Friday, January 3, 2014

Sankarea, Undying Love [Anime Review]

Holidays are more or less over, and I'm back! 

Ok, on tap today is a review of Sankarea
I've put off the review of this anime for some time now. I've written other reviews, and kept pushing it back. Why? Because it is both good and it is dark. 

Does this bug you? Huh, does it? Huh?
I've really bounced around on my rating for this anime as well. I want to give it higher than I am going to, and there is one major reason that this anime does not score as high as it should.

I'm going to lay it bare right here.

The version that was first released on blu-ray was a censored mess. It was the broadcast version. It was not labeled as the broadcast version at the time I ordered it.

3.5 out of 5
Fireworks are pretty, even in anime.
I, too, feel like yelling down a well.
I was beyond pissed off at this fact. I've taken a full star off the rating because of the fact that this was the broadcast version. 

There were blurs in places, extra steam all over the place, and I assume in some scenes, kimonos that were conveniently unrealistic. Yes, for some this might not be a problem, but I dislike having anything altered from its intended version. This is why directors cuts of movies are always better... they are the way the director had originally intended the movie to appear.

You're living! Keep away!
Do not censor my shows. It pisses me off. But what is actually worse is that Funimation did a VERY brief recall, then decided it would be better if the customer simply returned the BDs to their point of purchase. This does not work in most places if you've owned the discs for, say, more than 30 days. Even worse, I've yet to see a non-broadcast version of Sankarea released. So this is Funimation screwing over their customers in more than one way. You know what really really sucks about this? It is inevitable that I will buy more series from Funimation. They have the rights to Attack on Titan. I have seen it, but I will guy it. It is too good to not get. 

Just thinking about it pisses me off.

Well anyways, I really should get to the show itself.
Be Warned: There will be spoilers this time.

Zombies have super strength, the reason is lame.
Sankarea starts off with a really weird premise, and this is not really spoiling anything. Our protagonist, Chihiro Furuya, is obsessed with Zombies. In fact he's so obsessed that his idea of a dream girl is a zombie girl.  As you can imagine events unfurl that make this a reality. They are far-fetched, but this is a story so that is well within the bounds of expectation. 

The Dead can dress.
Honestly, Chihiro's drive to bring the dead back to life is far from the most disturbing thing in Sankarea. His attraction to the undead is also far from the most disturbing thing in this series... far from it. Sentient necrophilia is far more palatable than the true dark heart beating behind the scenes.

This series takes a long look at child abuse, and not the simple 'hit the child' variety of evil child abuse. This is the mind-breaking, exploitative, vile kind of abuse. (Not that hitting a child is not vile, but this is... the worse kind.) I was shocked that any series would create a character that had that in their past. It creates a very vivid character, because those scars etch themselves onto you as you watch.  

I can also say this... you don't stop watching.
When the reveal happens so early on, all you can do it watch. You stare enraptured, disgusted, tormented... you finish the series. You have to see what is coming next. Thankfully not everything is dark and morose. There is comedy mixed in, in fact the center of the series is probably best described as a romantic comedy with a (deadly) twist. 

"Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday."
I went into the series unprepared for the level of darkness it would contain. Yet it is masterfully handled with the juxtaposition of comedic elements. You are never submitted to too much darkness at once, nor are you ever overwhelmed by nonstop incessant comedy. You get a mix, and because they play off each other so well. The juxtaposition is key.

Do not go into this blindly. Expect to be shocked, disturbed, and even laugh, all in close order. You will leave episodes feeling unsettled, you will leave episodes feeling bemused. This series is strong, it leaves an impression. And that is the mark of a good series... I only wish that Funimation had treated it with the level of respect it deserved, and treated their customers better... This series deserves a better rating, but until the TV-14 vs TV-MA issue is fixed, it remains one star down from where it should be.

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