Or, “why you should never have unreasonable hope that a show will be good”. Phew, I’m really blowing my load early on these posts, but as always, there’s more to be said.
To be fair, Sankarea did give me some reason to be hopeful. Sure, it was a rom-com about High Schoolers, but there was enough unique in the premise for me to think it might be a bit of fun.
For those who don’t know, Sankarea is a romantic comedy about a boy with a zombie fetish, who tries to resurrect his recently deceased cat, and accidentally zombifies an emotionally screwed-up rich girl who wants to be zombified so she can escape her over-controlling parents and live a “normal life” (this whole set-up isn’t realised until a few episode in, but it doesn’t feel like spoilers when this is all given in the synopsis). Why yes, that is a pretty fucked-up premise, and I was perfectly aware that it’s oddities would be but a shallow mask for standard rom-com antics, but a unique premise is enough to attract me these days, and I was feeling like a slightly mindless feel-good show to accompany my many mind-numbing Senior Physics assignments.
Now I like the premise, so I’m going to keep talking about it. What does the premise suggest to you? Because to me, it screams black comedy, and this is just one of the many areas Sankarea has proceeded to disappoint.
The first episode didn’t help. Not because it’s bad, but because it was actually quite promising. Despite some jarring sexual comedy, and one character that has garnered some quantity of hate for reliably cheapening any scene in which she is present; the visuals were nice, the SHAFT-influenced direction was great, and the main characters had some degree of chemistry.
The second episode was also promising. The placement, or even presence of the fanservice was severe mood-whiplash level jarring, but the ep handled some pretty serious issues pretty well. Rea, our female lead’s emotional abuse was pretty poignant, with more good direction and a steady pace. That the series had bothered to dedicate a whole episode to this piece of back-story was surprising. I had expected, going into the show, that Rea would be killed, zombified, and participating in standard fare rom-com antics by the end of episode 1, but they were really taking their time setting the scene, and that again seemed promising.
Apparently it wasn’t only me who built up unreasonable hope from the first two episodes, and if you follow that link you’ll also find some info on the staff that are working on this show, and hence why the good direction, visuals etc. are no great surprise.
Episode 3, while not exactly bad, was probably pretty indicative of the turn things were taking. On the one hand, we have ridiculous, egregious fanservice. On the other hand, when the death scene finally came, it was visceral and shocking.
On a side note, who the hell tries to climb through a narrow pipe with their tennis racket still on their back?
Episode 4 was on a steep downhill slide, but still not completely horrible. Brazen fanservice and gainaxing takes a stronger hold, but there’s still some semblance of coherence and intrigue. Also, the different coloured eyes in the ED was a nice touch.
It’s not till episode 5 that we really hit shark-jumping territory. Coherence and what remaining dignity there was are thrown out the window along with Rea’s pants, apparently, because I don’t remember her wearing anything on her bottom-half once since being zombified at the end of ep 3. Undertones of necrophilia certainly don’t help the increasingly inappropriate fanservice, if you could even call it that in consideration of the aforementioned undertones. The terribleness culminates in Rea ripping off our protagonist’s cousin’s top and licking her chest for no given reason. It would be understandable to think you were watching some high budget pornographic fanfic rather than the actual show. I don’t know where this show is going, and I really don’t care. I skimmed ahead in the manga to see if things would improve at all, but it certainly didn’t look like it.
It reminds me of Bakemonogatari. It was never on the same level as Bakemonogatari, but the feeling that potential was not fulfilled for the sake of jarring, masturbatory fantasy, is fairly common to the two.