No matter how genuine a show’s eagerness to make a point, it doesn’t help if it sabotages itself right away by doing exactly what it’s trying to avoid or bring attention to. It’s like if Batman robbed a bank after foiling a potential robbery, or if somebody on a diet moved next door to a bakery specializing in their favorite pastry; yeah, there could be factors that lead to it being their only option, but it still undermines whatever argument’s being made if seven jelly doughnuts are bought on the way to work. I guess what I’m trying to say is that bakeries are terrible places to move next to, and Sankarea couldn’t have missed its own point by a larger margin if it tried.
The best thing I can say about it is that it continues to make the point that Danichiro’s possessive treatment of Rea, as a possession meant to be kept as a prize rather than a human girl with a desire to do normal human girl stuff, is directly responsible for her death and her continued drive to stay as far away from him as physically possible. And yet, at its core, Sankarea bears the unmistakable pedigree, or lack thereof, of exploitation; something reveling in excessive fanservice that detracts from the overall presentation. So while it preaches about treating Rea like a normal girl that should live her life how she wants it, it also has her chained in a dungeon and forced into a bunny suit.
While there’s been hilariously blatant fanservice before, it had never gotten to the point of the strongest point of the series—the dysfunctional, unhealthy relationship between Rea and her father. So while unwarranted close-ups of Wanko’s ass are annoying, as are close-ups of Rea’s, they were isolated from the meat of what I’d hesitate to call the story, relegated to flesh out the stilted romcom elements where they couldn’t hurt anything. That changed when Rea stood around in a bunny suit while her father impaled Chihiro with a rapier, doing nothing but gaping mystified while Chihiro chastised him. I’m not saying that it completely disregards the message, but it seems a bit disingenuous to put Rea in a skimpy, attention-getting outfit while preaching that she doesn’t want to live on a pedestal, under a watchful eye. There’s a definite problem with tone consistency that ruins any sentimentality, and I can’t for the life of me understand why keeping the comedy and Poe-faced aspects separate is such a difficult endeavor.
If Sankarea were a smarter show, I’d say that it’s intentionally being hypocritical for the sake of drawing attention not to Danichiro’s treatment of Rea, but to the propensity of fanservice shows to attempt characterization in ways that fall flat on their face. But since it’s had a bizarre lack of tact with fanservice placement, I wouldn’t give it anywhere near that much credit.
I’ve covered most of this before, which is why the post is coming up a bit short. The fanservice isn’t that bad when it can’t hurt the plot, but placing it in the middle of a serious discussion while not adding anything only serves to harm whatever moral it’s trying to make and validate my previous exploitation label. Sankarea’s still great, and it continues to be deceptively smart hwen it counts, but parading the titular character in fetishistic outfits during key plot moments doesn’t help it any.