Japanese Blog Post Translation: Seeing the “Mania” and “Depression” in Fuura Kafuka’s Heart in the [Goku] Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 3 OP, by Tamagomago/Makaroni-san

Translator/blogger’s Introduction: I’ve started reading more Japanese blogs as of late so that I don’t have to rely on slanted, NWS English-language rss feeds for nerd news. Some of the aggregators I started keeping an eye out on link to regular folks’ blog posts, which led me to Tamagomagogohan, a blog run by Tamagomago-san. (ironically, link may be nws, especially if you live in Canada or Australia.) I found this wonderful post by Tamagomago-san on the Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei OPs on Friday, and was kindly given permission from him to post a translation of it here. I have to warn you that this may require some more reader participation to follow his argument than the average English-language blog post, but that’s just how Japanese essays seem to be. There are translator’s notes interspersed throughout the article. The author also frequently uses the technique of putting the characters for an idea or concept in quotes, which works out a lot cooler in Japanese than it does in English. For this reason, I’ve included the original Japanese characters in addition to my translation where I felt it would be enlightening to those familiar with moon runes. I hope you enjoy! Please don’t hesitate to comment if you’d like to offer any suggestions or would like any sort of attempt at clarification. Finally, I’d like to once again suggest you take a look at the author’s blog if you can make sense of Japanese and are interested in a good read.


The final episode of [Goku] Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei has been released.
That’s it for the OADs. Hmph, so sad :(. I’m hoping for a third TV season.

The Tale Created in Zetsubou Sensei’s OPs: The Story Until Now

Well, I’d like to start with a little review of OPs until now.
First, season 1.

Shoujo Objectification and Dismantling as Seen in the Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei OP.
The OP song is “Hito Toshite Jiku ga Bureteiru”.
It’s an intense OP where the show’s girls are erotically both dismantled and bound.
While eros is a theme here, so is this:
Yes, it’s “Depression” (鬱). (tl note: Haruhi fans should be familiar with this kanji!)
As one goes deeper and deeper into a world overflowing with eros, they turn to more and more extreme paths in that world. Despite the incredible sense of lust, Sensei’s heart is being eaten away by depression.

Kafuka’s pregnancy scene.
This is a mysterious scene, profound yet unexplained.

Next we have the second season, [Zoku].
This OP is a grotesque one, with persistent images of organs. The OP song is “Kuusou Rumba.”
Unlike the first OP, this one started out in monochrome. This OP had the special trait of changing throughout the different episodes, cutting off midway in some versions and finally appearing in full color, surprising quite a few people.
The Manic Heart and Ero-Guro Nonsense seen in the [Zoku] Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei OP
The Mystery Hidden in [Zoku] Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei’s OP

The theme of this OP is “Mania” (躁), acting as a pair to the first season’s theme. It’s all extremely high-tension, wouldn’t you say?
Despite the OP’s colors being in plain monochrome, its actual content is so excited that you feel like you’re about to go mad.
Once color is added to all of this, a new, vibrant world is born.
Though, there is one girl who stays the same here. This girl:
That girl is the girl who we saw in season 1 pregnant with Zetsubou-sensei’s children, Fuura Kafuka (Pen Name).

Next, the [Goku] OVA series.
Now things are at the point where you can’t even figure out what’s going on. While it was called “A Professional MAD”, we can see a complete lack of living characters here, the girls instead fully turned to objects.

[Goku] Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and Jan Svankmajer: The Eroticism of Objects
Via “Depression” (鬱), we fall into the confusion of “Mania”(躁), and also into “Chaos” (混沌).
Feeling a sense of raw “Eros” and gazing at “Grotesque” death, we come to an underlying “Objectification” (物体化).
While wriggling between the boundary of “Truth” (真実) and “Pretense” (虚像), their form changes shape and color.
While each of these views are incredibly symbolic and interesting possibilities, we discover from whose perspective these openings are all from in the final part of [Goku].
You’ve probably guessed by now. It’s Fuura Kafuka.
The reason this world is constantly changing is because of this girl’s inner fragility and instability.

