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Literature / The Beast Player
aka: Kemono No Souja Erin

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The Beast Player is a series of fantasy novels by Nahoko Uehashi of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit. It was adapted into a fifty-episode anime series between 2008 and 2009 which can be streamed legally in its entirety on Crunchyroll.

In a land divided between the people born in the region that serves the Shin-Oh (True Queen) and the Taikoh (Grand Duke), who are in charge of the political and military aspects of the country respectively, there is a village that raises Touda, the beasts that allow the country to maintain military supremacy over its neighbors. In that village lives a beastinarian named Soyon, who is allowed to care for the Touda despite being one of the People of the Mist, a tribe with green eyes said to have strange powers because her late husband was the son of the village chief and she happens to be damn good at her job. Her ten-year-old daughter Erin, like so many other girls her age, also takes an interest in the Touda and decides she wants to follow in her mother's footsteps, so Soyon starts to teach her about the Touda, and in the process discovers that Erin is amazingly talented.


Stop reading here if you want to avoid spoilers.

One day, however, all of the village's Kiba, the strongest of the Touda - particularly prized by the Grand Duke - die overnight. Soyon, who was caring for them, is held responsible and sentenced to death by being eaten alive by wild Touda. Erin, as soon as she hears of her mother's fate, chases after her into the swamp. Soyon uses a forbidden technique to control the Touda in order to save Erin, then allows herself to be eaten to atone for her crime. Erin is carried along the river until she is rescued by a beekeeper named Joh-on living in the Shin-Oh's region. It is with him that she first learns of and sees the Beast-lords (Ohju, literally king-beast), winged creatures that capture her interest. After a four-year Time Skip spent in Joh-on's care, Erin decides to go to Kazalm, a school for beastinarians and an Beast-lord shelter, to learn more about the Beast-lords. It is at Kazalum that she first encounters Lilan, a young Beast-lord whose fate quickly becomes intertwined with Erin's own. After another four-year Time Skip, the two of them are tossed head-first into a civil war as Erin challenges ancient beliefs and traditions in an attempt to live as she wishes and give Lilan the life she deserves.


The Beast Player provides examples of:

