I’ve said this plenty of times now, but my biggest problem with anime at the moment is its “we’ll animate the second season only when the sales are good”-tendency. That’s why it’s good to see that there are still series that take risks and plan a full 50-episode course and plan in the full story that they want to tell. Kemono no Souja Erin is a slow-paced series, but because of its length it can show things that would not have been possible within 26 episodes.
What makes this series unique is its huge focus on taking care of wild animals. Erin starts as a little girl, but as she grows up you can see how her fascination with these wild beasts grows and develops, until she actually ends up taking care of them for real. This is done with a real attention to detail, and it’s really focused on Erin thinking outside of the box to find out the best ways to take care of these animals (in her case, Beast Kings, a huge kind of fictional dog-bird). Erin, and the trouble she has raising these animals are really one of a kind, and really the reason why you want to watch this series.
Aside this, the series also spends quite a bit of time on politics, but these just aren’t as good by comparison. The country’s background is a bit one-sided and just not as interesting as Erin and the challenges she faces trying to raise Lilan, the main beast of this series. On top of that, as the politics take over the show near the end, they end the series with a really cheesy, cliched and sloppy ending.
The animation is also a bit of a mixed bag. The art itself is beautiful: the backgrounds are very original, and whenever a beast is about to attack someone, it gets all surreal, as to symbolize the chaos that’s going on in the mind of both the attacker and attacked. This would have been a great series to look at if it wasn’t for the constant use of flashbacks, recycled frames, and even entire recycled scenes. Normally I’m don’t often notice this, but this series really takes it a bit too far.
Nevertheless, this is one of those shows that puts nearly 50 episodes into the development of its lead character. Erin really stands out as a memorable character, and her growth from just a small child into adulthood is very detailed, making her into one of the best developed characters of the year. The side-cast also all have their own moments to shine. It’s a shame that there are a number of weaker episodes, but the good ones really make up for it.
|Storytelling:||8/10 – Slow but very solid and imaginative. No cheese aside from the final episode.|
|Characters:||9/10 – Erin is an exceptionally well developed character.|
|Production-Values:||8/10 – Great art, both foreground and background. Solid animation but too many recycled frames.|
|Setting:||9/10 – Lots of depth on taking care of beasts and wild ainmals. Solid albeit one-sided view of the country the show is set in.|