Ambivalence Seen by the Girls’ Eye(s).
(tl note: Japanese has the luxury of being able to be vague on pluralization, relying on context to clue the reader in. In this case, I’m fairly certain that it is pointing to the girls’ eye (singular), but that sounds kind of awkward in English. Almost as awkward as a long translation note.)
The music this time is an arrangement by “Rapbito”. While that may be surprising, there doesn’t remain a trace of the previous OPs’ sense of parody. Instead, they’ve created an entirely new work.
It’s almost as if it’s a MAD created by Gekidan Inukaree (note: Gekidan Inukaree, literally “Dog Curry Troupe,” is the individual/group responsible for the OP).
This OP is quite obsessed with certain details, one of which being that if you look closely in the corners of the frame, you can see characters representing the two sides of each girl.
Chiri is “Chaos” (乱)and “Order” (整).
Abiru is “Kick” (蹴) and “Punch” (殴).
There’s also “Good” (善) and “Evil” (悪), “Victim” (加) and “Aggressor” (被), “Seme” (攻) and “Uke” (受), “Poverty” (貧) and “Wealth” (富), and so on.
Each character is represented by a pair of characters in this manner. (Well, kick and punch aren’t really opposites, but…)
Each girl’s “Existence-as-Presented” (イメージの存在) is made up of two contradictory ideas. This dangerous tightrope act is at once fascinating and terrifying.
So, what about Fuura Kafuka, the girl in question?
“Mania” (躁) and “Depression” (鬱).
In other words, the OPs until now (Season 1: Depression, Season 2: Mania) have been expressions of the core of her inner world.
As you probably noticed by comparing this picture to the previous two, this image of the audience being nothing but Kafukas is once again symbolic, while also eerie.

Fuura Kafuka isn’t her real name. It’s a pen name. While we don’t officially know her name as of now, we see glimpse of it as “something like *this*”. However, it’s never confirmed.
We even see a glimpse of this in today’s episode.
It’d be hard to say that this isn’t a young Kafuka. Her nametag reads “An.” (tl note: other possible romanizations are Ann and Anne. However, my overactive gaijin mind associates “アン” with a homonym “æš—”, “darkness”, so I’ve kept it as is.)
Of course, this doesn’t really go beyond another guess. While our main character, the Sensei, has relatively few mysteries surrounding him, Fuura Kafuka is nothing but mysteries.
Let’s take a look into such a girl’s state of mind.

The sorrowful psychedelic as seen by the girl’s eye(s).
Halfway through the song, the scenes introducing the girls one-by-one end, and the OP shifts to Kafuka and Sensei’s duet performance.
Well, since we might be seeing a story created by Kafuka’s psyche, we might technically call it a solo performance.
For example, the image of Kafuka dancing madly on a flower bed.
If we take a close look at this scene, we see a fairly awesome scene. (tl note: “awesome” in the biblical sense, not in the contemporary slang sense)
She’s actually dancing on top of the rubble of her classmates’ bodies.
Though, these aren’t really “corpses”. The reason I say this is because the girls in the [Goku] series up to this point have already been objectified and dismantled.
If we were to see blood or organs spilled, this could be said to represent death, but since this MAD uses the technique of “Destroying the image”, the “Girls’ Image” is replaced with lifeless objects.
Hence the girls’ world is an extremely inorganic one, one where the senses are fuzzy.
The scene with Sensei and Kafuka looks like this.
While Sensei has been turned to an image, barely resembling any sort of living being, Kafuka herself is also turned to a strange creature.
Nonetheless, if we look closely, the flowers here are, interestingly, “raw” ones.

In the background we see “Falsehood” (嘘) and “Truth” (真).
Once again, there’s a sense of ambivalence.
When one holds ambivalence like this, one is forced to choose to either struggle against it, or become an empty shell of a human being.
It seems as though Kafuka’s displayed positive attitude may be a result of her attempts to escape her own extreme thoughts of despair and uncertainty, replacing them with the ideas “all is inorganic” and “all is meaningless”.
Of course, this interpretation is reliant on these OPs which are in some sense “professionally made derivative works”, so its relevance to the work as a whole might be questionable, but the world we’ve seen up until now is full of contradictions. In order to stay alive in this world, one can’t choose A or B, but must simply float in between the two.
That the normally-hanged Sensei’s neck is nooseless this time, and that Kafuka is the one hanging seems especially symbolic. Also, the fact that the previously inorganic images in the OP are replaced with more and more live flowers also interests me.

Perhaps the inorganic paper-mache world is trying to break through the wave of “Depression” and “Mania” in order to then revive itself?
I just can’t figure out what color Kafuka’s world, the world illustrated by these OPs, is.


Revisiting the Zoku OP with “Fuura Kafuka’s Point of View” in mind, he gradual fading followed by sudden jump into color in the final episodes seems to also make sense.
On the other hand, we could also see this as “Fuura Kafuka as seen by Sensei.” In that case, we’d have to understand the OP in a totally different way, but there is that shot in the part 3 OP where we see Kafuka with her eyes downcast, possibly crying.
I think the key to figuring this all out is Kafuka’s attempt to objectify the world while Sensei tries to protect the flowers, which symbolize life.
Is it symbiosis, or is it codependence…
Finally, though this is about the main feature, the final episode of a three-part series having so much development shocked me. Check the manga story for more detail…

19 Responses to “Japanese Blog Post Translation: Seeing the “Mania” and “Depression” in Fuura Kafuka’s Heart in the [Goku] Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 3 OP, by Tamagomago/Makaroni-san”

  1. wah says:


    More of this, please.

