Something’s odd about Sankarea, from my perspective. Maybe it’s the fact that contrary to what I thought going in, I’ve come out thinking that the characters and themes are surprisingly interesting for the kind of show that it is. So I guess going in expecting shit and coming out thoroughly impressed is a surprisingly new concept for me, though if Mirai Nikki indicated anything it’s that I’m usually wrong when going in thinking something will be shit. But really, what makes Sankarea actually good? For me, it’s way it made me realize that zombies are still a relevant plot trope.
Sankarea is a show about zombies, that much is known, but very little of it is actually spent stewing in the same stagnant pool that most zombie media has been marinating in for the past several years. Usually stories about zombies focus on the ramifications of the world at large turning into mindless, slavering beasts and their impact on the remaining survivors; it shows that our society’s trappings are fragile things that can be unwound at any time. Even shows that don’t take this route, such as Kore wa Zombie Desu ka, don’t try anything new with the subject matter. Before Sankarea, I thought the zombie medium to be an undead horse that’s been beaten and limping around for far too long. However, now I’m not so sure that it’s completely limped its course despite our culture’s baffling fascination with the living dead, and it’s all thanks to Sankarea.
Even if the remainder of the show devolves into the same goofy cat faces I railed on earlier, which thankfully doesn’t seem too likely, I can say that Sankarea gave me hope that there’s more that can be squeezed out of the zombie plot device. There are still unexplored themes to be delved into from here, as can be seen by how the show depicts Rea’s interactions with her father.
To call her father a bastard would be an understatement; there is a special place in hell for people like him, true scum that sees everyone in their lives as nothing but pawns to be manipulated and discarded as they see fit. He’s a cold, domineering individual that doesn’t see Rea as somebody with a will of her own, only as somebody to manipulate to fit his warped image of a perfect child. Even his benign warning that she shouldn’t eat the poisonous plants growing all around their house don’t seem to be anything but him protecting what he sees as his property. His abuse has eventually brought her to the point that she realizes she’s nothing but an object to him, and is completely willing to throw away her own life to end the torment of having to live with it. There are hints that she still takes Furuya’s joking suggestions that she take the zombie potion with a little more than a grain of salt.
It’s not a case of her being naïve, but of her actually contemplating taking it to end her current life and start anew. The life Rea lives is torn between two omnipresent fears: Of her father, and of death. Avoiding one means damning herself to the other, and it makes her a ticking time bomb ready to snap at any minute from emotional stress. But of course it’s not that she doesn’t try to resolve the situation with her father in a way that doesn’t involve dying. It’s shown that no matter what, her father ultimately has more power over her existence than even she does, and it will be a constant danger in her life until one of them dies. As unfortunate as it is, she chooses her own death over living with her father for just one more day, which ends with her rising up again because she did it by drinking the zombie potion.
Whether she finds a way to deal with the demons in her old life while in her current state of undeath remains to be seen, but I see potential for a story that will breathe new life (pardon the pun) into something that I previously thought not worth paying attention to. So thanks, Sankarea, for making me enjoy zombies again.