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Literature / The Beast Player

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Left to right: Leelan and Elin.
The Divine Kingdom of Lyoza is divided into two territories ruled by the Yojeh (or "True Ruler") and the Aluhan (or "Grand Duke"), who are in charge of the political and military aspects of the country. In Aluhan territory, there is a village that raises Toda, the beasts that allow the country to maintain military supremacy over its neighbors. In that village lives a beast doctor named Sohyon, who is allowed to care for the Toda even though she comes from the Ahlyo, a nomadic tribe with green eyes said to have magic, because her late husband was the son of the village chief and she happens to be good at her job. Her ten-year-old daughter, Elin, like so many other girls her age, takes an interest in the Toda and decides that she wants to follow in her mother's footsteps, so Sohyon starts to teach her about the Toda, and in the process discovers that Elin is amazingly talented.

One day, however, all of the village's Kiba (or "Fangs"), the strongest of the Toda — particularly prized by the Aluhan — die overnight. Sohyon, who was caring for them, is held responsible and sentenced to death by letting wild Toda eat her alive. Elin, as soon as she hears of her mother's fate, chases after her into the swamp. Sohyon uses a forbidden technique to control the Toda in order to save Elin, then allows herself to be eaten to atone for her sin. Elin is carried along the river until she is rescued by a beekeeper named Joeun living in Yojeh territory. It is with him that she first learns of and sees the Royal Beasts, winged creatures that capture her interest.

After a four-year Time Skip spent in Joeun's care, Elin decides to go to the Kazalumu Royal Beast Sanctuary, a school for beast doctors, to learn more about the Royal Beasts. It is at Kazalumu that she first encounters Leelan, a young Royal Beast whose fate quickly becomes intertwined with Elin's own. After another four-year Time Skip, the two of them are tossed head-first into a civil war as Elin challenges ancient beliefs and traditions in an attempt to live as she wishes and give Leelan the life she deserves.


The Beast Player is a series of fantasy novels by Nahoko Uehashi of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit. A Comic-Book Adaptation by Itoe Takemoto was published in Monthly Shōnen Sirius between 2008 and 2016. An Animated Adaptation by Production I.G and Trans Arts can be streamed legally in its entirety on Crunchyroll under the title of Erin.

Uehashi intended the novel series to be a two-parter book, but the author's participation in the creation of the Animated Adaptation inspired her to write two more volumes and a collection of spin-off stories.

Pushkin Children's Books and Henry Holt and Co. published the English translation of the first two books by Cathy Hirano as one book. They published the sequel as one book titled The Beast Warrior in July 2020.


