Kemonozume is an anime that certainly falls into the unique category. From its weird visual style to its bizarre take on a Romeo and Juliet esque narrative this series while short packs a lot into 12 episodes.
Directed by the now well known Masaki Yuasa, Kemonozume has a distinct animation style to it that does not look great in my opinion, but you wont see a lot of stuff out there like it even in comparison to Yuasas other works like Tatami Galaxy and Kaiba.
This is a love story. But so much more. In this world mankind is not that the top of the food chain, as there are creatures called Shokujinki who devour flesh despite appearing like normal people most of the time. With their power unleashed, these Shokujinki have huge claws and terrifying razor sharp teeth and are incredibly strong.
Toshihiko is from a powerful clan of monster hunters called the Kifuken, who are dedicated to suppressing the power of the flesh eaters and protecting humanity. The flesh eaters can only be killed when their claws are removed, so the people of the Kifuken are sworn by the sword and Toshihiko is one of the most skilled in combat arts.
The romance of this story comes into play when Toshihiko meets and falls in love with a girl at the beach named Yuka. He has a near instant attraction to Yuka, and the two begin a relationship very quickly and passionately. What Toshihiko does not know at first thought is that Yuka is a Shokujinki who tries her best to keep her power hidden. This is a struggle for her, as anything that causes her to lose focus including making love with Toshihiko disrupts her control over her predatorial tendencies.
This series is short so I will avoid spoilers as I do think you should check it out, but what it delivers on is a west side story like romance between two individuals on opposite sides of a war. What I really liked about it was the fact that there was no clear “good side”. Yes, the flesh eating monsters are a plague to humans, but there is a grey area there as they can suppress themselves and are seemingly human when doing so. In short, they aren’t all bad.
Yuka’s struggle with what she is kept me very interested in how her character would develop. I was very entertained when she was in a scene because I could always feel the internal tormoil she was keeping locked up within her behind her pretty smile. She cannot help what she is, but she can chage her behavior, and holding onto her self control is very important to her, as is her love for Toshihiko, causing a romantic yet seemingly insane power struggle within her just to keep control of the beast within.
The humans who fight the monsters here train extensively and are dedicated to helping humans, but you find out that not everything in their past or in their present state of affairs is squeaky clean. Corruption is abound, and those who are supposedly protecting us all along may not have humanity’s best interest at heart.
I like romances that are realistic, and while it feels weird to say this in a realm of flesh eating ogres, this relationship felt real. Yuka loves Toshihiko but knows she’s a monster. She pushes him away at times in an effort to save him, but he loves her back and will not give up.
One thing I find very fascinating amount this series, and what I think sets it apart from other “monsters aren’t so bad shows” like Tokyo Ghoul or Shiki is the different interactions people have with the monsters. There are several instances of love between human and monster here, and each one goes down a different path.
The series does get weird towards the latter half, as strange characters are introduced and even weirder events happen that just complicate things. The animation is not great, and I wasn’t big on the shows opening. There were several funny cold openings that the series used as comic relief I found enjoyable. in the end it is an enjoyable show with a decent ending. It’s got action, drama, romance. Monsters, sex, nudity, swords, giants and even a monkey. Check out Kemonozume.