The fourth volume of “Sankarea” starts with a light-hearted “summer festival” episode, in which our hero Furuya, zombie heroine Rea, Furuya’s first-cousin Ranko and zombie expert from Southern islands Darin have a good time doing goldfish scooping and other fun games. This is followed by more serious and dramatic episodes about Ranko who has a crush on Furuya, and Rea whose “zombification” process seems to have moved into a new phase. You know what zombies would normally do to humans in zombie movies.
One of the big no-nos in storytelling (in comics or other media like films) is to get your readers bored. Though its story is surprisingly slow-moving (only two weeks have passed since the first volume), “Sankarea” manages to keep you interested and entertained so far, thanks to fleshed out characters and fine illustrations.
There is a slightly dark undertone running through the story – why not, because the heroine is dead after all! – but it is offset by humor that arrives at the most unexpected moment. The book also contains a special bonus story about zombie girl Rea’s everyday life seen from zombie cat Babu’s viewpoint (homage to Sosekki Natsume’s classic story “I Am a Cat”), and funny four-page bonus comic Mero’s Zen Riddles, plus one-page translation note that is helpful for those who are not very familiar with some of Japanese customs.
“Sankarea” started out as a romantic comedy with an unusual concept of “my zombie girlfriend” and so far stretched the idea pretty effectively (though almost failed in the second volume). The story has been admittedly thin and sometimes sluggish, but fine artwork and interesting characters make up for that.