Sankarea 02 – nowhere to run, nowhere to hide
April 17, 2012 5 Comments
Usually stories involving zombies focuses on what would happen if a plague of them were set loose on the earth, with films looking at how a small group of survivors tries to deal with such a situation, while their world is turned upside down. Zombie films, and the few series that have involved them are generally dull, relying on large gunfights, and lots of general eating of humans. Sankrea however does not do this, and instead takes quite an interesting approach towards the whole zombies set loose on the earth concept.
And yet, after two episodes we have yet to get a full zombie, instead the series has focused on the lives of Chihiro, and in this episode Sanka Rea. Instead, what Sankarea has become is a series focusing on the problems that these characters have with their lives, and how one particular characters sudden decision can affect so many other people’s lives. Rather than being a zombie series with other characters involved, it is essentially a romance that involves zombies, a slight difference, but a significant one.
Rea’s father is quite a twisted individual really, and while he may love his daughter (something that cannot really be disputed) he loves her far too much, to the point of being a very disturbed person. The idea of taking a nude photo on every birthday is horrifying in itself, but that he justifies it by saying that it is to measure her growth over the year shows how twisted his version of love is. Furthermore, her father continues to suggest throughout the episode that his love is pure, and more significantly, the only true and pure thing in the world.
But, what were most important about this entire episode were the subtleties surrounding Rea’s relationship with her father, along with how her family treats her. The writers could have produced someone who looked and sounded completely mad, but instead what we have is Danichirou (Rea’s father) as a cold and calculating person. The way he talks about his love for Rea comes across as believable, and shows how much his views of love have been twisted, and yet still, in some way appear logical.
This is the frightening thing about Danichirou, the cold air around him, along with his complete lack of emotions, apart form the smiles he has for Rea produce a character that is terrifying. He has absolute control over Rea’s life, and anyone who he dislikes disappears almost instantly – as demonstrated when Rea talks about maids that let her play, and do normal things for children her age suddenly disappear. To make a connection with modern television, and perhaps even the ideas of a surveillance state, Danichirou is similar to Big Brother.
It would have been so easy to create a character that physically and verbally abuses Rea, however, the psychological abuse, which Rea suffers, is far more severe. Danichirou has so much power that Rea is physically and psychologically alienated and isolated from everyone around her. She cannot talk to anyone about her worries and her fears, and as we see in the episode, as soon as she describes what has happened someone, their parents lose their jobs, get accused of ‘things’, and they have to move. Also, Rea’s father is the governor of the school she attends, and it appears that her mother is also involved with the school, so whether it is at home, or at school there is no escape from her father or his helpers that watch her every move.
It is this ability to control her life, and the lives of those around her that make this abuse that much more painful to watch. That Rea is incapable of doing anything about her situation shows how much power her father has over he. She knows that what he is doing is wrong and doesn’t want to do it anymore, yet she is scarred of him and the power that he wields, so has no chance but to comply. To make matters worse, Rea’s mother, the only other constant in her life, rather than attempting to stop this abuse, seems entirely uninterested in it, and instead appears to turn a blind eye to everything.
The only place Rea is capable of turning to, and the only person she seems able to talk to is Chihiro, in fact he may be the only person who Rea is able to open up to and speak to in a normal way. There relationship is a fascinating one, but as the episode progresses, along with the narration provided by Rea (Uchida Maaya) there is an impending sense of dread surrounding everything. While she may be capable of talking to Chihiro in a fairly normal manner, Rea does not tell him about her father’s abuse, further demonstrating the iron grip that he has over her.
Also, while Chihiro may have a relatively unhealthy obsession with necrophilia, he is thinking about it in terms of being alive, he has an obsession with a certain element of death. Rea on the other hand has an obsession with death that continues to grow as the episodes progresses – that she can watch hard-core zombie films so intently despite having never seen any before, demonstrates, not only her naivety as an ‘ojou-sama’, but also her increased interest with death and zombies.
That continues to push the idea that Chihiro will resurrect her if she dies remonstrates that for Rea, her only possible way to live is to die. There is inevitability about her demise; it cannot be stopped, not because of the series, but because of her own circumstances. She has been backed into a corner with no escape other than death, and part of the reason why she can talk to Chihiro so casually is perhaps because she views him as her only way out of the purgatory that is her current life.
The idea that life can be so terrible that your only way out is through death is further summed up with the way in which this episode used elements of fanservice. Putting the small scene with Ranko to one side, the rest of the shots involving a naked Rea do no come across as fanservice. There is nothing about these shots that make them seen as pandering to the fans, rather, they are deeply disturbing, with the entire tone of this sequence underlying how incredibly damaging this has been to Rea. It is a clever use of what would normally be viewed as fan pandering to highlight the all-controlling nature of Danichirou, along with the inability of Rea to do anything to stop it.
This episode greatly impressed me, and I feel that so far this series is going in the right direction. Rather than being a series about zombies causing havoc, it is turning into on about the problems these characters face and the relationships that are created because of them. It is a romance, with elements of comedy that involves zombies, and it will be fascinating to see how Rea manages to adjust further on in the series. It will also be interesting to see what happens with Ranko, someone who clearly has a massive crush on Chihiro, but is incapable – at the moment – of confessing to him.