August 2019 Animage interviews

The character description for Mabu in Animage says he’s ””Reo’s one and only, irreplaceable partner.” 

“Mabu’s pained expression when Reo rejects him and says “you’re not my Mabu”, is something a doll is absolutely incapable of expressing, but Reo hadnt realised this truth….” 

The Otters are a mirror reflecting one’s desires. When snuggling up to Mabu the Otter looks like Reo’s form, because that’s what they mutually both wanted. But, for that desire the Otter tries to make Mabu give up his connection. 

“Don’t let go of desire”, “Desire is life” for Reo and Mabu, because each other’s existence is desire itself, for that reason they can absolutely never let go, and without each other’s presence they wouldn’t be able to keep on living– 

The strength of these two’s feelings – above all else pure, strong desire is what gave rise to this tragedy. The desire to stay by Reo’s side, the desire to get back Mabu, the desire to win back Reo’s heart, the desire to finally confess his feelings to Reo if he couldn’t win back Reo’s heart –  

Mabu’s, which was originally cut off and erased, jumps out into the real world and into Reo’s chest pocket. The reason why it remained without being erased might be only that Mabu’s feelings were so strong. 


“Having someone more precious than anyone else, mutually unique and irreplaceable” – such is perhaps, the part that is the axis which Reo and Mabu spins on. “Between these two, is there feelings of romantic love” I am asked, it is certainly to be taken as romantic love, and also friendship, you can’t make a conclusion there. When Mabu finally said words of “love”, in itself, in Ikuhara’s worldview that surely includes things like romantic love, with the big meaning of is “ love”, I think. 

But, among Reo and Mabu, maybe Mabu’s love is wider and deeper, maybe I feel that way. In ep 10, you see a little bit inside Mabu which up to then you couldn’t see at all, I’m sure Mabu had accepted everything and still loved Reo regardless.”

Utsumi: The planning was roughly done around 2 years before airing, work on the scenario was finished about 1 year before.

Though Reo and Mabu are the mains of ep 10, at any rate we wanted to depict Reo as a, in a certain meaning, “foolish” character. Or perhaps I should say, he’s beyond saving. While watching you get this angry feeling of “why won’t he understand!?”、I wanted to express those irritating qualities. 

Maybe it became difficult to end Reo’s story. But when he and Mabu succeeded in exchanging their feelings, these two’s story certainly couldn’t have a bad ending, thats part of what I thought. 

Interviewer: What motifs did you use in depicting Reo and Mabu’s relationship? 

Utsumi: Viewers have many different impressions about it. “The Little Prince”, for example, or “The Happy Prince”

Interviewer: Reo and Mabu’s forms when they become Kappa, they’re so cute I laughed involuntarily. And so, “Miyano-san sung!” (lol) 

Utsumi: And so, get stuck into the butt! (lol) That time, Reo was maybe, no matter what Mabu said to him he didn’t have ears to hear it. In order to convey his true intentions to Reo, the most reliable way of doing it is the “Sarazanmai” leak. So, he decided to take the extreme action of becoming a zombie and having his Shirikodama extracted. By doing this, nothing but “Truth” would be conveyed, so Mabu thought. And further, maybe it was one of his desires. 

Interviewer: Why wasn’t Reo and Mabu’s connection cut off?

Utsumi: At the very end, they could exchange their feelings with eachother. The other zombies had only one direction of travel, they were filled with only their very own desires. But, Reo and Mabu perhaps, at the end they were able to share their mutual desires.    

Utsumi: While Reo and Mabu are also Kappa (along with Keppi), when in the human world they take on human bodies. Because Keppi had been sealed away for a long time, his power had diminished, and he had the form of a small, round Kappa. 

On the meaning of the show’s logo:

Utsumi: The 3 rings in the Sarazanmai logo were designed by Wataru. What kind of meaning they have, I didn’t properly ask (lol), but probably, “3 plates [sara ga sanmai]”, for each of the 3 main characters. The rings are properly connected to show their connection to each other.

Utsumi: “In ep 7 the place where the Otter maintenances Mabu is in the Asakusa underground subway, but in ep 9 its directly attached to Reo and Mabu’s kouban. That’s because its connected to every single place, in the same sense as “Otter  = concept”, it’s not an individual place, but it has the imagine of appearing anywhere.   

In old records, “When Otters grow old they become Kappa”, it is said, but in this work Kappa and Otters are not completely different things, I think they’re very similar existences. Because Otters=Concepts, there is that difference but, “Otters are desire” and “Kappa are love”, such a division cannot be done.

Utsumi: The Human and Kappa/Otter Asakusa are two sides of the same place, like a mirror of the front (human) facing world the Kappa world exists at the same time. So, the Skytree is on the side of the Sumida river that is Otter territory, the Kaminarimon is in Kappa territory.

Interviewer: The structure was decided 2 years ago, but did anything change after that?

Utsumi: The main meaning was already decided, and then we made the scenario – but, from the start it was decided that the way of ending the series would be different to other Ikuhara works. 

The conclusion of Ikuhara works, while viewers always had their own interpretations, the wide meaning was ”Transfer of life”. But this time, we tried not to go for that kind of atmosphere. What has been done up to then is not something that never happened, but will continue to the future, that’s the conclusion we wanted to do, Ikuhara and the staff said so together. And so we talked about doing a ending that can be seen as a “happy ending”. Ikuhara too, was strongly aware of it. 


Interviewer: When did you start participating in Sarazanmai?

Noboyuki: It was August 6th, 2017, I remember I got a phone call from Ikuhara. 

Interviewer: You remember the date!

Noboyuki: Yes!

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