Saturday, January 10, 2009

Kemono no Souja Erin

This one almost went under my radar - I remember reading the news that a novel by the author of Seirei no Moribito was going to be animated, but I had no idea they were burying it in the winter season.
Then I looked at the staff, and understood. The director of Library Wars. Seriously? The only reason I didn't complain more about how shitty the first episode of Library Wars was was that I watched the first episode of Real Drive immediately afterwards and concluded that Production IG had managed to destroy all value their name brand had at Wachowski speed.
So I downloaded this wondering if Nahoko Uehashi's skills were enough to make them rise again, like the phoenix, as the Wachowski's did with the undeniably awesome Speed Racer, or if we'd have to wait for them to go crawling back to Kenji Kamiyama in the spring.

Sadly, I think I'll be reading the novel instead of watching any more.
You can definitely see traces of what must have been a very interesting story, but the director's instincts are those of a die hard hack. Possibly one who wants to be more, as the awesome choice to replace the violent animal attacks with crayons shows.

But the majority of the episode was a collection of little things that annoy the piss out of me with anime. Little kids who speak in an adorably retarded fashion I know Uehashi would never dream of writing. The way people smile, and the unnatural beats of conversation, the overdone voice acting, even a few artificial bits of body language. It all just amounts to a pile of bad habits anime directors have developed over the years, and that the best of them manage to avoid, and I've just watched too much anime to be able to tolerate this crap.
And the music is seriously fucking terrible.

Shame, because I really like the backgrounds, the adult monsters are suitably ferocious looking, and the story itself certainly finds an unusual place to begin, leaving several promising threads for the show to follow. Since most people can't read the novels, and probably aren't as sensitive to certain hackwork directing tics, this entire review may well be a sort of backhanded recommendation.


  1. Damn. I was really hoping for something like the Seirei no Moribito anime. Shame they didn't give it to a more competent director.

    I'll probably watch at least the first episode anyway, but this is disappointing news.

  2. Basically, if you want to punch your TV when an anime character tilts their head to one side and closes their eyes while smiling, you'll have issues here.
    Everyone else is probably fine.
    I don't think anyone here actually closed their eyes, but it was that sort of thing all the way through. "She's scared! Make sure her knees are pointing inwards at a 45 degree angle, or no one will be able to work that out."

  3. Production IG has always had the occasional project they'd rather we forget, like Kai Doh Maru.

  4. Man, this thing is fifty episodes? Based off...I think it was a two part novel.
    Who knows how much of this episode was anime original.

  5. The animation ticks remind me of my complaints about aural cues. I've sort of grudgingly accepted them by now, but it doesn't make it any easier when the director treats the audience like they're goddamn idiots by having another forced gasp or giggle to indicate that the character is shocked, dismayed or happy.

    Granted, even my favorite anime have this, but not at the frequency where you can turn it into a damn drinking game.

  6. Yeah, actually - I was going to point out that she didn't actually close her eyes when she smiled, but she did make a fucking utterly unnatural vocal sound to indicate that she was smiling. I just couldn't work out a way of expressing it.