Kemono no Sōja
|Kemono no Souja Erin|
Cover art of the first Kemono no Souja light novel
|Written by||Nahoko Uehashi|
|Original run||November 21, 2006 – August 10, 2009|
|Written by||Nahoko Uehashi|
|Illustrated by||Itoe Takemoto|
|Magazine||Monthly Shōnen Sirius|
|Original run||October 25, 2008 – ongoing|
|Anime television series|
|Kemono no Sōja Erin|
|Directed by||Takayuki Hamana|
|Original run||January 10, 2009 – December 26, 2009|
Kemono no Sōja (獣の奏者?, lit. "The Beast Player") is a Japanese novel series written by Nahoko Uehashi and published by Kodansha between 2006 and 2009. It focuses on a girl who can control the greatest of beasts as she gets involved in a war between two kingdoms.
The series has been adapted as a manga serialized in Kodansha's Monthly Shōnen Sirius since October 25, 2008, and as an anime television series, called Kemono no Sōja Erin (獣の奏者エリン?, lit. "The Beast Player Erin") produced by Production I.G and Trans Arts that premiered in Japan on NHK on January 10, 2009.
10-year-old Erin is a young girl who lives with her mother in the Tai-Kou region in the small village of Ake. She has a big love for animals, especially the Touda, dragon-like creatures used in the war.
Her mother So-yon was originally of the Mist People, an ancient clan who have members with green hair and eyes, and is rumored to follow in the ancient ways, practice magic, and hide in the mist. But despite her genealogy, they stay in the village because Erin's late father was the son of the village chief and So-yon is the head Touda doctor.
But one night, the Kiba, the Grand Duke's strongest Touda, mysteriously dies. According to law, since So-yon was the person who was charged with caring for them, she is responsible for their condition and was sentenced to death. Erin learns of this and tries to save her mother, but So-yon refuses rescue, and Erin is swayed along the river as her mother is eaten by the wild Touda.
Erin is taken into the Shin-Ou region and is found and adopted by a beekeeper. There, she learns of the "king of beasts" the Ouju. Erin's spark for learning takes her to the Kazalm Ouju Breeding School, and leads her to the baby Ouju Lilan. As Erin stays at Kazalm and spends more time with Lilan, she creates a miraculous bond with her that is said to be impossible and ends up getting involved in a civil war between the Tai-Kou and the Shin-Ou regions.
- Erin (エリン Erin?)
The female protagonist of the series. She is described as kind, collected, earnest, and very observant. She is 10 at the beginning, then she becomes 14 in the first time-skip, and 18 in the second. Due to the influences of her mother So-yon and foster father, John, Erin carries a unique perspective in caring for beasts. Many people think that she is too curious, which simply gets her in trouble. Erin is truly caring towards people and animals, even to the point of worrying more about others than herself. She is strongly against using the Toudas and Oujus for war and even refuses to give Lilan special water (Tokuji sui), which strengthens her, and use the Silent Whistle on her, which paralyzes an Ouju. She dreams that one day humans and beasts may understand each other and that beasts (mainly Touda and Ouju) would not be bound by human's codes.
Because Erin's mother was of the Mist People, she inherited her green hair and eyes. Some people first believed that she was able to be close to Lilan and Eku because she learned magic tricks of the Mist People from her mother, but they later see her as someone who just wants to truly understand animals. Her classmates know her as the Ouju fanatic. Erin's name translates to "wild apple" both John and Kirik comment that they are free-thinking and unique; similar to Erin's personality.
As the series progresses, she becomes a Master at the Ouju Breeding School Kazalm to stay by Lilan. At the end of the anime series, it is hinted that Erin ends up with Ia-lu, and has a son named Jesh. Voiced by: Nanase Hoshii
- Lilan (リラン Riran?)
A female Ouju that Erin takes care of in Kazalm. She is "raised" by Erin, and later sees her as her mother and the only human Lilan is accustomed to. Later in the story, she regains the ability to fly and mates with a wild Ouju named Eku. They have a baby named Aru. Her name literally translates to "light."
