Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Sarazanmai さらざんまい

WIP: this article is incomplete and might change in the unforeseeable future.
The anime Sarazanmai さらざんまい airing this season has so many puns and cultural Japanese references that I thought it'd be a good idea to list them here for further reference. This way you'll finally be able to unders... to understan...


Okay you won't be able to understand the anime, but you'll be able to understand the Japanese part of the anime, and that's one step, at least, so let's content ourselves with that. Anyway.

THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS!!! The first part of the article assumes you have already watched at least the first episode. After that, there's a second spoiler warning, and sections spoiling each and every episode. So scroll with caution!


The kappa 河童 is a legendary creature part of the Japanese folklore.

Etymologically, it comes from kawa 川, "river," plus waraha 童, "child." So a "river-child." The waraha わらは changed pronunciation to wappa わっぱ, joined together kawa-wappa かわわっぱ, then turned into kappa かっぱ.

The kappa are said to like cucumbers.

Keppi eating a cucumber.

They have a "plate," sara 皿, on top of their heads. This is very important.

Sara with her hand on her head plate.
  • Sara touches her sara.

It's said that if the plate dries, they die.

かっぱの水浴び お皿がうれしい
  • kappa no mizu-abi, osara ga ureshii
    かっぱの水浴び お皿がうれしい
    The water-bathing of the kappa, the plate is happy.


The shirikodama 尻子玉, "butt-child-ball," also spelled shirikodama 尻小玉, "butt-small-ball," is a an organ that the kappa can extract from the butt of a person. Some legends say the shirikodama is the intestine or the stomach, but the anime follows the legend it's a different, fictitious organ.

Shirikodama held by kappa.
  • shiri

According to the legends, the kappa would drown people in the river and then extract their shirikodama.

The origin of this legend might be the fact that when someone dies they stop contracting their muscles. If they drown, water will start entering their mouth, and then bowels. And then, because their anal sphincter, which is a muscle, won't be contracting any longer, it dilates, they will just shit themselves. Literally. That's what the shirikodama is.


There's a lot of puns in this anime, and I can't really say I got all of them.

Before anything, let's start with the obvious someone who doesn't know Japanese is going to miss.
  • yokubou, kibou 欲望, 希望
    Desire. Hope. (both end in the same bou morpheme.)
  • sakushu 搾取
    • shibori-toru 搾り取る
      Squeezing out and taking.
  • tsunagaru 繋がる
    To be connected with. To be related to.
    To lead to. (if you follow the connection to the other thing.)

You don't even need to know Japanese to get this one, but:
  • keppi けっぴ
    (the name of the kappa prince, "Keppi," is almost "kappa".)
    • kappa かっぱ


The word sara 皿 means "plate" in Japanese, like the plate of a kappa.

And Sara is the name of the idol girl in the anime, Azuma Sara 吾妻サラ.

You'll see there are some other things called Azuma in the anime, like Azuma-bashi 吾妻橋, "Azuma Bridge," the bridge where they fight in the first episode.


A plate, being a flat object, is counted with mai 枚, the counter for flat objects like sheets of paper.

The number "three" in Japanese is san 三.
  • sanmai 三枚
    Three [flat things].
  • sara-zanmai 皿三枚
    Three plates.

Meanwhile, the word sanmai 三昧 means the "samadhi," which is a Buddhist term for a state of intense concentration achieved through meditation.

When used as a suffix, it becomes -zanmai ~三昧, again because of rendaku, in which case it can mean "to be immersed in" whatever it's suffixed to, in the same devoting sense as becoming in a "state of intense concentration achieve through meditation."
  • sara-zanmai 皿三昧
    Being immersed in plates.
    Being absorbed by plates.
    Indulging yourself in plates.
    It's all about these plates floating around all over the place in this anime!

You'll see that characters they defeat in the anime that have an fixation for something will say something-zanmai when they're defeated.

Note that, normally, you would be able to tell between the two sarazanmai from their kanji:
  • 皿三枚
    Three plates.
  • 皿三昧
    A bizarre sort of plate addiction.

However, the title of the anime was stylized in hiragana, as sarazanmai さらざんまい. So you can't tell if it's one thing or another. Which is precisely why, normally, you wouldn't spell it like this.

The title is deliberately ambiguous, so it can refer to the fact that we have three main characters with 3 plates on their heads, on the fact that there are plate references everywhere in the anime.

  • During sarazanmai, you can see their sarazanmai.


Often, Sara will end her sentences with "dish," dhisshu でぃっしゅ. This isn't a Japanese word, it's the katakanization of the English word "dish." A dish is a kind of plate.

As for why Sara keeps saying "dish," it's just how she speaks. In anime, it's common for characters to end their sentences in some weird way or another, like cat-girls saying nya にゃ, "meow," at the end of everything. It doesn't really mean anything. It's just a cute way of speaking.

