REVIEW: ‘Kemono Jihen,’ Episode 11 – “Memories”

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Kemono Jihen Episode 11

CW: This episode of Kemono Jihen contains heavily implied child sexual abuse.

Kemono Jihen Episode 11 is a hard watch, and will likely be triggering to many as Yui’s memories reveal just how bad the village treated him. The anime from Ajia-do (Ascendance of a BookwormKakushigoto) follows Kabane and the friends he makes at Inugami’s investigative agency. Together, they try to maintain the balance between supernatural kemono and the human world while Kabane tries to track down his family. The anime is based on the manga series of the same name by Shō Aimoto.

The show is no stranger to having stories about trauma. In fact, almost every child on this show has had a different form of abuse in their backstory. Viewers mileage will vary on the handling of these topics, and whether the frequency leans into trauma porn. For the most part, the show does a good job of never explicitly showing the abuse, but also gives no room for error in interpretation. That being said, Kemono Jihen Episode 11 may likely be the most triggering episode to date.

It was clear from the beginning that Akira and Yui had an abusive upbringing. They are the only boys born every hundred years into a village of snow kemono, and their father was shown to be locked up and wasting away in flashbacks. Their fates were clear from the get go, but it isn’t until Yui’s flashback this week that viewers have their worst fears confirmed. Yui was made the village chief at a young age, and while it isn’t directly stated, it is clear he was sexually abused. It hurts to see him come home night after night looking broken, dodging Akira’s questions about what his duties as chief are. He is barraged by the women of the village about who he finds beautiful. He is obsessed with keeping Akira “pure” as he has been sullied in his mind. His abject horror at the revelation of Akira hitting puberty is a punch to the gut. Once again, it isn’t directly stated, but Kemono Jihen Episode 11 makes it very clear exactly what happened to Yui.

It makes all of his actions make sense in a painful way. Of course it isn’t okay to lock Akira up, but Yui was abused by everyone that wasn’t his brother. He believes that everyone is looking to take advantage of them in some way. Akira was the light that kept him going when he hated himself, and his trauma has contorted that into a twisted obsession to shelter Akira away from the world. It is a heavy episode on all fronts. Akira’s voice actor, Ayumu Murase, deserves high praise for his work this week. When Akira is trying to push Kabane away for his own safety, Murase sheds the normal pitch and adds a more traditionally masculine edge. It hurts, because we know that is not who Akira is nor wants to be. To see him pretending to be the personality many have tried to push onto him for so long is such a strong character moment.

Kemono Jihen Episode 11 is a standout of the season, but the reasons for that will vary by viewer. It isn’t my lane to to say if it handles Yui’s sexual abuse well or not, but it does earn points for never explicitly showing the trauma, but also not dancing around it. It also features an incredibly well performed scene for Akira, one that his character has long deserved this season.

Kemono Jihen is streaming now on Funimation.

 

'Kemono Jihen,' Episode 11 - "Memories"
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    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Kemono Jihen Episode 11 is a standout of the season, but the reasons for that will vary by viewer. It isn’t my lane to to say if it handles Yui’s sexual abuse well or not, but it does earn points for never explicitly showing the trauma, but also not dancing around it. It also features an incredibly well performed scene for Akira, one that his character has long deserved this season.