  • A Girl and Her X: A girl and her Beast-lord.
  • Ancient Tradition: The Mist People, being the only ones to know about the kingdom's Dark Secret. They are mainly passive observers, only making sure that disaster doesn't strike again.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Damiya and Seimiya have a non forceful version of this, in which he manipulates her into agreeing to marry him, since she has no better option available.
  • 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 Lilan becoming interested in its surrounding 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.
  • Arranged Marriage: Zigzagged in the case of Shunan and Seimiya. They are initially attracted to each other, even though it is considered improper for them to marry. Later on Shunan wants to marry Seimiya for the good of the country, while she wants to Marry for Love.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The Grand Duke and his sons.
  • Babies Ever After: It’s hinted Ia-lu and Erin has a son together at the end.
  • Beast of Battle: Touda. And in the past, also Beast-lords, with tragic results.
  • Bee Afraid: Just barely averted when Erin approaches a beehive without any protective equipment, unaware of the danger. The beekeeper stops her just in time.
  • Big Brother Worship: Nugan mentions he held his older brother Shunan on a pedestal, at least before their bitter Sibling Rivalry began.
  • Bishōnen: Kiriku, lal and Damiya for a slightly older version.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The novels. The war is won, but many characters including Erin, Lilan, some other Beast Lords and many, many other people are dead.
  • Bloodless Carnage: In the anime, the Touda attacks during battles are represented as animated folk drawings, and Soyon's death shows no trace of blood whatsoever. Understandable, being a NHK-E show.
  • Boarding School: Kazalm.
  • Cain and Abel: Nugan and Shunan
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Up to episodes 6-7 it's a rather light-hearted, episodic story. Then stuff happens.
  • Code of Honour: The Mist People have a strict code of what they are allowed to do.
  • Coming-of-Age Story
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Soyon gets eaten alive by wild Touda as punishment for her crime.
  • Curtains Match the Window: In anime the Mist People all have green hair and eyes. It's averted in manga, where they all have black hair and green eyes.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Tahya, Kirku’s sister, was poisoned by their foster family. Her death is a reason Kiriku hates Wajyaku (people living in the Grand Duke's country) and starts working for Damiya.
  • Death Seeker: Erin
  • Evil Uncle: Damiya has some ambitious plans and isn't picky with the means.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Kiriku
  • Face–Heel Turn: Nugan betrays his brother and father to fight alongside Damiya's forces.
  • False Flag Operation: Damiya uses this a few times while attempting to assassinate the queen.
  • Fingore: In episode 43, Lilan goes into a blind rage and bites three of Erin's fingers off.
  • Fluffy Tamer: Erin. She is able to tame and communicate with the Beast Lords. It’s justified, because she takes some time to actually observe them and learn their “language”. Lilan, her Beast Lord friend, grew up with her and sees Erin as her surrogate mother.
  • Flower Motifs: In the anime. Damiya in particular seems obsessed with them.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: The first queen, Je.
  • Freudian Excuse: Kiriku starts working as a prisoner against Wajyaku, after his sister was killed by people from the Grand Duke's country.
  • Gasshole: Joh-on has a habit of farting in public. Only in the anime however.
  • Giant Flyer: Beast-lords.
  • God-Emperor: All the queens of Ryoza, and Je in particular. It's deconstructed with Seimiya, who feels it's her duty to act like a goddess and takes offence at being called "simply human".
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Aku Meh Chai are generally not welcomed among the Mist People or people outside of their tribe.
  • Happily Adopted: Zigzagged with Erin, who more or less becomes Joh-on’s daughter, but is never officially adopted, preferring to go to Kazalm rather than become a member of a wealthy 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.
  • Harmful to Minors: Erin sees her mother getting eaten by wild Touda when she is ten years old.
  • Harp of Femininity: Erin uses a harp to tame a royal beast. Subverted in the anime because she got it from Ia-lu who is a badass Elite Soldier for the Shin-Oh, and he's first introduced playing the harp (which has his name carved into it) and even repairs and then helps her alter it. It probably helped show his status as one of the good guys and the end reveals he retires and becomes a harp maker like he originally planned as a child, settling down with her.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Kiriku finally abondons Damiya.
  • Heroic BSoD: Erin goes through one after she blows her mute whistle to stop Lilan.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the last volume of the novels Erin's son Jeshi attempts one in the middle of battlefield, trying to stop massacre by blowing the mute whistle to render all fighting beasts unconscious. Is later stopped by his mother, who then herself blows the whistle to end the battle, knowing full well that she will fall to her death along with paralyzed Lilan.
  • The High Queen: Harumiyah. Also, according to the legends, Je. Later on, Seimiya.
  • Horse of a Different Color: Touda. In the past and in Erin's case, also Beast-lords.
  • I Have Your Wife: Damiya holds all people at Kazalm hostage to make sure Erin cooperates with him.
  • Interspecies Friendship: Averted in the case of Beast-lords, who never befriend humans. Then deconstructed in Erin's and Lilan's case.
