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Manga / Sankarea

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Chihiro: Me? I'm not into living chicks! Ah, how I'd like to meet a cute zombie-girl... I want to go out with a girl whose arm is almost ripped out and guts are flowing out! But I guess there's no way that will happen, right?
Rea: Then... if I ever become a zombie... will you take responsibility?

Sankarea is a manga by Mitsuru Hattori, the author of Kenko Zenrakei Suieibu Umisho. It ran in Bessatsu Shonen Magazine from 2009 to 2014.

In the vast ocean of manga, there are those about girlfriends, there are those about Magical Girlfriends... and then there's Sankarea, a romantic comedy about... a zombie girlfriend.

Chihiro Furuya is a high school student with a fascination for zombies; movies, books, games, plushies... To revive his cat, Babu, who died a few days ago in an accident, he's been trying to make a "resurrection" (read: zombification) potion in an abandoned building in the past few days. Incidentally, there's another person who's been visiting the area: Rea, a girl from a wealthy family and an idol to everybody in the neighborhood, who lives under the shadow of an oppressive father. After finding out what Chihiro's been trying to make, she helps him with the potion while slipping out a mention that she'd also like to die and be reborn.


After Rea's father finds out what she's been doing, he attempts to confine her to their mansion for the rest of her life, and sends his personal guard to deal with Chihiro. In the middle of the scuffle, she falls off a cliff and dies impaled by a tree... after drinking the zombification potion the night before, in an attempt to poison herself out of despair.

An anime adaptation aired as part of the Spring 2012 Anime season (licensed by Funimation).


Sankarea provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Rea's mother honestly couldn't care less about her - she only cares about how Rea impacts her job, and so is perfectly fine with imposing strict limitations on Rea while not giving a damn about her well-being or her problems. It's revealed that she is not Rea's birth mother and is ignored by her mentally-disturbed husband in favor of her; she's actually jealous.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The anime added several scenes that were only mentioned in the manga. Episode 7 was anime original.
  • Ambiguous Disorder:. Its quite clear that Dan'ichiro has some serious problems with social skills. He shows OCD with things being perfect, marries a woman after just meeting her, marries another woman after his wife dies with the sole purpose of just being a mother to his daughter and giving her no affection. His Knight Templar Parent focus for Disproportionate Retribution. His borderline Parental Incest actions towards his daughter. And he does not seem to find any of this to be wrong.
  • Amnesiac Lover: In the manga, a brain sample taken from Rea by Derin's father in Chapter 34 makes her forget all the people and circumstances leading up to her zombification.
  • Art Shift: Chapter 47 uses this in a retelling of Jogorou's past in the Meiji era. It uses thicker and rougher lines and shading.
  • Attractive Zombie: Rea is a beautiful girl and she retains her good looks even after she dies and comes back as a zombie.
  • Babies Ever After: Chapter 56.1 features Tama and Rai, a younger brother and older sister who are the grandchildren of one of the female main characters, delivering hydrangea leaves to a white-haired Rea, who's become an urban legend of sorts. It's deliberately not stated exactly who their grandparents are; the only hints being Tama's interest in zombies, the fact that they mention a grandmother who told them the legend related to Rea, and the fact that they look like both Chihiro and his sister, leaving it very likely that one of them is their grandparent.
  • Badass Abnormal:
  • Professor Boyle has been exposed to the zombification drug so many times for so long that he's no longer able to feel pain, which means he can lay a smackdown whenever he's able to collect his thoughts for long enough.
  • Chihiro's repeated exposure to the zombification drug appears to have affected him similarly to his grandfather. It's the only explanation for how he managed to survive after Rea literally ate his heart out.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Well, Rea's family may not be that big, but it more than compensates in the screwed up department.
