「あの瞬間…俺は…」 (Ano Shunkan… Ore wa…)
“At That Moment…I…”
To sum up the finale for Sankarea – I would say anti-climactic. I stated in last week’s episode that I thought they ended the main “issue” prematurely and that left very little story to be told for this week… I was so right. For a season finale, I felt like they didn’t want to dive into new issues, at the same time though – they wanted to leave it open enough for a potential season two. There is obviously more story to be told and I’m not sure how closely this follows the manga, but I think the anime tried to tie up as many loose ends as possible while still leaving it optional for more episodes to follow.
The episode itself revolved around several issues, never getting too deep into each one, but merely covering enough to give the audience a general outlook of what could potentially happen (in a non-existent epilogue). The general overarching issue was probably Rea’s slowly decomposing body. There is an overall depressing tone to the episode because she would constantly mention how she might not be around in the future… which I thought only made Chihiro more desperate to ensure that she got to experience everything she missed growing up. This included watching fireworks of course. However, even this final slice-of-life scene wasn’t as dramatic or impactful as I thought it would be. It almost seemed like Rea (and even Ranko) lost a lot of “life” after the previous episode.
We also get some form of conclusion with the love triangle… or rather, we get a confession between the girls at least. I found their conversation a little lacking; all things considering, it felt like they were both “just fine” with liking the same guy. I thought Ranko took a better approach by confronting the issue directly with Rea. Whereas Rea seemed to easily give up and just “give” Chihiro to Ranko without much of a fight. I understand why Rea would do that, but I’m sure Ranko thinks otherwise (already knowing that Chihiro likes Rea in return). Oh dear… girls are so crazy sometimes. I was hoping for more of a conclusion between our two heroines, however the romance has somehow taken a backseat in recent episodes and I was probably expecting too much.
Like I said, I think for a finale, this episode was a little lackluster. It didn’t really add value to the series as a whole and besides the ending (which surprised me a little); the entire mood of the episode was very mellow. The ending is definitely one that leaves an impression though, so I’m glad that the final scene reminds the audience that through and through, Rea is still a zombie.
I thought the series started off really strong. The characters were all refreshing to watch; especially Chihiro and Rea who both acted very differently than what I had in mind. Coming into the series, I had no prior knowledge of the manga and it was fun watching the series unfold and the circumstances that brought the two protagonists together. I loved the mystery around Rea’s family, Chihiro’s grandfather and even Chihiro’s mother. The first episodes gave a good base and starting point for the characters and I thought it was executed well – especially Rea’s cliff scene.
After Rea became a zombie though; the episodes started diverging between very good and just… mediocre. The storyline and continuity was still there, but I found some episodes to be filler-like or inappropriately placed (Mero’s episode anyone?). Meanwhile, I found some background episodes very entertaining and worthwhile (Aria’s storyline and even the OAD), so it really felt like a coin toss for me near the latter half of the series. The ending also left me with a feeling like there could never be a “happy ending” for the main couple, which really brings the entire mood of the series down for me. It’s an inevitable ending that is told off-screen, while still potentially giving the show a chance for a second season. I think there is a lot more story to be told and (having not read the manga) I would love to see what other challenges lie for Rea… besides the reoccurring body-decaying one.
I think it’s also note-worthy that Sankarea really blew my mind away with the animation and the way they told the story. The style was very SHAFT-like and I think my expectations of Studio DEEN just increased exponentially. Whether or not that they can keep it up, is debatable though. I definitely appreciated the close-up shots and the detailing in all their scenery; it made Sankarea pretty to watch and I thought everything was combined very nicely to create a certain mood for the story – whether that be horror, mystery or romance.
Sankarea is not the typical romantic/comedy that I think people judge it to be. There are different moods/genres and even psychological analysis that can be done on a certain set of characters. The premiere definitely tried to set it apart and exceeded all my expectations… it was only past episode 5 that it started coming up short – and especially the ending, I’m left with a hollow feeling. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a romance/life-hearted show, with a twist that keeps you intrigued. The whole zombie-ploy is not just a device to carry the show (it’s actually a main issue). And I think the characters did a very good job in bringing life to the show on their own.