Possible Spoiler Warning!!!
Pro: Great Animation, Music, Enjoyable small cast of Characters, Refreshing Romance
Con: Story takes a backseat too many times leaving us with a lame ending and noticeable plot holes.
Final Verdict 4 stars Buy It: Sankarea is defiantly not your typical romance horror story which leaves it only appealing to an audience with an acquired taste. Nevertheless, I believe Sankarea is due for much more praise than criticism and is well deserving of more attention in the manga department. It is as refreshing as it is a lovely romance. Beautiful animation and a killer soundtrack cannot be denied. However the first half of the anime is defiantly the best while the last half is less to be desired leaving us with an "un-fulfilling" ending. If you have not checked it out now, I suggest you do so.
Animation: Nothing to be said here other than it is AMAZING. The blu ray box set exposes some of the nice detailed features. The backgrounds/drops in particular are very nice and the character designs are fun and fitting. A star for this one.
Music: Again lovely soundtrack with an opening and ending that are great. The overall English dub cast is good although some of the lines (or the script) could have been written and delivered better. A star for here as well.
Story: Here is where it gets tricky. The manga has flowed pretty well so far continued the story and explaining plot holes that exist in the anime. Again since this is a 12 episode series with a few ovas naturally stuff is gonna get cut out. For people who watch the anime first (as I did) will probably want to check out the manga (as I did) and be satisfied. Even so, I will never understand why these companies add so much filler besides the fact if there is not enough manga material. In a way they just get lazy and it leaves us thinking that this is just a big advertisement to "Buy the Manga". Again the first couple episodes introduce us in a unique and very entertaining way to the cast, but the second half is chunk full of lazy filler episodes. Another thing to consider is the "fanservice". Fanservice given to Chihiro's cousin Wanko is somewhat understandable considering her curvaceous figure. This however begs the question is this just for the audience or is this Chihiro's pov. The fanservice is not "too" distracting" but there are times where I found myself rolling my eyes saying "really?". (can you tell I'm a girl) The comedy defiantly takes you for loop as it sometimes appears in the most random and inappropriate of places. Sometimes it works, other times it is too much of a distraction. No star for this one it just can't be classic worthy.
Characters: No one really cares too much about the story problems though when some of our main characters interact. Other than Wanko who gets a little annoying, the main cast is great. It's mainly through Chihiro's observations and in episode 3 when we dive into Rea's home life does the cast really shine. The conversations for the most part are all ones we want to see the characters have. Chihiro might seem a bit of the otaku cliche at first, but as we see him in more action it is really Rea who makes his true self shine. He realizes its not all fun and games and has to start taking on some responsibility. Rea's development is so perfectly stated and shown in the first 3 episodes of the series. Even Chirhiros cute little stoic sister Mero does not seem as cliche by the end of the series. There are too many moments to name that really stand out in defining these characters in an interesting, intriguing way. If I had to name one though it would have to be in episode 1 when Chihiro put his arm around Mero as they mourn their dead pet. Little moments like that make this anime stand out from the crowd. A star well deserving for this one.
I feel very lukewarm about this show, and about zombies in general, which I view as an all-around weak plot device because they usually have about as much personality as trees, or any other part of a landscape.
Story: Meh. There wasn't much meat to it, just a series of problems. First, Rea wants to get away from her dad. The victimization of the main female lead managed to be creepy and boring at the same time--boring because there was no real one event that prompted Rea to get away. Just a series of flashbacks and then some not-convincing events that got her "killed." Then, we moved onto the ever-present and unresolved issue of preserving her zombie body from rotting. And then, her dad re-enters the picture and kidnaps Chihiro, only to be convinced by Chihiro's idealistic appeal to convince him to let them go. This did not impress me because Danichiro's behavior was clearly pathological; does it make sense for a psychopath to listen to sense, especially when the logic was a direct attack on his psychopathic worldview? No. No, it doesn't.
Animation: Fine. I liked Chihiro's character design, and the attention to clothing and hairstyles. Not much else to say.
