Sankarea – 10

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Sankarea is a show that stubbornly refuses to behave the way I expect it to.

I confess, I’m really not sure what DEEN and director Hatakeyama are are planning – maybe there’s a second season green-lit already for all I know.  But the series has undeniably taking a weird and circuitous route over the last several weeks, giving us full-episode detours starring Ranko and Mero, and now an episode told from the perspective of Sanka Aria, one of the least-known characters in the main cast.  There’s world-building in all of these eps, but it’s an odd way to approach telling a story in a one-cour show.

I don’t think it had been confirmed before this point that Aria wasn’t Rea’s birth mother, but it was hard to come to any other conclusion based on their interaction.  I’ll put this episode to the acid-test for ones that detour from the main plot – was it a game-changer?  Did is alter the dynamics of the series in any meaningful way?  The Ranko episode seems to have failed that test, and I’d judge that the Mero one passed it.  The jury is still out on this one, because the meaning of everything that happened hasn’t become fully clear yet.  But based on what I know now, it feels as if this episode did more to confirm what I already knew – or guessed – than anything else.  That doesn’t make it a bad episode, but it does make me wonder again whether this meandering is wise.

If it does nothing else, the episode fills in some blanks in our knowledge of what Rea’s family life was like.  It’s an interesting system the Sanka have – prospective wives become maids through an arduous selection process, and vie for the young master’s affection.  If anything I’m even more convinced now that Danichiro is seriously sick and twisted.  He completely ignores every woman in the house (including Aria) but decides to marry a 15 year-old girl in a wheelchair after one meeting?  It’s love at first sight, I suppose, but it speaks to the fact that even then Danichiro was given to obsessive love – and when the frail girl dies after giving birth to Rea, he transfers his sick obsession to his daughter.

Even as obnoxious and ill-defined as she was, I always felt more sorry for Aria than anything.  And indeed, she seems to be largely a victim here – taken as a second wife by Danichiro, but never having consummated the marriage because the only two females he’s ever been sexually attracted to are Rea and her mother.  It’s no wonder she’s become an angry drunk (keeps her flask in her garter – nice), bored with life and ignored by a man who doesn’t even bother to pretend to love her.  Under the circumstances it’s even easy to understand why she hates Rea, though of course none of this is Rea’s fault.  I’m not sure what the desired audience reaction was when she went Mrs. Robinson on the tied-up Chihiro – revulsion, laughter – but however the author and director were playing it, I just saw it as pathetic more than anything – and it’s clear that Chihiro feels the same way.  His “Sorry – I only like zombie girls” probably wasn’t intended to be intentionally hurtful, but I doubt he could have said anything that would have cut Aria deeper.

And yes, Chihiro is here – remember him?  His reaction to being abducted is surprisingly calm – “This could be interpreted as kidnapping” – really Chihiro, you think?  Whether it’s bravery or lack of sense I don’t know, and indeed Chihiro has always tended to approach the bizarre with a pretty blasé attitude.  Babu has found him and Rea is on the way, there being no doubt where he was taken – but for now he’s in the clutches of an insane man in love with his own dead daughter, and if I were him I’d be a little more worried.  It looks from the preview as if Danichiro is going to settle things with a fencing match, but I assume he’s got something in mind with higher stakes than winning or losing on points.

It should also be stated that Sankarea continues to be one of the most interesting shows of the season to look at.  I loved the effect of the blank canvas Aria hung up, which then reflected the image of whatever she was discussing (I’m assuming that was stylish flair, and  not meant to be really happening).  I also loved the way the portraits of Rea were slowly lit up in turn as Chihiro sat tied up, waiting for Danichiro.  It’s a pretty rare thing for a series to look absolutely nothing like the usual style of the studio producing it – I could probably count on both hands the anime about which I would have no guess as to who the studio was based on the animation and art, but I would never guess this one was DEEN in a month of Sundays. 

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  1. J

    I made a really ugly face when Danichiro got all lovey dovey when sankarea's mother handed him his glove. For now, it seems to be full on pedophilia, although there was something about her (sankarea's mother) that was different from all the maids. Everyone treated him like god, while she treated him like a normal human being. I wonder if he would have acted the same way if she was more his age.

  2. S

    From what a few people spoiled about the manga, and that seems to be coming out in the anime, is that Rea's Father views her much like a doll, the same with his first wife. So he's got a nasty Twisted & Possessive streaks, but he's not the "sick bastard" type. If that makes much sense. (Though it'd fit with themes of the series, inverting your expectations)

    I and think Dan`chiro plans to kill Furuya with a Saber or Epee. He'd been shown using the thin foiled blades in practices, but the preview had the thicker blade. (It's been too long since I've read up on Fencing, so forgive the likely incorrect blade names) Which would kind of fit with this motifs. He's not so dishonorable as to not give Furuya the ability to survive, even if there'd be no question he would die.

    It was also nice to get an explanation for the gloves bit. He only ever took them off when dealing with Rea and now we know why. Though a love-struck Dan`chiro is kind of a scary thought, haha.

    Aria is supposed to be someone we pity. She got "everything" except the one thing actually important, but she's unwilling to make the choices about it. So she's a lush and a freaking funny one at that.

  3. J

    He mentioned purity and fragility. I guess what I'm saying is that if there was a girl his age that was as 'pure' as Sankarea's mother, he would have liked her too. Also, I think her mother's death is also a factor in how messed up he is in the present. Had the mother survived, I kind of doubt he would still be taking photos of his daughter every year. I dunno, that's just me. Everything he does really weirds me out, but at the same time, I can sorta see his thought processes.

  4. F

    I just want to wax pedantic and demonstrate that the "fence" in my name is not just for show, and point out that while Dan'Ichirou was wielding a sabre, he quite clearly fences foil.

    And that really bugs the heck out of me! Its not that hard to spend five minutes online learning the difference!

    As for the actual subject at hand, Aria is sad and pathetic, she's not a great person, but she does deserve at least a little bit of love.

  5. S

    This show is as interesting and visually pretty as always but OMG I felt violated just watching it. Someone get that poor woman some self respect 🙁

  6. A

    I was surprised that Reas Mother was supposed to be 15. To me she looked more like 11, which made the whole scene just creepier.

  7. A

    For me, this part killed me. Especially on the next episode. I felt bad for Aria; nevertheless, Aria wanting a rich husband didn't reach my full sympathy for her. When Aria was "lollygagging" with Chihiro, I was thinking "that was sad," and my detest to Rea's dad grew exponentially after reading this chapter.
    My condolences to Rea's mother.

  8. B

    I surely hope there is a second season, because this one is spending an AWFUL lot of precious episodes on side characters. If this show gets a second season I will look back on this one and think "all that world building sure paid off!" If not I'm likely to look back and think "Sankarea? That was the show that was only like 8 episodes right?"

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