Hi, are you watching Sarazanmai (さらざんまい) ?
This is an analysis until episode 9.
Director Kunihiko Ikuhara (幾原 邦彦) tries to reproduce street scenes of the real Tokyo in Sarazanmai.
Shops, temples, sign boards and everything you’ve seen in the anime exist in Tokyo.
And he specially focus on the river and bridges.
Japanese Buddhism says that we live in this side (此岸,shigan) of the Sanzu River and cross it to other side (彼岸,higan) after death. Now “this side” represents life, normal, common, real and our world. “Other side” does death, abnormal, fake, criminal and the world where we don’t know.
Japanese folklore tells us kappa live in river. Keppi says kappa are invisible and live between life and death (= this side and other side). They are on the border.
Real Asakusa is an old city and Sumida is renovated with a high tower. They are divided by the River.
*Caution: Real Sumida is a clean city. It’s not the country of evil.
The trio live in Asakusa (= this side). Almost all happens on this side of the river in this anime. But flashback scenes are described on “other side”. Haruka’s accident is located on other side. But there are no stations for Mom’s leaving at that place (of the real Tokyo).
Director Ikuhara contrasts this side and other side as present and past.
In the episode 7, Kazuki and Enta asked Toi to play football together while he was crossing the bridge. So he was just on the bridge not to belong to any sides. It describes he hesitates to be their friend. Soon after , he accepted it and came to “this side”. The river is a symbol of isolation in this context and the bridge makes a connection for both sides.
In addition, Kazuki was cross-dressed. Enta always wants to cross over something.
Sarazanmai is the story of “crossing”.
Kappa can cross the border. When they go to fight against a kappa zombie, they pass through the gate of the temple (Sensou-ji). Temples are the connection point between our world and other world.
In episode 9, Kuji brothers run away from Asakusa. But they are still in this side (see the map above). The assassin attacks them. This square mark is an emblem, which means he is an official member(?) of a yakuza family. This professional criminal came from “other side”. (Tip: Yakuza have their own emblem in collar. It’s important to watch Japanese films)
Chikai was just a bad guy in the street and died on the boat. He and Toi didn’t cross the river. Then, Toi threw up dirty money. It means he haven’t gone to the world of crime.
Ikuhara has installed a multiplex metaphor on river.
In a symbolic meaning, the Otter Kingdom is in “other side”. Mabu has been implanted a metal heart. It may represent modern industrial civilization. And Kappa does pre-modern. Otters destroyed Kappa in war. Sad to say, we did the same thing in our history.
Sarazanmai is going toward to the end (ep11).
Kazuki enters the Otter Kingdom to save Enta without Toi, Reo wants to get back a real heart of Mabu, Sara wants to revive Black Keppi ?
I hope Ikuhara will make a bridge between love and desire, dishu !