Each season openers usually go one of two ways to build suspense and get us to want to see more. Either we get the loud and raucous display of everything to look forward to once episode two starts explaining the 24 minutes of eye candy witnessed, or we receive a coyer episode explaining little but leaving lots up in the air begging for answers. The former is arguably the method of choice a lot of the time (see Kakegurui’s second season opener), but the latter certainly has its patrons and Kemurikusa is the latest example.
From the start (unless you’ve read the handy dandy RC Preview or have seen the original ONAs) it’s a little difficult discerning just what Kemurikusa is about. We have a seeming post-apocalyptic world filled with a band of survivors in the best of anime style, the apparent cause of apocalypse in some mechanical-esque red bugs emerging from a hot red fog, and what definitely looks like a magic system in the form of a tree named Midori, her leaves, and the importance of water. It’s a firmly weird concept effectively combining the likes of Blue Gender, the Matrix, and the Mist into one eerie package, but it’s one which proves surprisingly interesting thanks in large part to the “show, don’t tell” approach Kemurikusa has going right now. Background scenery and imagery (not to mention that soundtrack) does a fine job of indicating that something went horribly wrong before, while the likes of glowing
serval cat ears and bodies are enough to explain magic (or pseudoscience) is the name of the game behind our main cast. What’s the actual reasons? No one knows, but you can bet Kemurikusa is going to enjoy taking its time drip feeding us the answers.
Where things get really interesting, however, is in terms of characters. At their core all are relatively simple—Rin (Komatsu Mikako) for example is the staunch and moral paladin protecting all, Ritsu (Kyoto Arisa) is the cute support, and Rina (Sumi Tomomi Jiena)—well, all the Rinas—provides the always important comedic relief. The key though is that all of them know what’s going on while we don’t, which lets scenes such as this play out as well as they do, even in the face of one particular nuisance in Wakaba (Nojima Kenji). Yeah that’s right, you’re not escaping the dumb male character trope. While this kid is bound to annoy most viewers upon first appearance, the hints of more are already present thanks to stuff like that hilarious shift in interest and the guy’s seeming ability to survive what clearly burned him the first time. Not enough to induce instant enjoyment of course, but considering what Tatsuki did before with the characters in Kemono Friends, you can be sure something more is waiting in the wings regarding characters here, and it won’t disappoint.
While Kemurikusa is very likely to pass under the collective radar (in no small part from the shoestring animation budget/personnel), if its director’s past experiences are anything to go by, this will be one show to pay a bit of attention to. It may take a while to get to the good stuff—not to mention get used to the indie production—but Kemurikusa is bound to prove entertaining in one form or another.