Sankarea – 09

[Hadena] Sankarea - 09 [10bit][720p][D21E2353].mkv_snapshot_10.43_[2012.05.31_20.09.06] [Hadena] Sankarea - 09 [10bit][720p][D21E2353].mkv_snapshot_16.37_[2012.05.31_20.15.10] [Hadena] Sankarea - 09 [10bit][720p][D21E2353].mkv_snapshot_20.46_[2012.05.31_20.19.29]

Yes, in the case of Sankarea I’m an abject hypocrite.  If hypocrisy bothers you, you might want to just stop here…

So all the stuff I said about the Ranko episode two weeks ago – about it being an odd choice to do an entire episode about a side character in a one-cour adaptation of a long manga that still had so much story left?  I still believe it.  To quote myself: “I’m not a huge fan of episodes-long diversions that break up running storylines unless they fundamentally change the dynamic in some way, and this one doesn’t appear to have done that. “  Of course in my own defense, I also said, “And to be honest, if we were going to take such a detour for such a purpose I’d rather it have been for Mero – who seems more interesting to me and has less fleshing out already. About the only stealth attack I can see here is a possible connection to Chihiro’s mother.”

Well, two weeks later, we have our Mero episode.  And diversion or not, I was pleased as punch with the episode – it had me grinning from start to finish.  Maybe it’s because Mero-chan reminds me a bit of Chiaki from Minami-ke, but I just can’t get enough of her.  I’m no pushover for this sort of character, which is hardly a rarity in anime these days – but Mero is a standout, a winner.  She’s deadpan and mature, but also quirky and quite vulnerable in a believable way.  There a certain presence to her character, a product of design, seiyuu and script, that stands out in every scene she’s in.  Even if this were just a Mero detour, I wouldn’t be complaining, even though I know I should on principle.

The funny thing is, though, that this may in fact have been a “game-changer” in the sense that it fundamentally alters the dynamic, and it may very well have had a connection to Chihiro and Mero’s mother.  Just exactly why the events of last week’s episode seem not to have happened I can’t say, but Chihiro definitely wasn’t kidnapped here – either the manga was adapted out of sequence or the anime did a very poor job of explaining that the timeline had shifted.  All I can say for sure is that it took place after Rea came to live with the Furuyas and before Danichiro kidnapped Chihiro.

The first half of the ep really did seem like largely a stand-alone diversion, though an entertaining one.  Turns out Mero and her friends Kazue (Matayoshi Ai) and Miko (Kuraguchi Momo) have a sort of “Truth is out there” club at school (which explains Mero’s occult interest), and that Kazue is almost as much a zombie otaku as Chihiro is (which is odd, as she called him a “weirdo”).  There’s a brief vignette surrounding an art teacher who Kazue believes is a zombie because she’s carrying raw meat to school and feeding it to something in her bag (and herself) – which turns out to be a pet crocodile.  OK, that’s weird enough for starters, but carrying it to school in a gym bag?  That’s followed by a short tale from Miko (who looks remarkably like the 16 year-old version of the librarian in Hyouka), where she follows her nose to trace a scent that smells like a “boiling corpse” (kudos to Kazue for asking what I want to – how does Miko know what a boiling corpse smells like?) only to discover a man working on his secret recipe for tonkotsu ramen.  And we can safely say, it’s more delicious than a zombie.

Just when I was ready to write the episode off in terms of anything meaningful, though, things got rather interesting – starting with Kazue’s thoughtless comment about Mero’s mother doing a better job teaching Chihiro.  Courtesy of the memory that triggers we get out first real look (sort of) at the Furuya’s mother, which can’t be a coincidence.  And when Mero arrives home she hesitates upon hearing Chihiro and Ranko arguing, and goes to the cemetery to visit her mother’s grave – where Chihiro has left his usual oddball offering.  Rea follows and the two of them have a very heartfelt conversation, Mero’s memories are triggered even further, and the cold touch of Rea’s hand on her brow elicits a heartbreaking gasp of “Mama!”.  Mero’s embarrassment at this is funny and authentically adolescent, but the moment is also pretty powerful irrespective of what it might say about the plot – never has Mero seeme more vulnerable and sad.

So is there a clever tie-in after all?  I wonder – Mom had cold, bandaged hands – Rea has cold hands, too.  Jogorou is well-versed in zombie lore when cogent, and keeps calling Rea by another name – “Sada”.  Surely there’s a connection here somehow – and the least convoluted one that occurs to me is that Chihiro and Mero’s mother was a zombie too, at least for a time – before Jogorou’s mojo wore off and she had to say goodbye for good.  I know there was a message of import in the Mero episode even if the meaning isn’t clear yet – but I would have loved it anyway, just because.  Director Omata-sensei continues to inject unexpected moments of style and wit, like the wholly unexpected sight of Mero sliding down the railing at the shrine.  Mero’s odd mix of quirks is a perfect fit for the odd mix of elements that make up Sankarea, and I’m glad we got to see her in a somewhat different light this week.

