Everyone loves a good bit of necrophilia. Sadly in the entertainment world there aren’t many literary examples of romance tales that feature cadavers. What is one to do if smooching someone that has no pulse makes your own heart race? I propose that you check out Sankarea – a manga created by artist Mitsuru Hattori. This romantic comedy series was originally published within the pages of Bessatsu Shonen Magazine and is available to buy in western markets courtesy of Kodansha Comics USA. The paperback version of volume one, which contains chapters one to four, can be presently purchased from Amazon for around £7.00.
Sankarea stars a high school student named Chihiro Furuya whose passion in life is watching horror movies of the zombie variety. I guess he caught the zombie bug after watching the Walking Dead… or ogling High School of the Dead’s rather jiggly cast. Either way, his obsession with all things undead has resulted in Chihiro procuring an ancient manuscript that purportedly details how to whip up a potion that can reanimate the departed. After Chihiro’s dear moggy Babu gets turned into road kill the book’s protagonist decides to test if the scroll’s recipe is authentic. The concoction he subsequently brews up does succeed in resurrecting his kitty… and someone else.
Rea Sanka is the book’s titular character and the second recipient of Chihiro’s restorative tonic. The two met at an abandoned building where Chihiro practices his potion making skills. Rea frequents the area to vent her repressed frustrations by yelling down a nearby well (I find that playing Call of Duty is a good way to unwind, but I guess that screaming down a hole works too.) Despite hailing from a wealthy family and being the most popular girl in school Rea is deeply unhappy. Her repulsive father holds a complete stranglehold over Rea’s social life in addition to having an incestuous fixation on his offspring. Things are so bad that he even hangs a nude portrait of his daughter in his study. Rea perishes when a squabble with daddy dearest results in her plummeting down a cliff. Fortunately Chihiro’s elixir resurrects her as (yes you guessed it) a zombie!
I have to say that I rather enjoyed this first instalment of the Sankarea franchise. Thanks to his zombie fascination Chihiro is a bit more interesting than the usual bland protagonist found in romantic comedy mangas. He’s also far more relatable than the company he keeps, given that his best friends include a spineless dweeb and a horny teen that constantly salivates over women (even though he never gets any action.) Despite Rea’s plight the tone of the book is light hearted, helped by the fact that Ms Sanka is rather chuffed about her new undead status. As she is presumed deceased Rea has managed to escape from the clutches of her father and is now residing at Chihiro’s place where she is having a blast.
My rating for this book is four stars. It accomplishes everything you would want from a first volume – namely setting up the story, introducing you to the characters and leaving the reader wanting more. The artwork is excellent too, although it is clearly pandering to a male audience. There are a number of panels showing off Rea’s cleavage and even nipple shots of Chihrio’s cousin in the tub. Although there is a danger that things could get silly in the later chapters right now I am invested in the series. I’m keen to see how the relationship between the leads develops. Rea clearly has a crush on Chihiro and now that she has transformed into an attractive ghoul will the zombie fanatic be able to resist her advances? Perhaps her odor will put him off, as she appears to be suffering from the early stages of decomposition. Volume two should prove to be interesting and if reading isn’t your thing there’s an anime adaptation to check out, which is due out in the UK soon.