Sarazanmai (11 Eps)
Sarazanmai has to be one of if not the weirdest anime of the year at least for what I stuck with to watch all of, this is true madness at times as three young boys meet a kappa named Keppi and get the ability to be turned into kappa themselves to fight kappa-zombies by coming together to make a sound called Sarazanmai but in order to do so one of the boys have to reveal a secret to the others and it goes on. This is just so bizarre, and for the first few episodes, I was almost awestruck by how weird it was. Yet as I continued to watch episode after episode I found pretty quickly that there was something else here, some other element of depth that made this show not just some basic weird experience but actually meaningful at times also. This is a show of incredible depth if you are able to get through the weirdness and goofiness of it all.
This mainly comes from the three main characters as we learn their secrets over time. Each of these kids has some really great depth to them and the show does an overall good job at showing us this depth over the show to where it never feels rushed or unnatural for a reveal. Specifically, with the character of Enta as you learn more about his friendship with Kazuki, I found that his character took on some incredible growth and created some genuine emotion. The only one of our three main characters that I felt a little disappointed by was Toi, it's not that his motivations or growth are terrible but he definitely felt the most basic and average when it came to his character and the layers to who he is. I will say however that where I really loved learning about these characters this doesn't necessarily have the strongest hook with getting the audience to care about these characters and that is going to be a major hit or miss point for you. It also doesn't help that the show is often repetitive and follows the same format in nearly every episode to the point where they reuse animation segments time and time again. Especially early on this was my biggest issue with the show as I found it to be often boring due to this and even towards the back end of the show it still felt like one of the weaker parts of each episode and it does raise the question on if the show is worth the time. Sure there is some great depth but for some, I could easily see the payoff not be worth it if the plot proves to be too repetitive to them.
The comedy is also going to be really hit or miss for most people. It can be really childish and purposefully dirty in nature which is going to be a big turnoff for plenty of people. Director Kunihiko Ikuhara is known for making some weird shit and where I can't say this side of the show was its biggest strength when connecting to me personally it wasn't too distracting or annoying for me and even proved enjoyable in multiple scenarios. The animation is also a huge highlight for me as it is also absolutely wild and full-on madness most of the time but it is really well done. There are an incredible color pallet and the creativity in so many of the scenes really stand out whether you are talking about the aesthetic choices or design of scenes such as the transformation scenes. It also is incredibly smart for being an anime of obviously a lower budget, the reused animation is of high enough quality that it isn't too distracting seeing it time and time again and they are able to save money in places such as the crowds by creating very simple designs that stand out and look good for what they are instead of trying to hide the lower budget by using shitty CGI crowds or anything of the sort. It is in the animation where the show really finds it's chaotic energy that is really important for its success in my opinion. It is the chaoticness that is able to mask some of the weaker story elements and give the entire anime an edge that makes it stand out compared to anything that has come out in recent memory. The musical elements of this show I also really enjoyed as the songs are catchy and the musical numbers always fit in with what is going on in the show.
For most people Sarazanmai is going to be a total mess, most will get lost in either how crazy it is or how goofy it can be but if you are able to make it through those elements I think there is something really special here. Sure the characters are not the most interesting people and the morals are nothing overly new but they connect enough to create some real emotion and even beyond how effective they are this anime is trying to do something different which I applaud. In a time where so many anime is trying to be basic and follow a formula to reach mainstream success shows like this are needed to keep seasonal anime fresh and continue to push the media. I had a great time with this show and I hope that you will at least give it a chance considering it is widely available on Crunchyroll.