Review #22- Sankarea: Undying Love

sankarea-review

Welcome everyone, and Happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of the holiday, we are doing the horror romance anime Sankarea: Undying Love. I am actually a huge fan of the manga, so this was an interesting anime to watch for me personally. The use of hydrangeas in the story, which are poisonous and heavily appeal to my inner toxicologist, further my love of this series. Anyways, beware of some minor SPOILERS.

Without further ado, let us begin the review.

Summary: Furuya’s not interested in the living, he’s got zombies on the brain! When Furuya’s cat dies, he decides he’s going to try and bring it back to life. In the process, he stumbles across a girl who is involved in an accident and turns into a real zombie! What’s Furuya going to do now that the thing he loves the most is right in front of his eyes? -KissAnime

Plot: 7/10

Sankarea carries with it a rather unique plot, tackling the classic zombie genre and turning into a charming yet dramatic romance story. The story does a lot of things right, moving the plot along at an even speed while maintaining tension common for a horror story with various plot developments. The plot deals with very real conflicts, preserving Rea’s body and dealing with her father’s obsession, and do not feel forced at any point.  However, the story does take a lot of time to provide backstory for many of the characters, and while this is good for character development, it does steal a lot of momentum from the story that is taking place in the present. By spacing out the story via backstories, some of the tension from scenes is lost. The other biggest flaw is the cliffhanger ending, which is only further exasperated by the introduction of another conflict/unexplained phenomena very last minute in the final scenes, leaving the viewer unsatisfied.

Characters: 9/10

The characters for Sankarea are well developed, maybe overdeveloped in some cases (not in a bad way), and have well defined personalities. The main protagonists, Rea and Furuya, are both strong leads with clearly developed personalities. However, some characters feel a bit unoriginal save for a few characteristics. For example, Wanko is the stereotypical childhood, being both a rival and foil for Rea. She is highly aggressive, which helps offset the stereotypical feel she carries. The challenges of the characters, while the details are unique, the general gist of the problem is not surprising. Nonetheless, the character make a strong presence in the anime.

Animation: 10/10

The show has pretty good animation style, that is pretty clean and easy to follow. I find the depictions of the hydrangeas quite beautiful. It offers a lot of surprising visuals that help portray the mood and tension in the series, too.

Soundtrack: 9/10

The soundtrack is not overly impressive, though the closing is among my favorites across all anime. A fair chunk of the soundtrack is acoustic, which is pretty cool. I find the opening kind of annoying, but it is enjoyable to some people.

Themes: 9/10

This series is loaded with themes, both directly addressed and present in symbolic ways. The most prominent symbol is found in the hydrangea, specifically the species Hydrangea macrophylla. This species is native to Japan and is toxic due to a chemical compound in them known as a cyanogenic glycosides. In the language of flowers, this species of flower carries two meanings typically: gratitude and boastfulness. The gratitude relates directly to Rea, who is quick to thank people throughout the series, especially Furuya. The boastfulness relates to Rea’s father, the main antagonist. He is boastful of his daughter and how in the right he is. This boastfulness carries over to another theme: obsession. Both the Furuya and Rea’s father have an obsession that inhibits their character, though to vastly different degrees. Themes relating to life are also present, unsurprisingly, within the series. Sankarea also effectively combines several genres, including romance, horror, and drama to create a unique experience for the viewer. However, saying this genre combination is completely successful would be too far. The anime is plenty appealing on its own, but the inclusion of ecchi elements frequently enough detract from the mood of many scenes, as they feel rather out of place with the rest of the series.

Final Score: 8.8/10

Final Grade: B

B-Ro’s Take

Sankarea was a very interesting romance anime. I absolutely love horror, so add some horror into a romance was awesome. I loved the concept of this anime. It is unquiet and pretty well done too. I also really like the characters. Some of them seem pretty stereotypical, but you can’t help but sympathize with them and just enjoy their personalities. It had some echi elements that felt out of place, but they did not really take anything away from the anime. One thing that really bothered me about this anime is that it felt incredibly incomplete. It just kind of ends and the OVAs and special episode don’t help complete it at all, if anything they make more questions. Other than that it is a great anime. Out of 10 I would give it an 8. I recommend this anime to people who like zombies or romance that has a good twist to it. – B-Ro

LowKev’s Take

Nothing like a good love story for Valentine’s Day, right? Especially with some horror twists! I had an awesome time watching Sankarea, and I believe it has the potential to be absolutely amazing. I say potential because the anime ends on such a cliffhanger, with the story continuing through the manga. I’ll talk more about that later though. As I said before, Sankarea is sort of a love story with horror elements added in (with one of the characters being a zombie). With a premise like that, the anime could’ve either ended up terrible (dare I say like Twilight?), or amazing. I’m extremely thankful that the latter ended up happening. Sankarea manages to be interesting and emotionally investing on the love story side, and the added horror elements are mixed in very naturally and are themselves really cool. I loved all of the little nods to horror movies in the show, from character names to visual nods. The art direction as a whole was quite good. There are a lot of very interesting and somewhat surreal visual choices that really enhance the feel of the story. Now for the characters, starting with the lovely Rea. I feel that my love for this show has a lot to do with her character. She’s a deep, interesting, emotional character that earns your sympathy very quickly. You really feel for her as she experiences what happens. There’s a slight constant sadness to her, but a lot of beauty as well. Furuya is also a great character, and combining the two makes for an awesomely unique relationship. Pretty much all of the other characters were enjoyable and memorable (who doesn’t love Mero and little Babu?). I was also happy to see the story progress the way it did. The first few episodes before the zombie stuff provided a wonderful introduction that got me into the setting and characters, and the way the zombie stuff starts happening (as well as when it happens) turned out to be very emotional and well done. It wouldn’t have been nearly as good if there were zombies right at the start. These aren’t your traditional zombies either, and I ended up really liking their take on it, as well as the conflicts that arise because of it. Now, the “villain” is Rea’s father, and man do I despise that character. I suppose this is a good thing though, as that was the intention. Still, I almost didn’t like the show as much whenever he appears. Now for the ending. Man is it a cliffhanger! I almost felt betrayed that the show ended the way it did, with it pretty much saying “welp, guess you’ve gotta read the manga!”. I really wanted to see the relationship between Rea and Furuya develop more, but I suppose I won’t see it in anime form. Oh well… At least there’s that closer. This show’s closer is simply beautiful. The inviting setting, the beautiful waves of vocal harmonies, the wonderful instrumental work, and the subtle exchange of looks between Rea and Furuya are all so wonderful, and together make it one of my all-time favorite closers. I really hope to see more subtle relationship developments like that look exchange in the manga. The opening is quite good, as well at the rest of the soundtrack (more of an acoustic guitar and music box focus, with all of it being stellar). I feel that I can’t properly describe why I love this show so much, no matter how many words I throw onto this review. It just has that awesome feel that comes from a lot of heart, with great main characters that come together wonderfully. Despite the ending, I still believe the show stands up on its own as a genre mixing good and emotional time, definitely deserving a watch.

Final Comments: Sankarea offers a unique zombie story that is a lush garden of themes and genres that combine rather well. However, the many minor flaws of the anime tend to pile up and detract from the series some what.

Thank you all for reading! We hope you enjoyed the review, and would really love to hear your feedback! If you would like to support us, follow us here or our Twitter account @rishraffreviews. We also have a FaceBook page I recommend you check out. Our next review will be Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica.

 

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