Sankarea: What a Shame

The phrase “hit or miss” is often used to describe shows which appeal only to a very specific group of viewers.  In Sankarea’s case, a more appropriate term would be “hit and miss,” with just barely more hits than misses.

  • HIT: SHAFT-like art

SHAFT-like artistic flair is everywhere in Sankarea… and it shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that the director comes straight from SHAFT.  But Sankarea does better than, say, Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei or Bakemonogatari.  It holds back the black screens, the weird camera angles, and the shadowy silhouette shots, using them as a tool, not a crutch.

All anime should strive for the level of art and this perfect balance between art and story.  Seeing derpy QUALITY animation isn’t fun, but getting bombarded by SHAFT’s cotton puff ball witch creatures isn’t very enjoyable either.

Plus, cool scenes make for great screenshots.

  • HIT: Romance with a twist, random stuff I couldn’t fit anywhere else in this post

This is what drew me to Sankarea in the first place.  It’s hard to produce an interesting romance without it turning into KeyAniesque melodrama, but Sankarea manages to keep it at an innocent romance level for the duration of the show.

(I need to be careful what I say here, because the next section is a bit contradictory…)

I really like the pacing of the relationship between Rea and Chihiro in main storyline, excluding episode 11.  They meet in episode 1, Rea dies by episode 3, and four episodes later, Chihiro gets kidnapped, leading up to episode 11 (see below for bashing of episode 11).

Many people have said that the finale, showing Rea’s zombie side take over, is DEEN yelling “Season Two please!”  I agree.  But more importantly, the finale shows Rea and Chihiro growing closer.  Having resolved the issue with Danichirou, Chihiro and Rea have returned to the abandoned building where their forbidden love first started… and now, they are finally taking a step beyond the innocent love that the past twelve episodes have portrayed.

Perfect place to stop the show.

Oh, and yes, the whole zombification deal was predictable, but the execution was top-notch.  Case in point: when Rea “dies,” it all happens so fast.  Rea’s slow climb up the hill contrasts with her father’s spontaneous slap and her sudden death.  As a member of the audience, you can almost experience the pain Danichirou is going through as he sees his daughter die so quickly.

  • MISS: Director goes MIA

Somewhere along the line (episode 7), the director went back home and found another man in his bed with his wife.  This shot off a series of events which culminated in either the director running away from home or the director gaining a bipolar personality disorder.  So the wife and her lover filled in for him.

They evidently could not resolve their differences, because episode 7 was about Wanko, episode 8 went back to the main storyline, episode 9 was about Mero, and episode 10 went back to the main story line again.  And episode 11 and 12 are a different thing altogether.  I made a graph to make clear what was going on behind the scenes.

OVA bonus: Wife’s lover and director run away together, and wife and cabaret club girl drink until the wee hours in the morning.  Staff still on mustard strike.

But in all honesty, the director really screwed up halfway through.  One side story isn’t bad, but string together Mero, Wanko, and Rea’s parents, along with some plot holes about Chihiro and Mero’s zombie mother, and you end up with something rotting so fast, even hydrangea leaves can’t help.

And speaking of which…

  • MISS: Episode 11

I had to include this specific episode under a separate category because it is such an outlier.

If this one episode had been modified, the entire show would have been a decent watch.  Mero and Wanko’s episodes weren’t bad, just a bit out of place.  And shoving in that episode about Rea’s past does show some rushing on the part of the Director, but it would have been passable.

But this episode… this damn episode… it ruins anything and everything Sankarea stood for.  Just look at that bunny girl shot above.  Why would you ever even think of putting that godawful scene into such a great show?

The eleventh episode took the whole father-daughter conflict and threw it into the trash.  It’s nice to have something new and refreshing, but watching Chihiro make an ass of himself was not refreshing – it was annoying.  And to top it off, we have some maids forcefully inserting fanservice into the show at a very inappropriate point.  While Chihiro is trying to take a morally correct stand, you see Rea in the background dressed in a bunny suit.  How is this in any way acceptable?

Take a lesson from Shigofumi.  Now that was a show that had a supernatural father-daughter conflict and pulled it off.  Take out the mindless fanservice shots.  Make Chihiro and Danichirou’s confrontation more serious (optional).  Don’t be in such a hurry to wrap up the conflict.

The key word most people are using to describe Sankarea is “potential.”  It had a hell of a lot of potential, with a likable cast, an extraordinary art style, great music, and a perfect premise.  And then DEEN shot itself in the head, throwing all that away for some cheap fanservice shots and a terribly misguided set of episodes.

It’s a damn shame to see a great show like this degenerate.  I know that no matter how much I loved episodes 1-10 and 12, I won’t be able to recommend Sankarea to anybody because on the whole, it’s nothing special.  And that just breaks my heart.

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