Funny story, when a friend recommended the manga to me a few years ago I ignored it because of the ecchi tag. Back then I saw perverted series as nothing more than a cheap way to sell to hormonal people (and even the good ones mostly are just that), come present time and stuff like High-school DxD and Prison School have shown me that such a tag doesn’t necessarily mean everything is garbage and so I no longer feel so against the idea of consuming some of that media.
This preamble serves no purpose, just like Sankarea’s story, but I felt the need to add this to say that eventually when I did give Sankarea a chance I found something enjoyable, yet lacking in more ways than one.
And thus I will talk to you a bit about it and how this story doesn’t really go anywhere.
In the same way that some other works have been called fake deep, Sankarea is fake tragic.
But before that let’s talk about the story and characters.
Sankarea tells the story of Chihiro Furuya and Rea Sanka (titular heroine.)
He a zombie otaku with an interest that goes far deeper than it should, in mental health terms at least, and she a sheltered princess that just wants to live a normal life.
And then she dies.
Except not really.
Chihiro’s cat Babu has died, and having in his possession a book with a recipe for a resurrection drug he figures he might as well give it a shot. Hoping to see him move again. However the book has a damaged page, and so he has to experiment with different plants to see if he can get the thing to work and bring his beloved cat back to life. During these experiments he becomes acquainted with Rea and both of them start working together. Cue Rea’s overly “affectionate” father seeing them one night and proceeding to mistake them for a romantic couple.
That’s when she dies.
Dead in the first episode (anime) and if I remember correctly second or so chapter (manga).
But wait, all is good for the main girl of the series, because she had tried committing suicide earlier by drinking the potion that didn’t work, since it had a poisonous plant as an ingredient.
Except, it did work.
Cue zombie romantic comedy.
I mean, eww.
From this point on Chihiro has to take care of both zombies, Rea and Babu, while trying to look for a way to preserve their decomposing bodies and stop them from going on a full on eating rampage.
Some things may be considered spoilers from this point on.
You see later on (the anime doesn’t get the chance to fully develop these as it ends very early on in the story) it is revealed that in their delirium zombies confuse love with hunger, and so when a certain state of decomposition is reached they start craving the flesh of those they held dearest, before going even more off their rocker and just feasting on everything that may or may not entirely move.
So basically they feed you the line that if Chihiro doesn’t find a way to restore or preserve Rea she will either rot completely, eat him, or will have to be killed again.
Except even when one of the conditions gets fulfilled nothing really happens.
Rea loses her mind and eats Chihiro’s heart, except just at the last moment he gets a transplant and turns out to be alive! And she is no longer insane! And her body isn’t decomposing! And Babu is fine too!
See what I meant?
All the emotional weight of the developments is discarded because of reasons (Deus Ex Machina?) in such a way that almost screams “sudden cancellation that didn’t leave a chance to close things up neatly”, though that is just a supposition on my behalf.
At the end of the story every character is almost in the same place where they began. Except for those that, you know, died. And stayed dead.
Tragedy happens then gets subverted, thus making it meaningless. There’s not much growth, if any, for the characters.
In the end Chihiro is that same zombie otaku with that shōnen mindset of I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do, and Rea is the same airhead she always was. The side characters also see little to no development, partially because of a lack of screen time, sort of.
In the end what I’ve got to say is that it’s pretty much an interesting tale that doesn’t live up to its full potential, the heart breaking tragedy they sell builds up a ton of dramatic tension that leads to nothing at worst, and not much at best.
While I wouldn’t go as far as to say that you shouldn’t watch or read it I would also have a hard time recommending it to anyone.
Most of the cast is likeable, the animation looks good enough and the manga has some good art at parts.
It has those good points, even if the story sadly ends up somewhat on the weaker side.