Watch or Drop? Kemono Jihen

Kemono Ep1 3
There’s a weird, weird world out there.

Watch or Drop? Rules

  1. The anime must be new (not a sequel or spin-off).
  2. At least 3 episodes have already aired.
  3. Episodes 1- 3 to be watched in a single sitting and a decision reached as to whether the anime will be added to the watch/review list or dropped and forgotten. For good.
Kemono Ep2 3
Definitely an authentic reaction.

First Impressions:

The short synopsis given on both MAL and AnimeLab of Kemono Jihen largely leave the viewer with little to go on as they both more or less detail the events setting up episode one without giving much in the way of an indication of how this story will develop. Still, it sounded interesting enough and it was ticking off a number of genre boxes that I quite enjoy with its claims of action, mystery, demons and the supernatural.

I will admit though that Inugami’s initial introduction more or less made me want to put this one down to a nice try and move on. With his ridiculous hair and fairly cliche position as a supernatural investigator, I honestly wasn’t all that impressed. Fortunately, once he took an interest in Kabane, a young outcast villager, things picked up and the first episode ended up being quite an enjoyable ride. That said, we then immediately transition away from the rural setting to the city and I’m not sure that the next two episodes have finished really establishing the new setting. With only 12 episodes in the season, it seems unlikely that this one will manage to tell a whole story in its run time, which will be a bit of a shame because there are some very interesting elements at play here.

Series Positives:

An absolute ten out of ten to the dead-pan Kabane in these early episodes. While a lot of the other characters are either pushed so far into their trope they’ve more or less become caricatures, he’s actually managing to pull off a nice combination of dulled emotions, inner strength but odd vulnerability as a child more or less alone in the world. His interactions with the other characters have all been pretty solid so far and when the story focuses on him it gets an immediate lift.

Kemono Ep2 6
Yep, tragic backstory involves either dead or missing parents.

I’m also really loving the world that is being crafted here with the supernatural characters slotting into the modern world either subtly or through brute force. The different approaches to modern existence at play in episode three when the kids under Inugami’s care clash with Inari was really interesting and I’d love to see more of how this develops as we meet more characters and learn more about this supernatural world. It’s the right mix of fascinating, magical and yet dark and dangerous. It is a setting you want to learn more about and you look forward to seeing the characters delve more deeply into the world around them.

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Series Negatives:

So far Inugami hasn’t impressed. It wasn’t just the first episode. Even after that he seems to deliberately withhold information from the kids for the sake of being mysterious and it is really difficult to get any kind of read on his overall motives. I’m sure they’ll reveal some purpose later on for him being like that but really we’ve seen this type of character before and done better, and to be honest sometimes it isn’t so much mysterious to withhold facts as it is annoying. Certainly giving the kids a heads-up before sending them in to deal with Inari might have been wise given how many ways that situation could have ended badly. Characters making bad choices is one thing if it makes sense for the characters; but writers who force characters to do silly things for the sake of a bit of drama just bring down the viewing experience.

Kemono Ep3 4
You probably shouldn’t be arguing with a head inside a police station.

The other negative probably comes from a number of the supporting cast with the other characters seeming to be trying to make up for the fact that Kabane is a pretty quiet and reserved character by being excessively noisy and boisterous. They have their charm and they work playing off Kabane but I think too much of Shiki and Kon simultaneously could definitely lead to eye-rolling unless they both develop a bit as the show goes on.

Verdict?

Karandi Excited Transparent
Watch

Despite the negatives, I really quite enjoyed the first three episodes. There’s enough intrigue here to keep me wondering and the setting has a lot of potential. Also, despite some gripes about the characters, mostly these first three episodes were pretty enjoyable to watch. I’m very much looking forward to more, though I kind of think it would have been better to remain in the village because there was some great atmosphere there. As much fun as urban fantasy settings are there’s just something a bit more thrilling about the isolated village.

Other Impressions:

Images from: Kemono Jihen. Dir. M Fujimori. Ajia Do. 2021


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5 thoughts on “Watch or Drop? Kemono Jihen

  1. The entire season seemed like a prologue; introducing characters, concepts and setting, until the final episode introduces the titular “Kemono Jihen” and tells us what the series is going to be about. Seems like a long-runner, but not sure how many seasons this is going toget.

    I have to say, Kabane carried the show for me. I like him especially with Kon; they have some nice scenes together.

    1. Kabane was definitely a strength in the first few episodes. I look forward to more of him.
      Bit of a shame that this season didn’t really get anywhere. Wonder if a second season will appear.

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