Sankarea – Indifference, or is it ignorance?

Someone is screaming! What do you do?
a) Run over to see what’s wrong.
b) It’s probably fine. Nothing to see here.

If you’ve taken a little psychology or are just well read, you may recognize the situation posed above. It’s more commonly known as the bystander effect. For those of you who have never heard of it, here’s the backstory. A woman is returning home after a long day’s work. As she approaches the building, an assailant stabs her repeatedly with a knife and rapes her. Despite her screams for help, no one comes to her aid. Sounds too horrible to be true, right? Well the incident did in fact occur in reality. Whether or not others could have feasibly heard her voice is subject to debate, but the question raised by the event is still just as alarming. Can we really expect those around us to help if we find ourselves in a dangerous situation?

I’m sure we’d all like to believe that bystanders would rush to our aid at the first indication of danger, but just how much credit should we give this belief? I’d say that for the most part we can safely make such an assumption, but of course there may be exceptions. For one, the assailant may threaten to turn on those who try to help, or perhaps just trying to get in the fray will directly endanger any good samaritan. But what the bystander effect focuses on instead is the concept of apathy; what if everyone else around decides that your problems are yours alone? Though this may technically be true when considered through a very narrow mindset, practically all occurances will in the end have some indirect effect on society as a whole.

What does this have to do with Sankarea? While I’m sure the reactions of Mero and Chihiro’s dad are somewhat understandable, I still find it slightly alarming that they could so easily brush off Wanko’s screaming. Heck, the girl was being assaulted by a horny hungry zombie. Granted, everything ended up better than expected, but that still doesn’t justify ignoring someone’s cries. I suppose you could also argue that it’s enough that Chihiro played the role of the good samaritan by responding immediately, but I maintain that he doesn’t count since he was well aware of the circumstances and the potential dangers beforehand.

So just where do we draw the line between being dangerously apathetic and only minding your own business? Just use some common sense. If a person screams, it can’t hurt to run over and ask what’s wrong. At the very least, he/she will tell you it’s nothing and you can carry on your day feeling better about yourself. I know Chihiro’s dad probably ended up looking rather awesome and chill with his easy acceptance of Rea, but I still think his parenting skills are dangerously lacking. I certainly wouldn’t want someone as uncaring as him to be a rolemodel for children. Also, if I ever brought a random girl home, I think my dad would kill me instead.

In any case, while it’s tempting to let Mero and Chihiro’s dad off the hook because of how things actually turned out, their lack of concern for Wanko is a prime example of a very dangerous phenomenon. The only silver lining to this dark topic is that I don’t believe it to be that pervasive in reality. Certain insurance companies aside, I think we can all rest assured that we’re in relatively good hands. After all, you wouldn’t hesitate to help a person in need, would you?

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5 Responses to Sankarea – Indifference, or is it ignorance?

  1. thoughtcannon says:

    I learned the bystander effect a tad bit differently. It wasn’t necessarily about apathy but about the notion of not wanting to take responsibility. In addition its effects increase with the number of bystanders. They all stand around thinking “surely someone will help that poor person” but no one actually will claim responsibility. However your point does stand Furuya’s father is way too passive and his responses too convenient for the plot. I would almost rather have him out of the picture and the grandfather be slightly less crazy legal guardian.

    As for “The only silver lining to this dark topic is that I don’t believe it to be that pervasive in reality”

    Be prepared to be upset.

    • Smiley says:

      Yeah, that’s also one way the bystander effect can be interpreted. In that case, it’s more of a question of motivation, I suppose.

      I still maintain that such a thing isn’t pervasive, though. The video may demonstrate yet another horrible example of the bystander effect in action (or lack thereof), but I don’t believe it to accurately represent the majority of situations.

      As is typical of the human psyche, we tend to only notice the unusual events that stand out and forget about the more common ones.

      • thoughtcannon says:

        Well the effect is enhanced by a person being a stranger and the number of participants. I actually do think the bystander effect is status quo in most situations. The upside being that it just requires one person taking responsibility to have a almost spell-breaking effect on the rest of the bystanders. I think the people who break it however are the exceptions to the rule. While not a majority, these people aren’t so rare that any given situation has a good chance of someone willing to step forward. I don’t think most people would say, jump down onto subway tracks to rescue someone who had fallen down, but it just takes one person to do it and the rest (usually) will fall in line to help.

      • Smiley says:

        That’s kind of what I was trying to say. There’s almost always going to be that one good samaritan who jumps in without hesitation. This effectively eliminates the bystander effect since someone is actually helping the victim.

        However, there are occasional examples where the good samaritan never shows up, which are then recorded and sensationalized, such as the video that you posted above. This then creates a false feeling that most people in need never receive any aid.

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