Now that introductions of the core three are out of the way, BEM is at last ready to propel its main story along. First, though, let’s dive into what had to be my favorite of these introductory episodes – Belo’s. If Bem’s episode had a very police procedural feel to it, and Bela’s carried elements of a slice-of-life high school teen drama, then Belo’s leaned heavily on the superhero genre. The villain of this episode was a ninja who took out his targets with deadly accuracy while proclaiming, “Nin!” at every opportunity. Given the generally muted color palette of the series and perpetually stoic demeanor of our monster heroes, every time one of those villains pops up to throw a bowling ball or feed a hamster sunflower seeds my head’s thrown for a bit of a loop. It’s like they decided to make this adaptation darker and more serious than the original, but copy-and-pasted the villains. The conceit of the series is actually quite unique. The monsters are the good guys, struggling for acceptance and companionship in spite of the seeming futility of their efforts, while the villains exist purely to be defeated. I’d even go so far as to say they’re the least compelling part of the series, but they’re also not a huge part. Their job is to provide conflict and die, which they have done admirably.
Seeing how Belo interacts with humans did a fantastic of – ahem – humanizing him. Whether he’s actually a child or just a small monster wearing a child’s face, it’s undeniable that when Bela mentioned he was bodyguarding last episode, she was talking about the children he spends time with at the arcade. Looks like he’s something of a gaming pro, using his mad skills to defend the right of the kids to play at the arcade whenever they want from other rival preteens. Although it was good to see Belo spend time in Upper, especially for worldbuilding purposes, the superhero elements of this episode doomed his budding friendship to failure. After everything Belo did to save his new friend’s father, a man who wasn’t as good as he’d appeared considering he’d already had two well-intentioned politicians assassinated, he was still blamed for the man’s death. To be fair, though, most people would have a hard time swallowing that the person standing naked and covered in blood over the body wasn’t responsible for the murder. One of the last shots of the episode was Belo immersed in his handheld video games, the kind that doesn’t require others to play, with his headphones placed firmly on his head to block out the world… or to cover up his ears. There’s something else going on with those headphones that I didn’t quite catch, but my gut tells me they’re for filtering out white noise so he can focus better. And also symbolic of loneliness and isolation. Naturally.
What I’m taking most from these three episodes is how much of a familial unit Bem, Bela, and Belo are. They’re constantly looking out for each other. It’s been apparent from the start that Belo doesn’t think they’ll ever be human, but he hangs out with them on skyscrapers and bridges anyway because he cares about them as much as they care about him. At the end of the day, that’s the dynamic I’m most interested in seeing grow and change throughout the series.