REVIEW: ‘Kemono Jihen,’ Episode 8 – “Truth”

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Kemono Jihen Episode 8

There is something beautiful to be found beneath the horrific in Kemono Jihen Episode 8, which brings resolution to Shiki’s confrontation with his uncle. The anime production from Ajia-do (Ascendance of a Bookworm, Kakushigoto) takes place in a reimagining of modern-day, where supernatural beings called kemono live among humans. Inugami runs an agency that deals with kemono-related issues, and he also provides a home for young kemono and hangout (half-kemono/half-human) children. Kabane, a half-ghoul hanyo is one of those kids who has recently joined the group, hoping to track down his family. The anime is based on the manga series of the same name by Shō Aimoto, currently being published in Japan.

Last week was rough, and not because it wasn’t a good episode, it was just emotionally draining to watch. Viewers all knew from Shiki’s own admission that he had suppressed traumatic memories. However the truth was likely a lot more horrifying than anyone, the show’s cast included, could have imagined. Shiki’s uncle, Akio, was experimenting on his mother. Akio would force Kumi to give birth to multiple offspring after mating with different kinds of kemono. Akio was trying to create the spider kemono from legend that could produce golden thread. Shiki walked in on them one day, so Akio hit him on the back of the head with a rock, and then lied to him. Honestly, Akio might be one of the most revolting characters I’ve seen in a while, reminiscent of Fullmetal Alchemist‘s Shou Tucker.

Kemono Jihen Episode 8 is focused on Shiki trying to process all the information coming at him at once. He is enraged that his uncle abused and experimented on his mother. Additionally, he feels misplaced guilt for suppressing his memories. He blames himself for hiding from the truth as a child. This is all the more painful for viewers because Shiki is only fourteen, he is still a child.   Kemono Jihen Episode 8 once again does an excellent job of using atmospheric elements to add horror here. Nothing overly gory is shown.

What will horrify viewers is the imagery of Shiki’s face contorting in ugly tears, the grotesque kemonos in the woods Akio says are Shiki’s siblings, and the sounds of Kumi’s voice coming out of the creatures attacking her son.

Yes, all of this is very traumatizing to Shiki, but Kemono Jihen Episode 8 makes sure that it is still about overcoming trauma. All of the horrors don’t entirely feel like trauma porn. There is a greater narrative at play even for the other characters. Viewers get to see a genuinely enraged Kabane. Additionally, the scenes between Kabane and Shiki are a lovely counter to traditional toxic masculinity tropes. The brief exchange between the boys deals with consent, and the ability to ask for help.

Shiki’s strength this week lies in his ability to admit when something is too much for him and ask for help. For all of my concerns last week, without spoiling, the ending of Kemono Jihen Episode 8 resolves all of this in the best way it could at this point. It was also genuinely unexpected.

Kemono Jihen Episode 8 is fantastic. It is horrifying in all the worst ways. A good comparison would be to Shou Tucker’s crimes in Fullmetal Alchemist. However, it is in how the characters fight back (or don’t) and rely on each other that sends it home as a great week for character development.

Kemono Jihen is streaming now on Funimation.

 

  • 9.5/10
    Rating - 9.5/10
9.5/10

TL;DR

Kemono Jihen Episode 8 is fantastic. It is horrifying in all the worst ways. A good comparison would be to Shou Tucker’s crimes in Fullmetal Alchemist. However, it is in how the characters fight back (or don’t) and rely on each other that sends it home as a great week for character development.