Typically when I watch anime I watch it for myself. As anyone would to be honest. People are part of the medium and enjoy it as a hobby for that reason of course. I’m no real exception. However, sometimes we decide to watch anime with specific intentions in mind. We watch it with a friend, we watch it to just see why it is so conversed, or maybe we do it as some sort of self-imposed challenge. This past year I’ve been watching anime series(one per month) for a friend. A challenge I put upon myself to complete. Finish one of my friend’s favorite series and then tell them how it was for me. The idea was to learn why they love the show and hopefully discover something new for myself. If I fail to finish it in a month I receive a punishment. A sort of mini-motivation to help me along. 7 months down and I’m 3-4. So I’m not winning, that much is certain. Or am I? I may not be finishing series, but I do get quite an experience out of this whole ordeal. I figured I would like some of the shows, dislike some possibly, or even be indifferent. What I wasn’t expecting was for one of the shows to end up becoming one of my all time favorite anime watches ever. Color me surprised.
Yes, over the course of the past month I found an anime that I not only enjoyed, but absolutely loved. “Kemono no Souja” or “The Beast Player Erin”. The 50 episode fantasy drama anime series produced by Production I.G. adapted from Nahoko Uehashi’s 4 part novel series consumed many hours of my life recently, and I am thankful for it. It’s not often I find anime that really strike me at my core with themes and story elements where I feel utterly moved emotionally for just about every episode. I’m unsure if it is due to me being picky or because I just have very unique tastes that are difficult to cater to. Regardless of that, Erin was more than I could have expected it to be for me, and I’m happy to talk about it here and now.
The Beast Player Erin, or just simply Erin, is an adventure. Vague as that sounds, it is the best word I can think of to describe the overall idea of the show. You get to view the adventure that is Erin’s life through the many pivotal moments during 3 very crucial time periods. We start off when she is 10 years old, a curious young child who wants to explore and question everything you could possibly imagine within her world. She seeks to learn more constantly and it’s endearing. Then we move onto when she is 14 and she has lived through some harder times and learned a great deal. She feels uncertain on how to progress to the future she wants, but wants to fight on through her struggles. Finally, we journey on with her to when she is 18. Life has thrown much at her by this point. She isn’t quite the same girl we once knew from the beginning. She maintains her pureness and loving heart, but her naivety is gone and she now knows her future and wants to make it happen no matter the cost. It is scary and she fears the unknown, but believes she can make it happen if she does her utmost best.
This long road she goes down is one that may seem like a mere fantasy, but truly is more real to life than meets the eye. Erin’s adventure is very similar to mine and many others. The 3 key stages we explore of her life all symbolize real world parallels to human development. We start off as young immature animals, who through the art of maturation, slowly become knowledgeable adults. The sum of our many important life moments and experiences that define our past, create our present and future. This is clearly evident in Erin. The way learning something new makes her smarter, or the way losing something or someone makes her stronger. The sum of all of these things mold Erin into a newer better version of herself. This is what really captured me into her world. Every single thing in this show was important to Erin in someway. Every place she went, every person she met, every thing she did, none of it was for naught or to be pointless. Everything built her up and the people inhabiting her world to create a cohesive package that felt as real as anime can get.
Now, I could totally discuss themes galore. I really could, but it feels like a waste since the themes of Erin aren’t what made me love it. It was the way the show made me feel. The series made me laugh, cry(more than any anime before), and just feel inspired. I now have an idea of what I could want to do for my future profession because of Erin. I’ve always loved animals very dearly, and Erin rekindled that deep passion for them with the way she tenderly grew to love Lilan through her care of her. I can see myself experiencing that too. I adore animals so much and want to build a connection and bond of trust/love with them. To me it is a true example of the beauty we as humans can create if we put effort forth. My goal is to create that sort of beauty if I can. It is subtle, yet powerful. Thank you Lilan and Erin for showing me a path I had forgotten.
One portion of the show I can’t forget to mention though would be musical score and it’s stunning way of crafting its own universe. Notably I would like to point out the two opening themes. They are both titled “Shizuku” yet carry completely different tones to match the feeling of where the story is going. When the series is in it’s developmental period the OP is light and cheery. It has the sound to motivate you with the energy it produces alone. As time shifts, things get more serious with the plot of Erin and the second version of the OP matches this perfectly. The singer actually sounds like they may burst into tears at any moment and it invokes a real response out of the viewer. I could also mention the OP’s are chalk full of creative symbolism and foreshadowing, but if you watch Erin you will get to notice and pick up on that in due time. One thing is certain though. These OP’s are in line with the direction of Erin’s adventure, and the correlation makes the whole time an even richer one.
I’m unsure what else to say about Erin. This isn’t really a review or anything, just my thoughts on the show without spoilers. I can easily praise the art direction, the deep expansive world, the colorful cast supporting it all, Erin, Lilan, Erin and Lilan, the musical score, the perfect ending, and I think you get the point. I’m not one to gush so easily, but “Kemono no Souja” made me feel the way I love feeling the most. Very few things in life do that. My girlfriend can, a small handful of video games, and even a small list of anime. The list of things that make me feel like I’m on a true adventure is small. However, Erin created that feeling for me in such a great capacity, I find myself hard pressed to say anything but praise. I even enjoy the recap content for goodness sakes! They don’t use it needlessly, but as a comprehensive way of preparing you for the next logical shift in the story. It is brilliantly implemented. I feel like a fanboy writing this post and I will take that with pride. This show is now one of my all time favorite anime and it was the greatest pleasure to watch it from start to finish.
I can’t recommend this series enough. If you like stories with fantasy elements, strong female leads, or something that really makes you remember how much we grow through our life, then this show is the one for you. Some of Erin’s greatest triumphs and regrets I share, so for me this ended up a very personal experience. I can’t promise it will be the same for you if you watch it, but I can vouch for the quality fantasy story waiting for you to dive into. It really is something to behold and I would say if anything this is one of few anime that could be enjoyed by anyone. Well I hope you enjoyed this little emotional piece on “Kemono no Souja”. I was inspired very heavily by it and I hope it can do the same for you. Until next time…..
See you around my little wanderers!
Other Anime I recommend
If you want another anime that gives off a feel of seeing someone grow up to try and achieve their dream from a young age through many struggles I would say you would enjoy these titles