  • Last Minute Hook Up: Shunan and Seimiya. It’s also hinted in last the scene that Ia-lu and Erin married and have a child together.
  • The Migration: How the kingdom of Ryoza was founded. After the destruction of Ophalon, Je led her people from Ephon Noha to Ryoza.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Beast-lords, who have the body of a huge bird and the head of a wolf.
    • Though, they can be based on a creature from Persian mythology that is called Simurgh or Angha. That looks like a bird with canine head.
  • Mixed Ancestry: Erin is the child of a woman of the Mist People and a Tohda-breeding village man. Results of such unions are usually called "Akun Meh Chai" ("Child of Impossibilities"), because their parents should have never met, yet alone fallen in love.
  • Music Soothes the Savage Beast: Justified. The harp music helps calm the Beast-lords only because it's similar to their own voice. Also, they respond to it only if they sense the person playing isn't afraid and if he hasn't use the mute whistle regularly to restrain them.
  • Morning Sickness: Lilan suffers this in episode 36 and copes by chewing on logs.
  • Opening Narration: In the anime.
  • Parental Favoritism: The Grand Duke visibly prefers his older son over the younger one.
  • Parental Substitute: Joh-on becomes one for Erin after her mother dies. Later she herself becomes a surrogate mother for Lilan.
  • People of Hair Color: The Mist People have green eyes and green hair. Unfortunately, they are associated with black magic. Interestingly, their unusual hair color is actually never brought up and it is their eyes that function as a stigma. Also Je, the First Shin Oh of Ryoza, and her people were known for their golden eyes and blond hair.
    • This trope is adverted in manga, where the Mist People have normal black hair and only their eyes are green.
  • Poison Is Evil: Of course it is Kiriku, the poison teacher who is secretly working for the villain.
  • Raised by Humans: Lilan comes to view Erin as her mother.
  • Recap Episode: Episode 14 of the anime is this, with Nason narrating what he knows about Erin last years to the Mist Elders.
  • Redemption Earns Life: Kiriku is revealed to be alive at the end, now working as a traveling doctor.
  • Redemption Equals Death: To atone for the crime of using a forbidden technique to save Erin, Soyon allows herself to be eaten by the Touda.
  • Relationship Sabotage: Damiya does everything he can to destroy relationship between Shunan and Seimiya. He succeeds for a while.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Erin strongly resemblances Kirku's dead sister. Because of this Kiriku tries to protect her from Damiya and later turns against his employer for her sake.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Both averted and played straight with the Touda. 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 Soyon gets eaten by wild Touda, Erin 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.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Grand-Duke's Family, who have to fight all the wars, in contrast with the royal family, in which the queen and her heir have to remain 'pure' and are more of the Sheltered Aristocrat variety.
  • Running Gag: Joh-on farting.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Between Shunan an Nugan. They hold opposite views on what is better for the country. There is also the fact that the Grand Duke seems to prefer Shunan over his younger son and Nugan is a "Well Done, Son!" Guy.
  • Secret Keeper: Erin tells Esal and Ia-lu about her past and informs them about the truth behind The Beast Lord Imperatives. Teachers and students at Kazalm decide to keep Erin’s ability to control the Beast Lords a secret.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Kiriku accidentally overhears how Erin tells Ia-lu about her past.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Kiriku with his foster family rather than the real one. He poisoned his adoptive parents after they killed his sister.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The fairly upbeat opening theme is played when Soyon is eaten alive by wild Touda.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Too many cases to count. examples 
  • Spoiler Opening: The first opening spoils the big role that the Beast-lords will have in the plot long before they appear. It also hints at Soyon's death and the circumstances surrounding it. The second opening spoils the fact that Erin will ride Lilan and this case is notable as the scene in question happens in the first episode to use second opening.
  • Taking the Bullet: Ial does this for the queen at an assassination attempt. He manages to run up to her in time to not only for that, but to actually shoots an arrow back at the attacker. He survives.
  • Tempting Apple: In both openings apple motifs are featured heavily, symbolic of Erin relationship with her mother, or something...
    • "Erin" 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 Soyon passes to her daughter unwittingly.
  • Time Skip: Twice. Each time for four years.
  • Those Two Guys: Nuk and Mok.
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub: Crunchyroll's subtitles have an unfortunate tendency to not translate titles like True King (Shin-oh) and Grand Duke (Taikoh).
  • Wandering Jew: The Mist People.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 6 Many.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Nugan is desperate to earn more respect and attension from his father, the Grand Duke, who seems to prefer his older brother Shunan.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Subverted / deconstructed. While Erin and Soyon both have green hair, it marks them as members of a tribe that is considered practitioners of black magic. If their green eyes are often mentioned in the anime, their green hair never is.

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


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