    (or I could just learn Japanese, or something)

  2. kransom says:

    I was actually in the middle of working on some blog posts from another author when this popped up, and I put it at the top of my stack since it was on a far fresher topic. You can expect those to be posted um, some time before summer break.

  3. km says:

    Amazing. How often do you get to see a sentence like “Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and Jan Svankmajer: The Eroticism of Objects”?

  4. Alex Leavitt says:

    “Dismantling the shoujo” is so Lit Crit, but the speculation is solid. Thanks for the translation!

  5. 21stcenturydigitalboy says:

    Wow, I am in total awe. That’s one of the coolest posts I’ve ever read, diving into the symbolism of my favorite series of OPs. I am very reminded of the symbolism in Akiyuki Shinbo’s older work The SoulTaker which has similar meanings behind it. Totally great post, will read again.

  6. kransom says:


    I know, right? I almost wet myself when I saw that one.


    Yeah, but it was less lit crit than “deconstructing” which I wanted to avoid at all costs. :(


    thanks! It was a bit of work to translate, but hopefully I’ll be able to do posts like this again… we don’t see nearly enough of the Japanese blogosphere other than news and blog summaries of 2ch reactions to news, really.

  7. holenailthaw says:

    just a correction.
    “Mania” (躁) and “Depression” (鬱).

  8. kransom says:

    Wow, thank you. I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me to even check for that. :x

  9. Kenji says:

    I was shown this by a friend of mine, and I have to say this is quite impressive. The translation of this really made me think a bit about my favorite series, and notice things I hadn’t in the OPs.

    I have to wonder, will you possibly translate the two other ZS articles linked to in this one? The first one more than the second seems extremely interesting, at least to learn about certain references and jokes–I have to admit that half the fun of ZS is discovering where the satire and parodies come from–and that one seems quite intriguing.

    Also, do you happen to have any idea what they mean by: “Finally, though this is about the main feature, the final episode of a three-part series having so much development shocked me. Check the manga story for more detail…”?

  10. astrange says:

    > Also, do you happen to have any idea what they mean by: “Finally, though this is about the main feature, the final episode of a three-part series having so much development shocked me. Check the manga story for more detail…”?

    I think that’s about them adding a new character Oora Kanako.


  11. kransom says:


    as i said, there’s other translations and homework I really ought to be doing over the other articles, but I might get to those some day, especially depending on how bored I am over my spring break (which started 3 hours ago)

  12. WAHa.06x36 says:

    Something seems to have gone wrong with your earlier fix: It’s now:

    “Mania” (鬱) and “Depression” (鬱).

  13. kransom says:

    what in the world, thanks

  14. welcome datacomp » Blog Archive » Japanese Lecture/Blog Post Translation: The Space Between Anime and Manga: #4: Why is the Manga Version of “Nausicaa” So Hard to Read? by Takekuma Kentaro says:

    […] ’spheres. I was delighted to see a positive response to my first translation, a post by Tamagomago-san on the 3rd opening of Goku Zetsubou Sensei, and would like to thank everyone who commented on the errors in my translation. Again, if you […]

  15. Mistakes of Youth: The Blog (Powered by EXCELLENCE!) » Blog Archive » Not a Review: Maria†Holic says:

    […] which makes for a very visually stimulating 90 seconds. The ending sequence by Gekidan Inu Curry (or that circle that did the Goku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei openings) takes on the look of a retro video game, which is fitting considering the accompanying song is an […]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP ( doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP ( and so is spam.

  16. Andy says:

    Hi, thanks for translating that blog post! I’d like to add some details myself.

    The Kafuka pregnancy scene, if you notice afterwards is Nozomu in a fetal womb sort of position, yeah?

    Look at where the “umbilical cord’ connects. It’s between his legs. That’s Nozomu’s spiral penis following Kafuka’s pregnancy image.

  17. bub says:


  18. lex says:

    I always assumed that the scene with Kafuka falling into the sky with the flowers meant that she was drowning deeper in her own delusions (hanging herself). Flowers = nothing wrong with the world/are superficially seen/etc. I figured that Sensei was struggling to bring her back down to earth with the more realistic/negative views he taught.

  19. Anonymous says:

    oh man turns out the openings are huge spoilers

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