This extra episode, curiously not available until after episode “14”, is a “The Story So Far” as told by Babu the cat (who we’ve never heard talk before, let alone narrate), and an exercise in slice-of-life – or slice-of-undead, as it were. Babu enjoys his only slightly-different cat life, while Rea enjoys her new-found freedom and immense strength. Furuya is ever the scolding, worry-prone companion, but both Babu and Rea are on the same page: they’re living “life” to the fullest, for they never know if or when their bodies will rot away to nothing.
And then, just when you thought this was just one last parting peek into their lives, a plane flies overhead, with a woman on board with a zombie owl, who may be a zombie herself, musing on a zombie’s “Confused Period”, in which it mindlessly devours its family and friends. Which seems to be a prelude to some kind of continuation of Sankarea down the road. Which wouldn’t be unwelcome; just surprising. After all, it’s been a most enjoyable series, and it was nice to hear that hauntingly beautiful ED theme one more time.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
With Dan’ichiro away, Rea’s stepmother Aria live alone in the house, eating little, drinking much, getting driven to Rea’s school where she is headmistress, and generally being bored out of her mind. Meanwhile, Mero finds an unconscious girl under the temple and brings her in. The girl won’t talk but seems to have it in for Rea, and proceeds to stealthily harass and terrorize her. Once the jig is up and the others confront her, she runs out to the graveyard, where she reveals she’s Aria. Furuya lectures her on being nicer to her daughter, and she fumes and unleashes a torrent of glowing rain. She then wakes up in her bathtub. It was only a dream, but Rea and Furuya had it to.
Bored, miserable, and under-, nay, non-sexed, and always deep into a bottle of Vitamin XO, Aria tries to take her frustrations out on the only person she has control over besides her mocking household staff: her stepdaughter. When she starts touching herself in the tub and goes underwater, and the episode then cuts to the Furuya residence, we thought that would pretty much all we’d see of Aria. How wrong we were! The entirety of the episode after that only took place in a dream, albeit a dream that she, Rea, and Furuya had at the same time. It’s a clever little device, but we have to admit, when the girl reveals she’s Aria (with her beauty spot), we were a little lost for a moment. How is a little girl Rea’s mom???
Happily, the episode explains itself soon thereafter, and everything ends up making sense…more or less. And hey, the dream even ends up changing Aria’s tune; she ultimately decides the petty punishment she was forcing the school to mete out to Rea simply out of spite didn’t catch her fancy anymore. What’s funny is that Furuya’s rejection of the dream-Aria was an interaction between the two that actually happened and wasn’t just a dream. That makes this more interesting, because the typical “never happened” or “reset button” aspects of dream episodes don’t apply here.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Furuya starts wavering in the face of the responsibility of caring for Rea. Is it posssible to give her the normal life he promised, or is he holding her back? Rea insists she’s fine with the way things are, but wants to start going to school. When the fireworks festival rains out, Ranko suggests they have their own. Rea continues to feel uncomfortable with Ranko, but they have a talk while Ranko helps her into a yukata, and make their rivalry official. Furuya and Rea return to the bowling alley where they met, where Rea converts to zombie mode and bite-kisses him.
With Dan’Ichiro’s reluctant blessing and bestowing of his daughter’s welfare upon Furuya, the final episode of Sankarea marks mostly a return to the status quo; a comfortable resting spot upon which to wrap things up (although the very end was a little confusing; more on that later). Furuya doesn’t find a miracle remedy for Rea’s body rot; Gramps doesn’t have another lucid moment in which he reveals anything useful, and even though he has two girls gunning for him, he’s still not interested in making a choice between the two, because he’s more concerned with other things.
Ranko was thankfully toned-down in this episode, with her boobs never occupying a full frame, and her quick, direct “Yes, I love him” to Rea was as good a way as any to make her understand she won’t just let her have Furuya without a fight (Not a physical fight, obvviously; Rea would win easily). So much is left unresolved. Then there was the final scene, where Rea suddenly becomes dead-eyed and embraces Furuya. We imagine forget her hydrangea leaves, but with the series ending right there, it’s one final statement about how neither Rea nor Furuya have an easy road ahead. Perhaps the second OVA will expound on that.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Seven months prior to the events of Episode 01, Furuya travels to Tohoku with his father, Mero, and Ranko to help an uncle donate his large book collection. Dan’ichiro just happens to choose the same village as the setting for his latest photo shoot with Rea. A drunken Aria takes her frustrations out on Rea, leading Rea to consider “disappearing.” While sifting through books, Furuya finds an old photo of his deceased mother, and the wind blows it to a hole in the floor where he finds the occult recipe book. When he gets separated from Mero and Ranko, he happens upon the very hot spring where Rea is bathing, leading to their meeting for the first time.
