33 CommentsFirst Impressions / By Scamp /

Sankarea episode 1

I’ve seen a few people hype this manga up pre-season, but I thought they must be reading some different manga to the Sankarea I did. The one I read was laughably horrible. It had the generic male Yuji Everylead. His perverted best friend. A school full of polite well brought up girls. The attractive dainty rich girl with a Troubled Past. The childhood friend (who in this case is a cousin) with the hilariously awful name of Wanko. This was all done in the space of 5 pages. It got worse too. The Troubled Past the dainty rich girl happened to posses was some child abuse, which was promptly followed 2 pages later by her being sexualised, the main character staring down her top. Dialogue stunted, motivations ham-fisted and barely explained beyond “it just is, ok”. This was just from the single chapter I bothered to read, but it stands up there as one of the worst first chapters of a manga I’ve ever read.

So understand what a massive deal it is for me to say this was watchable and fairly enjoyable.

So what the hell happened? It was all in the execution. This blew my mind even further when it was being adapted by Deen, who for years have been the butt of everyone’s jokes. What they did was hire a Shaft staffer (who went under a psuedo name, which is probably why I didn’t catch this information when I checked it originally) along with that guy who did the script and composition for Baccano/Durarara, along with some other seriously talented folks all along the staff list. Seriously, every single one on the list is an up and coming talent. This director may not have directed anything else previously (well, apart from some hentai), but I personally would hold someone who was an episode director for Madoka and Arakawa in pretty high regard.

Anyway, all that previous bellyaching was basically to highlight that there’s a lot of Shaft influence in the directing here. Cuts to shifting eyes, camera moving along with the motions the characters bodies are making, interesting uses of symmetry and space. It’s all from the Shaft school of design (which is originally the Osamu Dezaki school of design, but let’s not get into that). Plus it’s the Good kind of Shaft influence. The one that actually enhances the story it’s trying to tell, rather than just being visual fuckery for the sake of it. It also irons out all the cliches into more manageable chunks, spreading them out over the course of the episode and adding justifications and more poetic ways of phrasing their motivations.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is still the same Sankarea, and the stink from the manga is still there. There’s still that weird transition from child abuse allegations to sexualisation of said character. There’s still a male character with minimal personality, even if the anime did its darn hardest to develop something more human beyond the blank slate. There’s still the whole ‘accidental girlfriend’ shtick going on here. But it’s so darn well produced that I’m willing to give it a chance. I’ve had manga readers say ‘IT GETS BETTER I SWEAR’, but what else is new? The sky is blue, the grass is green, and readers of the original source material claim it gets better. I’m here for the directing anyway, and for someone like myself who loves the post-2010 Shaft directing, this was catnip for me.

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  1. ペーパー先生
    Posted April 7, 2012 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    He’s got a zombie fetish. What more can you possibly want?

    • Scamp
      Posted April 7, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

      A distinguishing personality?

      • EquestrianLT
        Posted April 7, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

        But the i won’t be able to project myself onto him.

      • mikejacobs
        Posted April 9, 2012 at 12:17 am | Permalink

        So you want to project yourself as a necrophiliac, Equestrianl?

  2. Posted April 7, 2012 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    The ending there threw me, but I’m hooked. Gorgeous animation, slightly less than obvious tropes, and the pace/beat was rather well done. You’re right to credit the execution, not having read the manga myself.

  3. Posted April 7, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    I think, this manga was mostly liked by people who would have read it if it was even more generic, and would have called it “mediocre”, so compared to that, it was refreshing in some ways. The the sense of mortality as a whole theme, the whole zombie theme taken seriously as a dark thing, unlike in KoreZombie, the protagonist having cat ear hair instad of generic Yuuji-hair, etc.

    I fully expected this show to be dismissed by elitists, prudes, and all that harem/ecchi-hating crowd, and only be picked up by those who wrote sincere articles about how Guilty Crown is slightly less enjoyable than PapaKiki.

    • Erif
      Posted April 7, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      lol, that doesn’t really matter, both are horrible.

    Posted April 7, 2012 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    well since i dont read manga & in your post you said it was pretty bad, I was expecting something pretty mediocre with the directing. I was suprised to see myself get hooked the way I did. I especially enjoyed the part after she caught him watching her at the well & he thought he was clever, fucking with her little rich girl brain only to get it used against him in the end. I didnt think the main 2 characters were generic at all though. We have a guy who rather watch zombie hentai & a suicidal maniac who poses for her father naked going to fall in love? cant go wrong with that.

