Sankarea 07 – The other side

Ranko is a character that has been underused for the majority of the first half of this series, or at least has not featured quite as prominently as Rea. For the most part the reasons for this are obvious, the series itself is centred on Rea and her relationship with Chihiro as a zombie, however, and Ranko has been there to provide some much needed drama and a change of direction when necessary. She is a fascinating character, strong willed, but also very shy and almost incapable of telling Chihiro how she feels about him. She is the character who understands Chihiro the best, having met him and been with him for many years, and this episode provided some interesting flashbacks into their lives together.

What the flashbacks managed to demonstrate is how Chihiro has always been a bit of a loner, and apparently obsessed with zombies from an incredibly young age. This may in part be attributed to his grandfather and upbringing as the son of a temple priest, his attitude towards the undead is therefore quite natural, if a little on the obsessive side. In a sense, Ranko’s attraction to Chihiro is also unnatural, not because they are cousins (Ranko didn’t find this out until later), but because of the way Chihiro has treated her in the past and present. Although, at the same time it has a far more natural flow to it than the sudden attraction experienced by Rea, that confuses and worries her.

As we know from previous episodes Ranko is deeply in love with Chihiro, getting incredibly jealous about his sudden interest in, and attraction to Rea. Unfortunately due to Chihiro’s inability to see Ranko as anything other than a good friend or someone who he can hang out with and watch zombie films these feelings are lost on him. You get the impression that for Ranko the only way she can be near Chihiro at the moment is to act like his big sister, and that by looking after him and his family she will be capable of being near him. In a way it is as if Ranko is attempting to get close or stay close to Chihiro through their family connections, perhaps hoping that he would eventually notice her for the beautiful girl that she is.

Their meeting and her feelings for Chihiro that have been growing since then can be described as cliché, but interestingly enough Ranko admits to this. To her, such a cliché meeting would or could only exist in a drama on television, and yet it perfectly describes her meeting and subsequent relationship with Chihiro. We see two people who are essentially polar opposites, with Ranko as the beautiful and popular member of her schools Tennis club, whereas Chihiro is a longer with an obsession for zombies and very few friends. There may be an element of feeling sorry for Chihiro in Ranko’s feelings, stemming from her understanding of his childhood, and yet, she also sees him for who he is, a caring, and incredibly kind person.

There are still numerous mysteries surrounding Chihiro’s childhood, but it is abundantly clear that he has always been a loner, perhaps due to being the son of a priest, but there may also be more to it than that. We do not know about his mother, although it is implied that she only recently passed away, and at the same time, his younger sister was sickly. In this kind of environment, coupled with the knowledge that his grandfather experimented with zombies, thus creating the recipe that has successfully brought Rea back to life helped to shape Chihiro into the zombie obsessive that we see.

Despite her original fear of these zombie films as demonstrated by Ranko’s initial screams, it appears that she grew up into someone who may love the films as much as. Not only does this help to illustrate the strength of her feelings for Chihiro, going as far as to watch, become accustomed to, and even like the same sorts of films, but it helps to demonstrate how much effort she has put into their relationship. We see that Chihiro was bullied at a very young age, something that may be unfamiliar to some people, but does happen, in fact bullying can and does happen at any age. What is so admirable about Ranko is her willingness to look for Chihiro and get to know him a bit better.

This does however happen several years later, and as we are told by Ranko’s narration, her first love had cooled considerably over the years. That she can say that, but also fall in love with him once again, only this time even stronger, points to something far deeper in their relationship that many others have yet to notice. As demonstrated in both the flashback and the present day, Chihiro is far from being a completely dense person who is incapable of seeing anything other than zombies. We have been shown on numerous occasions that he cares deeply for his family and of course Ranko, saving her from the dog even when he is scarred himself, and catching her before she falls over in the kitchen. He may be obviously to the romantic feelings that she has for him, but he does not ignore her, far from it, and it is hinted that Chihiro remembers an awful lot more about her, and has stronger feelings for Ranko than he lets on.

Chihiro might be obsessed with zombies, but he does not reject humanity, instead caring about those around him, almost too much in fact. Ranko has grown up watching this, and knowing what she knows her love for him makes more sense. Of course, being so close, like in many other anime series almost inevitably detrimental to a romantic relationship. They are so close that they either don’t notice, or don’t fully acknowledge each other’s feelings – and Chihiro clearly feels something for Ranko, it might not be completely romantic, but he does care for her. The introduction of Rea, therefore, messes up this relationship, adding something that takes Chihiro’s attention away from Ranko.

Rea can be considered Chihiro’s dream girl, and it has been suggested as such in recent episodes, with Chihiro dreaming about having a zombie girlfriend. But, at the same time, Chihiro was devastated by her death and subsequent resurrection, and in a sense, rather than romantic attraction (although it is there), Chihiro seems to view it as his duty to allow Rea to live the life that she always dreamed of. Her introduction to the Furuya household does create tension though, with Ranko obviously worried, upset and angry that he is spending so much time with another girl, and one who is a zombie. It is like her place in his little world has been taken away, or at least, her initial reaction could be interpreted as such. But, there is an implicit understanding between Ranko and Rea, with both knowing the others feelings for Chihiro. In the case of Rea, however, she seems to be confusing her feelings of love with the idea that she has a debt of gratitude towards Chihiro for his constant care and attention.

And while Ranko may yell and scream at Chihiro about being a pervert or worse, she is still willing to help him with clothes and other items for Rea. While she may not be happy, it is obvious, and clearly demonstrated in this weeks episode that Ranko is unwilling to give up on Chihiro, a person who she sees for who he truly is, and someone who is worth fighting over. Also, like several other male protagonists in recent series, Chihiro is a character who may appear to be dense and incapable of seeing a beautiful girl when one is close, but he is more complex than that. It does appear that he knows how beautiful Ranko is, and does see her as a girl, but perhaps his attitude towards her is an element of him trying to maintain the status quo, and keep their relationship as it has been for years. The introduction of Rea does of course upset the balance, and also appears to have had an impact on Chihiro, with him questioning in some small way his attitude towards her.

About illogicalzen
An Illogical anime fan in a very Zen-like way.

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