Sankarea (さんかれあ), is an ecchi horror manga by Mitsuru Hattori, serialised in Kodansha's monthly Bessatsu Shonen Magazine since December 2009. In April 2012 it was adapted for TV as an anime series produced by Studio DEEN. Compared to Hattori's previous works, Sankarea is more adult in tone, being both darker and more risqué.
Sankarea is about a zombie-obsessed boy, Chihiro Furuya, who discovers how to resurrect the dead and as a result acquires a zombie girlfriend when the 15 year old girl he likes, Rea Sanka, dies in an accident but is brought back to life thanks to having earlier drunk a potion he had developed using information he got from an old manuscript.
Ironically Rea had actually drunk the potion as a suicide attempt, as one of its ingredients was the poisonous plant Hydrangea (also known as Hortensia). She had come to despise her overbearing and abusive father and when he withdrew her from school so as to completely control her life, she decided to end it all. Unfortunately, her death does not free her from his continued interference in her life!
- Chihiro Furuya
- the progatanist, a first year student at Shiyou Boys High School. His father is a Shinto priest.
- Rea Sanka (散華礼弥 Sanka Rea)
- first year student at Sanka High School, a private school for girls owned by her family. She hates her abusive and control-freak father and after being resurrected moves in with Furuya. She falls in love with Furuya after spending some times together.
- Ranko Saouji
- Chihiro's older cousin (called "Wanko" by him), a blonde second year student at Sanka Girls High School who, like him, is fascinated by zombie stories, and is a pre-existing rival to Rea for Furuya's affections.
- Chihiro's cat (originally a stray) which had died and became the subject of his experiments with resurrection potions. After Babu comes back to life, its behaviour continues to help him figure out how to help Rea who has also been resurrected.
- Mero Furuya
- Chihiro's 12 year old little sister.
- Grandfather Furuya
- Chihiro's grandfather is an apparently senile old man, he lives with Chihiro's family, he appears to be the author of the old book containing the resurrection potion. Like Babu and Rea, he has a habit of eating hydrangea leaves, suggesting that he too may be a zombie. He believes Rea is his late wife Sada, resurrected (though in reality his wife was called Kiyo according to Mero).
Other characters include Rea's father, mother, various servants and other high school students.
Both Chihiro and Ranko are big fans of zombie movies, and Rea also becomes interested in them after being introduced to them by Chihiro. As she is tired of her life, the idea of ending it and starting a new life as a zombie girlfriend for him appeals to her, especially since he has said he is not interested in ordinary human girls.
In Sankarea, zombies are at times similar to the classic idiom, with vacant eyes, shambling movements, and abnormal strength, (although they do not appear to be malevolent). However by eating hydrangea leaves they can regain their conciousness and pass for normal living creatures, although their bodies remain cold and bloodless and gradually deteriorate. Chihiro's quest to keep Rea's body and soul together and prevent her body decaying is thus a significant aspect of the plot.
These plants play a vital role in the story.
- Apart from their mythical ability to resurrect the dead, they are depicted accurately as mildly poisonous flowers which do in fact feature in some traditional medicines etc. According to the Royal Horticultural Society Encyclopedia: "all parts of hydrangeas may cause mild stomach upset if ingested; contact with the foliage may aggravate skin allergies". So although Rea was correct in thinking the plants are poisonous, the fact that she survived drinking the hydrangea potion is in line with their real life properties. (It is worth noting though that other authorities warn of possible dizziness, heavy chest, nausea, and vomiting.)
- Hydrangeas are the Sanka family emblem, and Rea always has a single hydrangea bloom in her hair (even before her death). She tells Chihiro that her family's garden is full of them and it is her idea to try them out as the possible missing ingredient in the resurrection potion. The family name Sanka (散華) actually refers to flowers: these kanji can also be read as the word sanke, which has the connotation of falling flowers as a metaphor for a noble death.
- Chihiro's family live at a temple where there are hydrangeas that his resident grandfather eats. It is not clear at this stage whether the plants have a special significance to the temple or are simply part of the garden, but in reality, Japan does have two temples devoted to hydrangeas which hold festivals for the flower.
Why hydrangeas? According to Indian legend, the elixir Amrita (also known in other cultures as Ambrosia or nectar) grants immortality, and in Japan hydrangea tea (ama-cha (literally "sweet tea") made from Hydrangea serrata), is drunk in lieu of Amrita in Buddhist ceremonies. As to whether hydrangeas might really have any mystical properties, it is worth noting that from a medical and chemistry POV this is a little-studied and therefore somewhat mysterious plant which gives scope for speculation. For instance although a crystalline compound dubbed hydrangin was isolated from it over a hundred years ago, its precise makeup remains unidentified.
Click here to view Sankarea Reviews
At the Baka-Updates manga site, Sankarea has had a uniformly positive reception with nearly half of readers rating it 10/10, and less than 10% of readers rating it below 7/10.
 External Links
Sankarea at Baka-Updates (info and scanlation links).