Kemono Michi: Rise Up
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Kemono Michi: Rise Up ?
While a lot of comedy hinges on the characters not being all that bright (the literary definition of the term can be roughly paraphrased as being made to laugh by a sense of superiority over the characters), Kemono Michi: Rise Up may be taking the premise a bit too far. This is the seventh episode, and somehow the people of the guild still can't figure out that referring to Genzo as “Demon Beast Killer” is a one-way ticket to Bruiseville. Of course, given the late-episode revelation that Celes, the woman who comes to him for training, has been being harassed by the guild hunters, it does seem at least a little possible that they told her to call him that on purpose…but then the Guildmaster addresses Genzo by the nickname, so that could just be me being hopeful for the collective intelligence of the cast.
Yes, you read that right – this week Kemono Michi: Rise Up decides to at least attempt a storyline about bullying. I suspect that the whole thing is meant to be a light parody of more serious shows, if only because the only “serious” part of this series is the love Genzo has for animals. That ties in here, of course – Celes is the mostly-human looking descendant of lizardmen, and despite the fact that only her midsection (front and back) is covered in scales, just the idea that she's remotely lizardy is enough to make her an easy target for the depressed hunters at the guild. When Genzo sees her scaly belly, it's love at first sight, and he immediately agrees to train her in the art of wrestling, and when he finds out that she wanted to learn his tricks to get back at the guys who have been bugging her, he goes off on the guild like PETA on a fur sale. The thing is, he's right about why Celes is unhappy, and there is a lot of bias against her because of her lizardman heritage, and that takes away a lot of the potential humor from the situation. Celes' desire to learn Genzo's skills in order to prove that she's more than people think she is is actually fairly reasonable, as is his reaction, so there's something a little uncomfortable about using the situation as fuel for Genzo to show how weird and otherworldly he is yet again. It's a nice change from him getting mad about his nickname, but this series isn't well-written or executed enough to pull off a parody of a serious bullying storyline.
Celes' training at Genzo's hands – and the bonus hands of Shigure, Hanako, and Carmilla, more or less – works much better, although fewer stills and more action would definitely have helped. Poor Celes is either desperate or gullible enough to even take Carmilla and her “sexy pose” lessons seriously (less so with Hanako's eating lessons), and the fact that everyone seems to think that she wants to become a pro wrestler is at least decently funny. And hey, Carmilla's training actually does manage to come in handy as a distraction later on. (Hanako's preoccupation with “chewy thighs,” on the other hand…) The end result of Celes proving to her tormenters that she's no one to be trifled with takes a back seat to almost everything else, but that's for the best, as it saves the episode from being too ambitious.
Ultimately, though, this episode shows us that this series has a major case of “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Genzo's still way too fond of animals and getting creepier all the time – his urge to lie in the road and have cats walk over him and his growing love for his kobold neighbor are just two of his fetishes on display this week – and the episode ends with him agreeing to become a pro wrestler in this new world so that he can raise money to pay for his pet shop, which is precisely the position he was in when the series started. And now that MAO is also in this world, it's a safe bet that this is somehow going to all boil down to a final fight between the two once again.
It's still fun, but I'm sorry to say that it is beginning to feel a bit like we're running on a hamster wheel in terms of both the jokes and the plot progression. Kemono Michi: Rise Up is in desperate need of a little variety to its Genzo storyline, and we can only hope that now that all of the pieces are in place, next week will bring us just that.
Kemono Michi: Rise Up is currently streaming on Funimation.
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