Final Review: Sankarea

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless other noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

Sankarea is based off an ongoing romantic comedy manga. It follows Rea Sanka (using western naming convention of course), who is the show’s titular character, and how she dies yet lives again. Chihiro Furuya is the show’s male protagonist and is obsessed with zombies and necromancy related topics. The show was simulcasted on CrunchyRoll and licensed by Funimation Entertainment for US release. Unlike most zombie titles, this one doesn’t involve turning others into zombies or an apocalypse setting. In fact, it twists it and creates the general romantic comedy setting. With a bit of love and hate on both ends as well as a mix that could be considered taboo, how does this show hold up at the end of the day?

I recall that coming into this show, there was a lot hype built in. I wasn’t sure from what as I haven’t read the source material but whether or not it’s because of the manga, I definitely remember not being too impressed when it started. It took a long time for this show to bring out the actual zombie aspect (episode 3/4 to be precise) but looking back with 20/20 hindsight, it actually did a good job in that respect. The show is not really about Chihiro’s love for zombies but rather how titular character Rea tries to gain her freedom due to her over protective (and corrupt for that manner) family. Of course, the slightly deeper plot doesn’t mean it’s good. The “romantic comedy” aspect is really bland and dull for the most part as the show goes on endlessly with Rea and Chihiro teasing or flirting with each other and neither side really has the guts to come out and confess. Granted that the manga is ongoing but the development is a tad slow. Character development is solid even though all except anything related to Rea felt useless to the overarching plot. If there’s one incredibly strong point of the series is its attention to detail. For a show dealing with the fictional zombie type character, it goes into an incredible amount of detail regarding the “death cycle” as if this was a novel. Furthermore, the ending is definitely a mixed bag with it leaving an interesting “cliffhanger” if you must while providing general closure at the same time. Whether this means a second season is tentatively planned is another question though.

Art is very beautiful for this show. Great scenery and attention to detail. Character designs are a bit lacking in creativity and “common sense” as Wanko and Chihiro look far too similar to be considered just childhood friends. In contrast, Mero and Chihiro look far too different to be remotely considered siblings. On the animation end, for a Studio DEEN title, this is very well done. I’m generally impressed with the great amount of fluidity and smooth movements in this show while keeping everything at a grounded and human level. Furthermore, it’s probably the best I’ve seen from DEEN since Giant Killing, if not even longer.

Music in this show is pretty bland. OP/ED are generally uninteresting. OP is by nano.ripe who did a much better job on Hanasaku Iroha not too long ago. ED is by Annabel, who has worked on titles such as Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, CANAAN, and Another. Generally speaking, I don’t really like her songs. It’s a bit better this time around but not really much. Backgrounds and sound effects are average at best and generally forgettable. On the other hand, seiyuu is pretty good for this show with Maaya Uchida being the underdog here and doing a great job as Rea. Ryouhei Kimura was Chihiro and unsurprisingly, he continues to play really boring characters. I wonder why they don’t give him any more cool roles like Akira in Higashi no Eden anymore.

Enjoyment? Personally, it started off with a really low note and taking forever to develop. Eventually the show gains traction and dives deeply into the character’s pasts, which is not something you often see for a 1 cour show. Unfortunately, a lot of those episodes felt like filler and really didn’t add value to the show. Nice try though. The enjoyment value definitely ramped up towards the end as more crazy things about Rea’s father and past were gradually unveiled.

Overall, the show is not groundbreaking despite trying a new twist. It’s solid and certainly re-watchable to a degree, but not something to lose sleep over for. I am definitely interested in seeing what Rea’s fate is like as it would be nice to see the series break the traditional “male lead ends up with female lead,” but something inside me doubts this will happen.

 

Story and Character:

  • Premise (1/1): Interesting setup with little to no “magic” involved.
  • Character Personalities (1/1): Male lead is interested in zombies. Female lead is a non-tsundere ojou-sama and chained to her home.
  • Character Development (1.5/2): Solid but boring. Rea’s history is quite interesting albeit jail bait and disturbing. Wanko’s and Mero’s one-shot episodes in the series was pretty dull and felt more like filler as the two played little role in the overall series. Maybe it’s a setup for the future but nothing at the moment indicates that.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1/2): Average and scattered about all around. Obviously the show focuses on Rea, but if it didn’t…we have another Index series.
  • Pacing: (1/1): Generally approved.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (1/2): The “highly” realistic and grounded story makes the whole hydrangea leaves myth seem to far-fetched of  a tale. The cooking of the leaves (in large amounts) seem too illogical given the strong and poisonous cyanide odor they give off. At least the whole “death cycle” was kept moderately realistic.
  • Conclusion (1/1): Not much really happened as the show primarily wrapped up in episode 11 but episode 12 definitely provides a solid open end for further conclusion if need be. It’s not too inconclusive that it leaves many gaps open yet not so closed ended that no further sequel is possible.
  • Total: 7.5/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (2/2): Nice and detailed.
  • Character Designs (1/2): Upon closer inspection, Wanko and Chihiro look too much alike to be just childhood friends. They look more like siblings compared to Mero and Chihiro.
  • Fluidity (2/2): Solid.
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (1.5/2): Very strong. Mist/fog in earlier episodes had a few flaws though.
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (2/2): For a show by Studio DEEN, this is very impressive and easily exceeds their other works this season: Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? Of the Dead and Hiiro no Kakera. It’s also a very large step up since possibly Nurarihyon no Mago or even Giant Killing.
  • Total: 8.5/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (1.5/3): OP/ED are okay. Nothing special compared to many others this season.
  • Background Music (1/2): Average and often forgettable.
  • Sound Effects (1/2): Average and often forgettable.
  • Seiyuu (2/3): Ryouhei Kimura as Chihiro was generally boring, but that may be more Chihiro’s character than anything else. Maaya Uchida is an up and coming seiyuu and did a great job as Rea.
  • Total: 5.5/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (1/2): Interesting concept. Babu
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (1/2): Unlike a variety of shows this season, this show starts off slow with the “zombie” not really appearing until episode 4. Some may say the opposite.
  • Presentation: (1/2): It gives off the initial feeling that the slow may be moving too slow and lack time for proper development. Ends up doing just fine though.
  • Re-watchable (0.5/1): It’s a short “fun” show. Some episodes can be easily discarded on a re-watch.
  • Recommendation (1/2): Shikabane Hime is a recommendation if you like the whole zombie girl and necrophilia concept. Shiki is also a better one. There isn’t much in terms of zombie romantic comedy so this show is unique in its own right when you remove “ghost leads” from the picture.
  • Value (0.5/1): A little overrated when the series first began but it does have some value at the end of the day.
  • Total: 5/10

Preliminary Score: 6/10

Final Score: 7/10

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