Welcome all, to the grand finale of Kemono no Souja Erin! This is it, this is what 50 episodes have been building up towards. Was it good? Does everyone get a happy ending? Do any of you care or are you just waiting to vote on the poll? Well that’s at the end, so you might as well read through to get there. Now lets jump in!
Starting off, as far as production goes this finale was a bit of a let down. With copious flashbacks and generally lackluster movement, it didn’t really feel any different from the rest of the series. Now I’m not asking for some kind of sakuga fest, Erin isn’t that kind of show, it never has been. Action simply isn’t what it cares about. But I would have liked a bit more… pizazz? Use that eye-catch artstyle a bit more, cut down on the CGI Touda, less flashbacks. It’s not like Erin can’t do it, stuff like Lilan’s roar and Nugan falling off the Touda looked good. But those were about the only “memorable” visual moments. Not even Lilan’s flight or Damiya’s last scene were really all that visually interesting. It just feels like a missed opportunity to me.
Getting into the episodes themselves, first up is episode 48, “Dawn at Ryoza”. This was a really awkward episode, in part due to the fact that I have no idea how we got here. How did we go from Erin meeting Seimiya in the hills outside the capital to an army encampment mere hours away from war, Kiriku injured and unable to move in Erin’s tend and Ial out in the snow looking for a way to sneak into the camp? It honestly felt like we had skipped an episode. I went back and checked multiple times to be sure that I hadn’t missed anything. But no, we just sort of… jumped to the battlefield with absolutely no sense of progression or time between this and episode 47. Like the actual episode is mostly fine, but the whiplash in the first 5 minutes figuring out where we were sucked.
That out of the way, the actual emotional core of the episode is all about Kiriku. I really appreciated this. After Ial got his big moment in episode 46 he definitely felt like he needed a bit more. And that’s exactly what we got here as he basically commits his everything to ensure Ial and Erin meet again. He leaves, despite needing medical attention, to keep her out of trouble. He meets Ial and plans to die at his hand, pulling his blow, only to end up fight with him against Damiya’s soldiers, even going so far as to face them alone and send Ial away, regardless of if he listens or not. All so that Erin and Ial can be together again, to give her a happy life his sister never had. This was all solid, I think Erin did Kiriku justice in the end, even if it’s rather late.
Erin does something similar with Seimiya, having her talk about how beautiful the wider world outside of her gilded cage, AKA the Palace, is. This feels like a sort of running theme of the episode, and the series in general. How we restrict ourselves and others with these made up or imagined walls and social conventions. How rules with no purpose hold people back, restricting them from living their best life. It’s something a lot of characters in the series have to get past. And when you look at Seimiya as a sort of continuation of Harumiya, combining both their journeys since neither really gets enough screen time on their own, it becomes something decent. I wish we had more time with her, more time spent in the capital in general really. But as far as climaxes go, Seimiya made it out in decent shape.
Finally we have Nugan, who apparently wasn’t supposed to be here. It should come as no surprise that the guy tricked by Damiya and profusely loyal to the Queen, showing up where he isn’t supposed to be, is a bad thing. We see why next episode, but you have to wonder how no one else saw it coming. And the worst part is that, despite his presence at the grand finale, Nugan doesn’t really leave it with any sort of conclusion. I dare say he doesn’t have any sort of arc at all, just ending up as a plot device to make things more difficult for everyone else. That’s a damn shame considering how interesting his conflict with Shunan was before the timeskip. I feel like Erin could have done more here with the time it had. Instead he just shows up, gets defeated, and disappears.
Next up is episode 49, “The Battle”. This one is the primary confrontation, the beginning of the end. Dawn has come and Shunan marches on, looking for Seimiya’s response. And, faced with the harsh truth of impending war, she inevitably gives it. She pushes back on Damiya at last, accepts the peaceful way out of the conflict, and raises the banner. This is… Ultimately solid. I like Seimiya pushing back at last, as well as how poorly Damiya takes it. The only weird thing about it is that Erin never really confronted the fact that Shunan basically forced Seimiya at gunpoint into marrying him. Like I get it, he had good intentions and didn’t want to destroy the country. But he still marched a god damn army to her doorstep and was ready to go further if she said no. That’s… kind of creepy, even if well intentioned.
