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Spring 2012 Anime Season Roundup – Sankarea

5 min read

Anime lead males have been drawn to many strange fetishes over the years, but Chihiro Furuya I think has just topped them all. He’s obsessed with zombies – and not just with watching zombie movies and whatnot, oh no. He wants a zombie girlfriend – and guess what? One’s just landed in his lap…

What They Say
Furuya’s not interested in the living, he’s got zombies on the brain! When Furuya’s cat dies, he decides he’s going to try and bring it back to life. In the process, he stumbles across a girl whose failed attempted suicide has turned her into a real zombie! What’s Furuya going to do now that the thing he loves the most is right in front of his eyes? Watch what happens in this campy romantic comedy about the undead.

The Review:
After his pet cat Babu was hit by a car, Chihiro – being obsessed with zombies and the creation of such – set about finding a way to bring his beloved pet back to life. It took a while, but with the help of a steady supply of hydrangea leaves (poisonous to the living, but apparently [un]life-sustaining to the dead) he hits the jackpot. What does this have to do with getting a zombie girlfriend? Enter Sanka Rea, sole daughter of a local rich family whose life has been made a living hell by a father whose ideas of “love” for her are severely twisted from the norm. When an attempt to escape from further fatherly loving leads to an accidental plunge over a cliff, Chihiro’s on hand and able to bring her back to the world of the living.

In keeping with long-standing anime trope, Rea then ends up living with Chihiro’s rather unusual family: his shrine-priest father, most-likely-undead grandfather, and emotionally-restrained sister Mero. Oh, and don’t forget the undead cat. But Chihiro has three problems to deal with: first, the effects of his hydrangea-based potion don’t last forver, and if he’s not careful Rea’s still likely to rot away before him; second, Rea’s father hasn’t given up on getting his daughter back and is willing to go to serious lengths to do so – including killing Chihiro, if that’s what it takes; and thirdly, Chihiro’s very-much-alive childhood friend Ranko is in love with him, and not about to let a dead girl get there first.

There’s a bit of a disconnect here. The idea of someone who’d rather get it on with a dead girl than the living should be thoroughly distasteful; Chihiro should be an unbearable creep. He’s not presented that way, though – instead, he’s the knight in rather dulled & rusty armour, saving Rea from a fate that she clearly thinks was worse than death. Okay then. Move on to Rea, and you get the same disconnect: the series makes no bones of pointing out that, as one of the undead, Rea suffers from all the biological issues that would go along with that: she has no body heat, she suffers from rigor, and she’ll rot away if she’s not careful (stay in the shade, cool temperatures) – she’s a walking slab of meat on the verge of decomposition. Not exactly appealing. But she’s a cute as a button, and the series keeps throwing her in fanservice scenes (she spends a large chunk of the series finale in a bunnysuit, for no other reason than just because). I have seen zombie moe, and through Sankarea, you can see it too. A first glance, it’s fine, but should you accidentally stop to think about what the series is actually doing… well, it’d probably be best not to go there.

So, so far, so… ewww. But the really strange thing is that the main plot of the series – Chihiro rescuing Rea from her abusive father – could have fairly easily been done without resorting to the undead aspect. That’s just there as a hook, to give the series a unique selling point that no-one else has done. When we think of zombies, we think more of Walking Dead or Highschool of the Dead survival shows, and not of something with a far more leisurely and romantic pace – and so Sankarea can fairly claim to be something genuinely different. It’s also surprisingly sweet, with Chihiro clearly caring greatly for Rea and doing whatever he can to help her deal with the rather strange situation she’s found herself in. It’s enough to make Ranka’s brash, loud appearances feel a little out-of-place – I would’ve been a lot more sympathetic to her side of the love triangle if she’d just toned it down a bit.

In Summary:
So. The idea here is decidedly strange, and one where if you think to much about it, it could easily put you off the show. But it’s also quite easy to just put the undead thing to one side a lot of the time, and view it as a more normal romantic story – and in that mode, it does work quite well. Still nothing particularly notable, but enjoyable enough while it sticks to the rescue-Rea-from-her-father storyline. Worth watching? I don’t know. While it has its moments, it never grabbed me enough to make me rush to watch each new episode. “Meh” would be the short’n’pithy verdict, really. Some curious ideas, but doesn’t make enough of them to become must-see viewing.

Content Grade: B-

Streamed by: FUNimation

This article originally appeared at Anime Vision where Bryan writes about the UK anime market and the world of anime itself.

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