Review: Watching Kemono no Souja Erin may seem like a difficult task due to its 50 episodes length. Plus, the show’s general image that puts it in children’s anime category can lead to many viewers’ hesitation upon choosing to watch this series. But I tell you now, with confidence, that Kemono no Souja Erin is a wonderful anime and an irreplaceable experience. This post is a review that covers the first 25 episode of the show.
Kemono no Souja Erin is incredibly down to earth compared to most epic fantasy stories. It is simply the story of Erin in her path from childhood to adulthood. The anime is all about the details, not the pacing. It elaborately explores Erin’s life in every tiny aspect. This review depicts the first half of this series which roughly covers three arcs; Soyon’s, Jone’s and Esal’s arc. I do not intend to write lengthy synopsis and end up boring you since the synopsis can be easily found all over the blogsphere. Instead, I’ll discuss certain interesting themes that I learn from this anime. Of course, I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers.
Three main recurring themes stand out in this first half of the series.
The first theme is about ‘mother’. That sounds awfully simple but I can hardly name any specific anime that deals with this theme seriously. Most anime focus on romantic relationship of the characters and mother is usually just a supporting role (in some cases, the villain). But in Kemono no Souja Erin, the mother-child relationship is beautifully portrayed. Not just in Erin and Soyon’s case, the theme also exists in minor characters’ stories like Ial and his mother, the wild beast-lord and Lilan, Tocchi the horse and its baby. The anime is filled with warmth and love.
The second recurring theme is ‘tolerance’. Erin and her mother are of the Mist people, the race generally regarded as mysterious and even evil. The fact puts prejudice and bias into the minds of the people surrounding them leading to several disturbing and eventually tragic results. Sexual discrimination is also presented since Soyon is the best beastinarian and also a woman.
The third recurring theme is ‘wisdom’. Erin is always thoughtful and curious about everything around her and her thoughts are never limited by rules or traditions. The best example is how Erin figures out what’s wrong with the young Lilan when it has just arrived at the school. She thinks freely without being limited by the Beast-Lord Imperatives, the book considered indisputable by all the scholars.
There are also many other minor themes hidden all over this series such as hard working, responsibility and several lessons spoon-fed to the viewers through the stories of bees and butterflies. I was utterly amazed. This show, despite its slow and quiet nature, literally got my thoughts running all the time. There are always something hidden beneath even the smallest details and simultaneously, this anime never ceases to entertain.
In this first part, the political issues are subtly introduced but remain insignificant to Erin’s life. Nevertheless, it is obvious that Erin and Lilan will be drawn into the political turmoil soon enough and the story will eventually expand in its scale. I plan to keep my criticism on other aspects of the show for the second review including my overall impression but so far, Kemono no Souja Erin is a fantastic anime that everyone (yes, I mean it) should watch.
Title: Kemono no Souja Erin
Genre: fantasy, drama
Release date: January 10, 2009 – December 26, 2009
Director: Takayuki Hamana
Animated by: Production I.G