The Beast Player provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Title Change: The anime adaptation of The Beast Player is titled Erin or The Beast Player Erin in Japan.
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: The first two books end with Leelan rescuing Elin from a Toda troop. The anime expands it by adding a scene where Elin and Ialu have a child together.
  • Adjective Noun Fred: The Japanese title of Erin is Kemono no Souja Erin, which translates to "The Beast Player Erin".
  • Alternate Character Reading:
    • The Ahlyo and their real name, the Ao-Loh, are written as "People of the Mist" (霧の民) and "People of the Law" (戒律ノ民).
    • Akun Meh Chai is written as "devil-bitten child" (魔が差した子).
    • The Yojeh and the Aluhan are written as "True Ruler" (真王) and "Grand Duke" (大公) respectively. The anime uses the on-yomi readings Shin-Oh and Taikoh instead.
  • Animal Motifs: In the anime. A kitten losing its mother to underline the theme of characters missing their mothers. A snail in its shell and coming out for Leelan becoming interested in its surroundings for the first time. A fight of dragonflies almost exactly mirrors a fight in the human world, from before the first blows to the aftermath.
  • Animated Adaptation: Erin is an anime series based on the first two books of The Beast Player.
  • Babies Ever After: At the end of the anime, it's implied that Elin and Ialu have a son together.
  • Beast of Battle: The Aluhan and his army use the Toda, giant amphibious reptiles, to protect the borders of Lyoza.
  • Bee Afraid: Averted when Elin approaches a beehive without any protective equipment, unaware of the danger. The beekeeper Joeun stops her just in time.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the last volume of the novels, the war is won, but Elin, Leelan, some other Royal Beasts and many, many other people are dead.
  • Bloodless Carnage: In the anime, the Toda attacks during battles are represented as animated folk drawings, and Sohyon's death shows no trace of blood whatsoever.
  • Color-Coded Eyes:
    • The Ahlyo have green eyes, a dominant genetic trait that makes both them and their descendants easy to identify. Their ancestors, the Toga mi Lyo, are named after the color of their eyes.
    • Jeh and her people had golden eyes, which her royal descendants inherit.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: The Beast Player has a faithful manga adaptation of the first two books.
  • Definite Article Title: The Beast Player.
  • Family Theme Naming:
    • Hasson and his late son, Asson, both have names that end with "-asson".
    • Nearly every one of Jeh's royal descendants has names that end with "-miya".
  • Gasshole: Joeun has a habit of farting in public. Only in the anime, however.
  • Happily Adopted:
    • Zigzagged with Erin. After the death of her mother, she is happily raised by Joeun but never officially adopted, preferring to go to Kazalumu rather than get married as a member of a noble family.
    • Subverted with Kiriku and Tahya. Their foster parents took them in only for money and tried to get rid of them once they got paid for their adoption.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the last volume of the novels, Elin's son tries to stop the massacre by blowing the Silent Whistle to render all Toda and Royal Beasts on the battlefield unconscious. It's later stopped by his mother, who herself blows the whistle to end the battle, knowing full well that she will fall to her death along with a paralyzed Leelan.
  • The Kingslayer:
    • The Sai Gamulu, meaning "blood and filth", is an undercover organization that seeks to assassinate the Yojeh and make the Aluhan the king.
    • Damiya secretly orchestrates the assassination of the Yojeh Halumiya using a Toda troop.
  • Last Minute Hook Up:
    • At the end of the first two books, Seimiya agrees to unite the two conflicting territories of Lyoza through her marriage to Shunan.
    • It's implied in the last scene of the anime that Elin and Ialu are married with a child.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: According to Sohyon, Asson was a kind and gentle man unlike either of his parents.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Royal Beasts have the body of a huge bird and the head of a wolf.
  • Music Soothes the Savage Beast: Justified. The harp music helps calm the Royal Beasts only because it's similar to their own voice. Furthermore, they respond to it only if they sense the person playing isn't afraid and haven't used the Silent Whistle regularly to restrain them.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The anime gives names to characters nameless in the source material:
    • Elin's paternal grandfather is Hasson.
    • The Aluhan, the father of Shunan and Nugan, is Oran.
  • Noun Verber: The Beast Player.
  • One-Word Title: The official English title of the anime is Erin.
  • Outliving One's Offspring:
    • Hasson outlived the death of his eldest son, Asson.
    • Meemiya died in the burning of the palace by the Sai Gamulu, the aftereffects of which killed her mother, Sheemiya, two years later.
  • People of Hair Color:
    • In the anime, the Ahlyo have green hair to match their green eyes. Interestingly, their unusual hair color is never brought up and it is their eyes that function as a stigma.
    • Jeh and her people were known for their blonde hair, which her royal descendants inherit.
  • Raised by Humans: Leelan comes to view Elin as her mother.
  • Recap Episode: In episode 14, Nason narrates what he knows about Elin last years to the elders of the Ahlyo.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Zigzagged. At first, they are depicted in a sympathetic manner, as animals that can be very frightening, but ones that have feelings and are exploited by humans. Later, after Sohyon gets eaten by wild Toda, Elin naturally develops a fear of them. However, they're still shown to be just tools of war, being used by both good and bad people, and not the cause of it.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Shunan and Nugan hold opposite views on what is better for Lyoza. There is also the fact that the Aluhan seems to prefer Shunan and Nugan is a "Well Done, Son!" Guy.
  • Secret Keeper: Teachers and students at Kazalumu decide to keep Elin's ability to control the Royal Beasts a secret.
  • The Show of the Books: Erin is a television anime series based on the first two books of The Beast Player.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The fairly upbeat opening theme is played when Soyon is eaten alive by wild Touda.
  • Spoiler Cover: The American cover of The Beast Warrior shows Elin falling headfirst with Leelan, something that only happens at the very end of the book.
  • Spoiler Opening: The first opening of the anime spoils the big role that the Royal Beasts will have in the plot long before they appear. It also hints at Sohyon's death and the circumstances surrounding it. The second opening spoils the fact that Erin will ride Leelan and this case is notable as the scene in question happens in the first episode to use second opening.
  • Tempting Apple:
    • In both openings of the anime, apple motifs are featured heavily, symbolic of Elin's relationship with her mother.
    • "Elin" seems to mean "Apple" in the series. The apple is also used to represent a "sin", which would be the sin of communicating with beasts that Sohyon passes to her daughter unwittingly.
  • Time Skip: Twice. Each time for four years.
  • Title Drop Chapter: The series has the same title as the last chapter of the first two books and the last episode of the anime.
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub:
    • The Crunchyroll subtitle and Cathy Hirano's translation both leave "Toda" (War Serpent) and "Kiba" (Fang) untranslated.
    • The Crunchyroll subtitle leaves "Shin-Oh" (True Ruler) and "Taikoh" (Grand Duke) untranslated.
    • Cathy Hirano's translation leaves "tokujisui" (special potion) untranslated.

Alternative Title(s): Kemono No Souja Erin, The Beast Player Erin, Erin


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