Chihiro successfully reanimated his dead cat. He probably didn’t expect it to work, but he also didn’t expect his friend, Rea to drink the reanimation elixir, die in a tragic accident, and return as a zombie!
Sankarea: Undying Love (Season One)
What did you watch?
When I finished watching Sankarea: Undying Love back in 2019, I never expected to rewatch it. It was my first collaboration series of posts with Yomu from the Umai Yomu Anime Blog. I think we liked it, but it was far from perfect. We struggled to come up with a reason to recommend it to anyone. So, obviously, I thought that was it. Job done. Later that year, I rebranded my site and unpublished all my posts. You’d think that would be the end of it. There’s no way it’s coming back from that. However, like a zombie, this series kept getting back up. Earlier this year, I was looking for a manga series to read and noticed that my library had all eleven volumes of the Sankarea manga. I figured that I would bring back my old posts (and Yomu agreed to do the same on his site). Then, I decided to rewatch it, because why not!
Chihiro’s cat died in an accident. He was devastated and wanted to see his cat again. Luckily, he had an old handwritten book that detailed the process to create a reanimation elixir. Could he bring Babu back from the dead? Being an avid zombie fan, he was going to try. Each night he went to an abandoned hotel to concoct his potion, but each time it didn’t work. There was a page that had been smudged. All he knew was that he need to include a poisonous plant, but which one?
One evening, he saw a girl come to the abandoned hotel and scream into the well. When she said something about her father making her take nude photos, Chihiro reacted and gave himself away. The girl, Rea Sanka was curious about his potion and wanted to help. She also didn’t want him to reveal anything she said that night. Chihiro, however, was about to give up until Rea told him that hydrangea leaves were poisonous. When that elixir didn’t work, he decided to give up and bury Babu. Rea also drank the potion, hoping to die and escape from her father forever.
What did you think?
Surprisingly, I enjoyed this series more the second time. I think knowing what was coming helped to reduce the amount of disappointment that I felt when I didn’t know what to expect. Maybe, it just allowed me to enjoy the moment for what it was. It’s still not perfect, but I am glad I rewatched it, especially as I’m also reading the manga. It’s a fairly slow-paced series that takes its time to get from one place to another, but it also has some wonderful backdrops that add to the realistic feel of the world. Ironically, the manga is much faster.
What was your favourite moment?
When I first watched it I spent a lot of time waiting for a zombie apocalypse to happen. It didn’t but there were several moments that made me feel like it could happen. Maybe it will happen in the manga, especially as the first two volumes covered almost everything that happened in the anime. There were two wonderfully creepy moments that gave me the sense that something was coming.
The first happened after Rea had saved Chihiro from being hit by a car. However, she threw him back so hard, that she grazed his arm. She knelt down in front of him and licked the wound. Chihiro seemed to hold his breath. He’s a zombie fan; he knows how this goes. The street lights flickered. The music was intense. However, nothing happened.
Then, at the end of episode twelve, Rea lost control and dived on Chihiro, biting his lip as she kissed him. At first, we just saw her lying on top of him, a pool of blood beside his head. I couldn’t believe it. Had she just bitten him and started the zombie apocalypse at the end of the season. No, sadly it didn’t happen then either.
What was your least favourite moment?
That would be episode nine, but not for the obvious reason. I actually enjoyed the episode, however, it came immediately after a pretty big cliffhanger and it did not resolve that cliffhanger. Chihiro had just been kidnapped by Rea’s father and he planned on settling their score since he took Rea from him. It was the first real bit of action and intrigue in the series. So what did episode nine focus on?
For an entire episode, we followed Mero and her friends as they searched for zombies. As I said, it wasn’t a bad episode, but it should never have been put there. We said at the time that it felt like filler and probably was. Funny thing was that several more episodes could be considered filler, but we didn’t notice them as they actually meshed with everything else that was happening. This one stood out like a sore thumb.
Who was your favourite character?
If you have been following my episode reviews or the reposted discussion from 2019, you will know who my favourite character was. It was obviously Ranko, Chihiro’s cousin. I loved her energy from the start and she was a great contrast to Rea. Without Ranko, Rea’s side of the story wouldn’t have been as exciting. Ranko was pretty, athletic, responsible and loved zombie movies. She was practically perfect. So, that made it even harder to understand why she was so infatuated with Chihiro. I just don’t get it!
Who was your least favourite character?
You’re not going to believe this, but it was Chihiro. I hated Chihiro! He was so inconsistent. One second he would make some insightful observation such as feeling guilty for what he had done to Rea or how he was turning out to be no better than her father (obviously, he wasn’t that bad). Then, he would make some stupid comment. Not to mention that he was so clueless that it got to be ridiculous. I don’t know how long it took him to realise that hydrangea leaves were the key to keeping Rea aware, but it was far too long. He was rude to Ranko and dismissive of Aria Sanka, even after she told him about Danichiro.
Would you like some more?
I started watching the anime and reading the manga side by side, but when I discovered that the first two volumes covered most of the anime, I put the books down until I’d finished the anime. Well, I’ve done that now so I have nine volumes of undiscovered story to get through and I’m actually pretty excited. Just from the covers, I get the sense that this is going to get pretty dark. Could I finally get that zombie apocalypse I’ve been waiting for? Probably not, but I can dream.
What have you learnt?
A lot of my stories are heavily action orientated. However, I’ve been watching more and more shows that take things a little slower and have been thoroughly enjoying them. I like that I can get to know the characters a little more. It helps that you can understand their reasons for doing things and guess how they will react. My goal is to find a way to blend them together to get the action that I love to write but still have time to breath. Time to get to know the characters and the world.
If I can get that balance right, I think it’ll make my stories come alive. I’ve long since held the belief that characters are the most important part of a story. So, why not go out of my way to make them feel real? The more I can make the reader understand and empathise with them, the easier it’ll be to keep them reading. After all, if you like the characters, you’ll stick with them through anything.
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