• Titles: Monster Incidents, Kemono Incidents, Kemono Jihen
  • Genre: Yokai, action, supernatural, found family
  • Episodes: 12
  • Studio: Ajiado

Kohachi Inugami is what you would call a special detective. A very special detective. Let’s just say he specializes in cases most people would consider downright impossible. But you know, in a big city like Tokyo, pretty much everything is possible. But this particular case is taking him far from the hustle and bustle of the big city. All the way to a remote little mountain village where gruesome things are happening to the livestock and no one can explain it. That’s where Inugami meets Kabane for the first time. For the older detective, this might just be another day on the job, but for young Kabane, a whole new world is opening up. One in which he might finally be accepted. But why do the villagers avoid and scorn him? And why does his own adoptive mother seem to think he’s got something to do with the horrible events?

There is a short story floating around out there called I Am A Zombie Full of Love. I’ve mentioned it before. They adapted it to a movie called Warm Bodies. The story is only a few pages and it’s told from the point of view of the zombie as he struggles with his disorganized thoughts and overpowering cravings, all the while declaring his love for humanity and life. I was a fan of that short story as a kid and I find that any adaptation of that theme speaks to me.

let’s start off nice and relaxing!

Production

I loved the look of Kemono Jihen. Absolutely loved it. And you can tell by just how many screencaps I ended up taking. At 12 episodes, I have more caps of that show than I do of a lot of 24 episode series. It’s what you would call my style.

I love the rounded cartoonish look of the characters with over-emphasized eyes. I loved the backgrounds and how detailed and lovingly rendered Tokyo is throughout the show. I really enjoyed just how expressive everyone’s face was. And those colours… Great colours!

the eye gradient is awesome

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the production was particularly luxurious or that you should go out of your way to watch Kemono Jihen because of it. I’m saying that it was really tailored to my particular tastes and as such I don’t have any complaints about it.

Oh and I really liked the voice acting. I caught a bit of it in its dubbed version and even the English voice cast was doing a great job and seemed to be having tons of fun with it.

indeed!

Story & Characters

First of all, Kemono which is a word derived from beast could generally be used as a weresomething. You know werewolf, werecat… A half-human, half-beast monster. But in the series, it seems to be used a bit like what I see called Yokai. Although I will admit all the characters are humanoid so they do qualify as half-human in some way there are still traditional Kitsune and Tanuki that are also Kemono. From what I can tell, you can easily be both since the term Yokai casts such a wide net. Point being, Kemono appeal to my Yokai loving side. So let’s start there.

Kemono Jihen is a Yokai-centric action shonen. And you can pretty much tell just from that sentence that it’s the type of show I’m going to like.

The story itself is divided into a number of shorter arcs each dealing with a mystery to solve or a specific enemy to beat (sometimes both). These are fun classic shonen adventures that are likely to appeal to anyone who enjoys that genre.

there’s even a spiderman!

But the deeper story of Kemono Jihen is very much a coming of age. Or several. Unlike the impression I might have given you so far, Kemono Jihen is very character-driven, All the fights and supernatural happenings are just window dressing. At the heart of the series is the story of a group of misfits finding a place to call home. And it’s quite sweet.

Kabane is arguably the main character. The series starts with his introduction to the others and he is the most frequent point of view character but the show spends a lot more time on the emotional development of the others. However, it’s still modulated by Kabane’s impressions of this new world he’s discovering.

That matters because Kabane is a nice guy who really loves his friends, but he’s also an extremely pragmatic and somewhat emotionless character. This means he basically offsets everyone else’s emotional journey which ends up creating a more nuanced and balanced impression.

oh look Kabane is really happy, no wait, he’s livid…

So yeah, Kemono Jihen is about a bunch of young monster people fighting real monsters in the streets of Japan, but it’s also about a young man coming to terms with his abandonment issues, or another one trying to reconcile his own identity with the clash of expectations created by the society he grew up in. It’s about a little girl figuring out what it even means to have a normal family in the first place.

This happens between the fights. There’s a reason I didn’t label this show as a drama. All the themes and elements I described are there and they are significant. But the structure of the series makes sure that even through the musings and realizations, the characters are kicking butt.

