It’s back to the main plot for Sankarea and no disrespect to Ranko, but it’s not a moment too soon. There’s so much that still needs to be covered (and I’m not even a manga reader) and so little time to do it. There’s some buzz that this is an intentional slowdown to have a logical stopping point because a second season has already been decided on – but I’ll believe that when I see the hard proof. For now, I’m assuming it’s going to be a breakneck race to the finish to try and wrap everything up in an anime-original manner.
There are definitely times when Sankarea reminds me of Mawaru Penguin Drum, and this episode was one of them. Maybe it’s the fact that the father issues with Rea always make me think of something Ikuhara would have written, but I think there’s a more general kinship – and not just Kimura Ryouhei’s presence. The blend of gritty and ugly human drama against a fantasy backdrop with a strong proclivity towards the absurd is a sensibility both shows share. Sometimes it feels as if the characters in both series have the attitude that “if we just act normal everything will be fine” – even though they know full well they’re only whistling past the graveyard (more literally in this case).
Basically, what you had this week was a slice of death episode playing out against the drama of Psycho-Dad scheming to get his daughter back (though what he plans for her in her current form, I shudder to think). Chihiro is still giving the appearance that this is a lark to him, but I think he’s joined in the ranks of self-deception so prevalent in the story. For Rea’s part, she’s almost desperate now to “live” the life of a normal girl as much and as quickly as possible – sensing the impermanence of the current situation no doubt. She’s eating with the family now at least, though her taste in food is quite a puzzlement to Doon-san (clue: not even vegetarians can eat hydrangea leaves). Jogarou still seems safely in his senile state, offering no further wisdom to help guide Chihiro through this ordeal. And Babu is acting extremely catlike, even coughing up hydrangea furballs – though it’s possible that sitting on Mero’s head is a new thing. I did have a cat that did that with me.
Nothing all that “important” happened but as usual with this series, there were a lot of small touches that really appealed to me. I like the chemistry between Rea and Chihiro on their shopping trip, which felt very authentic despite the unusual circumstances, and there were numerous comic touches at the shopping center – a shop named “Hydrangea” and the office of “Dr. Zon Bee”. And who knew Chihiro was afraid of haunted houses? I also thought Rea’s gratitude with Chihiro’s purchase of a jacket for her was rather touching – as was her inability to cry over it, and her promise to keep teaching him more new things about zombies. There were also a lot of very funny things in the scene at the sento with Mero and her friends – I especially laughed when her two friends starting checking each other out as they were undressing. I’m still tired of the constant boob and butt fixation whenever Ranko is in frame, though – she may not be my favorite character but she deserves a little more dignity than that.
Both Chihiro and Rea seem to know this is a charade, and they’re just trying to make each other feel better – but I doubt either expected her “false freedom” to end this soon. I did laugh quite a lot when Danichiro’s three goons starting speaking silently with subtitles (and sound effects) – a very clever sequence – and I even thought Yasatuka was less annoying than usual this time, as he was at least central to the plot. It’s actually a little scary seeing Rea lose control of herself, as she never seems less human than when the absence of her “limiter” really shows itself. With Chihiro captured, I can only imagine the twisted freak Danichiro has something really horrendous planned for him. Will Rea be the one to go after him? I don’t see anyone else in a position to do so, so she may be his only hope – which may be exactly what Danichiro had in mind with “Plan B”. Have fun storming the castle…
Looks from the preview like we may just get a Mero-heavy ep next week – I sure hope so, because I like her way more than her screen time would dictate. Also – Fukuen Misato is delivering one of the all-time great cat voices as Babu.