Posted on 26 December 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, Kemono no Souja Erin

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.
Posted on with categories: Kemono no Souja Erin

So far, the endings this season have been pretty generous for me. 11Eyes was pretty exciting, Darker than Black’s finale also had its good points, and White Album’s ending was really good. This however, was just bad. I wish that I could at least praise it some, but it did just about everything that you shouldn’t do in a final episode. Let’s make a checklist of what all went wrong here:

– A Disney-ending: the lead character is hit. He/she falls to the ground, seemingly dead. But wait! She turns out to be alive anyway. This is completely pointless in terms of storytelling: it accomplishes nothing, and is just used to generate some cheap sentiments for the lead character. Let it be the characters who create the drama!
– The lead character is cornered, about to be killed. But wait! Something unannounced suddenly pops up to save her. Again, pointless and cheap! If you want to do something, then at least show Lilan take off or something.
– It forgets to take its surroundings into account. What happened to the Touda riders? They completely vanish after Lilan screams. Where the heck are they?
– The villain, battered and defeated, finds a weapon and takes a final shot at killing important person X. Only to be obviously stopped. Cliched! Cheesy!
– “Save him! Save my precious loved one because he is about to be killed! The others on the battlefield? Who cares. I just want to be with the person I love.”
– And they lived happily ever after. seriously, all of the conflicts magically resolve themselves. Very sloppy.

I mean, this was exactly what I feared when I first found out about the staff of this series. The director has shown that he can adapt a story well, as long as he’s given enough time. But he’s utterly terrible when he needs to write stories for himself. There are so many things wrong with this episode. It’s not just a case where it’s simply rushed, and just could have used some extra episodes. Even with ten extra episodes, what happened here would not have made any sense.

I mean, I seriously wonder what happened to everyone on the battlefield. For some reason, everyone aside from Shunan completely disappears. As if those lives are completely unimportant. That completely shatters the previously built-up themes about the hardships of war: who cares if people get hurt? They’ll just disappear anyway. Let’s send those kinds of armies toward each other!

This really is a bad timing for this series. You know, if the series had simply ended at episode 49, it would have left a better impression than right now. Here I was, really happy with the slow build-up of the past few episodes and that the creators were actually trying to let everything play out naturally… and then they pull this. Oh come on. And added to that they even have the guts to pull a “nearly dead”-twist TWICE. I mean, what were they thinking? This is just me, but I personally hate it when a show has to resort to these kinds of plot twists. Especially near the end.

Overall, I like the series, but I think the parts I blogged weren’t the best. For me, this show was at its best from episode 30 to the episode in which Erin lost half her hand. After that, it was just build-up for this particular episode, and that was just all dumped down the drain in less than 20 minutes.

Ah crap. I was going to give this show a very positive review, and then it pulls this. I’ve noticed this plenty of times: great series with bad endings, as much as I hate it, do end up leaving a very bad aftertaste. There you go, show. Thanks for pissing me off.
Rating: —- (Bad)

Posted on 20 December 2009 with categories: Kemono no Souja Erin

So this is it: the moment where this series doesn’t just need to show off the build-up of the previous episodes paying off, but the creators also need to show that even when shifting the focus to the war between countries, instead of raising beasts, it can deliver. And you know what, it actually did.

The big question-mark here of course was Damya: would such a stereotypically evil person really be able to pull off a good villain during this show’s climax? Well, he didn’t really get much depth in this episode either, but his betrayal to the queen, his plans to use the Touda army to crush the duke’s army even after Seimiya’s surrender and his constant evil presence did great preparations to the real point of this episode: the decision that Erin had to make: resent war in every way possible and never use Lilan to fight, or take up the role that was given to her, and making use of the power that she controls, even though the potential for a complete disaster is oh so great.

