I’m utterly torn by Sankarea. It has beautiful art direction and some fascinating ideas, but it’s also about as exploitative as anime gets. There’s just so much to like about it though, starting with the girl who became a zombie.
Of course, to become a zombie, one must first die. Sanka commits suicide because her father is a massive creep (and, I would argue, a moe otaku,) so obsessed his daughter’s innocence that he’s stopping her from setting foot in the outside world.
There’s a twisted logic to the metaphors being spun here, where a decaying body and spilt guts is symbolic of a girl’s coming of age. She’s happy to be damaged and sew-up the gaping tear across her stomach if it means being able to live a normal life.
She’s no longer human, though. Her body has lost all feeling and she can’t sleep any more. In the last episode, she’s just laying on a bed by an open window whilst others are sleeping. Later, she expresses her affection by biting her crush’s lip. His blood trickles from her mouth and in Sankarea‘s weird way, it’s a beautiful expression of feeling, but there’s a sad undercurrent, too. Love is a messy thing.
Indeed, I’m so close to loving this series, but there’s no denying that it too often feels exploitative and gross. It’s not just the fan-service (of which there’s many a scene full of jiggling breasts and panty-shots) but how it exploits Sanka’s zombified state as a cheap excuse to have her be molested (or molest others!) The first three episodes are some of the best anime I’ve seen for a long time, but after them, I came close to giving up. Try as I might, though, I couldn’t do it.
This was directed by first-timer Mamoru Hatakeyama, whose resume suggests that he’s a protegé of Akiyuki Shinbo and Studio SHAFT, and just like his mentors’ use of abstract art, this is laced with so many beautiful shots that my heart was stolen barely an episode in. There’s a lot of Revolutionary Girl Utena in here, too.
I’ve got so many screenshots, so many, but I still can’t recommend Sankarea. Alas, it remains one hell of an interesting failure.