Yes, Rea and Furuya met before he saw her yelling into a well at an abandoned hotel – though it was so brief (and stressful to both), perhaps it was struck from their memories. It matters not; from that point onward they were fated to meet again. After all, this is where Furuya found a book containing just the thing that would help Rea escape her life and become reborn as someone else. It is a book we know his gramps knows about (or knew about before he got senile), and for all we know, whatever happened to his and Mero’s mom may have involved the same dark powers he employed to bring Babu and Rea back.
As extra episodes go, this is a good meaty one, painting a picture of the horrible life Rea lived that led her to start screaming into wells in the first place. Her dad is a freak and she knows what he’s doing isn’t right, but is too frightened and cowed to fight him. She’s respectful to her “mother” Aria, but gets only contempt and disgust from her. Divorcing Dan’ichiro, while a good and sensible idea in theory, would mean giving up on all the wealth and power she worked so hard for, so she sticks around, drowning her sorrows. More than anything, this episode perfectly illustrates how much better off Rea is with Furuya and his family than she was with her fucked up parents…even if she had to die to be free.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Car Cameos: Furuya’s family piles into an original Mini Cooper. A flash BMW 6-Series follows them through the tollbooth.
Dan’ichiro takes Furuya to his fencing hall and challenges him to a duel. If Furuya can hit him, he wins. Rea has arrived at her house, but her father’s maids capture her and dress her up for fun until she breaks her binds and races to the hall. She arrives right after her father has run Furuya through, but he isn’t dead, after being “infected” by some of Rea’s “poison” before, he is temporarily half-zombie. He headbutts Dan’ichiro and convinces him to let Rea make her own choice. He entrusts Rea to his care and heads abroad to search for a cure for her zombification.
We have to admire Furuya’s poise throughout this Dan’ichiro ordeal. Not only does he maintain his cool despite the fact he’s up against someone who has the power to literally erase his existence without consequence, he even uses what Danny Boy’s wife Aria told him to call him out on his bullshit. He doesn’t want to save Rea. He wants to save the reincarnation of his wife. Well, Rea’s more than that. She has her own dreams and desires, and their nothing special; she just wants to be a normal girl. A normal undead girl. Surprisingly, Dan’ichiro relents.
We’re also surprised how quickly the peril is deflated not only by Furuya’s nonchalance, taunting, and eventual realization that a rapier through his gut is no biggie, but by the silly cosplay that goes on between the maids and Rea. That said, we like how Rea blocks her father’s killing blow, probably using a little of her zombie strength but also the fencing skills he taught her. What we didn’t like so much was Furuya’s wake-up scene. Here’s a guy who, again, had just been impailed, and everyone treats him like they’re trying to finish what Dan’ichiro started. Leave the guy alone and let his wound heal. And oh yeah, Rea now knows she has competition in Ranko. Whoop-dee-doo…
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Tied up in a dark room, Furuya is approached by Aria, Dan’ichiro’s wife and Rea’s stepmother. She tells him the story of how she became a trusted member of the Sanka family’s household staff, but like the other maids, could not seduce Dan’ichiro, who ended up marrying a sickly 15-year-old who attended a charity fencing event at his house. She died giving birth to Rea, and Dan went into a spiral of despair, nearly starving himself. Aria nursed him back to health and Dan married her, but only so Rea could have a mother. Meanwhile, Rea races to her former home to rescue Furuya.
With Furuya firmly in Dan’ichiro’s clutches, we truly didn’t know what would happen. His judgement upon Furuya was ultimately delayed this week, but not without good reason: this episode was all about Aria, Dan’ichiro’s bitter, drunk, tanned wife, and how she came to be there in the first place. Furuya mostly sits there and listens, which is fine with us; she told quite a stirring and sad story. We learn why she is the way she is, and gain a lot more sympathy and pity for her. What it boils down to is, all she ever wanted from him was Dan’ichiro’s love, but he only had love for Rea, the gift his beloved teenage wife gave him before passing away. For Rea’s whole childhood – fifteen years – Aria has been on the sidelines. Her scheme to possess Dan’ichiro’s heart backfired, and badly.
