30 CommentsAnime Analysis / By Scamp /

Brothers in Arms: Chihiro and Rea’s Father

Spoilers up until episode 10 of Sankarea.

Episode 9 of Sankarea was a bit of a dumb filler episode involving Mero chasing down an alligator. It seemed awfully strange for it to be placed just after a big cliffhanger in the episode before. Now that I’ve watched episode 10 though, I have my theories why they needed to get the information about Chihiro’s mum out of the way first.

My assumption here is that Chihiro’s mum was a zombie. Not for very long mind you, since I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be able to conceive a child when your body is dead. She died soon after Mero’s birth, leaving the father with two young children and his batty old father to take care of. In a move of desperation, he turns to his father’s Big Book O’ Zombie Magic and raises his wife from the grave. Now as we’re aware, the zombie potion isn’t perfect. Parts of the wife’s body started to fall apart, which is why she’s all covered in bandages. Ultimately it didn’t work so well, so in the end they left her body to rest.

If Chihiro’s mum was a zombie, it explains an awful lot of little details about the series so far (someone who read the manga said that this wasn’t the case, but fuck the manga I’m watching the anime, they’ve been happily changing details about it so far). Obviously the granddad knows how to raise a zombie, as the series has established already. It explains why his father is unusually accepting of a pretty girl in their midst who has red eyes and eats only poisonous leaves. It explains why Mero starts to think Rea is her mother because both Rea and her mother have a little giggle when they realise that their dead body can’t tell her temperature. Most importantly, it explains where Chihiro’s zombie fetish comes from. He was probably too young to remember any of the details, but having a zombie mum will obviously affect him psychologically somehow. In this case, it’s turned into him having weird surrogate mummy issues and a fetishising of the undead.

Then there’s episode 10, which by the way was a bloody fantastic episode. The changing picture frames, the sideways sardonic glances by Chihiro, the way each shot of Rea’s dad was framed, just a brilliant episode. It also explained where Rea’s father’s unhealthy fascination with his own daughter comes from, and did it in such a way that brought more depth and humanity to his character without ever trying to justify his actions. It’s the mark of great villain characterisation. He was always a bit mentally unhinged, brought about by his spoiled upbringing where he never felt any sort of genuine emotion because everyone was sucking up to him. That is, until a pretty girl in a wheelchair, with absolutely no reason to suck up to him, shows him the first sort of no-strings-attached advice and emotion he’d ever seen. His fascination with Rea comes from his ideal purity he saw in this wheelchair bound girl.

Here’s where it gets sorta messed up. As the last episode established, in my own zombie mum version of events, Chihiro’s fascination with zombies, and by extension Rea, comes from surrogate mummy issues. It doesn’t come from anything about Rea as a person, showed by how bored he gets following Rea around shopping. Rea’s dad’s unhealthy fascination with his daughter comes from surrogate wife issues and his ideals of purity. He too doesn’t care about Rea as a person, instead wanting to only see her as this pure creature that he can control the life of. Any sign that she’s making friends with anyone else, he drags her away from it because it doesn’t conform with his idea of what Rea should be. Do you see it now? Chihiro takes voyeuristic videos of Rea because he has to catalogue her zombieness. Rea’s dad takes photographs of Rea because he has to keep track of her purity. They’re one in the same!

As my cohort Dustin said on the Bakacast (which I’m still appearing on by the way, do give it a listen), I’m waiting for the final episode where Chihiro meets Rea’s dad and, after exchanging knowing looks, give each other a brofist.

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  1. Posted June 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    One word: Wat?

    • Scamp
      Posted June 10, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

      You’ll have to elaborate what your confusion is my friend

      • Margrite
        Posted June 10, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

        Why didn’t you go into medicine like your brother?

      • Scamp
        Posted June 10, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

        Because, unlike Chihiro, I’m not turned on by dead people

  2. Posted June 10, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    You’ve somehow made every character less respectable in your analysis of this series. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.

  3. Mr. Anon
    Posted June 10, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Hahaha, well played.

  4. Chipp
    Posted June 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Don’t pay attention to his post, he’s just overthinking the stuff :D

    • Scamp
      Posted June 10, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      I overthink all my anime. That’s how I enjoy it

      • Chipp
        Posted June 11, 2012 at 4:20 am | Permalink

        Still you’ve got the point about the Chihiro’s mother or grandmother, but it’s only hints flowing here and there.

      • Posted June 12, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        For an anime-viewer, Scamp actually got some things right, but only after a point. Things really start to fall into place once Darrin (the zombie researcher who’s apparently a protegee of a protegee of Chihiro’s grandfather) shows up.

        Yes, it’s the granddad, and not the monk father, you should be paying attention to.

  5. sdkfjls
    Posted June 10, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    nice job describing something in words I couldn’t quite put my finger on….i knew there was some great similarity between the two….

  6. appropriant
    Posted June 10, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    I think you’re overlooking a popular stereotype concerning sexism: a man will invariably stop caring about the woman as a person when extensive shopping is involved, and by that note is not powerful enough to be evidence for Chihiro’s apathy towards Rea’s personality. I do think you’re right, however, about the videotaping, though I believe Chihiro isn’t as consciously aware of the implications as Rea’s father is.

