Kemurikusa

Tagged: TV

Japanese animated tv series (2019). Yaoyorozu. Directed and written by TATSUKI. Voice cast includes Arisa Kiyoto, Mikako Komatsu, Kenji Nojima and Tomomi Jiena Sumi. Twelve 24-minute episodes (plus six shorts). Colour.

This was TATSUKI's next project after the successful Season One of Kemono Friends (2017-current) and is based on his earlier two-part ONA (Original Net Animation), also called Kemurikusa and released in 2010 and 2012.

Six humanoid sisters live on what appears to be a Post-Holocaust Earth: Sis Rin (Komatsu), the fighter of the group; Sis Ritsu (Kiyoto), who controls the tree Midori-chan, and the Rina Sans (Sumi), a sister who was split into six identical children, of which four survive; there were once three other sisters, apparently dead. Perpetually in search of water, for themselves and Midori-chan, they fight off the "Red Bugs" which come from the ominously glowing red fog that blankets many areas.

One day an Amnesiac teenager called Wakaba (Nojimahe) appears in surprising circumstances: he is scared and/or fascinated by everything. Rin assumes he is a red bug and so tries to kill him with one of Midori-chan's leaves, but Wakaba is unaffected. These leaves are a multifaceted and flexible Alien Technology called Kemurikusa. Curiously, the little Robots that wander about seem to recognize Wakaba and obey him, whilst the sisters gradually grow to trust him and find his scientific mindset helpful. They traverse islands linked by bridges that cross seas of red or white mist, out of which loom derelict structures: eventually they discover the source of the red mist, an enormous red tree.

A flashback episode reveals that Wakaba is a humanoid alien: years previously he had been tasked with copying Earth's "precious cultural asset[s]" before they disappear. Finding a dead child, he reanimates her and calls her Riri (Komatsu). Becoming anxious about Wakaba's workload and learning he will only stop when his Kemurikusa runs out, she creates the red Kemurikusa to destroy his; but it runs out of control. Hoping to rescue Wakaba, Riri converts herself into Kemurikusa and starts to split into six adults: but then, believing he had died, she removes their shared memory so they may live their own lives.

Back in the present, they battle and destroy the red tree (the manifestation of Riri's red Kemurikusa). A crack has appeared in a wall and the show ends with Rin and Wakaba walking into a green and water-rich landscape (see Slingshot Ending): they had been on an immense Spaceship.

Being from a small studio, the animation uses cheap CGI, but has nice background designs and atmospheric electronic music. With storytelling that prefers hints to explanations, this is a good, imaginative SF Anime. Though sharing some plot points with Kemono Friends and being similarly engaging (the sisters are very likeable, though Wakaba's over-frequent exclamations may annoy), the tone is much bleaker, but it ends on Rin's smile.

A subsequent short, episode 12.1, features what are presumably Kemurikusa copies of the three "dead" sisters and the "original" Wakaba. [SP]

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