The word "dish" was probably chosen because it resembles desu です, which is a polite copulative verb and as such is normally at the end of sentences in Japanese.

The term for such things is gobi 語尾, by the way. Other gobi's include:
  • desu wa ですわ
    Often used by "rich girl," ojousama お嬢様 characters
  • dattebayo だってばよ
    This is Naruto.

By the way, Keppi, the kappa prince, uses a kero ケロ as gobi, which is the sound frogs make, "ribbit."

Guddo Sarakku

The phrase guddo sarakku グッドサラック is a pun made by Sara with the word sara. It's supposed to mean "good luck," which would be just guddo rakku グッドラック without the sa サ instead.

She also uses other English phrases, but those aren't puns, I think, like:
  • gummoniin
    "Good morning."
  • rakkii jidori misshon ラッキー自撮りミッション
    "Lucky" selfie "mission."
    • jibun de toru 自分で撮る
      To take [a photo] yourself.

グッモーニング★ 今日のラッキー自撮りミッション コンプリートでぃっしゅ★
  • gummooningu ★
    kyou no akki jidori misshon
    konpuriito dhisshu ★

    Good morning ★
    Today's lucky selfie mission
    is complete dish ★


The word saratto さらっと is a mimetic word for "smoothly," "simply," generally about doing something without any trouble, or bothering with anything.


It has nothing to do with "plates," sara 皿, but it's used in anime because it also has sara in it.

Like other, similar mimetic words, saratto is a base sara plus the adverbial particle to と joined by a glottal stop express by the small tsu.

The base is also the simplex of the reduplication sarasara さらさら, which means "rustling," like tree leaves, and, also, "free-flowing."


The word sarasu 晒す means "to expose," like oneself naked (expose one's shame), or expose one's secret.


The word kapparau 掻っ払う means "to steal." It has nothing to do with kappa, but the word was probably chosen because of how it sounds.

Literally, it's kaku 掻く, "to scratch," plus harau 払う, "to pay," but in this case, "to wipe away." The ha は becomes pa ぱ because of sokuonbin 促音便.

  • kapparae! 掻っ払え!
    [Go] steal! (imperative.)

  • kapparatta! 掻っ払った!
    [I] stole [it]! (past form.)

The symbol in a bunch of dishes around the anime is a single katakana character:
  • a ア

If you were going to say abcdefgh... in Japanese, this would be the first letter... after the 50 hiragana, which come before the katakana.

It's likely this a ア comes from Asakusa Sara Terebi サクササラテレビ, Asakusa Sara TV, which is the title of Sara's (the idol's) TV program.
  • Asakusa 浅草
    The name of a district in Japan.

  • Top-left:
    • Asakusa Sara Terebi アサクササラテレビ
  • Middle:
    • Sara Terebi サラテレビ

This ア symbol is literally everywhere in the anime. Like, LITERALLY, EVERY, SINGLE, WHERE.

ア on a shoe.


The word kawauso 川獺, also spelled kawauso 川ウソ, means "river otter" in Japanese. Reminder: Kappa are river creatures.

The symbol on the back side of the a ア dishes is a river otter.

The police box where the police officers are has a sign that reads:
  • kawauso kouban 川獺交番
    River otter police box.

Spoilers Below

From here on, there are episode-specific notes.

Episode 1

    A pun on, an online shopping website.

The name of the bad guy is:
  • Hakoda Osamaru 箱田収丸
    Box-field Reap-ball.
    • osamaru 収まる
      To settle down.
      To fit in. (a box.)

  • Destination:
    • Azuma-bashi 吾妻橋
      Azuma bridge.
  • Receiver:
    • Hakoda Osamaru 箱田収丸
  • Tooi no yokubouトオイの欲望
    Tooi's desire.

The phrases on the walls while they're going to the bridge:

  • yokubou no hako
    The box of desire.
  • yokubou to hako
    Desire and box.
  • yokubou wa hako
    Desire is box.
  • kappa towa senshi no koto
    Kappa is warrior.
    • The next ones all have the same meaning.
  • kappa towa senshi nari
    Kappa is warrior.
  • kappa towa senshi kero
    Kappa is warrior-kero.

Episode 2

Puns and notes for episode 2:
  • Harukappa 春かっぱ
    "Spring kappa."
    The username of Haruka 春河.
  • nyan-tarou にゃん太郎
    (the cat's name.)
  • kappamaki かっぱ巻き
    Cucumber sushi wrapped in nori (seaweed).
  • o-sakana-zanmai お魚三枚
    Three slices of fish. Fish fillet.

Name of the bad guy:
  • Nekoyama Moukichi
    Cat-mountain Fur-luck.