    It would be preferable to me if you’re right, though. I never got that feeling when reading the manga and made that story arc a bit of a drag, especially when it came to the confrontation between Chihiro and Rea’s father. If the anime fixes this I’ll be a happy man.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 10, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      Fair point. I brought it up because it’s the first time Rea got a chance to be a ‘real girl’ so to speak, and Chihiro took barely any interest in it whatsoever

  7. Posted June 10, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    While Mero saw Rea as a surrogate mother, I’m not sure the true would be same for Chihiro. He was already shown to be a zombie fan while his mom was still alive, or at least moving. His father drops a line in the Ranko episode that Mom took Mero to hospital with a fever, so I guess it happened at the same time as Mero’s flashback. So even if his zombie interest would have been somehow inspired by his mother’s condition, it would have been more than an a simple oedipean mommy-replacement fetish.

    And Chihiro was already seen beinng quite intereste in Rea in the first 3 episodes. They continued to come back to the same place, and play around with the potion. The whole zombie thing gave him an opportunity to make a move even with his “I’m only interested in zombie girls” thing.

    And Rea herself didn’t seem to be as bothered by catalogueing her zombieness as catalogueing her purity, she reacted to the former with making girlish sounds like “eww.. cut it out”, or “I’ll let you tape me, if we go shopping”.

    Maybe some of the similarities between the two situations are intentional, but I think the differences will be even more important.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 10, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

      Chihiro’s mum was alive then? I guess I forgot the exact details around then.

      Rea being bothered by it doesn’t matter here. She wasn’t bothered by her father taking pictures of her either for a long time.

      I’ll admit the connection is tenous, but eh there’s still enough similarities to make it an interesting point

  8. Posted June 11, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Way too much speculation for your own good.

  9. hint
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    i was already suspecting that his mother might be a zombie from that episode on which his grandfather hugged Rea in the bathroom thinking she was her wife. I though he was also a zombie when show that his capable of eating those poisonous plants, but we come to know that the old man knew too much about zombies.
    oh well more hints.

    • hint
      Posted June 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      *might have been
      *she was his dead wife
      *they showed that hes also capable
      *but we came to know

  10. diz1776
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    But that’s fucking wrong.

    • Posted June 12, 2012 at 4:03 am | Permalink

      My, what stunningly useful input to the conversation.

      Mind specifying which part of the post is wrong?

      • diz1776
        Posted June 13, 2012 at 5:47 am | Permalink

        Tis very useful. The derogatory term of
        surrogate mommy issues is misidentified with the wrong
        character. Dan’ichirō is the one who should be the one labeled
        with this muckrucker of a stigma.

  11. Posted June 11, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    I just cannot mentally image Rea’s dad and Chihiro being all buddy buddy by the end of this. Of course Studio Deen has added so much new content to Sankarea outside of the manga that anything can happen.

    And all of these finer details about Chihiro’s mom and the videotaping went right over my head. Kudos to you for making that sort of connection

    • Scamp
      Posted June 12, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      Of course I don’t expect them to do that, but it would be pretty damn hilarious if they did, in a totally fucked up sort of way

      • Posted June 12, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        Chihiro “By the way, nice pictures”
        Rea’s dad: “I’ve got extras. Want some?”

        Yep, totally fucked up

  12. Mr.RR
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    Pretty much what I came to the conclusion of , except I never thought that much on the reason he pick some sickly 15 yr old which it makes sense.

    Still his decision to knock up said 15 yr old and expect her to give birth safely in her condition is kinda dumb on his part .

    • Scamp
      Posted June 12, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s safe to say the anime has never bothered trying to portray the father as a particularly sane man

  13. Posted June 12, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad we’re on the same wavelength, Scamp. As I said over on O-New, I think the series is setting up a number of dualities where characters behave in similar ways but context creates different reactions. I don’t think, as some commenters seem to believe, that Sankarea is on a trajectory where Chihiro and Mr. Sanka will objectify Rea together. Rather, I think it’s trying to show the viewer the similar behaviors either to teach a lesson about the fluidity of morals or to ultimately expose the nuanced differences.

    Also, I didn’t like the explanation made in Episode 10 for Mr. Sanka’s behavior. First, it does a poor job of explaining why he never reacts to any woman’s advances. Then we’re given a terrible explanation for his marriage to Aria. Finally, his obsession with his lost wife does little to properly explain the reasoning behind taking nude pictures of his daughter. It’s not that loss and obsession can’t lead to abuse, but the specifics of the abuse are otherworldly. The abuse is sexual, yet asexual. That just doesn’t happen. If he were concerned with her purity he wouldn’t bask in her nudity, rather he would check her and be done.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 12, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      He never reacts to woman’s advances because their advances all felt fake to him, which is because they were. The ‘pains’ of being the heir to a giant fortune. That’s why the woman in the wheelchair grabbed him so much. In turn, in his mind he sexualises anything related to her, which includes Rea

      • Posted June 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        I do understand that. I don’t like it much, though. If all the attention he’d ever received was of the mildly fake kind I don’t think he’d be so cold to it. If he’s so cold to it, I don’t think he’d become so instantly attached, even in an instance where the attention suddenly felt genuine. Sure, that’s how it is, but I think it’s a rather shallow psychological view from a show that’s exploring so many grey areas.

        Similarly, I get that he sexualizes Rea, but I don’t get the way the story treats that sexualization. Few people would sexualize someone so greatly and somewhat unashamedly, but never touch them. If he were concerned with her purity he would not sexualize her in that way. If he were not then he would likely go further in his abuse.

        These are minor gripes, though. It’s good enough to sit in an uncanny valley for me where I wish the story would go further toward being believable.

  14. langer
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I just think of them as a Japanese Adams Family…

    Chihiro – bakeneko
    Mero – ghost
    mum & grandad – zombie
    dad – fallen monk (bit of a stretch I guess…he’s a monk anyway)

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