  • Brick Joke: Otoki, Jogorou's second wife from the Meiji era, uses Japanese comedian Dandy Sakano's catch phrase of "Gets" when she is first thawed out by Chihiro... which may seem odd since he's from the end of the 20th century, until Otoki's story reaches the point where she's briefly thawed out in the story's recent past and inquires what is popular. Jogorou responds by using said catchphrase and mannerisms.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Implied, since Chihiro's grandfather is named Boyle, which is definitely not a Japanese name. A flashback in chapter 47 shows that he's been living in Japan for his entire life going back to the Meiji era, which leaves the possibility that "Boyle" is an alias he used for his work.
  • Can't Hold Her Liquor: Darin. Probably because she's 14 years old. How bad is she at holding her liquor? She gets drunk off of sweet sake-flavored shaved ice.
  • Cat Smile: Chihiro has a cat face very often, since his hair itself is shaped like a cat's head. Which also ties into the "Cat & Dog" theme with his cousin Wanko note .
  • Came Back Wrong: The zombification process is nowhere near perfect, and much of the plot is focused around solving these problems.
  • Childhood Friends: Ranko, who met Chihiro when they were kids before learning they were cousins.
  • Censor Box: Apparently, the editors are perfectly okay showing Ranko completely naked, but decide to censor the wound that killed Rea. The joke being that the latter turns Chihiro on, the former not.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Chihiro's love of zombies becomes much more horrifying in light of the reveal that his mom was turned into one.
  • Character Title: The manga's title comes from Rea's full name: Sanka, Rea. For this reason, the official subs keep the reversed name order.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Judging from Kuramiya's reaction, the fact that Rea took the zombie potion while she was still alive seems to have been very important regarding why she's different from other zombies.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Ranko has had a one-sided crush on Chihiro since they were little.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: The maids decide to punish dressing her up in cosplay outfits.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
    • Chihiro! Not only does he deliver a "Reason You Suck" Speech to Rea's dad, he also gives him a headbutt... after getting stabbed through the stomach!
    • His grandfather. Apparently, he was the one who developed the resurrection potion. Probably a zombie himself, as he's able to eat hydrangea leaves.
    • Another theory for being able to eat hydrangea is that Chihiro's grandfather had been exposed to amounts of zombie potion that far exceed the lethal dosage. Darin says that it's what made him senile.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Babu without limiters effortlessly kills a large fox.
  • Cute Kitten: Babu. Even after he comes back as a zombie.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Zombie in this case.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Episode 7 focused on Ranko and her PoV.
    • Episode 9 is focused on Mero.
  • Death by Childbirth: Rea's birth mother. Justified as she's an Ill Girl to begin with.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Chihiro's sister displays a very dry wit in some scenes
  • Distant Finale: The final chapter is set in the future. It stars the grandchildren of either Chihiro or his sister.
  • Distressed Damsel: Subverted. Rea gets super-zombie strength from being undead, so the men sent to bring her back to her father fail miserably. Plan B, however, brings us to...
  • Distressed Dude: Chihiro is abducted when it becomes clear that taking Rea isn't going to be a simple matter. Played for laughs when one of the Rea maids brings him a drink, and he quickly snaps out of his courteous thank you to start screaming for help, as we're shown that he's still strapped to a chair.
  • Does Not Like Shoes:
    • Darin passionately loves being barefoot to the point she gets a sexual thrill out of rubbing them on Chihiro's face.
    • In the anime, Rea seems to enjoy going barefoot. This is justified as due to no longer feeling pain she would not have much use for wearing shoes.
  • Don't Try This at Home: One scene shows the grandfather eating hydrangea leaves. A warning appears onscreen to tell the viewer that hydrangea leaves are poisonous to humans and should not be eaten.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • The zombification potion is made from poisonous plants. Rea steals some, and after her father bars her from ever leaving her house again, drinks it. Unfortunately, being made into the potion detoxifies it. Fortunately, the effect lingers enough to bring her back when she does die.
