Unlike most romances, Ranko Saouji fell for Chihiro the moment she met him. Little did she know that she was doomed to watch as another staggered into his life and stole his attention. Maybe, she should have been more direct!
Sankarea: Undying Love (Ranko Saouji) – The Curse of the Girl Next Door!
For me, Ranko is the undisputable best girl in Sankarea: Undying Love and I’ll die on that hill. I don’t know if that made me dislike Chihiro more or not, but he’s definitely not deserving of her attention. Before this turns into another Chihiro bashing, I just need to clarify what I mean by the girl next door. That term is probably more common in the west while in anime it’s probably most commonly known as the childhood friend.
The idea is that the protagonist has been longing to meet someone romantically. They have an idea of the type of person that interests them and they charge headfirst at this person that they have put on a pedestal. What typically happens in Western media is that the protagonist comes to realise that the girl next door, the one they’ve known most of their life is actually perfect for them, and they’ve just been unable to see it until now.
In the West, they often end up together and live happily ever after. In anime, things don’t usually go so well. For Ranko, she started to fall for him, started to hate him, and then fell for him again. Unfortunately, Ranko is not the protagonist. At one point, her family even moved closer to Chihiro’s family and became the girl next door and his childhood friend. They are incredibly familiar and comfortable with each other.
However, even with Ranko around constantly and enjoying the same things he did, he maintained the position that he wanted a zombie girlfriend. What did that mean for Ranko? Basically, he’d already ruled out her potential as a romantic interest. Now, that shouldn’t mean the end for Ranko and in Western media, that’s usually the kick in the pants the love interest needs to get serious.
I believe that both outcomes have a message for the viewer. In the West, the idea that the thing you were looking for was there all along seems to be quite prevalent. Is it telling you to stay close to home, by showing that you can get everything you want if you stop dreaming about the unattainable? It’s an interesting message, but it has problems of its own. It feels almost like a cautionary tale about foreigners or the world outside your community, after all, why leave if what you want is already here, you just haven’t noticed it yet.
The message from the anime trope feels more like a cautionary tale along the lines of the Brother’s Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen. In this instance, I believe the message is not for the protagonist to learn because they so often don’t. I think it’s a warning, telling people to make a move if they have feelings for someone. If you wait, they could leave you in favour of something new and exciting. Again, there are issues with this idea, but I think it’s a better message than the Western idea. Go after the things you want before you miss the chance.
Unfortunately for Ranko, it all comes down to geography. Had this been a Western story then Ranko would have likely ended up with Chihiro. It would have taken some time, but eventually, Chihiro would have realised that his true love was there all along, under his nose… or have him in a headlock… That’s the same thing, right? It wasn’t and now she’s doomed to watch the chance she should have taken slip away from her.
I wrote this before finishing the manga, so I could be completely wrong about Ranko’s fate, but it is a fate that we’ve seen time and again in anime. We always feel sorry for the childhood best friend because they have no hope of ever competing with something new and exciting. Not because they aren’t exciting and often perfect for the protagonist, but because they are in anime and that’s the way it goes. I think there are interesting parallels between the two mindsets, but they are also worlds apart.
It’s starting to feel like a Sankarea takeover here. I’m reviewing the manga, the anime, reposting my discussions from the first time I watched it with Yomu from the Umai Yomu Anime Blog in 2019, and offering some insights into the plights of the characters. I wasn’t expecting to get so deep into the story, but here we are. Of course, if you’ve enjoyed this and want to see more of my thoughts on the show, check out the posts below.
Other Posts in the Series
- Season One
- Episode 1 – Once I… Become a… Zombie
- Episode 2 – It was… Successful
- Episode 3 – Sanka… Rea
- Episode 4 – A Normal… Girl
- Episode 5 – If She’s a Zombie… That Means…
- Episode 6 – It’s Because I… Ran Into You
- Episode 7 – Childhood… Friends…
- Episode 8 – Counterfeit… Freedom…
- Episode 9 – A Mother’s… Hand…
- Episode 10 – Strong… Feelings…
- Episode 11 – Nothing… Really… Special
- Episode 12 – At That Moment… I…
- Episode 13 – I, Too, Am… A Zombie…
- Volume 1 – I Only Like Zombie Girls
- Volume 2 – My Decomposing Girlfriend
- Volume 3 – Fear the Foreigner
- Volume 4 – We Always Eat the Ones We Love
- Volume 5 – Boy, Medium Rare
- Volume 6 – Cat Scratch Fever
- Volume 7 – The Zombie Holy Land
- Volume 8 – Daddy Dearest
- Volume 9 – Lights, Camera, Resurrection!
- Volume 10 – Cold Truths
- Volume 11 – A Hearty Meal
- Character Analysis