REVIEW: ‘Kemono Jihen,’ Episode 4 – “Mission”

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Kemono Jihen Episode 4

It was a bit of an odd blend in Kemono Jihen Episode 4 this week, which deals with two smaller missions for the team, one focusing on Akira. The anime follows young Kabane, a half-ghoul hanyo who takes up Inugami (a tanuki kemono) on his offer to help find his parents. With a newfound family, Kabane learns what it takes to be a Kemonoist and handle supernatural cases throughout the city. The production from Ajia-do (Ascendance of a Bookworm, Kakushigoto) adapts a manga published in Japan by Shō Aimoto.

Kemono Jihen Episode 4 picks up with the kids listening in as a man walks into their agency (the lower floor is a bar). Only humans who have interacted with kemono can see the sign, which is how they attract cases. Inugami also wasn’t always looking after lost kemono kids. Shiki and Akira reveal that the bar actually belonged to his former partner. Whether that partner died or left is not said, but it is something that Inugami avoids talking about. It is details like these scattered throughout the anime that continues to give intrigue and depth, even when it becomes more run-of-the-mill shonen.

The first case is helping this man, who has fallen in love with a cat kemono. His devotion to her is also turning his features into that of a cat, and he is overcome by the urge to catch mice to give as gifts. Any cat owner can attest to the accuracy in this depiction. Kemono Jihen Episode 4 tries to do a throughline of Kabane learning about love, but the story is so thin that it doesn’t quite work. The plot is also so thin that the most glaring problem is even more noticeable. Kemono Jihen is starting to have an uncomfortable trend with women. It is one thing to have one kemono woman using her powers to seduce and be a stereotypical villainess (see Inari) but two is getting dangerously close to a pattern. The only other female character in the show is Kon. She had an incredibly strong introduction last week, but instead of more empathy, her near-mindless devotion to Inari has her played the fool by Inugami this week. It isn’t that the show is outright sexist, but these trends are starting to raise some red flags.

This becomes relevant in the next mission in Kemono Jihen Episode 4. It focuses on Akira. He is a more traditionally feminine boy and is becoming self-conscious about his perceived weakness. He doesn’t like “gross” things and is scared easily in fights. All of this is fine on its own, but if his character isn’t given more to work with it will become more like an uncomfortable caricature of femininity when paired with the earlier examples. The show doesn’t totally bungle it, giving Akira his moment of growth. Hopefully, it won’t mean him shunning what he loves in future episodes. It is Akira’s backstory that raises more eyebrows. He and his brother are snow kemono, from a village of only women where boys are born once every hundred years. The two ran away and became separated. While imperfect, Inugami is clearly trying to let these kids grow into their own strengths and learn that they are okay the way they are. Akira and Kabane both touchingly view the group as a home, and people they want to protect. It is these moments that salvage the simplistic plots this week.

Kemono Jihen Episode 4 was a mixed bag. There were small touching moments, but overall the two missions lacked depth. Akira achieved some development, although the show’s treatment of his femininity may rightly make viewers wary. This, in combination with a growing concern about the portrayal of the few women in the show makes for a rocky week.

Kemono Jihen is streaming now on Funimation.

Kemono Jihen Episode 4
  • 6/10
    Rating - 6/10
6/10

TL;DR

Kemono Jihen Episode 4 was a mixed bag. There were small touching moments, but overall the two missions lacked depth. Akira achieved some development, although the show’s treatment of his femininity may rightly make viewers wary. This, in combination with a growing concern about the portrayal of the few women in the show makes for a rocky week.