And that’s really what made this episode work and tied this arc in with the rest of the series. I must say, that the build-up during the past episodes has been really great, and seeing it actually pay off makes it even better. I suppose that it would have been even better if the villain was fleshed out a bit more, but ah well. This is a series about Erin. Not the country. The politics in this series were interesting, but they were always inferior to Erin and her struggles into better understanding beasts like Lilan. For a series that’s purely about politics, there’s always Tytania anyway.

Now: that final episode. I can sort-of guess what’s going to happen, so it’s all going to come down to execution. I really hope that the creators are going to be able to use this episode to create a great ending.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 12 December 2009 with categories: Kemono no Souja Erin

This is really why long series rock: they can really take their time in building up and give their characters enough time to prepare themselves for the upcoming climaxes. The key in these sorts of things is making the build-up count, and that’s something that this series has become really good at: the past three episodes were in no way inferior to the more fast-paced and plot-twist heavy episodes so far and they formed a very good build-up for the upcoming climax while keeping its atmosphere.

The big question now of course is: will the creators be able to pull off a good ending? There have been many great shows like this one with a great pre-ending build-up, but with just a rushed or dull ending. It’s a shame, but Damya still is just a stereotypical evil villain. I was really hoping that the creators would delve more into his character, but all they did throughout the series was make him more and more evil, rather than dynamic. This could pose a very serious problem for these final two episodes.

What I want is an ending that doesn’t just resolve the major themes of the series, but also progresses them in some way. It’s one way to just have the final two episodes full of pointless battles that eventually end up killing Damya and bringing peace back to the country, but that’s just lazy storytelling. Since the novels progress after this point, this is going to require input from the creators of the anime themselves. They NEED to have put some serious thoughts into how to let this end in the best way possible. If they can do that, then congratulations. This episode really was excellent in its atmosphere. This series really has put forth some great themes, characters and settings. It DESERVES a good ending to accompany them!
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 6 December 2009 with categories: Kemono no Souja Erin

Very interesting. While you would expect an action-packed finale, the creators instead decided to end this series through words and dialogue. The past two episodes were far less dramatic than some of the other moments in this series, and yet they used these moments very well in developing the plot solely through dialogue.

This was another very focused episode, in which Erin attempts to convince the new queen to stop listening to Damya. Erin had the luck that the new queen is still young and naive, so she easily believed her words, but nevertheless this was a pretty powerful episode. Even an idiot doesn’t believe any random Joe who claims that one of his closest relatives has been betraying him. Erin built up her story very well, up to the eventual revelations that the country was about to head into a disastrous path.

My prediction is that the final three episodes will be a lot more action-packed than this, although I do suspect that it’s going to be more than “Seimiya’s Troops versus Damya’s troops”. Still, Damya is pretty much guaranteed to die or something similar in the final episode. With that though, I’ll be content with how this series ends, despite that only half of the novels were adapted. Throughout the past fifty episodes, this show was able to show what it wanted to show, and for me this is now a well rounded series. There are plenty of other anime who deserve a sequel more than this one (Guin Saga!? Tytania!?).

Trans Arts… yeah. I’ve had a lot to complain about them. They’re another production company that is lead by one particular director, but this guy really is very inflexible. His original stories (Sisters of Wellber) are just too cheesy, his adaptations (Library Wars, Chocolate Underground) try to do way too much in way too little time. This series however was a great opportunity for him to really take his time and carefully adapt a well written story, and with this you can see that he really knows how to direct a series. I think that his main problem is that while he’s good at writing and directing single scenes and episodes, he doesn’t know how to look at the big picture. I hope that this series provided him with some valuable lessons as to what he’s good at and what he’s bad at. Because really: I like this guy’s creativity. In this day and age in which a majority of the anime try to rip off each other, he comes with interesting ideas and creative concepts, and finally with Kemono no Souja Erin, he actually managed to adapt one of these concepts right.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 28 November 2009 with categories: Kemono no Souja Erin

This is why 50-episode series rock. They can easily take an episode and solely dedicate it to really show the effects of character-development. This episode would have been impossible in a 13-episode series: it would have broken the flow completely in a series that already has so little time.

