Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sankarea - 04

[Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_08.28_[2012.04.27_12.59.07] [Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_10.41_[2012.04.27_13.01.21] [Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_11.16_[2012.04.27_13.01.55]

Trying to get a handle on this series is like trying to hit a moving target.

Sankarea is another one of the weird but fascinating shows this season, quite unlike anything else I've seen.  Sometimes I find myself wondering, “Can this possibly be DEEN?” as I watch the gorgeous landscapes and spectacular character animation – not to mention that we got an actual SHAFT head tilt this week, in case anyone was still in doubt about that connection.  And now that I think of it, how is it that zombies can blush, exactly, without any blood circulation?  Do the laws of moe trump all?

Mostly though, the issue is that every time I feel as if I’m close to getting at what this show is really about, it completely changes course and leaves me in the dust.  There were some moments this week that were as close to the kawaii factor of Denpa Onna - which probably sets the modern standard for adolescent cuteness in recent anime – as I’ve seen.  But many of those moments involved a girl who’d just died a horrible death, escaping her abusive and demented father by getting her intestines ripped out of her body falling from a cliff.  Then there are the supporting cast – Wanko, who’s exploited for fanservice at every moment.  Mero, a sort of classic snarky imouto who’s being played by Iguchi Yuka as an exact vocal clone of Chihara Minori’s Chiaki from Minami-ke.  Grandpa, an over-the-top slapstick ojii-san (who may be a zombie himself, as he eats hydrangea leaves).  And Chihiro’s two friends – the oversexed and obnoxious Yasutaka, who plays like a reject from a bad 90’s school romance, and the absurdly feminine Mogi, who I’m really beginning to think might be a trap because really, could that actually be a guy in high school?

The point is that I can’t make them all fit together – the characters in this series feel like they were plucked from six different anime and thrown together in a box to see how they’d interact.  And the tones of the series are no more consistent, as each cast member seems to carry their own mood with them like a fog bank – Dan’ichiro’s menacing sickness, Aria’s bitter, alcoholic rage, Rea’s innocently sexy sadness, Chihiro’s offbeat teenaged-boy fetishism.  What’s strange is that this all somehow works, though whether that’s in spite of the dissonance or because of it (I suspect the latter) I’m not wholly sure. 

A good example would be Rea’s shower scene.  It makes us uncomfortable because she’s a zombie, and we know it – yet she’s quite natural in marveling at the nature of a working-class bathroom, and hilarious in trying to figure out what a loofa is for.  No, it’s not for exercising boobs – but all of the different reactions that action conjures in the audience are remarkable.  At the very least it’s a clever and stylish visual touch, which the series is full of – like Mogi sliding down the embankment to sit next to Wanko – but we also get extremely disturbing imagery like Rea sewing her guys back inside her body and smiling because it doesn’t hurt.

Fundamentally, the most challenging question the series asks of us is what we make of Chihiro’s fetish, and his current situation.  Finally he confronts this head-on – nosebleeds at the thought of having a zombie girl in his room at last (and a sexy one at that).  When she began to put the moves on him though, was some small part of you wondering if she’d take a bite out of his face instead of kiss it?  And what if they had kissed (curse you for interrupting, Wanko!) – what would that act represent, and what would we feel about it?  We have a boy with a zombie fetish who has a sweet, beautiful dead girl in his bed – and rigor mortis is setting in.  Don’t get too comfortable, Chihiro – or audience.   What is his responsibility here?  He certainly caused this to happen by trying to raise Babu, but he just as certainly had no idea that Rea was thinking of using the potion herself.  And then there’s the matter of psycho-Dad (Ishizuka Unshou at his creepy best, giving us a great Yin/Yang of performances this season with this and his superlative Lehm in Jormungand) declaring his intent to revenge himself against Chihiro, and take Rea back into imprisonment.

The mechanics of the story actually seem almost predictable compared to the character side.  It seems obvious that Rea will need to eat hydrangea leaves to stave off the decay of her body – Babu seems to have known this, animals having better instincts than humans even in death – though what this implies about Grandpa isn’t clear (nor is the question of whether him misremembering his late wife’s name is a joke, or important).  Babu seems to indicate that there’s a settling-down after a few days of zombiehood, based on the fact that his eyes returned to normal, and there’s no indication that the dead need to feast on the flesh of the living here (I really hope not).  The most interesting practical question for me is Rea’s “living” arrangements – Chihiro can’t keep her a secret in his room forever, and that’s not even considering her father’s interest in getting her back.  However all that plays out, I think it’s a safe bet that it’ll be entertaining, disturbing and emotionally impactful.

[Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_06.47_[2012.04.27_12.57.11] [Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_07.42_[2012.04.27_12.58.22] [Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_08.01_[2012.04.27_12.58.41]
[Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_10.07_[2012.04.27_13.00.46] [Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_10.34_[2012.04.27_13.01.14] [Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_10.46_[2012.04.27_13.01.25]
[Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_10.59_[2012.04.27_13.01.39] [Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_11.23_[2012.04.27_13.02.03] [Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_11.34_[2012.04.27_13.02.14]
[Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_12.30_[2012.04.27_13.03.10] [Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_12.37_[2012.04.27_13.03.17] [Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_13.47_[2012.04.27_13.04.27]
[Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_13.54_[2012.04.27_13.04.33] [Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_14.36_[2012.04.27_13.05.16] [Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_16.07_[2012.04.27_13.06.47]
[Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_16.39_[2012.04.27_13.07.19] [Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_16.44_[2012.04.27_13.07.54] [Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_16.45_[2012.04.27_13.07.55]
[Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_17.24_[2012.04.27_13.08.34] [Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_18.09_[2012.04.27_13.09.19] [Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_18.49_[2012.04.27_13.09.59]
[Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_19.54_[2012.04.27_13.11.04] [Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_19.59_[2012.04.27_13.11.09] [Commie] Sankarea - 04 [108B653A].mkv_snapshot_20.45_[2012.04.27_13.11.55]


15 comments:

  1. I agree pretty much on the weird tone, and how dissonant it is from scene to scene.

    Rea only got cuter after dieing, and I must commend Uchida Maayu's slurred speech. She's really making Rea come...well..."alive".

    Curious to see what comes of Wanko's admiring Kouhai, though I certainly know what I want to happen.

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  2. And now that I think of it, how is it that zombies can blush, exactly, without any blood circulation?

    I knew some one would point that out ;). It's better not to think too much about it, if you ask me.

    On a side note, Hattori Mitsuru (the author of the manga) posted a little note in the latest chapter saying he's having an active role in this adaptation and assuring this will remain faithful (here for those curious, no spoilers), which might be the reason this is turning out so well.

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  3. I love how her eyes turned red in the ED =) I know it's just a detail, but I liked it, it makes me feel like things can't go back to how they used to be, she's no longer human...

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  4. Considering its the same director as Denpa Onna, that makes some sense. And, yeah, very similar vibe for the "cute" parts. Plus, Chihiro is acting a lot like Makoto, so that improves the connection bits.

    Still, if you said this was a SHAFT show, no one would think otherwise. So the SHAFTlings really can take the style wherever they go and replicate it.

    The weird thing about this series is it does have a consistent tone. I'm just not sure we've even got words to describe it. Makes for an interesting viewing experience.

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    1. Well, Hatakeyama was an episode director and storyboarder, but Shinbou supposedly directed Denpa Onna.

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    2. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=11808

      Okay, somehow I thought it was Miyamoto that was working on this, as well. Okay, my bad there.

      Apparently Hatakeyama is well known for his animation production in Hentai series. I guess all of the fanservice and working at SHAFT, under Shinbou, makes a whole lot of sense. Well, he's a really good mimic of the style, that's for sure. Which probably means that the "SHAFT style" will eventually be a movement unto itself for a while.

      I still don't get how this is a Studio DEEN series. Though they've handled Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka? pretty well, so maybe DEEN has some new management and it's improving the production quality?

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    3. Interestingly he's usually worked under the name Shinichi Omata. I would say he's proving himself more than a mimic - I think he's doing a better job with it than in almost any Shinbou series. He's left behind some of the busier and more obnoxious elements and incorporated the best of the style.

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  5. I may sound extremely weird but I had the weirdest boner on Rea's shower scene. D'Oh.

    And this episode might seem laid back but it's still amazing. I'm still in disbelief that this is DEEN when we got a head tilt now. This is certainly one of the best adaptations of all, mainly because as stated above, the author works as a part of the staff. But credit still goes to the director. He's certainly someone to look forward to one of these days.
    And we seem to have an abundance of black-haired female main characters with newbie seiyuus this season. An interesting trend but it's certainly something when all those shows are pretty great.
    I certainly am having fun this season. Needs more Rea and Wanko.

    Just a friendly reminder to remember where Chihiro found the recipe for the potion. So yeah.

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    Replies
    1. Rea's supposed to be both fan-bait and make you uncomfortable. There's no other way to take her encounter with Loofah. (Aside from the director saying "Remember, I did porn! Plus if we can sell 10k BluRays per disc I'll be able to buy a house!")

      Which I guess makes it a multi-dimensional Squicky moment.

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  6. Moe of the Dead. Loofa of the Ecchi. Wanko is a Wanker(single cliched moment of this whole show)

    One of the most admirable things about Sankarea is that the story is constantly moving at a great pace. The direction maybe changing constantly as well but that makes the show much less predictable and enjoyable. In a world of mostly stagnant and short one-way street romances, Sankarea takes the dark twisting alley ways to reach its final destination and I am getting a much better kick following Sankarea's route rather than routes set by most other animes.

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  7. The Laws of Moe are the most powerful laws in the universe, obviously. This show confuses my man tackle something fierce. Since her body will pretty much always be room temperature now you'd have to move to the desert to do the deed, doing it with someone who's body was at 75 degrees instead of 97.5 would be too, too weird. And just imagine if they live in a place where it gets really cold in the winter. It would be like doing it with an ice statue. The implications of this are legitimately blowing my mind right now.

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    Replies
    1. That's true, that's true, they could do that, but come on. Variety is the spice of life. They're gonna want to do it in other places. Maybe since she's already dead and can't feel pain they can just pop her into a huge microwave until she's at the appropriate temperature. There are some real logistical issues with this relationship that are gonna have to be navigated if Chihiro's dream of living happily ever after with a zombie are going to come true.

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  8. I find the current conversation intriguing and a bit disturbing. Don't mind me, carry on ;)

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