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)
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)
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.
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)