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Anime / Kemurikusa

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Clockwise from the top: Rina, Rin and Ritsu. Clockwise from the bottom right, the dead sisters: Riku, Ryou and Ryoku.
"Not Kemurikusa again. Not everything is about Kemurikusa, you know."
Rinaji, Kemurikusa, "Episode 10"note 

A group of sisters try to live through the hardships of the world they live in while searching for water. Not long after they find a small puddle, one of the sisters gets too reckless and gets killed by a giant red bug. After they secure the water, a mysterious boy with no memories appears from the source they were extracting from. At first suspected to be an enemy, the boy will prove his worth and help the sisters to take down the source of all their troubles, the Red Tree.

Kemurikusa is the name of the 2012 doujin anime, later Winter 2019 anime show created by TATSUKI, who previously directed the Winter 2017 highly successful Kemono Friends anime. Much like its predecessor, it follows the main character through a world that has seen better days, while maintaining moments of calmness and bonding within the cast, with an underlying somber tone that sets a grim tone for the story.

The series is being streamed online through Amazon Prime Video.

Months before its premiere on January 2019, TATSUKI released a few shorts showing a bit of the story's backstory and the underlying tones of it, focusing on what the sisters liked. A week after the anime finished airing, on April 3rd, 2019, and much like with the first season of Kemono Friends, he released an unofficial short titled "Episode 12.1" on Twitter and YouTube.

