should definitely check out. We’re basing our picks off of similarities in storytelling and visual style, themes, and overall feeling. Without further ado, let’s start!
Similar Anime to Sarazanmai
1. Mawaru Penguindrum (Penguindrum)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: July 2011 – December 2011
After their long-ill sister Himari collapses shortly after being temporarily discharged from the hospital, twin brothers Shouma and Kanba Takakura are surprised and overjoyed when she miraculously comes back to life thanks to a penguin hat bought at the aquarium gift shop. However, it turns out that she’s actually being possessed by the hat and this new Himari demands the two retrieve the enigmatic “Penguin Drum” to truly save their sister from her terrible fate. With no explanation as to what the Penguin Drum actually is, a strange tale of intertwined destinies and hidden pasts begins.
If you’re familiar with Kunihiko Ikuhara’s work, Penguindrum is likely the show you’ll first be reminded of when watching Sarazanmai, and for good reason. It has many of his iconic style trademarks, particularly the intentional use of repeated over-the-top transformation sequences accompanied with a rockin’ tune, and extensive use of visual imagery. Penguindrum also has a similar focus on familial relationships, a strong animal association (as you might guess, penguins in this case rather than kappas), and a mysterious, and often nonsensical, storyline focused on destiny. It’s a sure bet for your next watch if you love Sarazanmai!
2. Kyousou Giga (Kyousougiga)
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: October 2013 – December 2013
Kyousougiga tells the story of a monk named Myoue with the extraordinary ability to make anything he draws come to life. His powers scare the villagers around him, leaving Myoue to live as an outcast in his mountain home. In his loneliness, the monk begins drawing many things, culminating in an entirely new reality known as the Looking Glass City. One such drawing, a black rabbit named Koto, falls in love with Myoue and makes a bargain with a Bodhisattva to be given a human form. The couple and their children—Yakushimaru, Kurama, and Yase—live happily together in the Looking Glass City until they suddenly vanish, leaving the children stuck in the alternate reality city awaiting their parents’ return for many years. Out of nowhere, another girl, also called Koto, crashes into the city! Wielding a distinctive oversized hammer and joined by two rowdy yokai companions, she starts shaking things up in her own search for the missing parents.
Both Sarazanmai and Kyousougiga have an interesting mix of traditional Japanese folklore style elements mixed into a modern setting, excellent art direction full of color and symbolism, and a story focused on the themes of personal relationships and family. While it isn’t quite as off-the-wall bizarre as the weirder parts of Sarazanmai, Kyousougiga feels similarly different from a lot of other series out there and might be a more wholesome pick for folks still craving style, mirror worlds, and connection to traditional Japanese yokai.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2012 – June 2012
Having had to move frequently while growing up thanks to his eccentric French grandma’s job, Yuki Sanada hasn’t had much of a chance to make lasting connections with others and is incredibly socially awkward. Now living in the touristy resort area of Enoshima, his life begins to change after meeting fellow transfer student Haru, a bubbly and energetic weirdo who introduces himself as an alien. This seems to become more and more believable as Haru’s antics grow ever sillier. Joined by classmate Natsuki Usami, a grumpy student obsessed with fishing, and others, Yuki and Haru share many quirky adventures together in their new island home.
Like Sarazanmai, Tsuritama pairs a lot of light-hearted strangeness with a more serious underlying plot that gets more complicated, and rather dark, as the series progresses. They’re also both very visually pleasing and have somewhat similar animation styles. Overall, if you’re looking for another show that is very overtly weird and mixes this absurdity with some deeper subtext, Tsuritama is a solid choice, especially if you’re at all interested in fishing!
Any Anime Like Sarazanmai ?
4. Uchouten Kazoku (The Eccentric Family)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2013 – September 2013
Unbeknownst to most humans, Kyoto, one of the former capitals of Japan and a major hub of traditional culture, has long been inhabited by tanuki and tengu, yokai spirits who can disguise themselves as humans (among other things) and live alongside them. Yasaburou Shimogamo is one such tanuki who is particularly interested in the everyday lives of humans, tanuki, and tengu and how they interact together. However, not all is peaceful in the city. After Yasaburou’s famous tanuki leader father Souichirou is killed and eaten by a group of humans known as the Friday Fellows, Yasaburou and his three brothers struggle to cope with and unravel the mystery of their father’s death.
With its deep connection to traditional Japanese folklore, The Eccentric Family will definitely please Sarazanmai watchers who love the kappa connection and will similarly be a treat for fans that enjoy the themes of family and personal relationships. While it might not be as over-the-top ridiculous as Sarazanmai can be, The Eccentric Family’s charming characters and setting and mysterious, emotional storytelling is worth a watch!
The Eccentric Family Trailer
5. Flip Flappers
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: October 2016 – December 2016
Ordinary middle schooler Cocona finds herself caught up in a wide variety of wacky alternate realities after meeting the ultra-energetic and cutesy Papika who convinces her to join an organization called Flip Flap. The duo gets sent into parallel worlds called Pure Illusion where they find crystals with special powers that allow them to transform into magical girls and fight various monsters. While at first it all seems rather innocent, albeit extremely fantastical, interactions with a rival group and strange occurrences in their normal lives cause Cocona and Papika to question what’s really behind Pure Illusion, Flip Flap, and their own relationship.
While we haven’t touched on it yet, one aspect of Sarazanmai is boy’s love/yaoi particularly between Enta and Kazuki. Obviously, Cocona and Papika are girls so this is yuri rather than yaoi but same-sex relationships are part of both Flip Flappers and Sarazanmai. Similarly, the teamwork and transformation sequences, a la the likes of Sailor Moon, to defeat each monster-of-the-day and retrieve a special item, connect both series. With richly detailed and colorful designs and animation, thoughtful storytelling, and great music, Flip Flappers shouldn’t be ignored by fans of Sarazanmai!
Flip Flappers OP
6. Yuri Kuma Arashi (Yurikuma Arashi)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2015 – March 2015
Another Ikuhara joint, Yurikuma Arashi, which can be translated as ‘Lesbian Bear Storm’, is absolutely bizarre in title alone and is set in a world where a meteor shower somehow caused bears around the world to become super violent and specifically hunt down and eat humans, leading to a great war between the species. In the post-war period, the “Wall of Severance” was created to separate them, but crafty bears Ginko Yurishiro and Lulu Yurigasaki have snuck in posing as humans. Setting their sites on lovers Kureha Tsubaki and Sumika Izumino, the two bears begin a saga full of mystery, violence, yuri imagery and a plethora of pithy bear puns.
Arguably Ikuhara’s strangest work (which is saying something considering Sarazanmai, Penguindrum, etc.) Yurikuma Arashi is another obvious pick for a recommendation. Full of surreal imagery, over-the-top repeated transformation sequences, general nonsensical approach to storytelling, and dealing with same-sex relationships (much more overtly here, often exploiting it for scenes bordering on ecchi) Yurikuma Arashi lacks a big connection to Japanese folklore like most of our other picks but embodies the same signature style seen in Sarazanmai, in a less restrained, more psychological manner.
Yurikuma Arashi Trailer
Sarazanmai has been a wild ride so far and while we don’t know how things will ultimately end up, we’re sure that those looking for something to watch while waiting for the next episode will get something out of these anime. We hope that you enjoyed this list, please let us know your own thoughts in the comments section below and be sure to stick around Honey’s for more of all things awesome, anime and otherwise! Bye~!