So yeah, even for a calm before the storm, this episode was quiet. It was solely dedicated to Erin and Ialu, with perhaps a minute of Damya and Kirik. You can really see that this episode was solely meant to develop Ialu. This actually reminds me of another show from the director: Sisters of Wellber. While its pacing was definitely faster, that one also had these kinds of episodes that were just totally devoted to character-development. In theory, they were very nice ideas, but in the end the scriptwriting was just too cheesy and soap-operaish.

In that view, I’m glad to see that he’s learned a lot since then. Sure, it may have been done well in the book, but correctly portraying this in an animation doesn’t happen automatically. The slow pace of this episode formed a good build-up to finally Erin’s attempts to talk Ialu out of fighting.

This is now half the job. Now use this development well!
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 22 November 2009 with categories: Kemono no Souja Erin

whoa. Just when I thought that this show couldn’t pull any more plot twists. This episode yet again pushes the story into a completely different direction. Obviously, if you haven’t seen this episode yet: beware for spoilers because this episode ties up a lot of the mysteries in this series.

Because holy crap, it was Damya all along. This guy really struck me as someone with ambitions, however also with loyalties to the Queen. Turns out, it was all an act: he was the one who ordered the collection of Touda eggs, the attack on the queen, and all of the other things that those masked guys did. On top of that: Kirik is one of them! He was the one who nearly escaped from Ialu a couple of times, and now he’s been sent to keep out an eye for Erin.

This episode also put in some major development for Kirik, and it really paid off. We finally get to fully see what that flashback of his meant: he and his sister were orphans, and were taken in by people who just wanted to kill the two, so he ended up poisoning them. The climax really worked, between him and Ialu.

But yeah, the worst part is going to be Erin: we now know that she’s really been tricked, and that Damya has no good intentions for her whatsoever. Throughout the entire episode, we could only see her sitting in a corner, thinking of the possibility of having the Beast King force disbanded. With only five episodes left, the end is finally getting in sight.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 15 November 2009 with categories: Kemono no Souja Erin

This episode really shows the power of long and slow-paced series. While Erin indeed lacks the excitement of series with an erratic pacing like the Armed Librarians, at the same time it’s got a story that’s so well built up that it can really take an in-depth look at it. The power of the story of Erin lies in the fact that Erin sees things that everyone else sees, and just keeps taking daring conclusions and actions that nobody else in the setting sees. Thanks to the slow pacing, we’re really given an insight into how this happens.

This series is full of things that are bound to happen: in this episode, Damya finally threatens Erin with the safety of the students and teachers at the academy. It’s something that was bound to happen, the moment Erin started to take care of Lilan. And yet this episode showed her as she comes with a solution that I never even thought of: what if the Grand Duke became king? That would mean that the Beast Kings would lose their function as war machines. We’ve seen people claim before that the country would fall apart when its two half get unbalanced, but I realize that we’re also supposed to take that with a grain of salt: I mean, with Damya at the head, the country is bound for destruction anyways.

The only thing that I dislike about this series is the great amount of flashbacks in this series. This series just keeps recycling the same frames under these flashbacks, when a character is talking, and it’s about to get a bit overused. Ah well, at least it’s not the worst way to save budget. The drawings still look as solid as ever.

I think that at this point, I still consider Seirei no Moribito as superior to Kemono no Souja Erin. While Erin has better developed characters and a longer length, it still beats Erin for me in terms of the awesome production-values and its huge attention to detail in just about everything. Still, I do have to say that Erin is getting closer and closer to the height of SnM.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 8 November 2009 with categories: Kemono no Souja Erin

For everyone who has yet to watch this episode: close this window, don’t look at spoilers, wait for the subs to release and watch this episode. It’s one of those episodes you don’t want to get spoiled about. This line of text is there to prevent these spoilers from showing up at the various blog aggregators.