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  1. I

    The episode felt a bit better than the one from Ranko maybe because it was more relevant to the characters as they are now plus a little more into Mero was quite interesting, but as you pointed out it doesn’t fit after Chihiro’s was kidnapped (which makes it a previous episode from a different point of view). The moment when Mero had the flashback of her mother, for some reason, I added it to Rea, which heightened the idea even more when both were at the graveyard. As of this episode, maybe later could be proven wrong but the parts of grandpa’s explanations, his weirdness when he first met Rea, and his words toward Chihiro on how he was to take care of Rea plus the part that he had to do more research on his own added up quite well.
    Then again, the episode with Ranko fits a lot as a reference to fill gaps between the two. Wonder what the production team is planning behind this.
    I might be off on this one, but it could be that their mother having been a zombie becomes something more complex to the plot later in the story. Oh, Enzo, might be silly to ask, but is Kazue a girl; I keep getting confused @_@ ?

  2. Well, she wears a skirt so unless this is Hourou Musuko, yeah! I did think she was a guy last week until she went into the women's bath, but she's just a bit of a tomboy.

  3. F

    WTF Eyebrows is a girl.

    Anyway, definitely agree with your Minami Chiaki comparison, certainly a familiar archetype, but Chiaki was one of the best, as is Mero.

    Part of the problem with the Ranko episode was that it just wasn't very good. It ditched most of what was actually interesting (so to speak) about Ranko, and tried to make us actually give a crap about her wanting to be with Chihiro, and the foundation just wasn't there.

    This episode worked on Mero's established character, and built more on top of it. Ranko's episode just further explained a status-quo we were already quite clear on.

  4. A

    From Preview I guess we're gonna see a bit about the Past of Reas Mother and her Relationship with Rea. This should be interesting, so far their relationship could be described as cold at best.

  5. A

    Filler or no, any Mero ep is a good ep indeed.

  6. d

    Its June, Enzo.
    Time to fill up the Summer line up?

    As usual a number of manga/LN line ups. Some look promising.

  7. I

    I also think that Mero is similar to Chiaki, couldn't believe that Yuka Iguchi not Minori Chihaya voiced her.

    She was adorable with Rea at the cemetery. Also since this is Deen I think we can expect a sequel to continue the story, so an episode surrounding side characters is quite acceptable. Next week seems to be about the Rea's mother.

    Summer 2012 doesn't look to bad this year even though I think it is generally the weakest season of the anime calendar each year.

  8. Summer looks borderline grisly to me, but I'll charitably say mediocre until I make a detailed analysis. Preview should be up in about a week.

  9. b

    Well, this is a weird detour. I remember this happened after the kidnapping incident got resolved. And this wasn't all filler. From when Mero mentioned about Rea freeloading in her house up until the end is in the manga. Guess the author made this part a bit longer to flesh out Mero's character more. And of course, the mother issue. Still, it's a weird detour and a reordering of events as well when we were right in the middle of the kidnapping. And it looks like it's kind of a detour too as well next episode, though I'm sure I saw Chihiro there so it could be the continuation of the kidnapping incident with some more fleshing out of characters, namely Rea's mother.
    Sadly, no Sankarea episode next week. Check MAL/ANN for details.

    Looking forward to the Summer preview then.

  10. A

    You're confused with the week after that. Episode 109 will air as expected, it's episode 11 that will air a week later.

  11. A

    I meant episode 10, dunno how that typo slipped in.

  12. S

    On Summer: Sword Art Online appears to be the big draw. Past that, it's completely up in the air.

    On ep 9, I think it's safe to say we are getting another season. They wouldn't suspend the main story flesh out a side character like this without the intent on returning to this canon. That and, from what I've heard, we're on track to finish of the Father/Family Arc and that doesn't actually have that much left in it. So, they're padding out the time to close the story arc.

    Loved the fact they pretty much explained why Chihiro's father didn't have a problem with Rea staying. He was just happy to have Chihiro grow up and do something with his life. At some level, I think he went "well, this is a pretty solid improvement, let's just roll with this."

    I honestly don't know, but I get the feeling "Sada" is actually Rea's Great-Aunt. We know that wasn't the name of Chihiro/Mero's grand mother but Grandpa wouldn't have reacted that way to his daughter-in-law. So I'd go with "Sada" is Grandpa's tragically dead lover. It would also help fill in the reasons for all of the hydrangeas that are around.

  13. j

    A crocodile? Can that be legal in Japan? I guess it had to be something that you might feed raw liver.

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