Sankarea – 04 Review

Sankarea 04 – Just a “Normal” Girl

In light of the fact that I’ve got at least 349,771 final exams to take in the next 7 days, I’m going to do something a little different for this week’s review. I’m going to focus on only one teeny-tiny little scene and compare the animated version to the manga.

The thing I find most intriguing about Sankarea is how different the anime feels from the manga. I haven’t read too many manga, but I often hear complaints about how anime series just don’t do justice to their source material. In this case, I’d say it’s the exact opposite. For example, the scene where Rea is in Chihiro’s room, sewing herself up…

^^ Here’s the scene in the manga. It has a very goofy, ecchi, over-the-top feel to it. Chihiro looks like he’s getting perverted thoughts about Rea while she’s sewing her wound, and when Chihiro comes to grip with the fact that she’s actually dead, he freaks out and goes into absurd-chibi-panic-mode. Rea’s response to Chihiro’s concerns comes across as… well…. it seems like Rea is dumber than a rock or nothing more than a really worn out harem-girl-trope. Come on. She’s *dead*. She’s sewing her own guts back into place, secretly crashing at some guy’s house, and all she has to say when said guy has some concerns is, “It’s the first time I’ve been in a boy’s room.” And all the while, she’s wearing this awfully vapid and creepy-looking grin. Really???

Compared to the anime version, the dialogue and the progression of events is almost exactly the same, but the scene feels completely different. Even though the anime version of this scene shows more skin, Chihiro doesn’t seem sexually attracted to Rea at all, and there is some emphasis on the fact that he is holding his body well away from her and grimacing as he holds her wound shut. Interesting. And when he has his realization moment (that she’s actually a zombie), he still jumps up and freaks out, but it’s completely different. It’s not funny or absurd at all like in the manga – by tweaking a few little things, the anime manages to make the scene come across as quite serious, and uses it as an opportunity to show the growing depth of feeling and real caring that Chihiro and Rea have for each other.

So, what’d they do? Well, I’d say the biggest thing was changing Chihiro’s facial expression (especially poignant in the long pause showing him looking very concerned and upset) from silly to serious. Next would be Rea’s voice acting when Chihiro grabs her – the hesitation in her voice (and her looking away) adds weight to the scene. It’s as if Rea knows the gravity of the situation but is choosing to be in denial about it (for her own benefit, but probably also because she cares for Chihiro and doesn’t want to cause him undue pain), coming up with a lame response, “It’s the first time I’ve been in a boy’s room,” to try and steer the conversation away from the terrible reality of their situation.

All in all, I think it’s brilliant how the direction, art, and voice acting has turned Sankarea into so much more than its source material – being animated has truly brought Sankarea to life. There are plenty of examples I could bring up, but I think that this one short scene does a decent job of demonstrating the differences between the two. The manga has a cute story, but overall it’s just a run-of-the-mill ecchi-rom-com that isn’t very compelling beyond its initial zombie plot hook. Just a few tiny changes, like I mentioned above, make all the difference in the world, transforming Sankarea the anime into something that is absolutely worth watching.

So the rest of the episode? Awesome, again.

The wonky animation from last week was fixed and the totally-not-gay-friends showed up again, but this time they were more tolerable. Putting the dumb friends into context was the key – and in this episode they played an important role in reminding Chihiro of his zombie-girl fetish, which he had apparently forgotten about. It was also a positive point to see one of the friends acting like he cared about Chihiro when he mentioned how he was happy to see Chihiro being interested in a living girl for once. Too bad for his friends that they don’t know the truth – but it seems like everything will eventually have to come out into the open.

Gramps was *awesome*. I usually don’t like characters that are primarily used for comedic effect, but gramps is an exception to that. He reminds me a bit of Happosai from Ranma ½, but gramps is way better because he seems to be insane/demented (and likely more than that) rather than just a typical dirty-old-man stereotype.

There were some massive developments brought up in this episode. Chihiro admitting to himself that he liked Rea before she was a zombie (and the possibility that he might not want to date a dead girl outside of his childish fantasies), Rea expressing her desire to be able to live life as a normal girl, Rea’s jealousy of Wanko (BTW, her name is Ranko, “Wanko” is just Chihiro’s nickname for her), bad-dad and drunk-mom’s poor reaction to the situation of having an undead daughter… There’s a lot of big issues being introduced in this new arc, not the least of which was Rea and Chihiro’s intimate moment…

And I’m “dying” to see what Rea was really trying to do to Chihiro – judging by how upset she was it doesn’t seem like she was aiming for a peck on his cheek. And what about the rigor mortis thing? And Rea’s body rotting? Yikes! This episode has certainly introduced a lot of questions and concerns about the logistics of Rea being a zombie and how Chihiro plans to hide her undead-ness from everyone. I’m glad to see that Sankarea has moved into the next arc and has introduced some more comedy but did so without losing its darkness or creepiness.

Next week, I’ll return to the regular review style… Unless you all prefer this more focused and compact version – let me know if you particularly do/don’t like it. So, for now, wish me luck on exams and I’ll see you next week!

Rating: 8.5/10

Feel free to leave your best necrophilia jokes in the comment section below. ;)

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About kelfio

Keepin' it real down in the sweet sunny south.

