Sankarea Ep. 2: Rea’s serious problem

Rea’s father is definitely a sick man. Too sick, maybe. Is he a pedophile? Does he harbor incestuous feelings for his daughter? Who knows? The creepy vibes are certainly there, but I won’t throw labels around nonchalantly. But this doesn’t matter anyway, because he is a terrible person regardless of whether or not he views his daughter as a sexual object. His possessiveness of Rea alone would horrify most of us. It is, however, his emotional manipulation (e.g. driving her loved ones away from her) of his poor daughter that is truly disgusting.

Sadly, there are a lot of people like him out there in the real world. There are countless parents, mother (Rea’s mother isn’t blameless either) or father, who treat their children as objects. There are countless parents who wouldn’t hesitate to emotionally abuse their children to get exactly what they want. In my opinion, then, Sankarea tackles a really serious problem–a problem that I really don’t think is right for this anime. Or maybe this anime just isn’t right for the problem.

Really, Rea’s situation is no joke. I definitely feel bad for her. Then all of a sudden, the anime cuts to Wanko’s giant, swinging tits. My reaction at that moment was basically “Really? We’re really doing this now?” It’s not just that I find the drastic tonal shift jarring. I actually feel as though it disrespects the gravity of Rea’s situation. Also, let’s not forget how the first episode played itself out like a stereotypical romantic comedy. We had the obligatory girl-crazy best friend. We had the (light) moments of fanservice. The tone was definitely comedic in nature. Unfortunately, Rea’s problem should be addressed seriously. I think her father should be taken away and locked up. At the very least, he should be justly punished for his crimes. This issue deserves better than cutting away to wet, slippery cousin boobs.

You might say that I’m taking Rea’s problem too seriously, but I don’t see how one wouldn’t. This is straight up child abuse before our very eyes, and the anime’s going to resume being a romantic comedy when Rea’s offscreen? I mean, it’s not like the show’s a dark comedy. There’s no cynicism here. No one’s throwing about sardonic quips. There’s no stunning irony to be had. All we have is a poor girl pouring her heart out, then suddenly, fanservice and flying cat zombies. It’s like, “Psst, Debbie Downer is gone now. We can get back to wacky shit!” We also know that Rea will, at one point, compete with Wanko for Chihiro’s affection. All of this just leaves a strange taste in my mouth. But hey, maybe I’m the only one who has a problem with it. Not that I’d take anything back if this turns out to be case, but I just wouldn’t be very surprised. Oh well.

I’m not even saying that this was a bad episode by any means. I was certainly captivated by the story up until Wanko’s appearance. I even think Chihiro and Rea share some chemistry. I just think it would have been best to either tone down Rea’s tragedy if we’re going to stick with the romantic comedy, or resist the tasteless fanservice until Rea’s situation is at least dealt with properly.

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15 thoughts on “Sankarea Ep. 2: Rea’s serious problem

  1. Scamp

    You see, I think the show does have a bit of a dark sense of humour. Or if not dark, at the very least it’s morbid. The entire premise is a guy who wants to date a zombie, and that’s played in a self-aware manner rather than voyeuristic manner. Hence why I think it’s lighter approach to something as dark as Rea’s situation still fits the show.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Your mileage may vary. I certainly don’t expect a lot of people to agree with me. I just think Rea’s situation is executed with such a straight face (I’m struggling to get my meaning across with words). There’s no absurdity there to make me think dark comedy as opposed to just plain depressing, which makes the Wanko scenes seem rather tasteless.

      Reply
      1. Naota

        I think that’s the crux of it – most black comedy comes with an ironic twist or exaggeration which deflects the blow of a subject that would normally be soberingly uncomedic. If there’s contrast (easygoing levity seconds from heavy, depressing tragedy) it tends to be overplayed on purpose to put enough distance between the dramatized story and how awful these things actually are in reality. I got no sense of irony from the stereotypical shower/boob hijinks; they were played just as straight, without much awareness or regard for the tone of what came right before them.