Speaking of Damiya, naturally he isn’t going to make Seimiya’s actions easy. Having replaced all of the Sezan with his personal henchmen, they stop her from raising the flag and try to force Erin into riding Lilan. And just as naturally, Erin refuses, putting a knife to her own throat since they can’t afford to kill her. This is all well and good, it’s a confrontation of ideals, something Erin refuses to compromise on. They only win because Ial was also uncompromising, waiting until the last moment to surprise Damiya and take him hostage. Had any other character done this, like Erin, it wouldn’t have been a threat. But we all know Ial is ready to kill a man, and I’m sure Damiya knew too. This was a nice series of back and forths, that happened fast enough to not feel like Erin was jerking us around.
Now of course Damiya isn’t going to let that get the better of him, the man has plans within plans. And his backup plan, ready even if Erin should refuse, is Nugan. Like I predicted, Nugan comes charging in with the stolen Touda and absolutely bodies his brother, calling him a traitor and slaughtering his men. This is of course tragic, two brothers fighting and trying to kill each other, but it also didn’t land near as hard as it could have. We have barely seen Nugan since the time skip, their story was already largely resolved. So this is really just Nugan trying to kill his brother, and succeeding in killing his father, as well as a bunch of his own soldiers. It lacked a lot of weight had we spent the same amount of time with him that we had with Shunan.
Lastly I want to talk about Erin, riding out on Lilan to save Shunan. This is… Gonna be honest, this is really hypocritical. Like great, Erin acknowledges that, but why is riding out to save one life directly in front of her any better than doing so to save an entire country behind her had Seimiya refused? Either way she’s getting Lilan involved in human conflicts, doing exactly what she swore she wouldn’t. Maybe if this had any consequences, maybe if the climax of next episode had stuck, this would mean something. But as is I can’t help but feel that Erin compromised on her beliefs at the last second because she saw her mother in Shunan. In a way that’s fair enough, she proved fallible just like her mother controlling a Touda, and that’s a nice parallel. But I think I’d have preferred it had she stuck to her guns.
Finally we come to episode 50, “Beast Renditioner”. This is it, the grand finale. Erin gets Shunan out, but not before being shot by an arrow herself. Her life flashes before her eyes, all of her decisions to this point, yet she has no regrets as she lived it ensuring Lilan got the best care. She’s content… And then Lilan swoops down without any order at all, purely out of concern for Erin’s safety, proving themselves family and that friendship and love can transcend species. This is all decent stuff. I said before that I would have liked some consequences for Erin for her hypocrisy, and I stand by that. But I don’t want her to die. She deserves this happy ending. Erin has been building up to this idea that if a human and a Beast-Lord can truly become friends, then why can’t our fellow humans.
No, the only disappointment in the episode was the epilogue stuff, the aftermath. So many characters, so many plot threads, just left hanging and unresolved. Take Nugan for instance, who I mentioned before. This guy sees Erin land and then we don’t get even a single scene about what happened to him afterwards. And what about the people from Ake village, we never got that moment of sweet catharsis as they see Erin alive and well, preventing a war and riding a Beast-Lord. Erin also didn’t get to meet Shunan at any point, a lost opportunity since she came from his quarter. The same goes for Nasan, we didn’t even get a shot of him looking longingly in the distance musing over Erin’s choice. Its a shame because all of these only needed like… 5 seconds each to give us closer.
Luckily at least Kiriku and Ial got some moments. Kiriku became a wandering medicine man, helping people with his skills for the first time instead of hurting them. Even treating the people of Ake village, detestable Wayjaku who were responsible for his sisters death, or so he once thought. It was as I said, a nice moment of closure. As for Ial, we get to see his and Erin’s kid hanging out with Owl, a really cute scene of this absolute child with a Beast-Lord for what is basically a sibling. Erin even came full circle, ending on a shot of Erin and her son, Jessie, embracing over an apple in a shot reminiscent of Erin and Soyon. Where Erin gave us closure, it was a great. It just forgot to do that for like… 2/3rds of the cast.
So yeah, all in all the core of the episode was fine but the little details surrounding the ending leave something to be desired. Was Erin a perfect show? No, not really. Was it worth the watch? I think so. If you want any more than that however you’re going to have to wait for the review, which should hopefully be out in a week or two. Depends how busy I get. Whatever the case, you’ll find the poll for our next show down below. Thank you for watch and I look forward to seeing you on the next season of Throwback Thursday! Oh and keep your eyes out, our Fall 2023 Season Preview should be coming out soon, at least assuming I can finish it.
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