Sankerea by Mitsuru Hattori

*This Review is Spoiler Free* 

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This…this is one of those books you pick up out of curiosity, read the synopsis, then put right back down and walk away…but if you happen to be a curious person with an inclination towards strange and uncommon things you might stop, stew over it for a bit, and then walk back towards it while thinking ‘what the heck?! No, no. I must have read that wrong…let me check this out properly.’ And so I did.

Now to give you the same chance I had to either walk away or check it out in spite of it all, This completed 11 volume manga series, Sankarea, is about a 15 year old high school nerd named Chihiro who is into all things zombie-movies, books, video games, and even girls. Only zombie girls. You heard right. The main character’s obsession for zombies includes romance as well. Chihiro has no interest in people with a heartbeat. This is where I assume most would walk away, but I-after shaking off the subtle necrophiliac vibes (the reason I general avoid books in this category) in favor of the intended comedy- became curious as to how in the heck the author would spin this story into a successful love story. And it was this curiosity that lead me down an interesting journey.

After a dear family pet of the family passes away (a cat named Babu), Chihiro’s love of all things zombie becomes more serious as he, of course, becomes invested in attempting Babu’s resurrection. Using an old manuscript for a reanimation recipe he came across, Chihiro takes to visiting an old abandoned building after school in an attempt to raise the dead. It’s here that our main character has a very unlikely encounter with a popular school girl named Sankarea. Surprising Chihiro, and me as well, the Madonna from the all girls school across from his all boys school becomes very interested in Chihiro’s work and the two end up working together to bring back the dead cat Babu. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to Chihiro, Sankarea’s interest in his attempts at reanimation goes deeper than just curiosity. This takes a dangerous (though obvious, considering the cover) turn as the hell that is her domestic life becomes exposed, and her desire to escape that nightmare leads down a tragic…and interesting path.  

I really enjoyed the humour in this series and the way said humour acted in contrast to the few and fleeting serious dramatic ones. This isn’t a read for those looking for deep, meaningful material, but more for those looking for a good story to pass the time with. That being said it doesn’t mean this series didn’t have any situations (some quite darker than I expected) that caused characters to make choices which caused them to dig deep to find answers-resulting in an enhancing their character along way- but just that such moments often take a backseat to simple entertainment. Though it didn’t at all sit well with me how Sankarea’s domestic life is dealt with, I still enjoyed the series. 

Despite it’s openly oddball characters this story is one I would, albeit hesitantly, recommend to some given the premise. This romantic comedy is certainly not for everyone but if this review has piqued your interest I definitely say to give it a go. I struggled with the rating for some time, but after completing it I think this went from around a 5/10 to a 6.5/10 unicorn horns overall.

Note: I did check out the anime adaptation for this series and can say the anime does not stay faithful to the manga, and only adapts the first few volumes

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