Sankarea – 03 Review
Sankarea 03 – Zombie Girls Rule
Ah yes, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. And there’s plenty of blood and guts to go around.
Last week, Rea drank the resurrection potion hoping to kill herself. This week, she wakes up and realizes that her suicide attempt has failed and that she is stuck once again in the harsh reality that is her messed up life. However things are worse than before – as punishment for sneaking out, her father has ordered her never to leave the house again, not even to go to school. Just when it seems like this guy can’t be any more awful, Rea overhears her father’s decision to capture and then *castrate* Chihiro (yes, you heard that right – castrate).
While Rea is running all over town trying to find Chihiro and warn him of the impending danger, Chihiro is busy being overcome with joy that Babu has been resurrected as a zombie. Wanko and Meru (Chihiro’s sister) have their doubts about whether or not the zombie-cat in questions is actually Babu or just a fake. They probably also doubt Chihiro’s sanity, since he is gushing and babbling and being nothing short of ridiculous about the whole affair. Babu suddenly takes off running and Chihiro and Wanko chase him through town. After losing Wanko in a drainage pipe, Babu eventually leads Chihiro to a graveyard near the old hotel where he and Rea worked on Babu’s resurrection. The graveyard is surrounded by hydrangea bushes, and seeing Babu eat them, Chihiro realizes that the hydrangea was the secret ingredient that made the potion work.
Rea heads over to the old hotel to look for Chihiro. Unfortunately, her dad and his evil servant have been tailing Rea and finally they catch up to her. Rea’s father is livid pissed that she has snuck out once again, and starts to pull his bad-dad routine on her. Rea finally stands up to him and demands her freedom, but her father ignores her, grabs her, and starts dragging her away. Suddenly, zombie-Babu busts up into the fray, causing Rea’s dad to recoil in terror. Rea is overjoyed to see Babu “alive”, but Rea’s dad pulls out a riding crop (where was he hiding that?) with the intention of hurting Babu. Rea jumps in front of Babu to protect him and gets hit by the riding crop, which causes her to fall off the cliff they’re on. She plummets to her death (which is pretty gruesome and involves lots of blood and guts), landing in the hydrangeas below. Chihiro rushes to her side, overcome with grief. And then… Rea turns into a zombie!
So this episode seems to be the end to the introduction part of Sankarea. Chihiro’s got a zombie cat and a zombie girlfriend, so what’s left? This feels like a turning point – will the series be able to keep up the great atmosphere it’s had so far, or will things turn into a sickening soup of ecchi-slice-of-life-rom-com from here on out? No matter what path Sankarea takes, I predict some tasteless necrophilia jokes coming in at some point.
It was good to see this arc come to a conclusion. I’m kind of burned out on Rea’s dad – he’s a bad, terrible, evil, awful man… And I kind of need a break from seeing him do crappy things in every episode. Hopefully Rea’s dad will be on the backburner for a little while, since now he’s done his job of causing Rea’s death. But even though I’m ready to move on with the story, I don’t feel like it has started to drag or anything like that. I’d say that the pacing of the story has been superb.
For the most part, I enjoyed this episode as much as the last two (which is a lot). However, there were a few little things…
I didn’t mention it in the synopsis, but there was a scene in the middle of the episode showing Chihiro’s friends acting really stupid. Right afterwards, Rea comes up to them while they’re being idiots and asks them where Chihiro is, and they respond by being even stupider. This one scene knocked at least a point off of my episode rating. It sucked. The friends are stupid, the animation was not very good in the scene, and as far as I can tell it added nothing of value to the episode or the story in general. I guess it was supposed to have provided some comedic relief, but it wasn’t funny in the least. They really should have left this part out, and I hope the air time spent on the dumb friends is kept to a minimum throughout the rest of the season.
Aside from that, the only thing that irked me was the animation. Don’t get me wrong – at least 85% of the episode was the same level of quality that I’ve seen in the last two episodes, but the remaining 15% just wasn’t up to par. It was only a few scenes – the one with the stupid friends (mentioned above), the panty shots (see below), and some of the parts in Rea’s house with her parents – but those few scenes stood out as looking either wonky or lazy. It seems like this episode’s animation budget got blown on making the hydrangeas really glitter… And, I *love* hydrangeas in anime (which certainly adds to my overall enjoyment of Sankarea), but those hydrangeas were slightly over the top compared to everything else.
Ah, yes. The only other major negative worth mentioning was the Wanko-panty-shots. There were only two or three of them, but they felt dreadfully out of place and awkward. It felt like a failed attempt to recreate some of the characteristically SHAFT fan service from the “-Monogatari” series. I’ve got no major problems with panty shots and fan service in general, but these were bad. The actual panty-animation was worlds below the quality of everything shown immediately before and after, and the way the shots were stuck in hampered the flow of each scene. It was just bad. They should either learn how to do a decent panty shot or stop trying, and stopping is probably the best option.
So, putting all that aside, the Babu chase scene was freaking awesome! Especially that part where Babu’s haunches are swinging back and forth to the music… So cute! Babu’s “meow” is absurdly cute too… And Babu’s broken tail… and Babu’s gravity defying leaps… and Babu staring down Rea’s dad… and Babubabubabubabubabubabu. You get the idea.
My favorite part of the episode was definitely the foreshadowing and little comments that all of the characters made throughout. Like Wanko wondering about Babu turning into a flesh-eating monster, and Grandpa’s bizarre reaction to learning that Babu was resurrected. I especially liked how well some of Chihiro’s words and expressions served to further characterize him – for example, him wondering if he had missed his chance to “save” Rea (at the beginning), and at the end when he is obviously *not* overjoyed to see Rea resurrected. It gives a better picture of Chihiro, and shows that he is a bit more than a creepy zombie-fetish kid. He was totally freaked out by Rea, and it looked like he had all but forgotten his supposed resolution to only date zombie girls. It gave me the impression that the zombie-thing is more of a defense mechanism or excuse for Chihiro, something like, since he isn’t successful at dating living girls, he chocks it up to his lack of desire for non-zombies. I’m not sure if the writers will go anywhere with it, but it sure leaves things open to do some more background and development for Chihiro, which is something I’d like to see.
All in all, this episode was surprisingly good (just like the other two episodes!). I’m beginning to think that there may be something to it – after three great episodes in a row, Sankarea is really shaping up to be the sleeper hit of the season. I’ve got a feeling that next week’s episode is going to make or break things depending on the direction the series takes now that the introduction is over, and I’ll definitely be watching. I can’t wait to see how they manage this whole zombie-girlfriend thing, and I want to see some more of Babu, Gramps, and Meru. What about all of you guys? Are you all still loving Sankarea? Where do you think things will go from here? Let me know what you think. See you next week!