Chihiro Furuya likes zombies. There’s something about the shambling corpses and blood that appeals to him on a visual level, and since childhood he longed to enter into a romantic situation with one. He gets his wish when he encounters Rea Sanka—the daughter of the school director—at the abandoned building he uses in an attempt to resurrect Baabu, the family cat, with a resurrection potion. Hoping to escape her awful home life, Rea consumes the potion and falls to her death, only to come back as a zombie?! Could this possibly be Chihiro's dream come true, or will it be a rude awakening?
So imagine this. Close your eyes and picture yourself walking to school, having a great day, realizing that you just aced a test, talked to a boy/girl you like, ate a good meal, and come home. You go to your room to relax but the first thing you see is a zombie girl lying half-naked on your bed. You try to to tell yourself if this is reality or fiction but just can't seem to do it.
Honestly, that's the feeling I got when I first started watching this series. In other words, very surprising. Originally, I didn't have high expectation of this series. No, it
is not because the series is tagged as “ecchi” by MAL or the fact that the main character has a zombie fascination (more like a fetish to be honest). However, after watching about half the series that aired already, I have a hope for this series as it surprised me quite a bit, for the better.
The story tells the young boy named Chihiro Furuya, who has a strange hobby, or more a fascination on zombies. Now, there's something you don't see or hear everyday. However, despite being strange as it sounds, it is what our our main character loves. His obsession with zombies can be traced to the point of obsession and even a fetish. Sounds strange right? I'm sure this would definitely be something strange even for any of us considered to be an otaku. The story continues on from there where he meets another girl, an idol, to be exact who later after unfortunate circumstances becomes what he "loves". As for our main heroine (or maybe anti-hero later? I mean, she's freaking dead already), she is an unique character. Despite being one of the most beautiful girl at school, she strives hard to gain “freedom” or to be free from her life. Most prominently, she tries to escape her circumstances at home because what goes beyond those doors are circumstances that some of us may puke or feel disgust about. It is definitely something I'm sure most of us don't want to be placed in our own circumstances in real life. (unless you like living in big mansions and get free tuition)
Then, we have other characters like Ranko Saōji (also known as Wanko). She is rather tomboyish judged by her attitude and appearance but there's some history between her and our zombie loving MC, a history that can be traced back to puppy love, zombie movies, and all that rest of good stuff. It would definitely be interesting to see what kind of rivalry or friendship she may later develop towards our school beauty, aka Rea.
Anyways, my impressions of story so far is great. Even the very first episode got me hooked like a zombie. The movement of the story so far is somewhat slow but easy to follow and as the series continues, we see some of the unraveling details such as Rea's background. More importantly, the tone of the story becomes darker (mixed in with comedy the same time) as we see what is going on behind the scenes of Rea's life. We also see the history between Ranko and Chihiro as well as childhood memories are treasure that most us should keep placed in our hearts.
As for the art, I'm not too impressed. Well, let's just say that when I first saw that Studio Deen was the studio involved for this, my hopes were dead like a zombie. However, after watching these first few episodes, I'm glad they proved me wrong. I like the style and art of the series so far even if it's a bit plain. After all, art isn't something that determines the overall enjoyment of a series. Don't believe me? Just ask Gurren Lagann. As for the sound and music, I think so far it does seem to fit. I mean, it's not something eerie like Shigofumi: Letters of the Departed but you'll notice it soon once you get into the series. There's also emotional music mixed in that reflects on some of the mood of the story. Then, there's the melody of comedic music thrown in during lighter atmospheres. Overall, I'd say that the soundtrack isn't something worth an Emmy Award but also compelling to the show.
Overall, I'm enjoying this series as it is so far. It's not something I'll be obsessed about as much as the main character for zombies but definitely enjoying it at an anime fan level. The story (although somewhat easy to predict) has drama with an emotional background mixed in with comedy and possible romance. The characters are appealing and the soundtrack fits well. My only concern at this point is Studio DEEN as it's definitely not my favorite anime studio of this world. But beyond that, I see potential for this rare little gem this Spring Season.
I wasn't so sure about this show when I read about it. I try not to look to deep and spoil something that I shouldn't. Regardless, this show is very entertaining.
Spoiler Free, outside from the summary information.
Quick and simple for those that want to know if this is a go or not.
This story was very enjoyable to me. It had just the right amount of comedy and ecchi without hurting the quality of the entire show. It pulls you in to see what on earth could happen next. With the whole plot around zombies, you cant usually go wrong, usually. The story will have
you wanting things to happen and wish things continue, since theres only one season.
The art was very good and on par with what I enjoy looking at. Everything fit and looked amazing the whole time I was watching it. I really enjoy eye candy.
The soundtrack was fine. There isn't a negative thing I can really say about it.
This is why the show is special, the characters. One crazy about zombies, one too rich to be free, best cat in the world and more await when you decide to start this anime. The chemistry between everyone is just great. The show really shines when you want to know more about the characters.
