Sankarea – 01

Furuya Chihiro is the son of a widowed priest who lives on temple grounds with his little sister, father, and grandpa. He’s always had a fascination with zombie romance. When his cat Baabu is hit by a car, he tries to resurrect it by following a mysterious old book he found. He does this in an abandoned resort, the same place where the troubled Sanka Rea – daughter of the rich and powerful Sanka family – comes to scream her heart out into a well. When she detects him watching her, she promises to do anything in exchange for his discretion. When he jokingly asks her to be his test subject for the resurrection drug, then admits he only likes zombie girls, she agrees to become his zombie…

We like ourselves nice and simple yet novel and quirky stories, and we have one right here. A kid with an interesting family situation has an even more interesting proclivity. He doesn’t just like zombies…he loves them. Does it matter why? Not really. Suffice it to say this kid is weird, and any normal high school girl would totally lose it when he shows her his dead-for-days cat he’s trying to bring back to life. She may even call the cops on him. But not the titular Sanka Rea. She’s not normal. Her father takes nude pictures of her to document her growth. She hates her entitled but strict and sheltered life, and wants a new one, so she understands Furuya. She doesn’t even flinch at his venture – she even pets his damn dead cat.

The somewhat messed-up yet oddly endearing relationship between Furuya and Sanka is the core of this episode. Furuya seems a shy fella (his half-year-older cousin loves to tease him with her bod, in one of the less endearing scenes of the episode), but he’s also aware of how pure and unblemished by the trials of society this girl is, and as such, is a lot more comfortable talking to her. He lays it all out: his fetish, what he’s doing with his cat; what he’d kinda sorta want to do to her (make her a zombie); all of it honest without any beating around the bush. Here I am; take it or…run away screaming. And much to his surprise, Sanka still likes him…and in the somewhat confusing ending, she actually becomes a zombie, entrails leaking out and everything. Furuya just got what he wished for. We’ll see if he can handle it!

Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Natsuiro Kiseki – 01

Natsumi, Yuka, Saki, and Rinko have been inseparable for years, but Saki and Natsumi have a bad falling-out when Saki’s family plans to move away and she doesn’t tell anyone. Yuka and Rin trick them into meeting at the rock on temple grounds where the four of them made a wish years ago which came true. When Rinko idly wishes to fly, the other three wish the same thing and end up suspended hundreds of feet in the air. When they return to earth, Saki stalks away, but the fact remains, a miracle occured that day.

AnoHana was our second-favorite series of 2011 partly because it so effortlessly and seamlessly combined elements of drama, coming-of-age, slice-of-life, with a light sprinkling of the supernatural. That’s similar to what we get here. You have a grouping of old friends, swept up in time and circumstances that wreak havoc on their friendships. There’s Natsumi the serious jock with the carrot top; Yuka the raven-haired goof; Rin(ko) the quiet pinkhead, and Saki, the blonde sourpuss. As they’ve grown older Saki and Natsumi in particular drifted apart, perhaps because they never really got along as well as the other two members of the gorup, or perhaps because the women they’re growing up to be just aren’t compatible personalities.

Whatever the case, the group’s sudden and unexpected flight will definitely plant a seed in everyone’s head about just what’s possible with their wishing stone…or not. When the magic was over, Saki seemed unimpressed on the surface, while Yuka and Rin’s sense of wonder was tempered by their exasperation at not being able to get through to their pessimistic friend. But on the whole, we liked what we saw in this opening episode. There’s lots of really well-drawn and detailed facial expressions, and lots of great voice talent that really breathes life into the characters. This definitely looks to have more drama conflict than, say, Tamayura ~hitotose~, but likely less over supernatural content than AnoHana, and plenty of lovingly-depicted slice-of-life.

Rating: 7 (Very Good)