Posted on April 28, 2012, in Anime, Reviews, Sankarea and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. This episode was a lot different from the last ones, particularly Rea’s involvement. Chihiro says her personality hasn’t changed but I thought it did a 180 flip. Her old self was shy, naive and easily embarrassed. This new Rea is outgoing and not at all bothered that she spends a lot of her time completely or semi naked in the presence of a boy. Which brings up another point, a lot more fan service this episode curtesy of Rea. It feels like Rea jumped from one harem character archetype to another.

    Alas, my question of how Rea thought becoming a Zombie would free her from her father was largely ignored. After she becomes a zombie she basically says “Welp, I’m reborn now so I’m no longer your daughter. Deal with it.” and decides to live with Chihiro who unwittingly promised to take care of her. Her Dad leaves her alone for a while but strengthens his resolve to butcher Chihiro. Another difference in Rea’s character is that she is completely carefree, with little regard for what might happen to her or Chihiro as a result of her actions. The old Rea would be scared to death (heh) of what her yandere father would do to anyone she consorted with but she’s mostly forgotten about that.

    I’m not saying I disliked the episode but the change in Rea’s character and the huge increase in fanservice has me thinking the series is falling into the same clichéd mold of other romantic comedies. I think the deciding factor will be how serious they take the issue of Rea’s body problems.

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    • “I’m not saying I disliked the episode but the change in Rea’s character and the huge increase in fanservice has me thinking the series is falling into the same clichéd mold of other romantic comedies.”

      ^^ True enough, but at this point it’s got more going for it already than most of the generic ecchi/harem shows do. If nothing else, the production values are spot on.

      “I think the deciding factor will be how serious they take the issue of Rea’s body problems.”

      ^^ I hope they play up the tragic element of Chihiro and Rea’s situation. You know, something like… As soon as they really really figure out that they truly love each other, her body goes kaput. That’s awful, but I think it may be the path that the show has to take in order to end well.

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      • I sort of doubt they will do this but one thing they could do to separate it from the usual rom-com is actually having interaction between Rea and Chihiro that would naturally strengthen their bond. As a human Rea was attracted to Chihiro because he is nice and the MC but as a zombie she is compelled by new urges to act more aggressively romantic. There has yet to be a deep reason (as far as free will is concerned) for her to be seriously attracted to Chihiro. The same character development is needed for Chihiro. Will Chihiro only love Rea because of his fetish or because she’s nice and naive? I do hope they develop their relationship on a deeper level. I wouldn’t find “they are together because of circumstances and thus they are in love” to be very interesting writing.

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  2. Sankarea is a great example of how a fetish ecchi show can actually be good, which I’ll admit I was in slight disbelief of before. I really do like how much the series shows with facial expressions and silence.

    Great review, I love the detail! I’m won’t commit to saying I like it more or less than your normal reviews, but variety is always nice and you did an awesome job, so…
    Oh, and good luck on your 349, 771 final exams! :D

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    • Thanks! I got straight A’s! :)

      “Sankarea is a great example of how a fetish ecchi show can actually be good, which I’ll admit I was in slight disbelief of before.”

      ^^ I totally agree with on this. I’m still in disbelief, actually, but so far so good so I can only hope it continues this way. It’s definitely a fetish/ecchi show, so it automatically won’t appeal to many (and will appeal to plenty of folks who don’t give much of a damn about it being good or not!), but ecchi isn’t an automatic turn-off for me. I’m enjoying it.

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  3. I’ve never read the source material but I like how it is making Chihiro realise wanting a zombie for a girlfriend isn’t all its cracked up to be. Rigor Mortis setting in, I also noticed the fact that she said she couldn’t feel pain nor the temperature of the water… this leads up to another issue to Chihiro’s “Ideal” girl. Obviously she won’t be able to feel the warmth of a kiss, clutch of a hand, pleasurable sensations etc which is a pretty bad trade off for her.

    From what I’m gathering from the story so far I’m hoping that he’ll figure out that its better that Rea were able to be able to have a heartbeat and feel things instead of this. If I were him I’d totally have gone for a vampire gf instead of a zombie if we must have undead… I laugh at his rose colored sight of necrophilia!

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    • “Obviously she won’t be able to feel the warmth of a kiss, clutch of a hand, pleasurable sensations etc which is a pretty bad trade off for her.”

      ^^ Oh damn. I didn’t even think about it that way until you said so.

      “…I’m hoping that he’ll figure out that its better that Rea were able to be able to have a heartbeat and feel things instead of this.”

      ^^ Sure, it looks like it’s going towards a big steamy pile of… regret. But what’s Chihiro going to do? Dump her? He might as well just stick with it at this point.

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  4. Both styles of review are good. Keep writing them the way you feels like doing. I’ll read them anyway.

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  5. Awesome show! Never would have known about it if it weren’t for you, so thank you. You obviously have good taste, can you belt off 5 anime titles that are on par with this show (in terms of holding your interest)? I’d almost given up on anime as nothing but naruto filler and “me too” fairy tale bs

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    • Hmmmm…. That’s a tough question. Let me think about it for a day or two and I’ll get back to you.

      And thanks for your compliment. You must have pretty good taste, yourself! ;)

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  6. You guys are awesome! :)

    Thanks for being patient with me during exams. I’m going to be getting up the Sankarea reviews for Episode #5 and #6 later today.

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