I’ve heard of ’til death do us part but this is probably the first time I’ve heard of ’til death bring us together. Sankarea: Undying Love is about as oddball a romantic comedy anime as it gets and with its zombie theme it is sure to intrigue more than a few curious eyes. We have seen vampires and werewolves romanticized dozens of times in Western media but zombies have been given a bit of a raw deal when it comes to some loving. That’s where Sankarea comes in, taking zombies and turning them into the fulcrum of a love story. I guess some loves never really die?
Following the hapless Chihiro, a zombie fetishist and his entanglement in a zombie love affair with a girl who is far from the stereotypical depiction of the living dead, Rea Sanka. The two initially bond over the macabre and an attempt to resurrect Chihiro’s dead cat. One thing leads to another and Rea Sanka quickly becomes a zombie, setting into motion a love story between life and death.
The series is a bit of an oddball in the genre not just because of its zombie theme but because of its major focus on a singular relationship rather than countless potential romances. Furthermore the series has a decent amount of humour but is not quite as humourous as I had hoped. In fact it wound up being far more sadder than I had ever possibly imagined it could be, featuring some heavy themes including child abuse, loss of innocence and the tenuous balance between life and death.
Ultimately the core of Sankarea: Undying Love isn’t its zombie element it is in fact the relationship between its two main characters. It isn’t until Rea dies that she truly learns to live and it isn’t until Chihiro is faced with death that he understands the value of life. This connection makes the soul of the series and gives it a heart underneath the darker surface elements.
Sankarea is richly written and proves to be one of the most interesting entries into this well worn genre. The characterization is highly detailed and the relationships are natural and feel genuinely organic. The zombie mythology showcased here is truly intriguing and the exploration of it is engrossing viewing.
The animation and music for the series are equally excellently composed. The anime has a very distinctive look and style that is truly memorable. On top of that the soundtrack is superb and really sets the tone and mood for the series simultaneously brooding and hopeful.
Madman’s release of Sankarea: Undying Love is a commendable one to say the least. It features a full English dub from Funimation which is great and there are some cool bonus features that will add some more bang for your buck. Included are textless opening and ending themes as well as episode commentaries and trailers making for an all around solid Blu-Ray release.
Whoever said zombies can’t be sexy obviously hasn’t watched Sankarea which turns the zombie genre on its head. So whether you’re a zombie freak looking for your next shot of the macabre or looking for a love story with a twist, Sankarea: Undying Love has enough to offer to raise the dead.
You can pick up a copy of Sankarea: Undying Love from Madman’s Online Store.