It’s a pretty heartrending moment when the butler shows Aria why she shouldn’t hold out hope Dan’ichiro will ever give her the time of day: he’s utterly obsessed with Rea, and not in a healthy, fatherly way. Aria’s disgust and despair turned to bitterness and hopelessnes. She gave up, and now mills around the mansion with a flask in her garterbelt, aimless and useless. And while Dan’ichiro can claim child porn among his crimes, we can’t help but feel a degree of pity for him too, considering who quite possibly was the love of his life, snatched away before hertime. We’re not sure if losing Rea to Furuya even caused him to snap – he had snapped long ago, and was always touched in the head. The point is, he and Aria aren’t evil villains, just deeply flawed human beings. But as Furuya says to a maid, that doesn’t give them the right to kidnap him.
Rating: 8 (Great)
In an episode centered on her, Mero swaps zombie-themed stories with her classmates Ichie and Miko. Ichie believed the art teacher was a zombie with some kind of undead pet, but it turned out to be a crocodile. Miko smelled cooking flesh, but it turned out to be smelly but delicious ramen. Neither of them believe Mero when she tells them of Rea. While visiting her mother’s grave, Rea shows up, and inadvertently reminds Mero of her mother, who also had fair skin and cold hands. Rea wants to help her with chores from now on, and Mero agrees to let her.
We were hoping for some kind of further development and possibly resolution to last week’s cliffhanger in which Furuya finally pays for his reckless attitude regarding the zombified daughter of a psychotic tycoon he’s been harboring. Instead, the series gives us a big ‘ol pause button. A tangent. Fluff. Padding. A diversion. A screeching halt. Color us disappointed. We’ve never much cared for the morose, monotone Mero. Let’s face it; she has the personality of a turnip. What’s next, an episode about Furuya’s dad? Shudder….all about Yasutaka and some perverted scheme involving Rea? A gramps episode? Actually, that could be pretty cool…especially if it took place in the past, when he was young and un-senile. It does seem like he dabbled in zombies.
Despite our disappointment with not getting an immediate follow-up on the central story, we considered not rating this episode as low as last week’s, for three reasons: First, nobody is acting idiotic in this episode. Second, there was no obvious pointless Ranko boobage; indeed, she wasn’t seen at all, only heard. Third and most importantly, there was no Yasutaka. Still, this was shameless filler, so it’s another 2.5 outing. We’re also considering making it RABUJOI policy to dock a half-point from future episodes in which Yasutaka or characters like him are excessively seen or heard. For now, we’d be happy if Rea, Furuya, and Dan’ichiro are in the next episode. That would be nice, wouldn’t it?
Rating: 4 (Fair)
Car Cameo: Mrs. Yamanouchi, the art teacher who brings her pet croc to school and tried eating raw liver whole, drives a comparatively ordinary ’11 Toyota Passo, albeit a peppery red one.
In exchange for letting Furuya document her every move, Rea insists he take her out like a normal girl, fulfilling the promise he made. They spend the day shopping, unaware they’re being tailed by three of Dan’ichiro’s henchmen. When Furuya leaves Sanka alone to grab some food, their first attempt to kidnap her fails when Yasutaka confronts her, and leads her out of the mall. When they try again, she knocks them all out with her zombie strength. Improvising, they kidnap Furuya instead, throwing him in a van bound for Dan’ichiro’s mansion.
We had trouble enjoying this episode because it made so many poor decisions, and Furuya made so many stupid ones, that it’s somewhat hard to overlook them all at this point, though at least he finally paid for his cavalier attitude by being kidnapped. Now Dan’ichiro can do whatever he wants to him, including making good on his previous threat to castrate him. But back to those decisions: after a Ranko-heavy episode that admittedly made her slightly more likable, she already shows up again this week in an extended scene that only exists so we can see what Andy W. Hole would refer to as her “big bangs”. This scene is totally extraneous, as she simply reiterates her desire to win Furuya and her frustration with his sudden intimacy with Rea. Yeah thanks, we already know that. This felt like padding.