I’m utterly astonished at this episode. It was such a powerful proverbial kick in the groin that it gives the entire story an entire new direction. Show for kids? Charming story about a young woman and her trusty Beast King? Hah! Think again! This episode more than anything showed the mature and downright brutal nature of this series. I’m completely amazed at how far this episode went, and it’s also the episode of this series that has made the most impact on me.

After the death of the queen, you’d expect a slow-paced battle between Erin, as she tries to keep Lilan out of Damya’s clutches. That was Erin’s plan too, but here Lilan comes, attacks the royal guard, kills one of these people AND BITES OFF THREE OF ERIN’S FINGERS! Holy crap. It’s this series’ way of saying: don’t mess with beasts. They’re dangerous. It completely nullifies Erin’s wishes to be a beast player without the use of a mute whistle: this episode was a really hard lesson for her to never underestimate the power of these things.

Also, what’s going to happen next? I originally thought that the final episodes of this series would focus on the upcoming war, but this episode really changes everything. Erin doesn’t run away like a coward, but she has to bear the responsibility for killing one soldier, and injuring another. Lilan… I have no idea what’s going to happen to her. Common sense dictates that she’s simply going to have to be executed, but is everything really going to end that simple? After all, Erin was the one who proved the theory wrong that only the queen could control the beast kings, he might have some plans for her.

Is there really not going to be some sort of second season?
Rating: **** (Fantastic)

Posted on 1 November 2009 with categories: Kemono no Souja Erin

An entire episode dedicated to the new queen, who just ascended the throne in one of the worst possible times, just when the stability between the two halves of the country is beginning to waver. And what an intense episode it was.

Of course, the sons of the grand duke aren’t stupid enough to give in to the false accusations that Damya throws at them. Not only that, but they also end up making the first move when Shunan even proposes to Seimiya, in an attempt to bring the country back to stability. The thing is, that Seimiya just has too little experience. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but she doesn’t seem educated at all in politics. She lived the good life, protected by everyone else including her mother. Her ideal wedding was one with Shunan, but now that he’s marrying her for country purposes, rather than because of her became a huge shock for her. Even if there wasn’t Damya who would try to take advantage of her, she’d probably end up destroying the country herself.

Damya meanwhile remains an interesting variation to the stereotypical evil right hand man. You can see that he’s already manipulating Seimiya: portraying himself as the kind uncle to her, so that she feels trusted with him. However, you can also see that he genuinely cares for the loss of his mother, and he feels sorry for his niece. Unlike her, however, he knows what his ideals are, and he’s well aware that he has a very good opportunity to realize them.
Rating: ** (Excellent)


Mail will not be published
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Nov 29. 2015 03:25 AM)
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 10:22 PM)
    @Aidan: it does seem like you’ve actually seen Xavier, in which case I’m impressed. Didn’t think you had it in you.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 09:35 PM)
    Speaking of errors, can anybody else open Evil Genius Scanlations page? I keep getting a gateway error. I know there should be a new Berserk on there but some force is keeping it from me. This is messed up.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:38 PM)
    @Bam, Easy. 404 not found
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:45 AM)
    It takes a true magnificence to propose such a grand question as: What dot life?!
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:42 AM)
    @Kaiser: the show does vary in quality, but for the first season they generally crank up the insanity with every episode until a very remarkable season finale where Xavier faces his worst enemy.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Bam: Oh in symphogears case, I certainly laughed but I wasn’t supposed to.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:39 AM)
    @Bam: While it didn’t always work, that first episode of renegade angel was amusing, I particularly liked the part where he went on about Aids being invented.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:22 AM)
    and don’t be fooled by the simple graphics, the crudeness is completely intentional.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:21 AM)
    @Kaiser: as far as Xavier goes I implore you to download and watch the first episode to get the gist of it. That show is the pinnacle of absurdist and meta humor. It’s strangely adored within the animation circles, getting very high praise from the industry, but it’s very dense and bizarre so people either love or hate it. If you’re anything like me it might become one of your most beloved shows.

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