    • Also, Ranko, in an emotional fit, takes zombification drugs in an effort to get Chihiro to like her. Fortunately, the drugs were harmless (they were actually sleeping pills being kept in the zombie-drug bottle), and Ranko realizes that Chihiro would have loved Rea regardless of whether Rea was a zombie or not.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Darin's father Kurumiya. To the point both Rea and Chihiro assumed that he was Darin's mother when they first met him.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Between getting stabbed, bitten, poisoned, and eventually having his heart eaten out of his chest, Chihiro certainly earns the right to be with Rea by the end of the story. Rea herself also has to endure her own death, gets her arm ripped off, and has to reclaim all her lost memories before she's able to be with Chihiro.
  • Evolving Credits: Starting episode 4, the ending credit shows zombie!Rea, replacing human!Rea from the first 3 episodes.
  • Feel No Pain: Zombies can't feel pain or temperature due to those sensory neurons being dead. This also occurs to any living person who ingests the zombification drug, although the effects only last while the poison remains in their system.
  • First-Episode Twist: The very first page begins with a shot of Rea from the back (though her face isn't shown until a few pages later), with her guts hanging out. Hard to believe how cute she looks afterwards.
  • Fluffy Tamer: Mero's teacher Yamanouchi has her beloved pet alligator.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • Rea's father is so obsessed with her because she resembles her dead mother, who her father loved very much.
    • The reason Chihiro loves zombies (and zombie girls in particular) is because his mother was a zombie, and he remembers her very fondly.
  • The Gadfly: Chihiro does seem to be in the habit of putting people on the spot for his own amusement.
  • Gilded Cage: Rea, to the point she decided to commit suicide after she was restricted from even going to school.
  • Head Pet: Babu's favorite spot seems to be on top of Mero's head.
  • Help, I'm Stuck!: Ranko ends up stuck in a tunnel while she and Furuya chase Babu in Chapter/Episode 3.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Ranko seems to think of herself as one towards Chihiro.
  • Horror Hunger:
    • Subverted. It initially looks like Rea wants human flesh. She actually eats hydrangea leaves. (Hydrangea is the poisonous plant used in the reanimation potion, and she needs the poison to stay undead.)
    • It's back. As the zombie progresses to the next stage of zombie-hood, their ability to differentiate between affection, lust, and hunger disappears, and Rea states that the thought of eating someone she loves is romantic...
    • It's back yet again. At the final page of Chapter 16 Rea tries to eat Chihiro and bites him on the neck.
    • Taken to its final stages by the end of the story. Rea finally eats Chihiro's Heart. Really. Chapter 55.
      Rea's Final Words on the subject: Thanks for the meal, it was delicious!
  • Identical Stranger: In chapter 47, Jogorou constantly referring to Rea as Sada becomes a lot less random once Otoki's story reveals that Rea does have an uncanny resemblance to Jogorou's first wife.
  • I Love the Dead: Chihiro may be a subversion of this, as he is only attracted to females of the Living Dead.
  • Ill Girl: Rea's biological mother, who died giving birth to her due to her frailty.
  • Irony: At the end of #6, Chihiro gets permission to let Rea live openly in their house. The catch? Their dad is a priest, so their house is technically a shrine. In Hattori's words, "enshrining a zombie". This is just one of many jokes about life and death.
    Rea: Whatever shall we do if a dead person really does appear?
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Ranko seems to be showing signs of this, as she ordered that Chihiro chase after Rea at a time she could have made her move. Darin even questions why she did it.
  • I Was Quite the Looker: As we see in a flashback, Chihiro's grandfather was a pretty good looking guy, back in the day. You know, during the Meiji era.
  • Jerkass: Aria (Rea's stepmother), who was more concerned about Rea' running away affecting her position as Chairman then caring about what actually happened to her.
  • Just a Flesh Wound: Rea will often treat her own limbs ripping apart from her body as this, though this is justified as she does not feel any pain.
  • Kissing Cousins:
    • Ranko has an obvious crush on Chihiro. Being the male lead in a romantic comedy series, he's totally oblivious to it.
