DVD Review: Sankarea: Undying Love – The Complete Series
27/04/2015 Leave a comment
What would you do if the girl of your dreams happened to become a reality; actually its probably you better if you don’t answer that and instead read our impressions of MVM Entertainment’s latest DVD Release – Sankarea: Undying Love.
Zombie-obsessed Furuya is making a potion to reanimate his dead cat when he meets Rea. She’s about as miserable as a girl can get, thanks to her creepy, domineering father. When the pain becomes too much, she tries to commit suicide with a sip of Furuya’s weird elixir. The potion doesn’t kill her – but it does turn her into a zombie after she falls from a cliff.
Now that Rea’s undead and ready to finally live, she hides out with Furuya, who’s always dreamed of having a zombie girlfriend. Their one-of-a-kind relationship comes with some challenges, like the fact that Rea is decomposing. Even worse, her freak-show dad is dangerously determined to get her back under his control. As Furuya fights to keep his ghoulfriend safe, Rea finds the secret to resurrecting her happiness: live like you’re dying – even if you’re already dead.
Sankarea: Undying Love is a twisted story and contrary to what you may be thinking the blooming love story between an undead corpse and a human boy isn’t what makes the show creepy; No instead it’s the combination of Rea’s overprotective and perverse farther Dan’ichirō, Rea’s drunken mother Aria and Chihiro’s infatuated cousin Ranko that make the show a little bit creepy and hopefully I’ll explain ‘how’ by not giving too much away.
The story all begins when Chihiro Furuya, an obsessed zombie-fanatic, attempts to bring back to life his recently deceased cat Babu; as while preforming the ritual he meets Rea Sanka, the daughter of a very rich and powerful man in town. At first the situation is uncomfortable, as both Chihiro and Rea are of unsure of what to do, but after several nights of hanging out and trying to resurrect Babu the couple become relatively familiar with each other and start to share their own secrets and desires. For instance Rea’s farther, Dan’ichirō, is extremely overprotective of her and as such does not let her do things that normal girls do and, more disturbingly, takes naked pictures of her on her birthday; Chihiro on the other hands reveals his fascination of the undead and that he would only be interesting in dating a zombie; at which point Rea drops a bombshell “if I died would you bring me back to life and take care of me?”.
This ‘question’ pretty much sets the tone for the remainder of the series; as shortly after this conversation a fatal accident occurs which sees Rea being killed. It’s an amusing set of circumstances that lead-up to this death; as Chihiro unknowingly mixed the potion, which brings the dead back to life come back to life, correctly and in hopes of dying in her sleep later that night Rea drank it. So here we are three episodes into the series and Rea has only just become a zombie; so what happens now – Well other than stopping Rea’s body from decaying pretty much nothing; that is until Dan’ichirō comes back and attempts to retrieve his daughter. Even after her death, and becoming a walking corpse, Dan’ichirō is still fixated on having Rea all to his self and so does everything within his power to get her back; which amusingly ends with Chihiro being captured and forced into a duel with Dan’ichirō – with the winner getting Rea.
It seems Sankrea: Undying Love is a deceitful title; it makes you believe that the story is about a human and a zombie falling in love, similar to the live-action comedy known as Warm Bodies, when in fact it’s a story that sees a girl trying to escape the perverse clutches of her farther. Sure there is a few ‘love-dovey’ moments – especially when it comes to Chihiro’s cousin Ranko – but for the most part it’s about fending off Rea’s body from decay and the constant threats from her farther. Basically I expected one thing and got something else; and despite a few uncomfortable moments (mostly relating to the Dan’ichirō’s intentions) I pretty much enjoyed what was on offer; although this impression ultimately came tumbling down when the series ends on a cliff-hanger; a promise of a continuing story that can only be experienced through the on-going manga.
Seeing as Sankarea: Undying Love is a FUNimation produced show it usually means we can expect some ‘notable’ bonus features and ironically it looks like my hunch was correct as included in this DVD set is two English audio commentaries, an English trailer and some textless songs.
The inclusion of textless songs doesn’t come as a surprise, as nearly every anime release features them, but the inclusion of the original US trailer and bonus audio commentaries do come as a welcome addition to this set.
As always episode commentaries are not ‘everyones’ cup of tea but they can provide some informative insight into the world of voice acting and anime dubbing; in this case there are two episode commentaries; the first of which is on Disc 1 (Episode 3 Commentary) which sees Tia Ballard (Rea Sanka) and Aaron Dismuke (Chihiro) discussing their roles within the show while the second commentary is on Disc 2 (Episode 11 Commentary) and sees Joel McDonald (Director), David Wald (Dan’ichiro Sanka) and Teri Doty providing their experience of the show. As always the commentary can be hit-and-miss but it’s a worthwhile addition to any set.
Media: DVD 9 x2
Running Time: 2:49:12 (Disc 1), 2:24:32 (Disc 2)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 448kbps (English) & Dolby Digital 2.0 192kbps (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps
Pass it off as a love-story as much as you like; Sankarea: Undying Love is nothing much than a girl trying to escape from her evil fathers clutches; it may seem disappointing at first but once the story shifts perspective, and focuses more on the zombie-girl, things start to pick-up and becoming more amusing. The insidious nature of Rea’s farther is no doubted what peaks the interest of the viewer, as its not a topic that is usually brought-up in anime, but it’s the light-hearted nature of just going out and being normal that is sure to bring a smile to your face.
Whether you like it or loathe it Sankarea offers something distinctly unique – heck the death of Rea was pretty unique in itself – but alas there is one massive annoyance with the series and that’s its randomly placed filler episodes. For no apparent reason you’ll find yourself watching a filler episode right when you are in the middle of something extremely important – case and point Episode 9. The eighth episodes ends on a cliff-hanger so when you rush to watch the ninth episode you find that it’s a side-story focusing on Chihiro’s younger sister Mero; a similar instance occurs between Episode 7 and 8 when Episode 7 ends with Chihiro being injured you expect to resume from where it left off but instead we are treated to an episode which sees how Ranko’s infatuated with Chihiro became. Both episodes are potential crucial to character development but in terms of placing they are nothing but random distractions from the main plot. Speaking of distractions the final episodes of this set is non-other than an OVA episode, whereby we see the events of the series through Babu’s eyes, and while this OVA episode is inlcuded the other two, which also were not available on the US release, are nowhere to be found.
While progression, or storyline placement of the episodes, may have left my mind partially boggled the quality of this DVD is nothing but impressive; in terms of visual picture and audio quality then this is the highest quality release I’ve seen; so kudos to Madman Entertainment for authoring this MVM Entertainment Release. There is no graining, distortion of jagged edges along lines – they are look clean and crisp – unlike other Madman Authored DVDs; the audio and subtitles all work fine as well with subtitles appearing when needed to during opening sequences or of areas that need text translating (which isn’t often). Basically this DVD release of Sankarea is the perfect example of what a DVD should be like; with the exception of maybe a few additional features – such as Japanese promotional materials.
Sankarea: Undying Love is a deceitful series; its title suggests love when in actuality it gives friendship, abuse, deception and zombies; but when all is said and done the ending is just one big climax to something that will most likely never happen – which is extremely disappointing as it would’ve been nice to see where the story would end up. Take it or leave it Sankarea: Undying Love is definitely different to what else is on offer and whether the story sits comfortably in your stomach or not it’s sure to be an entertaining experience and when you’ve got a DVD as of this high quality then it’s worth taking the plunge…off a cliff and into your player.
Sankarea: Undying Love – The Complete Series is now available on DVD.