The show was, like I said before, very enjoyable. The characters, plot and art all mix together to make a decent anime worthy of anyones time.
Overall, this was a pleasant journey. I begged for more in the end and that to me means that the anime did a great job. You'll love the situations they get into as well as the overall story. The art work just adds more praise to such a wonderful anime. If you like the idea of zombies and a bit of ecchi/romance then give it a try. I did and was thoroughly surprised.
Falling into 6 genres, Sankarea lacked a specific direction and yet remained enjoyable.
The first 3-4 episodes focused on mainly building the setting on which the rest of the show would be based on, and from there it took the direction of a typical romantic comedy SoL type anime. Being a fan of many SoL anime, I found the rest of the show to be enjoyable. Those who do not enjoy SoL shows may be disappointed after watching the well paced, plot based first 3 episodes when the majority of the show is a character based comedy.
As for horror and ecchi, both were incorporated into Sankarea
in an unobtrusive manner. Whist the first 3 episodes had horror undertones, the rest featured horror in a more comedic manner. Nothing overdone or such. Ecchi was also incorporated smoothly and presented in a subtle manner. Nothing too distracting and in-your-face yet still enough to provide service to ecchi-fans.
Individual score breakdown
After the first 3 or so episodes, the plot of Sankarea quickly breaks down into something similar to a SoL, with periodic arcs. Nothing really remarkable. Heck, the majority of the anime IS character/comedy based. It's still enjoyable, just don't expect some amazing plot.
The art is simply superb. Not only is the quality excellent, the character design is also well done and each character takes on their own unique art style and appearance. The background is nicely detailed, and the atmosphere and lighting done just right. Animation is smooth as well. After watching the absolutely stunning animation/art of Fate/Zero though, I really can't give Sankarea a 10/10.
Voice acting is well done and brings out the personalities of all the characters. Background music could be a bit better, but it still integrates into the show quite well. The OP and ED are both excellent. Being an audiophile, I found everything to be recorded nice and squeaky clean.
Other than the story, the character was the second weakest part of the show. Both lead characters were well personified and likeable to some degree. Unfortunately, every character was a subcategory of a cliché, but kept me interested through the rather... unusual circumstances the lead goes through.
Much of the enjoyment stems from the comedy. Although it is no where as good as the better SoL/Romantic comedy/Comedy I've watched, Sankarea was mostly entertaining.
I believe Sankarea deserves better than a mediocre 6 or 7. The whole quality of the show is very impressive, and even though the plot and character is slightly weak, I give Sankarea a very good 8/10.
Tell me if you've heard of this before. A high school boy dreams to be with his ideal girl. Not too uncommon among romantic tales, but here's something that might run your blood cold, pun intended. He likes zombies. He really likes zombie girls, and one day, POOF! Due to plot, he gets to live with one. With a premise like this, what could possibly go wrong? Quite a bit actually, yet Sankarea stands out as quite the opposite, as something special. It, however, requires some context.
Adapted from a manga of the same name by Mitsuru Hattori, Sankarea was directed by Shinichi Omata, with in-show
character designs by Kyuuta Sakai. Produced by Studio Deen, for something designated with genre labels such as “comedy” and “ecchi,” the series begins rather morbidly. Chihiro Furuya has spent the last several evenings putting his enthusiast facet to work searching for a way to revive his beloved deceased cat. During a couple of these dusks, he overhears the strained cries of a girl his age, desperate to lead a normal life with friends and outings. She's no other than Rea Sanka, the school idol of the local prestigious girl's academy and the sheltered heir to a rather wealthy and influential name. And, through one direct encounter, the zombie otaku and the school idol end up hanging out and working through the nights on what now became a joint project, neither being intimidated by the other. In the most natural of fashions, through this relationship the show breaks down the walls of the stereotypes that would have otherwise defined these two. Chihiro, outside his odd persona, and Rea, outside her perfect exterior, reveal themselves to us as characters of depth: sensible, quirky, considerate, kind. In fact, the show does very well, for the most part, in coaxing out the stuff of substance from many of the cast, even the most despicable ones.
Make no mistake, comedy is a prominent fixture in this show, and a welcome one at that, characters playing off one another in funny and even clever ways that forgo heavy reliance on exaggerated visuals. In fact, such restraint promotes that underlying sentiment of unease that balances the frivolity and serves to make the show compelling in a meaningful way. It's this ever-present feeling of tragedy that makes the moments that are meant to be tragic doubly so and the instances that are sweet more bitter than before, tragedy that's driven by two factors:
One is zombieism itself. Far from being just a fun, but ultimately needless accessory, the show utilizes key aspects of this condition to derive really compelling drama. The specter of mental health and physical well-being wasting away overtime looms in whatever air our two leads breathe, and while the living dead gain abilities such as super-human strength and insensitivity to pain, they also lose precious things that we, as people, take for granted. The capacity to bask in the sun, to feel warmth, to shed tears.