Characters: They had potential, but I'll admit that my favorite characters were Chihiro's little sister and grandfather. Way more intriguing than any of the pigeonholed, cardboard cutout main characters who amounted to: boring male lead with an obsession, overly-victimized yet still cheery female lead, and overly-boobified childhood friend with a crush on main male lead. Yawn inducing to say the least; even the zombie cat was more amusing to me than the 3 main characters!
Overall: I wish I hadn't bothered. I kept hoping it would get better. Maybe the manga is better. Or maybe you like crappy almost-harems with lots of fanservice--and if you do, then you are welcome to this show.
Sankarea is your stereotypical ecchi comedy with a very bold and weird premise.
- The boys in the series go to males-only school and are constantly horny by the other side of the river, which has a prestige girls-only school. This alone can make the viewer feel how desperate for sex they are, although I don’t see why they can’t go have some fun with them after the school is over.
- The protagonist, whose hair for the lulz makes him look like he has cat ears, doesn’t care about all that because he is content at masturbating (out of screen) while watching zombie horror movies. As if that wasn’t enough, he has this hot cousin named Wanker (Ranko actually, but it does sound similar) having the hots for him and constantly doing ecchi foreplay by bringing him even more zombie movies to keep masturbating (out of screen) as well as not to miss the chance to make him horny with her body. Very healthy; how considerate of her. Not that he seems to give a damn about her, since she is not a corpse.
- So the protagonist’s cat dies and he decides to raise the dead, since it sounds like a very arousing thing to do. He finds there Rea, the hottest girl from the prestige school, who is fed up with her life as a role model, as well as her father taking nude pictures of her and scaring away all her friends. She agrees to let him kill her as means to get rid of her misery. As a reward for turning her into a zombie he can do all sorts of necrophilia-related deviant things with her.
As interesting as all this mess sounds, it is not much of a good show by miles.
- The first hint to that is the animation studio, which is none other than DEEN, notorious for trashing the adaptations of whatever it gets its hands on with poor production values and pathetic directing that cares only about fan service. I can’t say anything about the director by the way, since this is his first full anime work. Prior to that he only did a few scattered episodes here and there, and none where exactly quality material. In this particular case, they tried a bit more though; so at least it doesn’t look horrible and even has a few artistic overtones in it. It uses stylized backgrounds from time to time and makes good use of lightning effects to make dark places to be unsettling. Now don’t imagine it is awesome in production values; they are simply far better than what the studio usually does. I can say something similar for the soundtrack, which is easy going (and thus completely unimpressive) J-pop you will forget ten seconds after the music stops.
- The premise of the show ends up being its biggest setback. Although the hook of the show is zombies and fan service, something which seems to work all the time in luring in the casual viewer just by curiosity alone, it is still nothing more than shallow dumb fun in the likes of Highschool of the Dead or Kore Wa Zombie Desuka? . It tries at times to offer some depth by including heavy and unsettling themes, such as horror (boogie-boogie, dark places and necromancy), social drama (the unbearable pressure of social demands that may lead teenagers to deviant fetishes and suicide), and incestuous love (hurr-durr, I take nude pictures of my little daughter, hurr-durr, I rub my boobs on my cousin’s face). But it never happens in a serious manner and all those issues are nothing but a generator for erotic situations. Meaning, despite the seemingly interesting premise, the show is still mostly a dumb ecchi harem. And of course despite the really bold image it gives you at first, it is doing nothing but patting your crotch with several hentai premises which of course never head anywhere because this is not a hentai show. Seriously, do not go in expecting something amazing to happen because you will be greatly disappointed with how little they did with all that and used them as nothing but tired softporn.
So you basically get this constant cocktease where:
- On one side Wanker is constantly trying to go incest with a blunt harem lead. She is the typical dumb blond with a hot body that likes her cousin for no apparent reason other than keeping her company. Get real bitch! And go look for a guy that doesn’t live in the same neighbourhood you do.
- On the other side you get Rea, constantly being moe and naked and defenceless for him to do all he likes with her. Ever heard of a moe zombie? Here it is, conveniently getting stiff so you can throw her naked without complaints in your closet. And she doesn’t even act like a zombie to begin with, since all she does is not trying to eat brains but sucking on Wanker’s boobs and catboy’s tongue for the lulz. She also doesn’t eat, drink, or go to the toilet; she costs nothing to maintain her and thus is the ideal sex doll all otakus dream of having. But at the same time, what if anyone else tries to do something she doesn’t like? She then gets all powerful and kicks ass and then runs to cry in the lap of her useless boyfriend, as if he protected her by doing absolutely nothing. How convenient.