This work contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: All of the sisters are tough and can hold on their own against the Mushi, huge insect-like robots that threaten their lives.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The 2019 anime is a huge expansion over the 2012 ONA. The story of the sisters and their life status remains largely the same, as well as the appearance of Wakaba from nowhere. The difference lies in the scenery and the islands, the Red Mushi and the mission the sisters must follow according to the First Person, not to mention that it has 12 episodes this time.
  • Alliterative Name: Downplayed since they don't have last names. The First Person's and the sisters' names begin with Ri. Riri, Riku, Rin, Rina (When split: Rinacchi, Rinaji, Rinazou, Rinayo, Rinako and Rinamu), Ritsu, Ryou and Ryoku. The last two still apply because their name still includes Ri as per the Japanese kana: りょ (Ri+yo).
  • Apocalyptic Log: Episode 6 gives us an exposition of two people through the yellow Kemurikusa Daidai-san. The First Person before splitting up with the mission to accomplish, and Ryoku, trying to understand how this world works. The mission is blanked out and tells the sisters to live freely. The mission was to save Wakaba, which failed.
  • Back from the Dead: Riri, also known as the First Person, was resurrected by Wakaba prior to the events that led into the main story. Further into episode 11, it is also implied that Wakaba has been resurrected, as he is dumped into the cabin where the sisters were storing the water in back in the first episode.
    • Episode 12.1 implies this for Riku, Ryou, Ryoku and Scientist Wakaba.
  • Badass Adorable: The Rina sisters (Rinacchi, Rinaji, Rinazou, Rinayo, Rinako and Rinamu) look like prepubescent girls talking with quirks and act like little girls, but they can fight bugs several times their size.
  • Badass Normal: Wakaba is this despite being somewhat cowardly at the beginning. In Episode 9, he holds a giant Nushi still barehanded to buy time for Rin to attack it with a branch of Midori.
  • Big Bad: The Red Tree, being the source of all the red fog, Bugs and lack of water that the group encounters on their journey.
  • Big Eater: The Rinas are never satisfied, and they can even eat metal to understand its composition and replicate it at will.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Played as straight as possible. In Episode 12, as Rin and Wakaba are fighting the tree and Wakaba is going to die, the dead sisters show up after Rin's anguished scream for Wakaba. They turn the tide of the battle in their favor.
  • The Big Guy: Rin and formerly Ryou are the strongest of the team, usually taking it to themselves to defeat the Nushi-class robots.
  • Bound and Gagged: Downplayed. Wakaba gets bound with ropes for the first half of the season. He can still move freely, as his arms aren't tied, but he can be easily led along by a string attached to the rope. Wakaba wasn't trusted at the time.
  • Breather Episode: Episode 7 is this for the crew, as they find a place with a huge tree, with a pond. They finally get to rest and recharge their batteries, as well as getting multiple reserves of water. Subverted in the second half of the episode, as they cross the wall on the other side, to see that the landscape is as dark as red as before, chock full of large Mushi robots that will eventually cross the wall.
  • Bumbling Sidekick: Wakaba is this at the beginning. Can't do a thing, and is always annoying Rin with his curiosity, tagging along while not providing a substantial advantage.
  • Butt-Monkey: The girls tease Wakaba a lot and ends up getting the short stick of many sticky situations.
  • Caring Gardener: Ritsu is usually tending to Midori, a tree that grows green Kemurikusa.
  • Cavalry of the Dead: Episode 12 has the dead sisters, Riku, Ryoku and Ryou returning one last time for the final battle. They vanish soon after, not without saying their goodbyes.
  • Child Prodigy: Riri, also known as The First Person, is a child who knows a lot about Kemurikusa and its properties for her age, going as far as merging different Kemurikusa, and unwittingly creating the Red Root that destroyed most of the world.
  • Constantly Curious: Wakaba regarding Kemurikusa, to a fault.
  • Crush Blush: Rin, eventually to Wakaba, at first confusing it with him poisoning her.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Shiro is actually the Nushi with a laser cannon fought at the end of Episode 4.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Rin to Wakaba, at first she treats him like a threat, accusing him of being a bug and tying him with vines as ropes to prevent him from escaping or trying to kill them. As the episodes go forth, she eventually grows closer to him and learns to trust him. For some reason, she felt hot when she was near Wakaba. In episode 11, it's discovered that Riri, the First Person, liked Wakaba.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: In Episode 12, the ending theme starts as usual, but as the song progresses, it switches to Rin, Ritsu and Rina singing it.
  • Dying Race: Humans. As Wakaba rescues Riri from Earth and resuscitates her somehow, implying that there aren't many humans left on Earth.
  • Earth All Along: Subverted. Episode 8 gives us a hint, when Wakaba asks Shiro where they are. Shiro responds: "HERE? INSIDE BOAT." Episode 12 confirms that they all were in a ship all along. They must break through the wall to reach the real Earth.
  • Emotionless Girl: Rin is this to a degree, usually being unfazed by anything not related to defending her sisters (and later Wakaba).
  • Everyone Can See It: Most of the sisters seem to know that Rin has a thing for Wakaba. She only picks up on it in episode 12, after the dead sisters tell her that Wakaba is what she loves. Something she had been trying to find for the entire series.
  • Flashback: Most of episode 11 deals with the events prior to the run of the series, showcasing the lives of the First Person and Scientist Wakaba before things went awry.
  • Fading Away: Anything that dies on the show, is shown "leafing out" as they slowly vanish (dried out color-coded leaves flying away from the character on the brink of death).