        Without this distance, I feel closer to empathizing with Rea’s story than smirking at it. Both will always be present in any dark comedy, but this was a bit too much “That’s terrible” and not enough “…but I can’t help but find it funny.” for my liking. It’s one thing to laugh and feel a little bad for doing so – it’s another entirely to feel it’s a bad thing to laugh at all because it would demean the importance of a very real, very serious problem. Where that line is and what crosses it is very subjective indeed.

        That said, I did quite enjoy the ending and am probably more interested in where Sankarea is heading than anything else I’ve seen this season. If nothing else, this episode certainly laid very good groundwork for a suicide by poison.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          I think it’s safe to say that being a dark comedy was never what the creators were aiming for. If it somehow was, they have a very poor idea of what a dark comedy is. It can also hardly be said that the anime is morbid. The visceral nature of zombiefication, for instance, has never really been explored. You think of decay, death, blood, etc. when it comes to zombies, but you get none of this from Sankarea. Chihiro will tell you that he likes zombies, but what does he really like about it? Other than Rea’s situation, the rest of the story seems to play extremely safe, which is what makes the former seem even more out of place.

  2. appropriant

    It was as if I was watching that one arc of Paranoia Agent only to find that it turns into Sora no Otoshimono halfway through. “Oh, so you’re feeling depressed after seeing Sanka’s father’s borderline pedophilia? Here’s a ginormous pair of breasts to distract you with.”

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Speaking of Paranoia Agent, you know the episode where the girl finds out her dad had been spying on her the entire time? It’s like if she suddenly tripped, flashed her panties, and whined, “Hazukashii~!” Then the episode ended.

      Reply
  3. Vucub Caquix

    No, you’re not alone. I was really impressed with the technical skill poured into the episode and how well it managed the mood of the scenes and emotions of the characters. But then Wanko shows up:

    She really does drag the whole thing down.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Ah well, I guess I should be checking my Twitter feed more often. It moves too fast for my tastes, though. I’m a social media luddite (for instane, I hate Facebook).

      Reply
  4. alsozara

    In short, agreed.

    Really I just wish Wanko would get the hell out of this show at this point, her presence thus far has only cheapened things and given cause to worry over the direction of the show.

    As you say though, at least Rea and Furuya actually have some chemistry, and Furuya himself is really quite likeable, at very least he doesn’t suffer the usual problems of being really bland and passive agressive/angsty.

    And again, as you said, it’s not like Rea’s issues were handled badly, it’s just that the show has some identity issues at the moment.

    Heck though, it’s still pretty compelling, and pretty unique, just it’s unique in the detail rather than the genre, or rough character types etc. I also think that it’s too early to call wasted premise (not accusing you of saying this, but this thought be not a million miles from my own mind).

    So I guess despite its flaws I’ll keep watching for now, and I’m perhaps foolishly hopeful for how it might develop.

    Reply
    1. alsozara

      Oh yeah, and I kind of dig the OP. I think the line “Take control of this story lacking its writer like a ship’s captain” is kind of cool, though perhaps more appropriate for show with less mainstream tropes.

      Reply
      1. E Minor Post author

        I’m afraid I’ve always skipped the OP. I usually skip OPs for whatever reason. Maybe it’s impatience.

        Reply
    2. E Minor Post author

      It’s almost like the story would have been too atypical without Wanko, so the author felt obligated to keep things in the realm of normalcy by including a rival. The unfortunate side effect is that the anime feels like it has multiple personalities. As a result, the serious parts are being betrayed, and the “funny” parts end up seeming tasteless.

      Reply
  5. wanderer

    Another anime I have no time to watch as it airs but can at least contribute some minor information on, since I’ve read some of the manga.

    The manga has to me a very strange tone: like you’ve noted here, there seems to be a “real” story in it, but it’s similarly diluted with out-of-place levels of ecchiness / borderline-haremish antics. EG: the kind of thing that could be turned into something good if you could edit out the tacked-on ecchiness and expand a bit more on the “real” story.

    When I saw this was getting surprisingly good reviews I thought that might be what happened, but it seems like the tacky aspects of the source material are already started to seep through (and will only get worse once the intro arc finishes up). More’s the (apparent) pity.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Guess we can only cross our fingers and hope the adaptation decides to take some liberties later in the series.

      Reply

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