REVIEW: ‘Kemono Jihen,’ Episode 9 – “Family”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Kemono Jihen Episode 9

The beautiful first quarter of Kemono Jihen Episode 9 is marred by the rest of the episode sticking the only two girls with the most superficial plot. The anime series is from Ajia-do (Ascendance of a BookwormKakushigoto) and is based on the manga published in Japan by Shō Aimoto. The story follows Kabane and his newfound friends as they solve cases relating to kemono, supernatural creatures that live alongside humans. Kabane is a hanyo, specifically half-ghoul, and hopes to track down his family.

Let’s start with the positive: Kemono Jihen Episode 9 has a wonderful wrap-up to the story arc around Shiki’s family. Shiki and his half-sister, Aya, are both internally struggling with guilt while they wait for their mother to wake up. It is especially painful because viewers know that the kids are not at fault, but both of them are responding to their trauma by blaming themselves. The last two weeks dove into Shiki’s side, this time viewers get a stronger glimpse into Aya’s. Aya blames herself for her mother and Shiki’s situation because she was aware of what was happening. She disregards her own abuse at the hands of her uncle because she sees herself as not really Shiki’s sister and instead one of the creatures who attacked him. Watching this family come together after their shared trauma is very moving and the best part about this episode by a long shot.

To say Kemono Jihen Episode 9 squanders all that is a bit harsh but not far off. After all, is said and done, it is back to business at the investigation agency. After taking time off to be with his family, Shiki comes back with Aya. This is the first glaring issue. Aya could potentially be a great addition to the main cast, but her new character design raises major flags. Aya is eight years old, and walks into the investigation agency wearing booty shorts, a bandeau showing her bare midriff, platform shoes, and an open jacket.

Let’s clarify here: Nothing is wrong with this clothing in general, but Aya is EIGHT YEARS OLD. Additionally, she immediately latches on to Kabane, wanting to be his girlfriend. She claims she hated the cute dresses her uncle put her in, and while dressing and behaving the exact opposite can fairly be a response to trauma, the show is clearly not prepared to handle it well.

The only other girl in the main cast is Kon, and my issues with her depiction have been discussed in the past. She goes on an investigation with Kabane and Aya, and they are immediately pitted against each other in the writing as two jealous girls fighting over him. Kon’s entire friendship with Kabane, and the connections made over a being mutually behind in social development, are suddenly reduced to a crush. It is disappointingly poor writing that is the most extreme example yet of previous concerns of how the show has treated the female characters.  On top of that, the case they are investigating is about a spirit with a crush on a man, and attacks beautiful women out of jealousy. The entire thing is tiresome. There is no nuance or care given to these two young girls, they are reduced to petty bickering over Kabane for “comedy.”

Kemono Jihen Episode 9 wraps up Shiki’s family arc beautifully and then throws it all under the bus with lazy writing for the rest of the episode. An uncomfortably sexualized character design for Aya, and a poorly written plot that reduces her and Kon to jealous girls, add to the list of the show’s issues with femininity. An anime that has done wonderful things in a story about found family and trauma is consistently marred by this.

Kemono Jihen is streaming now on Funimation.

 

Kemono Jihen Episode 9 - "Family"
  • 5/10
    Rating - 5/10
5/10

TL;DR

Kemono Jihen Episode 9 wraps up Shiki’s family arc beautifully and then throws it all under the bus with lazy writing for the rest of the episode. An uncomfortably sexualized character design for Aya, and a poorly written plot that reduces her and Kon to jealous girls, add to the list of the show’s issues with femininity. An anime that has done wonderful things in a story about found family and trauma is consistently marred by this.