    • Chihiro's father, on the other hand, seems to support the idea of having them married. Did we mention that he's a priest?
    • In #9, Ranko introduces herself to Rea as Chihiro's cousin and fiancée. They kiss.
  • Knight Templar Parent :
    • Rea's father is really extreme, and it's not played for laughs. When he catches Rea returning home from sneaking out at night alone, and escorted by a boy, he gives her a lashing!
    • The anime even expands upon the Disproportionate Retribution side of his Knight Templar attitude towards his daughter: when she was walking to a maid and fell over he immediately fired the maid, when Rea was approached by a kitten she never saw it again, when Rea told a friend about how her father takes pictures of her he has her friend's father's company fire him and transferred far away and when he discovers who the boy that Rea befriended was he ordered to have the boy castrated.
    • Her father's obsession with Rea and her "purity" gets really creepy when it's revealed right at the beginning that he takes nude photos of her every year "to measure her growth" (he's got a whole room full of them framed on the walls). His actions stem from the fact that her real mother died giving birth to her.
    • At the end of #9, her dad complies to his daughter's wish following another speech from Chihiro. He hasn't completely softened up, but at least seems more willing to negotiate now.
  • Lady Drunk: Sanka's mother, who when not in her business suit is always seen with either a bottle of wine or a flask in her hand and suffers a constant hangover in the morning. However this is mainly to cope with the fact that her husband gives her no love.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Rea is this at first, thanks to her delusional father's overprotective nature. Downplayed in that she has friends at school, but feels entirely isolated in her private life and wants to do the things that most girls her age do.
  • Love at First Sight: Seems to be the case with Dan'ichiro and a young girl that he made his wife... three days after meeting her.
  • Love Hurts: As zombie decay, they begin to mix happiness and lust together with hunger, making them more likely to eat the things they care about. Rea really really wants to eat Chihiro.
  • Luminescent Blush: Rea gets a lot of these despite the fact that for being dead no blood should be circulating to do so. In chapter 32, this is finally lampshaded!
  • Mad Scientist:
    • Darin has major hints of this, although she's at least respectful enough to ask permission before trying some crazy experiment.
    • One-upped by her boss and father, Kuramiya. After all, he's the one who decides to take a chunk out of Rea's brain against her will.
    • Subverted with Doctor Boyle, AKA Chihiro's grandfather. He's the one who invented the zombification potion, yes, but he had a sense of ethics that some of his colleagues at ZOMA lack.
  • Major Injury Under Reaction:
    • After being stabbed through the chest by Rea's dad, Chihiro takes the time to closely examine Rea in the maid outfit, perving out and circling her like a shark... With the sword sticking out of his chest the whole time.
    • A common result of being exposed to the zombification potion- in addition to super strength, it makes the person unable to feel pain.
  • Male Gaze: The series is chock full of fanservice from the female members of the cast, although it may not be enough to distract you from the sad and horrifying events of the story.
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: Chihiro's grandfather is only about waist height on him (and Chihiro himself is a bit on the short side). Made even more ridiculous when a flashback to grandpa's younger days show that he used to be huge.
  • Mistaken for Spies: A variant. Just when Rea's dad's thugs are about to grab Rea, Sutaka shows up and abruptly drags her away. The thugs briefly wonder if they were spotted, and "Just who is that guy?" Of course, he turns out to not have anything to do with anything, and just thinks Rea is cute.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Rea and Ranko both wind up inappropriately dressed numerous times throughout the series, with Daren and Rea's mother also occasionally playing this role.
  • Nightmare Fetishist:
    • Chihiro, Chihiro, Chihiro. His dream-girl whom he wants to share his first kiss with? — A zombie girl. He also mentioned his ideal girlfriend as early as Chapter 1:
      Chihiro: [...] I'd like to meet a cute zombie girl... I want to go out with a girl whose arm is also ripped out and guts are flowing out...
