Sankarea 08 – Living the life of a normal girl?
May 28, 2012 1 Comment
One of the desires that Rea has made abundantly clear over the course of this series is her wish to be capable of living life as a normal girl, being able to go shopping with friends and enjoying those little things in life that her father had denied her. Her first meeting with Chihiro happened when she was trying escape from her father, her screaming down the abandoned well can be viewed as a way of releasing stress, getting her feelings, her fears and her anxieties out in the open. It is in a sense a way with which she can push her feelings into something else, an empty void that will swallow up all the problems in her life. But at the same time, there was an empty quality in this since she returned night after night; there was no end to her torment, her fears and her anxieties.
Rea’s wish to live a normal life can be described as an obsession, something that is driving her, and keeping her moving forwards. Her attitude towards Chihiro is a complicated one because of this; in part she views him as a sort of saviour, the person who brought her out of the miserable and oppressive life that she used to live, showing her the joys of the world outside of her houses walls. In a way she holds him responsible for her current existence (and arguably this is the case since he did make the potion to begin with), but at the same time she has clearly begun to have far deeper feelings of love towards him. In fact we can see a mutual attraction between them, although this is not new, and we can trace the beginning of such feelings right the way back to their initial meeting. It is a curious love story that literally transcends death with Chihiro and Rea falling in love with each other very early on (although neither really recognised it), and their feelings are growing as the story progresses.
Although, because of their strange situation, these feelings can, and often are mistaken for a wish to repay a dept in Rea’s case, or take responsibility for what has happened in the case of Chihiro. We also see a complicated expression come across her face when Chihiro says that while he may like zombie films; he doesn’t like zombies in real life (in this case he is talking specifically about a haunted house). A curious thing to say when a zombie is sitting next to you after going window-shopping is if they were a relatively normal couple. It is also perhaps an indication that Chihiro still doesn’t quite view Rea as a full zombie, or perhaps that the reality of what he has done is too far from the fictional zombie infested world of his films.
We see Chihiro’s zombie obsession reappearing from time to time, although it has now become clear that he is not utterly obsessed with zombies to the point of rejecting human beings. Seeing him diligently filming Rea is a curious sight and in one respect is merely a case of Chihiro satisfying his own need to observe a real life zombie. But at the same time it can be argued that there is a deeper, more significant meaning to the attention that Chihiro gives to Rea. He is attempting to help her live a normal life, and to do so he needs to perfect the zombification drug, something that is incredibly difficult and requires a lot of knowledge about zombies.
Chihiro is a curious character in this respect since he still maintains his obsession with zombies, something that is only increased due to Rea’s existence, and yet he sees her as something more. We can see that there are cases where Chihiro almost forgets that Rea is a zombie, and instead views her as a normal, if quite an eccentric girl. He also deeply cares for her, and while out shopping buys a large coat that they can pack dry ice into in order to help slow down the decay during the summer months. But this care and attention is something that Chihiro shows towards everyone in his life, from his immediate family to Ranko.
Despite his zombie obsession and inability to see Ranko’s feelings for him, Chihiro nevertheless cares deeply for those around him. It was interesting when we see Chihiro suddenly noticing that rather than trying to record Rea while they are shopping he needs to treat her like a normal girl, and give her a chance to enjoy shopping for clothes or simple window shopping (admittedly not all girls or women enjoy shopping, but in this case it remains a useful idea to link to this particular scene). Rea is however, far from being a normal girl, something that has become painfully obvious to both her and Chihiro.
She cannot eat Mero’s cooking, and while she has begun to eat breakfast with the Furuya household, she instead eats the Hydrangea leaves that are necessary to keep her alive or more accurately keep her mind as that of a human being. She does not need to sleep, doesn’t sweat and has no need for most human necessities; her life is therefore something of an oddity. It is quite clear that despite having left her house and seemingly escaped from her father, Rea is not living a normal life of a high school girl, but instead a twisted version of her own dream. Although at the same time, this life that she is living can perhaps be viewed as normal, or at least more normal than her life under her father. So, while it might not be the life that Rea had dreamed of, it is instead something wonderful that has been created due to her meeting with Chihiro.
We also have the curious situation of Rea feeling scared at possibly being abducted by Danichirou’s men, only to beat them around with a bench. It is this odd juxtaposition between the psychology of a schoolgirl who wants Chihiro to save her, and that of a zombie who is monstrously strong. So in a sense, while Rea professes to have come to terms with being a zombie, it is clear that she has yet to fully understand the situation that she finds herself in. However, that she wants Chihiro to save her only helps to strength the bond that these two share, showing that while Rea could have screamed for help from anyone, she chose to call out Chihiro’s name.
Furthermore, the influence and hold that Danichirou (Rea’s father) has over Rea is incredibly strong, and something that it appears she has yet to fully escape. We have already seen how Danichirou uses his men to effectively stalk Rea, making sure that he knows of every single one of her movements. Now, when she initially died, there was this tragic element to Danichirou’s character, and he appeared to have fallen into a deep depression, incapable of coming to terms with what he had seen when she died and then resurrected. But, his obsession with his daughter continues, and he once again demonstrates the power that he wields in the city that they live.
While Rea and Chihiro get on with what has become their normal life, they are unaware as to who is following them, further demonstrating this all-pervading presence that Danichirou was in Rea’s life. Even in death she cannot truly escape him, and the power that he continues to wield over her is equally apparent in her reactions to his name. Danichirou makes an interesting observation that while Rea may desire freedom she will inevitably come back to him. To Danichirou, he is the only one capable of giving Rea the life that she deserves, and everyone else around her are just trying to steal her away from him. It is this all-controlling attitude towards Rea that led to her eventual demise, and it seems that he has simply being allowing her some space only to forcefully bring her back once again.
One thing that has been particularly interesting about the series is the constant feeling that while Rea may appear to be normal, she is in fact incredibly close to giving in to her desires. We see numerous references to the blood trail that Rea leaves, and her attitude towards Chihiro suggests something that is a combination of love and a desire to monopolise and keep him to herself. The situation is portrayed as if the only things keeping her zombie desires at bay are her feelings of love and affection for Chihiro. But at the same time the implication is that her own desires to be a normal girl, and live a normal life are also feeding into her zombie nature. Effectively, Chihiro has no idea as to what he is truly dealing with. And while it has already been noted that he does not know everything about zombies, it is becoming even clearer that what he does know may be very important.