- Eku (エク Eku?)
Another Ouju that is in Erin's care in Kazalm, but a male. Eku was originally a wild Ouju, but was injured from a Silent Whistle. Eku, being from the wild, had no trust towards humans, however, after spending a night at his shed, Erin becomes the only human he trusts. He lives in Kazalm to stay by Lilan's side. Esal reveals that his name derives from ancient language.
Shin-Ou region (Yoje in the manga)
- Shin-Ou Harumiyah (真王ハルミヤ Shinō Harumiya?) (Harumiyah in the manga)
The Queen of Ryoza. She is a gentle woman who cares for her country and her people very much. Her childlike demeanor suggests that she is not familiar with society outside the walls of her home. She detests war and her nephew Damiya since she knows that Damiya has an agenda of his own. Her fear came true as Damiya commanded a Touda squadron (Psi-Gamul (firstly mistaken as the Tai-Kou's army because of the similarity)) to assassinate her, which caused her death. Voiced by: Ikuko Tani
- Princess Seimiya (セイミヤ Seimiya?) (Seimiyah in the manga)
The granddaughter of the Shin-Ou, a beautiful young woman who is next in line to become the Shin-Ou. She is a kind and gentle person who, like her grandmother, detests war but likes her uncle Damiya. Seimiya has deep feelings for Shunan, the Tai-Kou's eldest son. However, such feelings were weakened due to the manipulation of Damiya, who attempted to weaken their bonds so that he could take the throne easily. Fortunately, the plan failed after she and Shunan understood each other and strengthened their feelings to each other. In the end, she married Shunan to unite the two regions together. Voiced by: Takahashi Mikako
- Duke Damiya (ダミヤ Damiya?) (Damiyah in the manga)
The nephew of the Shin-Ou. He is very secretive and cunning. Damiya tends to make passes on women who he is interested in, but manages to be swayed by Erin. However, he is not just a mere playboy, he is a very cunning manipulator who has his own army (the Psi-Gamul) at his disposal. He weakens the bond between the Tai-Kou and the Shin-Ou by framing the Tai-Kou for trying to rebel against the Shin-Ou so that he can take the rule of the country easily. However, the plan is noticed by Harumiyah, which caused Damiya to eliminate her with his own Psi-Gamul while pushing the blame to Shunan, which further weakens the bond between Shunan and Seimiya. However, his plan was thwarted when Erin appeared and saved Shunan and Seimiya while Damiya attempted to kill them all for the final phase of his plan. With the two reunited, he attempted to kill them with a knife but is killed by Ia-lu instead. Voiced by: Akira Ishida
- Ia-lu (イアル Iaru?)
One of the Shin-Ou's personal bodyguards, the Sezan. He is known throughout the nation as "Godspeed Ia-lu" for his ability to run at an inhuman pace. He is one of the few Sezan the Royal Family trusts personally. Ia-lu acts cold and unsociable around others, even to his comrades and his mentor. He takes his job, protecting the Shin-Ou and the Princess, very seriously.
However, he has a soft spot for Erin, who is the only person he smiles much at and the only person who knows of his past. For her safety, he tries to keep his distance from her. He later becomes one of the few people who knows Erin's dark past, and promises that he'll keep quiet about it until the time is ready. There are hints showing that he may be in love with Erin. At the end of the series, it is hinted that he is married to Erin and has a son named Jesh. Voiced by: Kenichi Suzumura
Tai-Kou region (Arhan in the manga)
- Shunan (シュナン Shunan?)
The Grand Duke's eldest son and one of the head captains of the Grand Duke's Touda Army. He reports to the royal palace about his father's condition. Shunan wants to change the country into a reformed society wherein which the future Grand Duke and Shin-Ou are united and make decisions together for the two regions without force before the country ends. He expresses this to Seimiya, the next in line to be Shin-Ou. There are moments showing that he is in love with Seimiya. However, their bond is weakened by the manipulation of Damiya. Eventually his perseverance to his own feelings pays off when he wins back the heart of Seimiya. In the end of the series, he married Seimiya and joined the two regions together. Voiced by: Eiji Hanawa
- Nugan (ヌガン Nugan?)
