Kemono Michi: Rise Up
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Kemono Michi: Rise Up ?
There are two things that I'd like to commend Kemono Michi: Rise Up for this week, and yes, they're both kind of silly. First up is the fact that Joanna (and that's pronounced “yoanna,” thanks very much) does not have the ojou-sama laugh, i.e. “oh-ho-ho-ho.” While not quite as prevalent of late as it has been historically, the fact that this little princess with her drill curls manages to avoid that particular trope is kind of surprising, and it makes her feel more like her own character than a specific type. Yes, she still has a lot in common with the rich-girl-rival figure we're all familiar with, but sometimes it's these little details that count.
On that front, the other interesting positive here is that Lindabulea (who has not yet taken on the pseudonym of Hanako because flashback) has zero problems just stripping in front of Joanna and her henchvampire Rose. Again, it looks like a little thing, but when you consider at least three cases in the episodes of the show that have aired thus far, this is the first time a girl or woman has been exposed a) of her own volition and b) and not had it used as a shaming method. When we consider that both Lindabulea and the Princess are on the same social level, that's an important distinction, and while the scene of Lindabulea stripping is meant to showcase her practicality (if she transforms fully clothed, her dress will rip), it also gives her more agency than the Princess, Carmilla, or Rose, or any of the other characters whose bodies have been used for a punchline.
Of course, as a show with a hefty dose of wrestling, “bodies as punchlines” is kind of inevitable; it's a question of how that's done that becomes more important. Kemono Michi: Rise Up hasn't necessarily done a terrific job with it thus far, but with MAO's entrance on the isekai scene, that does stand to change as he and Genzo engage in more matches. Or at least start teaching everyone in the world the joys of pro-wrestling? Honestly, it could go either way, especially since next week's episode looks like it's going to involve a student for someone, and it probably isn't a binge-eating student for Hanako. (Although in this show? Maybe it is.)
More to the point, none of that really happens or even matters this week, because the entire episode is spent in a flashback about why Joanna is so keen on defeating Genzo. Naturally that's because she's completely misunderstood what's going on with Hanako, who as Lindabulea was responsible for numerous slights against Joanna's dignity in the past. Not that Lindabulea was aware of it – the girl has always been fixated on food and she's a half-dragon (which seems to equate with “dragon shifter”), so she can't help it if she's stronger than some other girl. It's fairly rote to have the conflict be that one party feels wronged while the other is oblivious, but the added mini-twist here is that Lindabulea seems not to be as out of it as she takes pains to appear. Yes, she's much more concerned with getting to the fancy banquet before the food is gone, but when Joanna tries to force her to throw Carmilla over for a more powerful servant (whom she'll be controlling, of course), Lindabulea's reaction appears to be less dense than Joanna may have initially assumed. Sure Carmilla can't beat Rose, but that doesn't mean that Lindabulea is just going to roll over and let Joanna replace her – something that Joanna never thought would happen. Whether that's due to her assuming that Lindabulea would abide by some aristocratic set of rules or because she thought the dragon girl was too stupid to fight back isn't clear, but she's completely unprepared for what happens, and that's perhaps why the rivalry has festered for this long, to the point where Joanna would summon a “hero” of her own to take out Genzo.
That she's operating on a completely inaccurate assumption probably isn't going to help, though. She thinks that Lindabulea has set out to take Genzo down, so when (and if) she figures out that Hanako is working with him, that should be interesting.
Hopefully it won't result in more scenes of people standing around just talking, however – that was the predominant visual this week, and no matter if they're in a hallway or a field, it's not particularly captivating. Given the wrestling theme and MAO's recent summoning, there is ample opportunity for the show to prove that it can do more with its animation, which is something to keep an eye on as someone takes on an apprentice next week.
Kemono Michi: Rise Up is currently streaming on Funimation.
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