Kemono no Souja Erin

So here is an underrated yet excellent series that I have been following recently. The anime bug hit me again a while back, so I was looking another evening fix. Kemono no Souja Erin came up on several lists of very good 2009 shows to watch, yet I had trouble finding decent information and reviews on it. I don’t think too many people are blogging or following this series, which is a shame because it is quite good.

Kemono no Souja Erin is a 50 episode series by Production I.G. It’s an anime adaptation of a novel series by Nahoko Uehashi (yay Wikipedia) centered around Erin. Erin is a precocious green eyed, green haired girl living with her mother Soyon in Ake, a small village given the task of raising Touda for the Grand Duke. Touda are semi-aquatic beats used as mounts in combat against the neighboring kingdom. As a general point of reference: They kind of look like the giant lizards that Obi-Wan Kenobi was riding in Star Wars: Episode 3 (but stickier and with horns).

Erin and her mother Soyon are outsiders. Soyon was born as one of the Mist people (thus the green eyes and hair), an aloof and not-so-well trusted people of mysterious ways and origins. She was accepted into the village only because she fell in live with and married the chief’s now deceased son. Though Soyon is well respected and even admired as a skilled beastinarian, her ancestry raises suspicion amongst the villagers. Her expertise with the Touda is pretty much the only reason why Soyon and Erin are permitted to still live in Ake, a fact that the villagers remind her of on a daily basis.

Erin aspires to become a beastinarian just like her mother. She is an overly curious and genuinely kind girl who cares for all living beings. The focus of Kemono no Souja Erin is on her journey as well as the trials and tribulations of raising animals. First of all, don’t judge this series based off of the art style or first few episodes. It comes off as a kiddy show because I suppose it kind of is, but overall I would consider it more along the lines of a series good for people of all ages to watch.

Kemono no Souja Erin starts off a little slow (not too unusual for a long series). The first 5 episodes focus on introducing the characters and the general setting while following the, “Touda problem of the week” formula. More interesting events don’t start to occur until around episodes 6 or 7. Kemono no Souja Erin actually has a fairly dark undertone that is slowly introduced as the series progresses. It paints a fairly strong message without being preachy

It almost feels like something Studio Ghibli might make in regards to the show’s general feel. It has a solid story with well developed characters. The art style is composed of beautifully painted pastel backdrops with fairly simple character designs, allowing the story to be fairly dramatic without being explicit or inappropriate for younger viewers. There’s no fan service, the animation isn’t flashy like most new series and there isn’t an excess of any forced anime cliches. There are a couple of comedic characters, but they are well balanced and develop beyond being laugh fodder.

Kemono no Souja Erin is different than new series that are currently out. It won’t cure anyone’s thirst for boobies or bloody shounen action, but if you are looking for a relaxing show with a good plot and good characters, give this one a try.

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