Kemono Michi: Rise Up
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Kemono Michi: Rise Up ?
Poor Carmilla – she almost had her moment of glory there in her fight against Rose, but her innate Carmilla-ness then reared its head and there went her victory. But it still made for one of the best episodes for the lesser vampire, and that's largely because she finally stopped wallowing in self-pity stemming from her initial defeat at Rose's hands and did something besides be the butt of everyone's (cruel) jokes. That she couldn't do it immediately also works in her favor, not because it showed her incompetence, but because it made for a more difficult path for her to follow. Carmilla lost the greater battle with Rose, but there's an argument to be made that she won the fight against herself, and I daresay that's more important.
Not that we'd likely see any major character development take root if the series had more than one episode left, because unfortunately this penultimate one still shows that it's much more invested in the humiliation of its characters than any forward plot trajectory. (Really, that makes Carmilla's moment of triumph more meaningful because it's so out of the show's character.) By far the two who suffer the most from this tendency are Gang and Altena, because if there's one thing Kemono Michi: Rise Up doesn't know how to do, it's leave well enough alone. Seriously, no matter how many times you show Gang being traumatized by being pet and given belly rubs against his will (i.e. sexual assault), it will never be funny. Thankfully it's not the focus for very long this time, but surely there was a better way to find a fifth contender for the match without resorting this this tired, not-funny gag yet again. It was a step in the right direction to leave off humiliating Carmilla for one week, but bringing Gang back into it means this is a one step forward, two steps back situation.
Altena, AKA Princess Buttocks, is also part of the problem. This whole season we've been teased with the pro wrestling eye-catches of the characters, so when Altena ends up a contender this week, I was hopeful that she'd be actually competent and get to reclaim at least a little self-respect. Yeah, no, that's absolutely not what happened, and while there's a sort of grim humor in her being recognized by her butt rather than her very thin mask-and-pseudonym combination, the fact that all of a sudden she gets off on humiliation doesn't fit with the character. Granted, she hasn't had a ton of development, but very little of it pointed to this particular shift. But perhaps the biggest strike against it is that it smacks of a lack of creativity on the part of the original creator – as the author of Konosuba, it feels like he just suddenly decided to turn Altena into Darkness and leave it at that. It may not be strictly lazy, but it certainly doesn't speak well of his overall creativity.
Despite these issues, however, this episode feels like it's finally fulfilling, or at least beginning to fulfill, the show's early promise. There's actual wrestling, Genzo fawning over his animals, the rivalry between Genzo and MAO, and even everyone's favorite ant taking down a giant octopus to make their takoyaki. (Not much Hiroyuki, but you can't have everything.) The focus on training and preparing the venue mean an episode more devoted to its original premise instead of the side-tracks it's been following for most of its run, and some of the wrestling looks really good – Carmilla and Rose's fight in particular has some very nice visuals, and the first fight also looks great once Altena's out of the ring. It's all leading up to Genzo and MAO finally having their showdown, so hopefully that means that that bout will be a good one and that in one world or another, Genzo finally gets to open that pet store.
Kemono Michi: Rise Up is currently streaming on Funimation.
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