Twelve Moments in Anime No. 11: The Start of Erin’s Journey
Haha, I meant to get this up much earlier in the day, but I was busy with a ton of things this morning, including finally watching the season finale of Dexter. What a holy shit episode that was — season five cannot come soon enough!
Anyway, this moment explores the first turning point of one of the best series to air in 2009, Kemono no Souja Erin (about which I splooged over a couple of months back). There are heavy-duty spoilers involved in this post, so I think it is only fair to warn everyone before getting things started. That said, let’s get to the moment!
Up until ep7, Erin is an enjoyable, if slowly paced, series about a little girl, Erin, and her mother, Soyon, and their unique positions as caretakers of a special breed of wild beast, the Touda. Erin lives her life, learns tough lessons about the harsh realities of the relationship between man and best and life goes on. Or so it seems.
In ep6, a Touda dies under obscure circumstances. As the caretaker, Soyon is blamed and sentenced to death. Despite Erin’s pleas, Soyon dies in ep7 — eaten alive by Touda — but not before she can commit an “unforgivable sin” to save Erin and release her into the world. The separation of parent and child (whether through death or other means) to start a journey is a common trope with child protagonists, but even though Soyon is given a scant seven episodes with which to build a connection with viewers, her death is still a weighty, memorable moment.
However, this is not what I am posting about it today. What gives this moment an extra layer of memorability to me is the aftermath of Erin’s life and where she is currently. I am through ep44 of the series and am fascinated by how Erin has developed into a person much like her mother, and how simultaneously wonderful and tragic that fact is. The same traits that make Erin such a kind, strong, caring person are also the same traits that portend her death. (I don’t know if she’ll die at the end of the series, but holy shit is the foreshadowing scaring me.)
Soyon lived her life giving the best possible care to beasts but also being fully aware of their tenuous relationship with humans. She must have once been like Erin, however — seeing the utter beauty of beasts in nature and trying to nurture that beauty as much as possible. Was there an event in Soyon’s life — like Lilan biting off Erin’s fingers — that made her into the more wise, yet world-weary, person who raised Erin? We don’t know. But Erin, like Soyon, is constantly being faced with the brutality that beasts also possess (and that humans harbor as well). Erin tries to do right by humans and beast alike, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult in a world where the “distortion” reigns supreme.
Maybe there wasn’t one event that made Soyon into who she was before she died — maybe she just saw the terrible side of humanity for far too long and could not help but be affected by that, and the knowledge that the alternative could be far worse. And she carries that soul-shaking knowledge to her death. That, my friends, is a memorable moment.