Kemono Michi: Rise Up
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Kemono Michi: Rise Up ?
There are some lines you just don't cross, and stealing someone's pet is definitely one of them. Okay, Kemono Michi: Rise Up has delighted in crossing other lines (that quite honestly it may not think it's crossing because humor), but this is the first truly mean-spirited act we've seen happen, and for all of us fond pet parents out there, it's a doozy. Not that Gang isn't entitled to some sort of vengeance for what he's been subjected to at Genzo's hand. He's unquestionably the most ill-used character in the series, because even if Altena has been embarrassed and gotten a terrible nickname, at least she doesn't have PTSD tacked on as an unwanted bonus. Probably we should just be happy that all Gang and his pals did was kidnap and sell Hiroyuki to a wealthy man and his daughter who obviously loves the pup. But still.
Shady as this all is, it certainly is the fastest way to break Genzo down, and it is something of a relief to see the humor being based upon the things done to find Hiroyuki and the negotiations to get him back. Genzo weeping through the streets isn't all that funny, but Hanako clearly thinking about eating the little dog and the ant calmly printing “lost dog” posters is, especially since it re-establishes the ant as the Token Sane Person in the Shibata household. (Seriously, I'd watch a whole series about that ant.) Add in Altena deciding to use Hiroyuki's buyback price as a way to bend Genzo to her will and you have an episode almost devoid of mean humor, crotch shots, and almost wholesome.
That “almost” is for Carmilla getting repeatedly kicked and punched in the stomach to the point where she develops a nasty-looking bruise of a shade that ought to make her worry about ruptured organs. While she can be annoying, she isn't nearly as irritating as the show wants us to believe she is, and like with Gang, her repeated physical trauma just isn't a great source of humor. Fortunately that looks like it might be gearing up to change at least a little in the show's final two episodes, since the end of this one has her seriously asking Genzo to train her in pro wrestling techniques. It may be for self-preservation – the arrival of MAO, Joanna, and her attendant means another tournament, and Carmilla's not going to be able to sit it out – but it also means that she's going to actually focus on something that isn't creepy or self-indulgent. Her training probably won't be perfect, but it feels like a step in the right direction.
Amusingly enough, Genzo seems completely unphased by MAO's appearance in his house. He has heard talk of this “demon king from another world” enough to have perhaps put two and two together, but mostly it feels like he just doesn't really care. This could be at least partially due to the fact that he's just gotten Hiroyuki back, but he never was as invested in his so-called rivalry with the other wrestler as MAO was. He seems concerned about being in shape for fighting another honest-to-goodness pro, but otherwise is just sort of going along with things. After all, none of it changes his dream of having a pet shop, whether that's here with demon beasts or in Japan with regular ones. MAO's too caught up in his own angst and Joanna's plans to notice (or care), so it'll be interesting to see how this match really goes down when the two fighters are going into it with such different motives.
If this proceeds as expected, next week should give us a big training episode (Joanna and Hanako are going to fight, too, so Hanako'll have to learn not to eat her opponent), with the actual fight as the series finale. Hopefully we'll get to see the ant get in on the action in some way. If it wasn't for them (and, you know, being assigned to this show), I'm not sure if I would have gotten this far into a series that doesn't quite seem to know how to handle its humor.
Kemono Michi: Rise Up is currently streaming on Funimation.
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