REVIEW: ‘Kemono Jihen,’ Episode 1 – “Kabane”

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Kemono Jihen Episode 1

Atmospheric and well-animated, Kemono Jihen Episode 1, “Kanabe,” came out of left field and may become a sleeper hit this anime season. The supernatural anime is from Ajia-do (Ascendance of a Bookworm, Kakushigoto), and based on a manga series published in Japan by Shō Aimoto. This is an anime that will easily appeal to fans of supernatural anime like Jujutsu Kaisenbut is clearly carving its own way.

The plot of Kemono Jihen Episode 1 is difficult to discuss without spoiling the experience of watching it unfold. Inugami has been called in from Tokyo to investigate a series of morbid livestock killings in a rural village. The innkeeper he stays with has a son who is absolutely thrilled to have someone from the city to talk with. However, Inugami quickly catches on that things aren’t what they seem. The livestock killings occur on nights of the New Moon, and the carcasses had their insides devoured. Inugami also takes notice of a quiet boy working in the fields. The locals disdainfully call him Dorotabo, and no one goes near him, claiming he has a repugnant smell that cannot be washed away. Dorotabo was abandoned at the inn as a child, and since he works the fields, Inugami suspects he may have seen the culprit and enlists the child’s help.

Kemono Jihen Episode 1 is unsettling, it always gives just enough information to get viewers to the next moment. Even if you are a seasoned anime-watcher and somewhat predict where the episode will go, it throws in just enough surprises to catch one off guard. The musical score pairs well with Ajia-do’s animation, and the show isn’t afraid of stillness. Scenes are calm and fluid. Kemono Jihen Episode 1 isn’t action-packed, focusing on building tension and emotional attachment between the characters. The little action it does include, however, makes sure to match the unsettling vibe (a character rips a monster’s head off with their fist, for example).

Kemono Jihen Episode 1 focuses a lot more on traditional mythology. Not everything has been explained, and that is for the better. It was refreshing to not have an entire section of exposition to reveal that “not everything is as it seems.” While viewers aren’t given the specifics, the show makes clear that kemono (supernatural creatures) are real, and some are beginning to have children with humans, creating half-breed hanyo. Kemono Jihen Episode 1 does a fantastic job of sucking viewers in. The twenty minutes have the effect of a spooky story told around the campfire. It is only at the end where the show expands to show the start of a much larger adventure. The show also excellently represents how humans can be just as cruel as any monster.

Kemono Jihen Episode 1 should be on everyone’s watch list this winter anime-season. It is a creepy little show that focuses on character and atmosphere in its premiere instead of an action-packed spectacle. It is a supernatural series based in more traditional lore, and with great animation and music. If it matches this energy and feels beyond the premiere, it could become a sleeper hit this winter.

Kemono Jihen is streaming now on Funimation.


Kemono Jihen Episode 1 - "Kabane"
  • 10/10
    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL;DR

Kemono Jihen Episode 1 should be on everyone’s watch list this winter anime-season. It is a creepy little show that focuses on character and atmosphere in its premiere instead of an action-packed spectacle. It is a supernatural series based in more traditional lore, and with great animation and music. If it matches this energy and feels beyond the premiere, it could become a sleeper hit this winter.