Last episode on Sankarea, Rea died and came back to life. Finally, we have the zombie girl romance we’ve been waiting for. I’m hoping that in this episode, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of how zombification actually works. Not in the sense of, what mechanism it uses (although I wouldn’t turn that down, I’d sure like to live forever), but in terms of, do you still feel pain from that gaping hole in your stomach, how appetizing do brains seem, and that sort of thing. What I’m looking for in episode 4 of Sankarea is an idea of how much horror there’s going to be in my zombie girl romance.
…thirty minutes pass…
Not in MY shower, it's not.
This episode has retroactively validated every time I’ve given a bad review to some trashy fanservice anime and said “there’s nothing inherently wrong with fanservice, but…“. The problem with trashy fanservice anime is the trashy, not the fanservice. This episode spent about 70% of its runtime showing Zombie Rea in various states of undress (pictured above), and even during the other 30% it was finding excuses to look up the busty cousin’s skirt or show the jiggle physics of Rea’s hot mom’s breasts. But it was really well done! A lot of shows just assume they can distract the viewers with breasts and then let animation quality and writing slip, but this episode was gorgeous and engaging throughout. And it wasn’t fanservice like Bakemonogatari, where it’s Shaft, being “ironic”, and so it doesn’t really count as fanservice because the fanservice isn’t the point except it is but it’s “ironic” so you don’t have to feel bad about watching Senjougahara getting dressed or whatever. They were unashamed about showing off their hot zombie chick’s body. And I applaud their courage! It doesn’t stop being art just because it titillates you.
So, regarding the content of the episode, we got a pretty explicit answer about the question of “does the gaping hole in her stomach hurt”. Apparently nothing hurts! She seems pretty cheerful about the idea, but in actuality a lack of pain is a serious disability. If you can’t tell hot water from cold water, it’s easy to end up scalded or frozen. As a zombie she’s presumably a little more resistant to that sort of thing than your average sheltered rich girl, but sooner or later she accidentally going to stick her hand in a stove burner and not notice. What you want is pain asymbolia, where the gaping hole in your stomach hurts but you don’t mind. But that’s exactly the sort of superpower you wouldn’t expect a zombie to have. She also seems to have super strength, which someone should mention to her before she accidentally crushes someone important. The issue of eating brains has not been explicitly resolved, but I assume that when Zombie Rea was approaching Furuya with a hungry look in her eyes she was not going for a kiss as he assumed, but rather going for his brains. (Incidentally – in that scene, and in the scene afterward, the show used the standard “heart-pounding” sound effects to indicate a romantically intense scene, but in fact Rea’s heart should no longer be able to pound. That’s sort of the whole point. Was this an oversight, or a clue?)
But the question of whether or not she’s a monster might have to be put on hold, because she doesn’t seem likely to be much of anything much longer. The potion is wearing off (pictured below). Rigor mortis isn’t such a big deal in itself, it wears off after a few days. The real problem is that she seems sleepy and dreamlike, as though it’s not just her muscles but also her brain that is deteriorating. I wonder if it would help if she wore a helmet made of ice? Anyway, if the potion only has short term effects, I guess we probably don’t need to worry about a zombie apocalypse. That’s nice. On the other hand, it makes it impractical in terms of resources to make everyone immortal through zombification, which is a shame. Well, it might not be insurmountable. A dose seems to last about a day, maybe a little less. Rea’s dose was pretty small, because it’s just what she hid in her tiny flask locket, so maybe a full dose would last longer. And anyway, ordinary living humans have to take sizable doses of various concoctions of plant and animal tissue three times a day to stay alive. Probably once we switch our agriculture from growing cattle to growing hydrangeas, we could sustain a sizable immortal zombie population.
Bonus Image Corner:
Such a terrifying zombie menace.
She must be using all the blood that's left in her body to sustain that blush.
Look at that high animation quality, those detailed backgrounds...