Two is how zombieism is applied to Rea. To live under the confines of a suffocating patriarch who's, at best, neurotically obsessive and, at worst, possessively abusive to his daughter, where his affection for her is that of a blur between love and lust, and a jealous matriarch who doesn't give a damn, she's like a songbird in a cage, crooning for her freedom. And so the songbird becomes a zombie. A tragic paradox rings true: She feels more alive dead than she otherwise felt living, and here's where everything falls together. No matter how much she aches to be normal, she can't. She's cheated out of experiencing life to the fullest because her condition chains her down.
While the show flirts around humorously with the premise of zombie love, it also holds no illusions to its implications: wish-fulfillment, if not precisely necrophilia. But taking care of a zombie girl is a lot more emotionally demanding than can be preconceived, Rea living with Chihiro as much a romantic nod as it is sanctuary and liberty from her folks, the chemistry of this relationship, from before the girl becomes a zombie, to after the girl becomes a zombie, feels undeniably genuine, and the question is brought up constantly, aloud and not. Is this a lust toward zombie girls, or a love toward a girl that now happens to be a zombie?
Any review of this show would be remiss without at least a mention about the direction. While this is Omichi's first project as the head director, he's worked on a number of Shaft projects. He's a Shaft veteran, and, for anyone familiar with Shaft's style, that influence is apparent from the get-go: camera angles, theatrical metaphor, abstract imagery etc. But rather than being a mere copy and paste of Akiyuki Shinbo, whose application of said style can be heavy-handed and sometimes irrelevant to the narrative (to make the visuals superficially striking through its unorthodox-ness, in other words), Omichi co-opts the style as something his own, that carries meaning every time is utilized in place of the mundane (which I think is rather beautifully rendered, by the way) rather than something that is abused for novelty's sake. Something like a painting or curtains rising and falling to bring the audience in and out of flashbacks adds to sad and bad memories in not only a new way. It adds a whole new layer of melancholy by probing the emotional implications of these ruminations. Something like an arm fading away into nothing in place of a normal slap of the hand conveys far more than a one-fold rejection. In addition, the pacing goes at a slow, but natural pace that's embedded with a decent amount of subtly that allows the audience to really know about the characters rather than know of them. An example of said subtly can be found in the male protagonist's usually reserved deadpan of a snark sister, Mero, both in Episode 1 and Episode 9.
Also, if it can be helped, I recommend watching Episode 9 before watching Episode 8, since Episode 9 takes place chronologically before Episode 8 anyway, and has unfortunately been perceived as a rude detour, what with it being placed in a middle of an ongoing crisis, so much so that its beauty and genius has been dismissed as mediocre filler.
All of these wonderful things being said, the show suffers substantially on a few fronts. Ecchi. There are actually interesting uses for it in the show. Sparingly, it's great when it's used to convey atmospheres of the frankness of freedom and the desperation for affection. Sparingly, it's amusing in comedic moments, or at least tolerable. However, the show also goes somewhat heavy-handed on it for titillation's sake, something which mars characterization and, in general, is just in bad taste, what with how grim, but well-told the series otherwise is. And while the characterization is very good, for the most part, the show also plays up the gimmicky troppiness of some of the characters in a way that can get irritating at times.
Now to end on a happy note, pun intended. Well, maybe not happy, per say, but the audio and visuals of the OP and especially the ED are impressive. The OP “Escoragoto” was done by nano.RIPE, and while I can't say I'm a fan of nano.RIPE's vocalist on her own, the melody, combined with the musical accompaniment, drum set, electric guitar, electric bass, makes for an energetic, uplifting piece that, even then, is tempered somewhat by some of its bitter visuals. Outside of introducing the cast, the OP does a great job saying a lot about each major character without saying anything, in particular, the segment involving Rea surrounded by her parents and household, this really fake, almost dead countenance of geniality pasted on her face when gripped on the shoulder by her father. Even the title “Escoragoto,” translated from Japanese, means “fabrication” or “pipe dream.”
But if there's any one concise thing I could show to anyone that demonstrates the level of respect the show has for its material in a brief one minute, thirty minute music video, it would be the ED “Above Your Hand,” by Anabel. Soft, sincere, beautiful vocals accompanied by classical guitar, then electric bass, then the drama of the drums set and embellishing echoes, before revolving back to guitar, the visuals, which take place in the backdrop of the bowling alley Chihiro and Rea first met personally in, plays well with the classic dichotomy of dark and light which, when the female protagonist faces the light's source, is greeted by the male protagonist. She's much a figurative as well as literal person brought back to life.
There's not a whole lot wrong with Sankarea. In fact, it does a lot of things right. It dares to something smarter, darker. More insightful, and heart-warming too. And, for the most part, it succeeds on every account.
Are you a bit perverted at times? Or are you just an old-fashioned romantic? Perhaps you're a bit of both! Then come inside and enjoy some of the finest ecchi romance anime. There's enough fan service here to cause nosebleeds...but also enough love and tenderness to warm our hearts.