  5. Cirith
    Posted April 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Well I have read the first 14 chapters or so and till now it didn’t get better or worse.

    • Posted April 7, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s getting progressively worse, at first it was 2/3 morbid atmosphere and 1/3 harem bullshit, now it is more like 50-50.

  6. RogerMoore
    Posted April 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Surprise of the season. I went into this expecting one of the worst cartoons I’ve ever seen (DEEN, awful source material, premise), but it actually turned out to be watchable. I still didn’t enjoy it the same way other people seem to, but hey, it’s just not to my tastes.

  7. luffyluffy
    Posted April 7, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    A few of my friends absolutely LOVE the manga and Sankarea as a character, so I said I’d check this out. When they said that DEEN had done a good job, I was pretty much in.

    I dunno about you, but this male lead is pretty damn cute. He knows his fetish is a little fucked up, and because of that, seems to be a little bit more well grounded then the other yuuji-everyleads.

    • Scamp
      Posted April 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      The fetish is more a lable than an actual character trait though. He is well grounded though, which at least makes him more relatable than Blank Slate-kun

  8. Good Lord
    Posted April 7, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    It seems like all you’ve been doing for the last few weeks is compare every anime to Shaft’s works. In a lot of cases, like Sankarea, they are not similar in the least.

    • Scamp
      Posted April 7, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      I have? By all means prove me wrong, but I don’t believe I’ve mentioned Shaft in a single other first impressions post from this season. Besides, it is relevant. I believe I justified that with the whole same director and same style directing and all that

      • Mr. Anon
        Posted April 7, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        Medaka Box

    • Good Lord
      Posted April 7, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      Tasogare in the season preview.

    • Scamp
      Posted April 7, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      A throwaway line in Medaka Box and explaining the origin of Silver Link in the season preview, a post over a month old. That’s not strictly what I’d call comparing ‘every anime’ to Shaft.

      But whatever, taking what you mean in spirit, I am making more comparisons to Shaft than anything else recently. The reason is because the massive popularity in Shaft has caused studios to take note and start taking notes from their aesthetic. It’s an evolutionary time in anime, one I think is for the better, so I want to draw attention to the times it occurs

      • Good Lord
        Posted April 8, 2012 at 1:20 am | Permalink

        While I agree that a few animations studios want a piece of Shaft’s Madoka Magica pie, I don’t think a sudden spike in polka dot patterns is enough to call it a an evolution of the medium. Additionally, there’s more to Shaft’s style than just visual aesthetic. A lot of what makes Shaft unique is Shinbo’s style of directing, which I’ve yet to see successfully duplicated, or even attempted to be duplicated.

      • Mr. Anon
        Posted April 8, 2012 at 6:49 am | Permalink

        It might be a throwaway line, but it fits the bill

        >I don’t believe I’ve men­tioned Shaft in a single other first impres­sions post from this sea­son.

      • Scamp
        Posted April 8, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink

        It’s more than aesthetic, but the aesthetic is still a big part of it. Besides, Sankarea does use Shinbo’s style of directing in quite obvious ways asides from the aesthetic

  9. Erif
    Posted April 7, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Well I’ll be damned, I might as well give this a try. I mean, I stopped paying attention to it after reading the synopsis (“…and is even only interested in zombie girls.” Seriously?), but I guess I should at least check out the first episode.

  10. Posted April 7, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    I could tell that something Shaft-like was going on here, though I couldn’t tell what because of the change in studio. This first episode looks a lot better than the pages of the manga I saw, and if the manga gets better, then maybe the anime will only get better too.

  11. diz1776
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    And people said it was going to be bad. Too bad they won’t get enough episodes to fully “flesh out” the story.

  12. Kurogashi
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    So we got a fat-ass and a necrophiliac. What else you got 2012?

    Oh, a dog-fight between an ancient saucer and an F-15. Let’s save that for later.

  13. Shogun
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    With his dead mother stacked alongside his zombie fetish, this show appears to be exploring the logical extreme of an Oedipus Complex…

  14. Someone Else
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    I’m actually reading the manga for its necrophiliac theme. The anime’s first episode was terrible though

    • Scamp
      Posted April 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      …did you even read the post?

      • Someone Else
        Posted April 9, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

        I did, really. It was bad for other reasons not need to be mentioned

  15. Mr.RR
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    I think I’ll watch it because i haven’t seen the manga and the idea of a possible zombie girlfriend x human boyfriend sounds pretty neat. However, from some of these comments I might be getting my hopes up.

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