Kemono Jihen has an ok raiting on Anilist. However, all the people I followed seemed to like it. The lowest rating I saw was a 6/10 but it’s from someone who pretty much never gives higher than a 6.5 so I have to assume they liked it as well. If anything I would say that it just wasn’t watched by that many people and that’s a shame. I would love to see another season. In fact, I liked it enough to look up the manga. I’m a little bummed that it’s so hard to find. I might have to resort to digital versions. Better than nothing!

You might like this anime if:

You like either Yokai, Shonen or Found Families.

My favourite character:

I went back and forth on this one but I think I have to give it to Inugami in the end. He’s pretty much the archetype I tend to prefer in general.

Suggested drink:

Werewolves of London

  • Every time someone mentions Kabane’s parents  – take a sip
  • Every time you try to find a hoddie like Kabane’s – just me? I really want it
  • Every time Shiki gets annoyed/mad – take a sip
  • Every time Kabane gets “killed” – pour some out
  • Every time we see purpl flame regeneration – take a sip
  • Every time anyone says “kemono” – just breath in, they say it all the time
  • Every time Akira i being adorable  – take a sip
  • Every time Kon gets (over)excited – take a sip
  • Every time Shiki remains rational – good job!
  • Every time anyone has pizza – get a snack
  • Every time Kabane becomes a redhead – gasp!
  • Every time Nowaki is a troll – take a sip
  • Every time Inugami draws his gun – wonder where he gt it out from
  • Every timeKon and Kabane meet in the park  – awwwww
  • Every time someone gets reunited with family – raise your glass

I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.

27 thoughts

  1. Oy. I’ll have you know I give ratings above 6.5 to about 10 shows a year!

    But yes, I did like this show, mostly thanks to Kabane. Really enjoyed watching the gears turn in his head whenever he processes information, whether he’s fighting foes or engaging in small talk. I wonder if that’s what it can feel like, to be on the spectrum.

    Also, big thumbs up for the spider genocide. They all deserve it. (Except for Kumiko from your last review, she’s hilarious.)

    1. I could have been talking about anyone….

      I’m glad to hear you liked it. I was assuming but it felt like apretty informed guess.

      1. Yes, it was a good guess. Now, I don’t like it enough to re-watch it, as opposed to say Uchouten Kazoku — another family-focused urban fantasy show. But I’d happily watch another season!

          1. 100% agreed, although the nebulous Anilist masses rate both Kemono Jihen & Eccentric Family S1 similarly. I’ll never claim to understand that place!

            And S2 gets a bump up, even though I personally found it a little weaker. Maybe there’s some self-selection bias at play there.

            1. Obvously only fans of the first season tend to watch the second which is likely to bump up the raitings unless it’s atrocious.
              Although both have elements of Japanese folklore, I find that comparing Kemono Jihen to Eccentric Family is rather futile. They are deeply different animes whith different themes, structures, messages and target audiences.

            2. You just had to revive my Promised Neverland PTSD.

              Well, the original comparison was merely meant to illustrate to what extent I like the show. Their respective ratings were brought up after the topic of quality / brilliance was broached. You’ll get no impassioned argument from me against your general point.

              Although it could be said that, at their core, both shows center on slow journeys of self-realization & self-acceptance — in the way coming-of-age stories typically are. Moreover, they both express a deep gratitude for the bonds we share with those we love, so long as they are built on mutual respect & understanding. Finally, the two shows act as a celebration of the little things in life, more broadly. After all, I found the most joy in the intimate moments shared by the characters, in the vulnerability they laid bare to each other.

              There exists a good degree of overlap in the basic message. Although that overlap also exists with plenty of other anime. And certainly, the show’s comparative structures & target audiences are quite different, as you say. Not to mention Eccentric Family’s dexterity at interweaving disparate thematic & character arcs, no matter how dense the story. So few shows reach that level.

            3. I guess my reading was a little different.
              I always found Eccentric Family to be a fast journey of acceopting others and the limitations of life and those we look up to. The worls is not perfect, people will let you dwn and that’s o.k. Be careful not to pur people on impossible pedastals. Whereas Kemono leftme with sort of the opposite messaging. Learn to trust others, beleive in yourself. The world is better and more inviting than you may suspect…

              I also didn’t quite see the celebration of little things you mention. Both of them do put emphasis on simple moments, especially shared meals, to illustrate familial bonds. Which is nice Eccentric Family weaves through how these bonds can be comforting and reawrding but also suffucating. How they can trap you as much as liberate you. Kemono is more concerned with the fragility of them. How you must work to create them and the importance of sustaining them.
              To me, the shows left me with very different impressions even though they shared so many elements.

