REVIEW: ‘Kemono Jihen,’ Episode 2 – “The Kemonoist”

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Kemono Jihen Episode 2 - But Why Tho?

Kemono Jihen Episode 2 lightheartedly introduces more of the main cast this week, but still maintains its unsettling undertones. The anime production from Ajia-do (Ascendance of a Bookworm, Kakushigoto) is based on the manga of the same name in Japan by Shō Aimoto. The series follows 13-year-old Kabane who was told he was abandoned as a young child. When Inugami meets him on a case, Kabane learns he is a half-ghoul hanyo and is introduced to the hidden world of supernatural creatures known as kemono.

Kemono Jihen Episode 2 kicks off right where the premiere left off. Kabane has been brought to Tokyo by Inugami to start a new life. It turns out that Inugami is a Kemonoist, an investigator of sorts who handles cases dealing with kemono. While their backstories haven’t been revealed, it appears that Inugami has created a haven of sorts for kemono children with no other place to go. One of them is the brash 14-year-old, Shiki. Shiki is also a hanyo like Kabane, except instead of half-human/half-ghoul, Shiki’s mother was an arachne. Shiki’s able to create threads and spider silk to entrap others and is quite confident in his abilities.

Shiki has a great introduction in this episode. He actually acts like a 14-year-old. He is clearly insecure about the idea of his mother abandoning him, and being a hybrid in this world. He overcompensates with confidence and tries to assert dominance over Kabane. This is quickly upended when he discovers that Kabane has never had pizza before. Shiki is clearly going to be a fantastic foil to Kabane throughout this series.

The other child introduced in Kemono Jihen Episode 2 is Akira. Not much is said about him yet, although it is assumed he is a kemono since Shiki and Kabane are said to be the only hanyos in the group. How his character is portrayed in the next few weeks will determine a lot. He presents traditionally feminine, and Kabane mistakes him for a girl initially, upsetting him. This moment is briefly treated as comedic, which could raise red flags in the future. Akira could be a fantastic example of a teenage character pushing against gender norms, but it is too early to tell if the show is going to treat him thoughtfully or make him the butt of the joke. It is such a small moment, but it is worth being aware of. There is only one other small red flag in Kemono Jihen Episode 2, and that is during the conflict. Inugami tells the kids about how Kabane lost most of his emotions and fear due to his upbringing, but that in turn makes him strong when facing kemono. Inugami is visibly saddened by this fact, but it still isn’t great to equate a child’s strength to something that resulted from abuse. It is looking like the show is working towards Kabane allowing himself to have these emotions again, but only time will tell.

Just like the premiere, Kemono Jihen Episode 2‘s production favors subtle horror undertones rather than action. Shaky camera angels that blur in and out of focus show what a character sees as they peak through a crack in the door. Swarms of supernatural bugs crawl over bodies in the dark, paired with the most squeamish of sound effects. Once again, the musical score is on point beginning to end, for both lighthearted and unsettling moments. An additional refreshing note is the character design. In a world where many teenage anime characters look like they are actually in their twenties, it is refreshing to see 13 and 14-year-old kids look and act like kids.

Kemono Jihen Episode 2 continues the wonder the premiere set up. A promising introduction of a found family provides a welcome contrast to the unsettling horror that layers the show. A few tiny moments raise possible red flags, but it is far too soon to tell where they will lead. Right now, this episode has successfully expanded the show’s cast and will make audiences want to watch them all grow. Although, fair warning, bug haters will not enjoy this episode.

Kemono Jihen is streaming now on Funimation.

Kemono Jihen Episode 2
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Kemono Jihen Episode 2 continues the wonder the premiere set up. A promising introduction of a found family provides a welcome contrast to the unsettling horror that layers the show. A few tiny moments raise possible red flags, but it is far too soon to tell where they will lead. Right now, this episode has successfully expanded the show’s cast and will make audiences want to watch them all grow. Although, fair warning, bug haters will not enjoy this episode.