Another bad move the episode made was using Yasutaka. We didn’t need the silly red herring of him sneaking up on her, and we certainly didn’t need him to appear in the episode for more than five seconds and have lines. He may be the worst character of the Spring season if not the year, including the series we’ve dropped, and frankly we would have liked to see the kidnappers beat him a little more severely. Perhaps most egregious is Furuya continuing to parade Rea around as if her father were no threat. Dan’ichiro is extremely rich, powerful, and insane…he is a HUGE threat. It’s admirable to give Rea a normal day of shopping, but more descretion was required. If one good thing came out of this episode, it’s that Furuya is finally aware of just how frikkin’ dangerous a situation he’s gotten himself into.
Rating: 4 (Fair)
As Chihiro helps her with her family’s restaurant deliveries, Ranko reminices about her long relationship with him, starting when he found her crying in a cemetary. She fell in love with him on the spot, but fell out of love when she learned he was a shy crybabywho only cared about zombies. She fell back in love when he saved her from a stray dog, and has likely loved him ever since, but now that Rea is in the picture, she’ll have to fight to win that much harder to win his heart.
As we cross the midpoint of the series (quarter-point if it goes 26 episodes), we’re presented with an episode of Sankarea with no Rea. In fact, the protagonist of the series switches from Chihiro to Ranko this week; a risky move considering she hasn’t been the most impressive of characters. As we suspected, all of her teasing thus far has been due to her not being able to properly express her true feelings to Chihiro, and now that he has the zombie girl he always dreamed of, Ranko is jealous of their intimacy (after all, Rea’s already kissed him, a milestone Ranko took very seriously). Frank(enstein)ly, she has an uphill battle ahead of her. Especially since Chihiro obviously doesn’t see her as a potential girlfriend, but as more of a caring, annoying older sister (for the record they’re cousins, but it’s not frowned upon in Japan, even a recent prime minister married his first cousin).
The flashbacks paint a decent picture of why, despite his eccentricities, she likes/loves him: in moments of despair or vulnerability – right up to when he stopped Rea from…er, doing whatever she was planning to do to her – Chihiro’s been there to protect and console her, even if coincidentally. Setting aside the fact the love triangle here doesn’t seem all that thrilling moving forward, we left this episode liking Ranko more, not less, and better understanding her position. Chihiro’s Yasutaka, on the other hand, is a wretched waste of screentime. Why does every anime need an overly horny theatrical male classmate?
Rating: 6 (Good)
Rea’s odd behavior culminates in her jumping out the window when she sees Babu; she follows him to a hygrangea bush, and the two return to normal. A momentarily lucid gramps explains the potion isn’t perfect; Furuya will have to perfect it if he wants to keep Sanka around. When his father spots her, he asks if they can shelter her; he agrees. Furuya begins carefully observing and documenting Rea, and takes her out for exercise, where she’s spotted by her father’s butler.
Like the resurreciton potion, this episode wasn’t perfect, but it did competently resolve many of Furuya’s more immediate problems. Rea was rotting and losing her humanity, acting more like an animal than a person, and keeping her a secret forever wasn’t going to happen. Once she’s done freaking out (which we’ll allow her under her circumstances), she takes the news pretty well, and while Furuya’s sister and father don’t know the truth, they at least know she exists, and Furuya won’t have to hide her. The fact his shriveled little grampa knows all about the potion – but only when he’s ‘having a good day’ – is a nice little twist that was hinted at last week. Did he write that old spellbook? Either way, we’re relieved Rea is herself again, if only temporarily.
But while those immediate problems were for the most part resolved, Furuya has other problems. Neither the potion nor supplemental hydrangea leaves will keep Rea animated indefinitely; so she’s still mortal in this regard. His initial attempts at close observation – following her body with his camera and such – was an interesting choice, considering her past trauma posing for her father. He’s not aware of her trauma, so we can’t call him insensitive, but we can call him an idiot for not being more careful with Rea out and about. The first night they do so, her dad’s butler spots them. This is a HUGE fuck-up in our books, and we don’t see a solution beyond their leaving home and going into hiding, because her dad has reach, and isn’t above ruining Furuya’s family to get to him and the treasured daughter he abused and killed.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Sanka has stopped moving and Furuya is concerned she’ll rot away if he doesn’t do something, but in the meantime he must help his family clean the temple grounds, so he turns up the A/C and stashes her in his closet. Gramps mentions seeing not only Babu, but ‘Sada’ alive, having mistaken Rea for her, as well as a ‘resurrection potion’. Wanko stops by and enters Furuya’s room to borrow a DVD, but she is attacked by Rea, who starts licking her chest. Hearing Wanko scream, Furuya rushes to his room, where Rea pounces on and starts kissing him.