            4. I guess my reading was a little different.
              I always found Eccentric Family to be a fast journey of acceopting others and the limitations of life and those we look up to. The worls is not perfect, people will let you dwn and that’s o.k. Be careful not to pur people on impossible pedastals. Whereas Kemono leftme with sort of the opposite messaging. Learn to trust others, beleive in yourself. The world is better and more inviting than you may suspect…

              Eccentric Family weaves through how these bonds can be comforting and reawrding but also suffucating. How they can trap you as much as liberate you. Kemono is more concerned with the fragility of them. How you must work to create them and the importance of sustaining them.
              To me, the shows left me with very different impressions even though they shared so many elements.

              I have no qualms with these readings of EF, in fact I largely share them. Now, to put things in perspective, my focus lied on the areas in the basic message where overlap exists. When I mention “slow journeys of self-realization & self-acceptance”, remember where the brothers start, in the wake of their father’s death. The eldest son desperately chases his shadow, adopting a self-serious facade to boost his chances of becoming tanuki leader — a role he’s fundamentally unsuited for. The second eldest feels so responsible for his father’s death, that he turns into a frog & drops into a well — withdrawing from society, but also from blame & responsibility. As for the youngest kid, he remains the Eternal Child, eternally shifting responsibility onto others, pushing them to act on his behalf. None of them have fully processed their grief, with each falling instead into his own pattern of avoidance. It takes the frog admitting his culpability for the brothers to lay everything bare, confront their self-imposed limitations head on, and finally move forward as a stronger, united family. That’s probably the emotional climax of the story, in retrospect.

              I also didn’t quite see the celebration of little things you mention.

              I haven’t seen EF since it aired, so I don’t remember specific moments. But the show’s motto is to live an interesting, fun life. And I believe the show lived that motto itself, to the very max! I can’t forget the exhilaration I felt watching Yasaburou’s ridiculous antics — which he’s uniquely suited for, as the inheritor of his father’s “idiot blood”. After all, what were the man’s last words, if not “what is fun is good!” And his brothers all join in the fun at the end, high stakes be damned XD

              I didn’t find Kemono Jihen nearly as fun, but the heart of the show lied not in the sad backstories, or the epic battles, but in the small moments in-between. The silly chats, the petty fights, the clumsy reconciliations. The characters live in such different inner worlds, and these worlds clash in such amusing ways — paving the way for heartfelt moments of genuine understanding. Those were easily the highlights, for me.

            5. Heh. In my reply I said Kemono Jihen wasn’t favourite tier. Well, Eccentric Family is favourite tier. Actually, it’s favourite tier within favourite tier, and might just be my favourite altogether, as far as I’m capable of having anything favourite. (And I too thought season 2 was slightly weaker, but that’s hardly a surprise considering just how much I love season 1.)

            6. Favourite of favourites?

              Apart from Uchouten Kazuko, I’d say Kyousougiga, Shin Sekai Yori, Kimi ni Todoke (only season 1), and Rolling Girls are the most iconic. I’m sure there’s stuff I’m forgetting or that I would push upwards. But these shows are personal.

          2. And I’m already kicking myself for forgetting Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju (both seasons as a unit). My memory isn’t what it used to be.

  2. I quite liked what we got, but I’m biased because I stumbled upon Hokenshitsu no Shinigami (by the same mangaka) about a year before I started Kemono Jihen’s anime and liked that too. Like Dawnstorm said, it’s not a favourite (but the 85/100 it has right now means it’s *pinches fingers* /this close/ to getting there), but I would be happy with watching another season.

    1. I don’t know if there’s anything in the works. I would love to come back to this story. I might have to do with the manga

  3. I really liked the relationship between Kabane and Kon. They were in that typical romance situation in one scene, but there was absolutely none of the embarrassement that usually goes along with it, because none of then had the first clue what’s going on. It was cute, seeing them entirely frank about there feelings as far as they understood them. I wish they’d had more scenes together.

    Not favourite tier, but I had fun and would no doubt watch a second season.

    1. I really liked it and I still can’t quite put my finger on why. There may have been a right place at the right time effect

  4. “The lowest rating I saw was a 6/10 but it’s from someone who pretty much never gives higher than a 6.5 so I have to assume they liked it as well.”

    … I don’t know if this was me or not but either way, I feel seen. XD

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