The phrases on the walls going to the bridge:
  • sarazanmai towa
    Sarazanmai is...
  • ishiki kyouyuu 意識共有
    ...sharing consciousness.
  • sarazanmai niwa
    For sarazanmai...
  • risuku ga tsukimono
    ...risk is an attached-thing. (i.e. risk always comes with sarazanmai.)

The pun when he's defeated:
  • neko-jerashii 猫ジェラシー
    Cat "jealousy."
  • neko-jirashi 猫じらし
    Cat "teasing."
    • A way of playing with cats, like making them chase dots using a laser pointer.
    • In Japan, those grass-like toy things are a popular way to "tease," jirasu じらす, them.

Episode 3

Puns and notes in episode 3:
  • kisu キス
    • kisu
      Sillago. (type of fish.)
    • kisu wo kutte kisu wo migake
      Eat sillago and polish [your] kisses. (polish in the sense of improving.)
  • gomen'nasara ごめんなサラ
    (a word with sara forced in it.)
    • gomen'nasai ごめんなさい
  • uso
    • kawauso 川獺
      uso 獺 (or oso)
      River otter.

    The name of the bad guy:
    • Kissu Mottokuree
      • kisu motto kure
        Give [me] more kisses.

    The officer's lines:
    • orera tsutta 俺ら釣った
      We caught [him].
      • tsuru 釣る
        To fish. To angle. To lure.
        To catch [a fish].
    • kinou no kisu 昨日のキス
      Yesterday's kiss.
      The Kissu of yesterday. (Kissu as in the bad guy.)

    The phrases on the walls while running to the bridge:
    • kisu wo kutte kisu wo manabe
      Eat kiss, learn kiss.
    • kisu wo matte kisu wo nogase
      Wait kiss, miss a kiss.
      Wait kiss, let a kiss go.
      • nogasu 逃す
        To let free. (e.g. a fish.)
    • kisu de semete kisu de horobe
      Attach with kiss, be ruined by kiss.

    The bad guy's desire is too high level for me:
    • kisu-zanmai
      Fixation to sillago/kisses.
      Three slices of sillago.
    • takusan no kisu wo tsutte sanmai ni orosu
      (too much pun.)
    • takusan no kisu wo tsuru
      To reel in a lot of fishes.
      To reel in a lot of kisses.
      • tsuru 釣る
        To fish. To angle. To lure.
    • sanmai ni orosu
      To fillet in three [slices].
      • mai
        Counter for thin things. In this case, slices of a fish.
      • sanmai oroshi 三枚おろし
        In cooking, to cut the head of the fish off, the slice the body twice, so you get three slices: the left, the middle-and-bottom, and the right. In order to do this, you need to remove the bones. [, accessed 2019-04-05.]
    • hone-nuki ni suru 骨抜きにする
      To make it so it's boneless.
      • Consequently, to make it lose its core structure and become weakened.
      • To make someone lax in their morals, as opposed of firm, because they're now boneless.
      • In romance, to make someone someone completely in love with you, fall head over heels, "lovey-dovey," deredere デレデレ, etc.
      • hone wo nuku 骨を抜く
        To extract the bones.
      • hone-nuki 骨抜き
      • -ni suru ~にする
        To make [something] become [somehow else]. (e.g. you become bone-extracted.)

    One thing to note: so far, everything that was captured can be spelled in two kana:
    • hako ハコ
    • neko ネコ
    • kisu キス

    Spoilers Above

    Well, that's it for now.


    Leave your komento コメント in this posuto ポスト of this burogu ブログ with your questions about Japanese, doubts or whatever!

    Comments made in bad faith or containing spoilers or language inappropriate for the post will be removed.

    1. This is awesome information, thank you so much! The ア being everywhere has been on my mind, I'm looking forward to seeing how it connects to everything as the show goes on.
      Something to keep in mind about the kawauso folks, they are in the business of desire extraction (similar to the kappa bois) because they, too, are youkai. Someone shared your article through Reddit and I made a short comment with info about that.


    2. Also, I think there's a typo on your ep 3 puns list. You have 獺 twice but I think one is supposed to be 嘘?

    3. (I have just finished watching episode 3.) All this talk about "sara", combined with what appears to be imagery inspired by the Persona games, is reminding me of the word "samsara". It's a Hindu concept referring to the cycle of birth and rebirth, but the word's literal meaning is something along the lines of "progression through repeated cycles." We see a lot of repetition in this anime, with each episode following the same overall pattern and repeating entire scenes with only minor differences. Perhaps this is yet another "sara" pun, albeit an unspoken one?

      Samsara is also commonly visualized as a circle or wheel. Round, like a dish.

      Another thought: This show has a heavy emphasis on communication, specifically through technology. I wonder what is the Japanese word for "satellite dish"?