The brother of Shunan. He wants to prove his worthiness to his father. Nugan respects Shunan, but later, feels betrayed by him. He believes that the country is as it should be: the Shin-Ou ruling it and the Tai-Kou protecting it. Nugan is extremely loyal to the Shin-Ou and decides to go against Shunan without holding back. However, such rashness and loyalty has been used by Damiya to overthrow the Tai-Kou and Shin-Ou royalty. In the end, he was defeated. Voiced by: Kawamoto Naru
- So-yon (ソヨン So-yon?) (Soh-Yon in the manga)
The mother of Erin, a Touda doctor of the Village of Ake. She was originally a woman of the Mist People, but left her original heritage when she married Asson, the son of the chief of Ake Village. However, Asson died, and left his wife and unborn child to live in the village. Despite her being of the Mist People, So-yon was a gifted beastinarian and was given special permission to care for the village's Touda. She decides to train her daughter Erin to be a Touda vet without teaching her the Mist People's forbidden techniques. So-yon is executed when the Kiba Touda die in the ponds. She appears many times in Erin's memories, especially in memories of her teaching Erin about animal breeding. Voiced by: Eriko Hirata
- John (ジョウン Joun?) (Joh-Un in the manga)
Erin's foster father and a beekeeper living in the Shin-Ou region. John used to be a teacher at a very prestigious school, but quit. When he meets Erin, he decides to teach her about beekeeping. When Erin becomes infatuated with Ouju, John helps her gain admittance to Kazalm. Voiced by: Naoya Uchida
- Nuk and Mok (ヌック, モック Nukku, Mokku?)
Two former thieves from the Tai-Kou region. They were asked by an unknown man to steal Touda eggs for a large amount of money, but failed in doing so, meeting Erin in the process. Because of her kindness towards them, they vowed to stay by her side to "repay her." They become John's helpers on his ranch and the head handymen of Kazalm later. They are often seen as the comic relief of the series and call Erin "Little Miss" and "Erin-Chan." Voiced by: Fujiwara Keiji, Voiced by: Tetsuya Yanagihara
- Esal (エサル Esaru?)
The headteacher at Kazalm. She is an old friend of John, Erin's foster father, and helped Erin with her times at Kazalm. She decided to let Erin take care of Lilan because Erin had the experience of witnessing a wild Ouju family breed, and was the one who concluded that Lilan saw Erin as her mother. Esal looks out for Erin as a foster mother.
- Tomura (トムラ Tomura?)
Erin's 'senpai'. He is respected by his peers and underclassmen. Tomura was originally the person in charge of Lilan. But Erin, a middle schooler, was put in charge of taking care of Lilan and Tomura, a high schooler, was dismissed. After seeing Erin's determination, he becomes intrigued by her and develops a crush on her. This shows when he said he would protect her from those who see Erin's bond with Lilan as a potential weapon for war.
- Kirik (キリク Kiriku?)
A new Master who transfers from Tamuyuan, a prestigious beastinarian school. He is secretly a member of the Psi-Gamul whose sister was killed by poison from a Wajyaku. Kirik is under orders from Damiya and is assigned undercover as a teacher in Kazalm. He is very knowledgeable about poison and always has an eerie smile. He first sees Erin as a potential weapon, but later wants to protect her because she resembles his sister.
- Na-Son (ナソン Na-Son?)
The explorer from the people of the mist. He was So-yon's fiancee before she left the tribe to marry Erin's dad. He is there when she faces the judgement of the Touda, as he was put to the task of watching over her, and he vows to look after Erin in her place, since he could not keep her from dying. He is the one who tells Erin about the "Great Sin".
- The citizens from the Grand Duke's country and servants in the Grand Duke's quarters. They fight under the banner of the Grand Duke, and it is their role to protect the Shin-Ou and go to war. Because of this, the Wajyaku were seen as bloodthirsty people who loved going to war. Some important people who work under the Grand Duke are his two sons and the Touda doctors.
