Sankarea is one odd series. If you strip the series down to it's bare essentials you have an awkward teen in love with Zombies... a girl he likes dies... she becomes a zombie... they fall in love. Throw in an abusive pedophile father and some lighthearted comedy, mix that together and you get Sankarea.
Sankarea follows Chihiro (voiced by Aaron Dismuke.) Much like other typical harem/ecchi anime, Chihiro is a socially awkward teenager who doesn't have many friends and primarily keeps to himself. When he's not at school he can usually be found stuck in his room watching any kind of Zombie film he can. He has a strange Some time before the events of the series Chihiro's mother passed away, which has obviously impacted him pretty terribly. Where the series starts off, Chihiro's cat Babu, whom was also his best friend, abruptly dies. Sick of losing those close to him, Chihiro decides to put reanimation to the test and bring Babu back to life with an old textbook/recipe he found. Every night he attempts to bring Babu back, he is interrupted by loud screams at a well.
Enter Rea Sanka. Rea seemingly has a great life... she comes from a wealthy family, her father is a respected headmaster at her school, tons of friends. Appearances are not everything though, In actuality everyone only wants to be her friend because of her wealth, she lives an extremely sheltered life with a mother who absolutely loathes everything she is, and a father who has molested her for years. The screams Chihiro hears are from her as she vents her frustrations and seemingly tries to find it in her to end it all. Chihiro ends up making a noise and the two share a rather awkward conversation. Rea out of blue asks Chihiro to promise her when he brings her back to life, to treat her good.
As quick as they had met, Rea is just as quickly dead, trying to save Chihiro from her pedophile father. After death, due to the potion Chihiro made that Rea drank in an attempt at suicide, she reanimates as a Zombie. Rea is not what everyone thinks a typical Zombie is though, she doesn't crave flesh, the only things she craves are a type of leaf for strength and lust.
Rea soon moves in with Chihiro to escape her abusive father and they begin a relationship together, much to the annoyance of Chihiro's cousin who is in love with him as well. After episode 3, the series turns from drama to mainly lighthearted romance comedy, as the relationship between Chihiro and Rea develops nicely throughout the series. The subplot of the series is Rea's father plotting to get her back at all costs, and that comes up to the surface in the final couple episodes.
Sadly the big buildup to the end left me underwhelmed with a unresolved ending. The series builds up to an inevitable Chihiro/Rea vs Rea's father confrontation, but when it actually happens it left me with nothing but a "What the f*ck" feeling.
- Performances from Aaron Dismuke and Tia Ballard. While the dub was just OK, these two were absolutely wonderful. I know he's been around but I haven't heard much from Aaron since he played Alphonse Elric in FullMetal Alchemist, he's really turned into a well rounded actor and puts in a great performance. I'm use to hearing Tia as Happy in Fairy Tail, which is the complete opposite of a character like Rea. I didn't know what to expect from her since I haven't heard her in much, but she was stellar here. Kudos to them.
- The 2 lead characters. They were enjoyable to watch develop on screen, they had a chemistry between them that was charming.
- The 1st 3 episodes in particular are fantastic. Once Rea becomes "zombied" the show takes a dip in quality but still remains solid throughout.
- Well developed story.
- Show filled with Necrophilia, Incest and pedophilia.
- Filler episodes. In a series that only has 13 episodes, there should be no wasted time. There are a couple instances, but my main gripe was episode 9. Episode 9 stopped the main plot completely and focused the entirety of the episode on a different character that had nothing to do with the story. The episode felt out of place and quite honestly was boring.
- Cliches. While it does have it's own unique points, a lot of the series falls into the same tropes of other anime like it.
- Pacing issues.
- It didn't bother me personally, but I know a lot of people are complaining about this being the edited version.
Video and Audio:
For a newer series, the animation in Sankarea was nothing special, although it did have its moments of flare. The backgrounds at times were absolutely beautiful, and the faraway shots of the characters were well detailed. Besides that the animation was standard fare.
The audio options are TrueHD English 5.1 or the Japanese Stereo. I watched this in the English 5.1 track, the dubbing was ok, and the voices fit the characters well. The dialogue and soundtrack were both crisp and clear, but nothing else really stood out.
-Episode 3 commentary with the 2 leads, Tia Ballard (Rea Sanka) and Aaron Dismuke (Chihiro.)
- Episode 11 commentary with Joel McDonald (Director), David Wald (Dan'ichiro Sanka) and Teri Doty.
- Textless Opening and Closing themes.
- Standard Trailers.
The limited edition also comes with a decent looking chipboard art box.
While I might have been a bit harsh on it, Sankarea was an enjoyable series that had a certain charm to it. It had well developed lead characters and a nice story, however the whole Necrophilia-Incest-Pedophile thing was weird to say the least. Lightly Recommended