  • Final Battle: In Episode 12, Rin and Wakaba and the dead sisters; Riku, Ryou, and Ryoku are fighting the red tree, the source of all that's happened in the world.
  • MacGuffin-Person Reveal: The sole reason of the existence of the girls is to save Wakaba, who has been with them since the start of the series.
  • Green Thumb: Ritsu has the ability to control Midori at will, allowing them to move the car they live in as they go through the islands.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In episode 8, several robots under Shiro's command merge and form a construction robot to cut down a red root that was forming more red bugs and blocked the way. They go down and thank Wakaba for being their Captain one more time.
  • Human Aliens: Wakaba in the flashback on episode 11. He's on a mission to 3D print the remnants of human civilization, the progress of Earth's cultural assets.
  • The Last Dance: In episode 10, Rina and Ritsu don't drink water and are on the verge of dying, they stay behind so that they can hold the fort once Rin and Wakaba move the red root, since the red bugs are going to attack them fiercely.
  • Love Confession: The last lines of episode 12; the evil has been defeated, Rin learned that she loved Wakaba, and they can now live in peace with lots of water. Rin smiles for the first time. Then, she confesses her love for him.
  • My Greatest Failure: Rin is constantly blaming herself for the deaths of her sisters, swearing to protect the remaining ones no matter what.
  • Mythology Gag: Riri's dress is pretty much a longer and slightly adjusted version of the jacket prototype Wakaba wears in the pilot.
  • The Navigator:
    • Riku and Wakaba, both can sense the heat of the red root, and thus they can direct the group to where they must go next.
    • Ai-chan, blue-colored fish-like Kemurikusa leaves which can detect water.
  • Not Afraid to Die: In episode 7, after seeing Rin in distress, Ritsu tells her that it's pointless to think things over whether they succeed or not. She mentions that they have better chances of surviving if they all go together instead of having Rin do the work for them. If they die, they die, that's it.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Rina, Ritsu and Shiro fend off a wave of Red Bugs attacking them - after the former two have given up their trademark abilities, no less. All we get to see is the devastation afterwards.
  • Posthumous Character: Riku, Ryou and Ryoku And the original Wakaba, as they all died before the start of both the ONA and the anime. They aren't quite dead yet, still existing within Rin's Memory Leaf, albeit with not much longer to live even in this state.
    • Nushi-Chi, the original Wakaba and Riri's Robot Buddy, is introduced in Episode 10 after he's infected and blown up alongside a wall in Episode 8.
  • Robot Buddy: Shiro, a roomba-like robot with four stubby sticks acting as legs with a larger stick acting like a tail. Has a screen with which it communicates through simple text. It follows Wakaba for most of the series.
    • Shiro is actually a Nushi-class robot used for monitoring and commanding lesser robots. All the Nushi-class, different from common Mushis, are originally this because they have their own personality.
    • Nushi-Chi (Nushi 1) to the original Wakaba.
  • Really Was Born Yesterday: Episode 11 implies Wakaba is this, being reborn from Midori after sacrificing himself to save Riri, showing up in the cabin where the sisters were retrieving water into, with no memories of his previous life.
  • Save This Person, Save the World: The ultimate goal of the sisters as imposed by the First Person, is to save Wakaba, who could be able to stop the red root that's destroying the world.
  • Scenery Gorn: And how. The events of Kemurikusa unfold after the red root takes over the world, but it's also implied in the episode 11 flashback that the world has been in ruins for a good while. Wakaba is trying to preserve the human culture as much as possible through Kemurikusa.
    • Episode 12 shows that they were in a ship all along. Earth seems to be okay, or at least non-human life is thriving on it.
  • Self-Duplication: This is Rina's special ability: She can split herself into many copies of herself, each with their own quirk and name.
  • Shock and Awe: This was Riku's favored kemurikusa that notably only she used and puts it to good use to help take down the Red Root.
  • Tender Tears: Ritsu is the carrier for this. She's the most sensitive of the bunch and cries tenderly a few times, like when she thinks they can live happily and in peace from now on.
  • Theme Naming: Plenty of the characters reference Japanese brands of cigarettes, like Wakaba, Riri/Lily, Rin, and Midori. Consider that Kemurikusa literally means Smoke Tobacco, and TATSUKI is an avid smoker. Made even more obvious in Episode 11, where Scientist Wakaba is shown using a Kemurikusa as if it were a cigarette.
    • The brand Lily used to have a green logo but its final iteration changed to red.
  • The Teaser: Every episode includes a Cold Opening; episode 11's opening credits don't show up until 11 minutes in.
  • Tsundere: Rin for Wakaba, she feels hot and bothered when he's around, and she assumes that it's due to him poisoning her. Episode 11 reveals that Riri liked Wakaba, and she inherited those feelings for him.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Riri creates the red Kemurikusa to lessen Wakaba's workload in copying the human world for preservation. This goes horribly wrong as the red Kemurikusa takes over everything in sight.
  • Verbal Tic: Ritsu ends most of her sentences with "nya", while the Rinas use "na" with the same frequency.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Island Ten functions as this, being the last of them and the one where the Red Tree is located.
  • Wham Shot: After Rin learns what happened to the First Person and comes to her senses, Wakaba is nowhere to be found. She walks around and finds him impaled by the red root.
    • Episode 12.1, we get a glimpse of someone meeting the dead sisters by chance. It's the original Wakaba.
  • Where It All Began: In a twisted version of the trope. While the anime starts at Island One, Riri, Wakaba and the Red Tree's story begins all the way to Island Ten, where the last stretch of the anime takes place.