- An underground organization whose goal is to put the Tai-Kou on the throne. In the past they attacked the royal palace and murdered Shin-Ou Harumiyah's mother and grandmother. Damiya used the Psi-Gamul as a cover for his plans to take the throne. They have a very similar appearance to the Tai-Kou's Touda battalion so that they can put the blame on the Tai-Kou.
- The Shin-Ou's royal bodyguards. The Sezan are recruited when they are at a young age to be trained to have only one thing in mind: protect the Shin-Ou at all costs. They are trained to cut all ties with their family and friends so that they only have the thought of protecting the Shin-Ou in their minds. They are even trained to ban their emotions.
- The citizens from the Shin-Ou's country and the servants in the Shin-Ou's quarters. Unlike Wajyaku, Holon are people who hate violence and are against the idea of war. They live in the Shin-Ou region seeking a peaceful life from the battlefield. Some important people who work under the Shin-Ou are the Sezan and the Ouju doctors.
People of the Mist (霧の民?)
- An ancient clan, once known as "Aouhrl" for having people with green hair and green eyes. Legends say that this clan held the secrets to controlling animals, especially Touda and Ouju. But because of an incident many centuries ago involving the First Shin-Ou Je and these secrets getting out, they promised to never let these secrets out to outsiders again. They became nomadic and they would hide in the mist. Although their original title is "Ao-Lou"(people of the secrets), because of their association with the mist, however, other societies started to call them "Ah-Ryo"(people of the mist).
|"The Beast Player I: Touda"
"Kemono no Sōja Ichi Tōda hen" (獣の奏者 I 闘蛇編?)
|November 21, 2006||319 pp||ISBN 978-4-06-213700-3|
|"The Beast Player II: Ouju"
"Kemono no Sōja Ni Ōjū hen" (獣の奏者 II 王獣編?)
|November 21, 2006||415 pp||ISBN 978-4-06-213701-0|
|"The Beast Player III: The Quest"
"Kemono no Sōja Tankyū hen" (獣の奏者 III 探求編?)
|August 10, 2009||486 pp||ISBN 978-4-06-215632-5|
|"The Beast Player IV: Conclusion"
"Kemono no Sōja Kanketsu hen" (獣の奏者 IV 完結編?)
|August 10, 2009||428 pp||ISBN 978-4-06-215633-2|
The manga was released by Kodansha in two bound volumes. The first volume, Player of the Beast 1 (獣の奏者 1 Kemono no Souja Ichi?) (ISBN 978-4-062-85056-8) was published in November, 2008. The second volume, Player of the Beast 2 (獣の奏者 2 Kemono no Souja Ni?) (ISBN 978-4-062-85069-8) was published on January 16, 2009.
Directed by Takayuki Hamana, the first episode premiered on NHK on January 10, 2009. The opening theme is "Shizuku" (雫?) by Sukima Switch, and the ending theme is "After the Rain" by cossami. The series became available on Crunchyroll with English subtitles on September 4, 2009.
- "I.G to Animate Moribito Author's The Beast Player Novels". Anime News Network. October 22, 2008. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
- "Kemono no Sou-ja Story to End in 2 Novels in August". Anime News Network. July 23, 2009. Retrieved July 23, 2009.
- 獣の奏者 (1) [The Beast Player 1] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
- 獣の奏者 (2) [The Beast Player 2] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
- 獣の奏者 (3) [The Beast Player 3] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
- 獣の奏者 (4) [The Beast Player 4] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
- 獣の奏者〈1〉 (講談社青い鳥文庫) (単行本) (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
- 獣の奏者〈2〉 (講談社青い鳥文庫) (単行本) (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
- "Crunchyroll Adds Beast Player Erin Fantasy Anime Today". Anime News Network. September 4, 2009. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
- Kemono no Sōja on the Kodansha website (Japanese)
- Kemono no Sōja Erin on the NHK website (Japanese)
- The Beast Player (manga) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
- The Beast Player Erin (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
- ANN anime review