Note: posts which contain episode numbers in the title may contain spoilers – read reviews instead for spoiler-free opinions.
I think I have a somewhat firmer idea of where the plot of Kemono no Souja Erin will be heading with regards to the overarching conflict, which will no doubt intersect at some point with Erin’s personal growth thusfar. Much time has been spent building up the background between the Queen and the Grand Duke, and the factions which cause trouble between them. Although the beasts are involved in this conflict through their use in warfare (in the case of Touda, at least), the more personal plot thread involving Erin herself with regards to the creatures is still rather far away from being connected to those political overtones. We are still in the stage of allowing Erin to develop what will clearly grow into a talent for caring for and handling them, and what role she will play in these overarching conflicts probably won’t be considered for some time.
There was a moment where I wondered whether this was going to become an ensemble show, the way that the classmates at Erin’s new school were introduced one by one. After the relatively long period of idyllic isolation with John the beekeeper, it was slightly jarring, but that phase seems to have passed rather quickly, and we appear to be focusing once more on a smaller group – Erin, Tomura, Ial, among others. Hopefully this is not the end of John, though his “arc” has clearly passed. There was a nice sense of culmination when he refers to her as his “daughter” towards the end, with no ambiguity, and I still feel as though there is area to be explored in that relationship.
The cloud of mystery that still hangs over the show is the story of the Mist People, who have not made a significant appearance in quite a while. The show hints that they have a different relationship with these beasts than the others do, perhaps less of a domineering one and more of a reciprocal one, though that is just my interpretation. If it were true, though, it seems very much in line with Erin’s dislike for the treatment of the creatures by even the “good guys” – the school which she has studied hard to become a part of. The moment around the twentieth episode where the teacher warns Erin that she should not attempt to form sympathy for the beasts – as they will never truly befriend humans – almost seems like a guarantee that this is indeed what will take place, and that Erin will be able to a form a unique relationship. But to what end, in terms of the main plot? At this point, it’s still a mystery.
When it comes to anime, there will always be that special batch that cause me to actually anticipate coming home just to watch another episode , and Kemono no Souja Erin has earned itself a spot in that batch. “A children’s story made with honesty will appeal to adults” – is a mantra that I often repeat on this blog, and this series embodies it quite well. Although there are some moments that may remind you of common tropes from other stories geared to younger audiences, there is a sincere and heartfelt sense of emotion behind the storytelling and character building, and this allows those significant moments to really hit home.
Or to put it in a less verbose manner, I am still really enjoying this anime.
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