Well, the zombie cat is officially out of the bag: the first Wanko hears about Sanka Rea going missing is the same day she finds out where Rea went: to Furuya’s house. This week she plays the ‘first victim’, although rather than going for the brain, apparently the hungry Rea can be satiated by persperation coming from Wanko’s rack, or Furuya’s saliva. Either way, she’s acting very frisky, but her motivations are probably more primal – requiring sustenance – than amorous.
It’s interesting how she said nothing, but only made a bunch of zombie-like sounds. Will her personality return? Of course, most importantly, now somebody knows he’s resurrected a girl. He’ll have to tell her the whole story about Rea’s father and falling from a cliff if he’s ever going to get her silence, because at this point he can limit the exposure to just Wanko. But with Rea’s father already issuing a fatwa against him, this is one more example of mo’ zombies mo’ problems.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Furuya comes to grips with the situation he’s in: Rea is now a zombie, which means he’s now living his dream. Rea’s father vows to win her back an exact revenge upon Furuya. Gramps mistakes Rea for his resurrected mistress. Rigor mortis sets in for Rea. Estimating she’ll rot into bones in a month, Furuya considers how he’ll be able to protect and preserve her body.
Now that Rea has been zombified thanks to Furuya’s magic potion, her goal is to experience everything a normal girl should experience; that’s how she interpreted his promise to stay by her side. That equates to making her his girlfriend, which is everything he ever wanted. He’s a bit slow on the uptake, however, as it’s more than halfway through the episode until he realizes that there are worse things than having a gorgeous zombie girl living in his bedroom.
Of course, there are some issues he’s going to have to deal with. Protecting the secret of Rea from his family won’t be easy, as it’s not a huge house; the encounter with gramps was a close (and hilarious) call. Whether he’s aware or not, Rea’s father isn’t finished with him, and won’t give up on getting his beloved daughter back. And then there’s the practical difficulties; at some point, we gather Rea’s going to need some brains to eat, and Furuya needs to get Rea embalmed or something soon, or he’ll have a real mess on his hands.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
The potion she drinks doesn’t kill her, so Rea remains a prisoner in her home, and overhears her father instructing his butler to castrate Furuya; she sneaks out again to warn him. He’s chasing the newly resurrected Baabu around town. The zombie cat leads him to the place where the hydrangeas were picked, where Furuya also finds Rea on the cliff she climbed before. Her father tracks her down and there’s a confrontation culminating in Rea falling and being fatally impaled on a sharp rock. Then the potion kicks in, she rises, and embraces Furuya…
The cryptic parting shot of the first episode – Rea walking, nay, lurching towards Furuya, entrails hanging out and blood dripping – that was merely a portent to what transpired in this episode. It’s an episode of Rea feeling trapped and unable to keep going on. Her mother and father are both horrible people, but her father is far worse because he tries to justify his monstrous behavior as his paternal duty, which is bullshit. Despite his abuse, fear of Furuya getting hurt motivates her to defy him once again, damning consequences. She’s a brave, strong young woman.
Only…by episode’s end, she’s no longer a living woman. Despite the rather obvious ramifications of her having a tussle with her dad up on a narrow cliff, her gorey death was still a visceral shock (though the network censors blurred the strong viscera). and a spellbinding, heartbreaking few moments. Furuya is shocked too when he discovers she must have taken the same potion that brought his Baabu back, because there she is, walking and talking, albeit with terrible posture and haunting red eyes. She’s back…but can she possibly be the same Rea?
Rating: 9 (Superior)
Car Cameos: Cars that pass in the night while Furuya takes Rea home on his bike include a Mazda A-Z Wagon and a Toyota Crown Majesta.