4 Jul 2012

Sankarea (Anime) Review

Sankarea (2012)
Format: TV Series, 12 episodes
Studio: Studio DEEN
Director: Hatakeyama Mamoru
Score: 4 stars
Summary: A very flawed gem, but still very worth the watch. Takes the zombie genre in a slightly different direction.

Don't let the premise deceive you. It's much more than that! OK, well, not THAT much more. What matters the most is its execution, and it practically slaughtered almost everything out there. ALMOST. Because they are some episodes that we really badly conceived. The pacing within each episode is fine, but the overall pacing of the series isn't that great. They had only 12 episodes to work with and I understand that it can be really tough sometimes, especially when adapting an ongoing manga series, but... argh. While the pacing might be off, we got a really good look at some of the side characters, providing some context to the whole Sanka family situation.

Out of all the Shaft graduates out there, Hatakeyama Mamoru might be the only one who really gets it. Under the name Omata Shinichi, he/she worked on various ecchi anime as animation producer before becoming an episode director for Shaft on Arakawa Under the Bridge, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, and Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. His/her work on Madoka's episode 4 was visually amazing, probably the best art direction in the entire series. That episode was pretty damn good too, considering he did not have any huge plot twist to work with there. With Sankarea, he brought what he learned from Shaft and applied it really well. But, it seems like he also brought over some of Shaft's bad habits too, like not planning the budget well, have bad outsourcing, or just rushing production. I remember Shaft infamously frantically HIRING people during the weekly production of Bakemonogatari. Sankarea's episode 8 looked like the director left some vague instructions and then took the week off.

This is another hard show to rate. On one hand, it does a lot of things right and the director knows how to create tension. Visually, it looks beautiful and is mostly consistent, not something you can usually say about Studio DEEN. However, its inconsistencies and penchant for fan service just rubs me the wrong way. Chalk it up to unrealistic expectations after the first few episodes. So I'm giving it 4 stars.

"Wait... what... why?"

Because this is a step in the right direction, and I REALLY WANT TO SEE A SECOND SEASON. You can count on Hatakeyama-san learning from this experience and upping the ante on his next production. Mark. My. Words.

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