Kemono no Souja Erin

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Kemono no Souja Erin (Erin the Beast-Player) premiered last January, and initially I wasn’t too impressed. Recently I revisited it and it’s really starting to grow on me.

It’s an odd series with an unusual drawing style. The artwork isn’t bad (in fact it’s quite good) but it’s rather unique, not quite what we are used to in contemporary anime.

The story involves a young girl growing up in a land where warriors ride giant hairy poisonous lizards. It’s a long series with 50 episodes scheduled, so it won’t wrap up until the end of the year. (I trust they plan to finish in one year–it’s based on two novels, so there shouldn’t be enough material for a second season.)

The story takes a while to get going and the early episodes told me far more than I really need to know about the care and feeding of giant hairy poisonous lizards. However now things seem to be falling into place, and it has become fascinating. It sort of reminds me of the movies of Hayao Miyazaki. The artwork is quite different, but it has a similar sensibility and the same loving attention to detail.

Initially the only available translation was so bad as to be almost unwatchable. However Static-Subs has picked it up, with much more readable results.

The early episodes feel like a children’s story and it might be good for older children–say age 10 and up. It wouldn’t be a good choice for younger children. (There are worse things in this world than giant hairy poisonous lizards, and some of them walk on two legs.)

I’m not optimistic about this being licensed in Region 1. It’s too long for a DVD-only release and it’s probably too unusual for one of the television networks to pick up. Cartoon Network started to broadcast Moribito–Guardian of the Spirit by the same author, then dropped it after a few episodes.

Crunchyroll would probably run it, but they tend to get the cheaper, low-end shows. Though it may be a bit outside of mainstream tastes, this show is a class act, which may mean that the owners will hold out for more money than in Internet distributor would be able to pay.