    • Zombies gain a nightmare fetish as they decay as they begin to connect love and hunger together, leading to Rea thinking the idea of eating Chihiro to be romantic and judging by the look on her face, erotic.
    • Kuramiya is also just as equally obsessed with zombies for research, if not more than Chihiro. As of the most recent chapter it is clear that he is much worse as he makes out with the dead (as in not living-dead) body of a girl he accidentally shot and killed.
  • Nonstandard Character Design: Rea is a downplayed example. After becoming a zombie, her skin becomes almost entirely white and her pupils turn from purple to red, but besides that, her appearance remains unchanged apart from the scar on her stomach from the tree branch from the fall that killed her.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy:
    • Chihiro, clearly shown when Ranko tries to get his attention most of the time barely wearing anything.
    • Also Rea's father, to the point where he would not even bat an eye to the maids who were there to be his potential wives. This lead most of the maids to believe that he did not have any interest in women, but really it's more like he has a very unhealthy case of Single-Target Sexuality.
  • Not So Stoic: While Mero is normally The Stoic, there are occasions where she shows more emotion, such as when Babu dies, and when she notices the similarities between her late mother and Rea.
  • Our Zombies Are Different:
    • This one's cute. Aside from that, they keep their full original personalities and intelligence, and are exceptionally strong. Unfortunately, unless preserved, they rot. Unlike Return of the Living Dead, they don't seem to feel any pain from it.
    • Although as of the chapter 13 it's been revealed this is just Rea's "fresh stage" and in about a week she's going to be turned into a "normal" zombie.
    • She went into the Hunger State and couldn't separate her feelings from her hunger and tried to eat Chihiro, but she snapped out of it.
    • In chapter 27 it's discovered that Rea is a new kind of zombie, as she is the first recorded zombie to have consumed the resurrection drug while still alive.
  • Overprotective Dad: Rea's father wanted to have Chihiro castrated, and then murdered, just for associating with his daughter.
  • Parental Incest:
    • Played with with Rea's father. He takes pictures of her naked on her birthday, collapses in the bathtub with countless images of his daughter around him, wanted to kill a boy for simply being near his daughter and neglects his wife (his current wife who he married after Rea's birth mother died) completely. You can pretty much list everything here besides any actual intercourse and expect him to have done it. Heavily motivated by the fact that she looks just like her dead mother who was the only person he was ever attracted to. Presumably if she was still alive he would be less obsessive about Rea.
    • Though implications seem to be that he's done everything except actual intercourse. (Whether this is due to him wanting her to stay "pure", waiting for her to get older, or Even Evil Has Standards is up for debate.)
  • Parental Neglect: Darin's father Kuramiya, who is so obsessed with zombies he completely overlooks his own daughter, even treating a zombie girl more like his child. It was because of this Darin decided to study zombies to try to finally get her father to notice her.
  • Personal Horror: Rea has this when she starts to succumb to her zombie nature.
  • The Power of Love: Might be what allowed Rea to regain her humanity. May have been averted. It is revealed that because she took the revival potion before she died parts of her brain are still alive. which allowed her to return to normal.
  • Pull the I.V.: After being bitten by Rea, a bed-stricken Chihiro gets out of bed fast enough for the IV to come out on its own, but he feels nothing.
  • Put on a Bus: After being beaten by Chihiro in the fencing duel, Danichiro disappears from the comic entirely until chapter 54.
  • Really Gets Around: It is suggested by the maids that Aria often sleeps with men other than her husband. This cannot be confirmed, as she is heavily drunk and looks like sex deprived as she tries to seduces Chihiro but utterly fails and starts crying, this is because her husband ignores her and also never slept with her in 13 years of marriage. She admits to Chihiro that she has not been touched in a long time, but that does not mean that she has not slept with other men.
  • Revive Kills Zombie: Or the inverse of it, rather. Rea can only keep "living" if she regularly eats a (specific) poisonous plant.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Rea inherited her purple eyes from her father. After her zombification, her eyes turned red, symbolizing her freedom by severing that relation.