- And of course there are also the parents of Rea, who are completely messed up. One is an incestuous sadist and the other is a drunkard slut.
- Yeah, sounds dumb enough to keep watching and does feel interesting if you don’t try to see it seriously. But just like all DEEN shows it is mostly fan service. Despite at the attempts of the show to flesh out Ranko and Rea, they are still presented as nothing more than half-naked horny sluts after a boy with no redeeming qualities. I mean everybody is constantly admitting that he has absolutely no talent and is a deviant pervert on top of everything else, yet they still like him for not much of a reason. Trying to cater too much the pervert audience, are we? And as I said, do not expect any sexy developments to the above spicy relationships. Nothing really progresses because they are either constantly interrupted by random people passing by them or turn completely chicken to go for the real thing.
And even if one could accept all the retarded fan service as part of the story and still try to enjoy it, this still does not save the show from having inconsistent character reactions considering their sexuality. It’s as if the show deliberately makes them turn from horny beasts to cowards when the time has come, just for the sake of not turning the whole show into a messy hentai.
- The protagonist went to all the trouble of getting a hot zombie girlfriend and has another hot live one in reserve, both of which are willing to do anything he likes with them. And yet he is doing nothing; thus rendering the whole premise useless. He couldn’t wait for that moment when he would have his own zombie chick, he even had wet dreams about it, and now that they are at his lap, he goes all shy and gentle? This is a complete character rewrite! He also does nothing in the whole show. Seriously, the chicks get all the focus and he is just there as the passive observer for us to identify, like deviant stalkers who film and peek and masturbate at teen girls but never actually trying to go for the real thing. The epitome of NEET mentality modern anime strive for as means to cater the main audience; boy I hate that. He is also weak and stupid, so again he has no redeeming qualities even if you don’t try to identify with him and instead seem him as an individual personality.
- The two chicks are doing something similar. At first they have no qualms to be naked and outgoing with him but as soon as they come closer to the actual thing, out of nowhere they start to feel embarrassed and scared. This is a lame excuse of a cock-blocker! Also, seriously, Rea’s plan was to become a normal girl by turning to a zombie??? Are we efing kidding here?
- Rea’s parents are also such contrived element in the story. They are supposed to be there for some drama and sick romance but they are completely underplayed since by the time you get to know more about them, the story is almost over and they just go away like nothing much happened.
- Furthermore that resurrected cat Babu is more than obviously the only thing that progresses the actual plot. Everybody is running after it and do or learn stuff just because of that cat conveniently pointing them at stuff. It gets annoying to see them not having free will to do anything on their own or the knowledge to figure out something without the scriptwriter continually using that cat as a plot devise for that. It is a cat, ok? It is an animal mascot, it shouldn’t be doing more things plot-wise than the supposed human-intelligent protagonists. It only makes them feel stupid and useless.
Seriously, you are not going to be watching this for the plot. And this rather disappointing, since unlike most ecchi shows I really like the premise in this one and I can imagine several interesting arcs coming out of it. Yet I get nothing since the fan service is there all the time, jumping in the spotlight and kicking to the side any attempts to make something intellectual out of it. And yes, I say intellectual since this is the only way a show won’t be forgotten a month after it is completed. No matter how outrageously hilarious the premise sounds, if they go completely GAGA with it, you will forget it very fast or won’t like it for long altogether. And this is the case with Sankarea. If you really think about it, almost half of the show was filler, since it was wasted on the hot cousin, the oblivious family of the protagonist, and the sick family of Rea. They weren’t even important to the longrun, since the core theme was about “what to do with a zombie” and not random incest side stories. Unless of course random softporn scenes count as important to you.
