Character Analysis: Rea Sanka

You know, in a certain way Rea Sanka, the titular character of Sankarea, is one of the saddest characters in anime.

Sure, there are characters who are supposed to be sad, or whose loss is shocking. Right? When Kaori dies in Your Lie in April – oh, man, what a tearjerker.

But Kaori’s JOB was to be a tearjerker. That’s why she was there.

That’s not supposed to be Rea’s bag, though. Rea was the Family Princess, the single daughter of a well-to-do family, and so she’s trapped, right? She can’t have the normal life of a high school girl because she’s caged up, kept under control to make sure she doesn’t ruin her value as a marriage prospect. Rea’s got it worse than the other Family Princesses you run into because it’s explicit that her father is sexually attracted to her. To have this creep force you to stay home – reminder, when he finds out she’s spending time with Kuruya her dad orders his henchmen to CASTRATE Kuruya – well, it makes Rea suicidally unhappy.

So she does it. She attempts suicide, by drinking a zombifying potion Kuruya and she have whipped up. That doesn’t work, until in a fit of rage her father pushes her down a hill, where she is impaled on a tree limb and becomes undead.

At this point we’re supposed to cheer for Rea. I mean, she’s dead, but not really: She’s a zombie, sure, but she’s not one of the brainless, shambling zombies. She just, you know, doesn’t have a pulse. Other than that she’s pretty much a normal girl.

Rea Sanka her own self

And BOOM, that’s just what she wanted. Now that she’s dead – or undead, to be exact – she’s free! She can have a normal life. She can have a boyfriend like Kuruya (who has a thing for zombies) and go shopping and eat ice cream and attend a normal school, just like a normal girl. It’s sooo sweet, and we’re supposed to be happy for her.

What we’re not supposed to notice, maybe even that the writers didn’t even notice, is that she’s flown out of her gilded cage and straight into another one.

Right? She can move in with Kuruya, and she loves Kuruya (and his cousin Wanko, even though they are rivals for Kuruya’s (ahem) hand), loves living with his family, loves the new freedom she has, can do anything she wants …

… Until Kuruya notices what she’s doing. Then he tells her to cut it out. Whatever it is she is doing, she has to stop right now, he says.

Y’see, Kuruya’s concern is that whatever Rea’s doing could cause her zombieism to advance, so he stops her from doing whatever it is she wants to do. His need is to find some kind of medication that will stabilize her decay as a zombie, so he immediately shoves that need down her throat (metaphorically) by guilting her: “Please don’t do anything until I can find a new potion for you. I’m trying to help you.”

“I’m putting all this effort into trying to save you so please do as I say until (if) I can.” Yeah, Kuruya’s a classic passive aggressive. But passive aggressive like Kuruya or direct aggressive like her father, the result is the same: She’s back in the cage.

Now I won’t say she’s not in a better cage. For all the Kuruya claims to be attracted by zombie girls he doesn’t really act on that, so at least the creepy sexual subtext of her imprisonment in her family home is gone. Or at least gone for now.

The joy of Rea’s position was that she had found freedom in (un)death. Now she can do stuff! Hooray!

But as soon as she tries to do stuff, Kuruya tells her to cut it out. BOOM. Right back in the cage.

It’s hard to see. Kuruya genuinely cares for her in a wholesome way, as opposed to the perversion of her father and diffidence of her mother. Kuruya genuinely wants what’s good for HER, not for himself. And she seems to genuinely appreciate what he’s trying to do for her. Her joy in being away from her father and in the little things (such as eating ice cream) Kuruya lets her do disguises the fact that she’s back to being a delicate princess again.

She doesn’t see it. I don’t think we’re supposed to see it, since it’s a sub-text that makes a sweet love story a whole lot less sweet. But she’s back to being locked up again, and that’s sad.

I always look at comments and feedback, and I’m sure I’m not the first to see what I’ve seen, so have at it. Just keep it clean and keep it on target…no personal attacks, okay? Thanks.

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