  • Scars are Forever:
    • Justified as she (Rea) can no longer heal them.
    • Chihiro has a large scar on his neck from when Rea first bit him. And a scar covering the entire length of one of his forearm from Rea's attempt to eat him
  • Shout-Out:
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Deconstruced with Danichiro, the only woman he was interested in was Rea's mother and he has the same reaction to his daughter, Rea.
  • Skewed Priorities: Rea tends to take odd things away from important discussions. For instance, when Darin tells her about the next step in the zombie process, Rea is more hung up on the fact that Darin let slip that she was only 14 at the same time. Also, while at ZOMA, she's less fascinated in the fact that she's a completely unheard of type of zombie and more in the fact that they're on vacation in the Caribbean.
  • The Sociopath: Derin's father Kuramiya. He doesn't care about his daughter at all, removes a chunk of Rea's brain For Science! specifically in order to find out how to bring zombies back to life, and tried to have Chihiro killed because he didn't need him anymore. For bonus points, he removed the "batteries" (read: hearts) from "toys" (read: animals) for fun as a child and is obsessed with zombies because he accidentally murdered his next-door neighbor Rosalie and fell in love with her corpse. Furthermore, when Darin finally turns on him, he shoots her and dismisses her as not worthy of being his daughter.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Chihiro's cousin's name is often spelled as either Wanko or Ranko. In Episode 5 one character called her Wanko where another called her Ranko. Ranko is the character's actual name. Wanko is her nickname. Episode 1 has Chihiro call her Wanko, but then in narration introduce her as Ranko.
  • The Stoic: Chihiro's sister, Mero, who displays a very subdued personality because she feels that's proper for someone living at a shrine.
  • Super Strength:
    • Rea. According to Chihiro, it could be because the limiter in her brain is gone because she's dead.
    • Kuramiya. Or at least, super jumping ability. She's human, but giving yourself zombie poison also removes that brain limiter, similar to what happened to Chihiro during his fight with Rea's father.
    • Babu the cat has enough strength to kill a large fox with only a few hits.
    • Chihiro also gets brief bouts of this whenever he's bitten by a zombie, since the injection of small amounts of the poison into his system turns him into a half-zombie.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: Kuramiya is able to easily infiltrate Rea's high school, remarking that all she had to do was wear the uniform.
  • Undead Barefooter: Rea seems to enjoy going barefoot, since she no longer feels pain and therefore has no use for shoes.
  • Undying Loyalty: Chihiro is still dead set on trying to give Rea a normal life, despite her multiple attempts to eat him and the knowledge the more she cares for him, the more she'll want to kill him.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • Chihiro's sister is quite calm at the sight of their naked grandpa running around in the house. Then again, Grandpa's senile, so this has probably happened before.
    • People get used to the idea of Rea being a zombie really fast.
  • Weirdness Censor: Chihiro's family doesn't seem to be concerned at all that they have a zombie living in their house.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Darin just wanted her father to show her some affection. Unfortunately for her, he always loved the dead more than the living.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Aira certainly counts, as she shows no concern for Rea's well being. It is explained that this is mainly because she's angry over Danichiro putting all of his attention and care on Rea. Later on, she does begin to let go of her resentment towards Rea.
  • Yandere: Rea's father in spades. At one point, he wants Chihiro castrated just for spending time with Rea.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Chihiro's 12 year old sister is a big fan of this, if the fan translators were to be believed. Her Japanese is not quite 'normal', as it often sounds like something right out of period-dramas.
  • Younger Than They Look: Kuramiya is 14. Yeah, that's right. Younger than Chihiro and Rea, but the dress and high heels she wore in her first appearance made her look mid twenties at least. This is constantly Lampshaded by both Chihiro and Rea.
  • Zombify the Living: The manga focuses on this trope, as Rea helps Chihiro finish his zombie potion and then drinks it herself. Soon after, once she gets cornered by her father, she slides off a cliff and then truly dies for the first time.