Thus you get an interesting premise that is ruined by too much fan catering. I once again blame DEEN for that.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 8/10
General Artwork 2/2 (looks nice)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (basic but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 2/2 (artsy)
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 2/4 (typical)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (erratic)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 3/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too little plot)
Memorability 2/4 (the zombie premise is interesting but other than that nothing much to care for)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 2/10
Art 1/1 (looks ok)
Sound 0/2 (sounds boring)
Story 1/3 (good concept but barely exploited properly)
Characters 0/4 (softporn stereotypes)
I'm really enjoying this series so far. The darkness of the storyline is nicely balanced by occaisional(but not obnoxious) humor. Definitely one of the better school romance genre offerings for spring 2012.
In this review, I'm first going to give my overall opinions of the anime, and then go through particular aspects such as the art or the music. I didn't look at Sankarea from an ecchi-anime perspective, more as a shounen/romance/supernatural series, so that's what my opinions are based on.
So at the beginning of the season, Sankarea was one of the animes to watch, seeing how this zombie like genre will plan out after I was high praised from High School of the Dead, but that's a whole different thing. While zombie stories aren't a new concept, I thought the setup for this one could prove to be very interesting, and could tackle the genre in a new light.. or something like that.
The first few episodes definitely delivered that. The settings were superb, the character interaction was great, there was a good amount of suspense and mystery over the characters and the imminent zombification. I was all set to love this series. (To be clear, nothing really happened in the first few episodes in terms of development, it was just setting up the story. I still liked them.)
However, I feel that the series, in terms of storyline or any plot development whatsoever, quickly went downhill. Once Rea turned into a zombie, the story kinda fizzles out a little. There is still some drama, in terms of family issues, but I felt like it was all a little disappointing in its conclusion. Having said that, it was the aspect of the show that turned this whole anime from being a simple light-hearted zombie thing into something with actual depth.
A few episodes break away from the two main characters (Furuya and Rea) and focus on side characters, such as Mero or Wanko. I really did enjoy these episodes, as they gave you a better insight into the characters and a different perspective on events, although they did not necessarily add anything towards the overall plot.
The ending was completely disappointing (well, not so much in terms of the romantic aspect you could say, although in my opinion this was still left largely unfulfilled) - rather than having any conclusion to the story, it just stopped, much as any other episode would. Now, I'm not sure if this series is supposed to have a sequel anime (which would be nice, in terms of clarifying events! Everything was left sort of open, no questions answered properly sort of thing), so that would pacify me a little, but if it did, I don't think I will be watching it.
I honestly think the animated style of this was outstanding. As mentioned above, I loved the settings (mostly the abandoned building and all the scenic shots). At some points, I couldn't stop myself from pausing the episodes to simply stare at the sceneries, partly because they were so detailed that I honestly couldn't tell if it was animated or just a photograph! I liked the clear-cut character design/style.
Generally, the music was very good, and worked well within the series and added to the atmosphere of different situations.
Opening Theme - "Figment" by nano.RIPE
A really nice theme, I thought it was a great song, and I liked how it fitted with the series.
Ending Theme - "Above Your Hand" by Annabel
Nothing in particular to say about this... It was a good ending theme, I guess!
None of the characters particularly stood out to me. They all clearly have their plus and minus points, but they were all a bit... meh. Best word to describe it.
Furuya was adorable (appearance wise, I thought his cat-eared hair was really unique), and I thought his status as a zombie otaku was cool (obviously, it is sort of the crux of this series...). He had his good moments, and was generally a likeable character.
Rea was very sweet, and I would almost be keen to say I disliked her but she has some awesome moments where she proves that she can stand up for herself, despite her quite innocent nature...
Wanko was a fun addition to the series - most of the fan service did come from her - and she was a loud and boisterous character, who stirred things up a bit :)
Dan'ichiro.. the bad-guy character. And a really, really great top class creepy person. Ugh.
Although the anime had really bad storyline, the whole weird relationship was anew to me so I was wanting to go on but it all honesty this anime is not something really worth watching. Its like, something you really don't need to be like ''OMG, I need to watch that''. All this anime is supposed to be in genre style it disappoints in. But the characters were alright and story was meh, if you can get through the first three episodes, but if you like art then hell watch it. So, I wouldn't recommend it but if you want to just watch something then give this ago, also if you want something with an alright romance with a girl zombie in it then I would say give this a shot, but other than those reasons I wouldn't bother.