8:54PM anime start time
9:43PM anime end time
After all twelve episodes conclude, what lingers isn’t the half-baked animation style, but gore, the sound of bones crunching, and disorienting performances jammed into each episode, all fleeting, leaving you wondering, who gave this the green light? Admittedly, Pupa feels more like one hazy movie trailer than a fully fleshed out anime, but there’s potential in the content and subject matter (just read the manga).
Keeping it real, Pupa isn’t for the faint of heart but if you suffer from a short attention span and love horror anime, you’ll find yourself savoring the brevity of each four-minute episode, even craving what could possibly come next. The show is bonkers; imagine two traumatized siblings contracting a strange virus leaving one with an insatiable hunger for flesh, and the other the ability to respawn or heal themselves. The catch you ask? While there’s not a hair of diversity or representation present amid the variety of bloodshed, unless you’re counting the monsters (post-pupa transformation), there’s plenty of flamboyance that arises from the fact that Utsutsu allows Yume to feed off of his own flesh—yea we weren’t drunk enough for that development either.
I’m a sucker for horror manga, but like other reviews have already stated Pupa, mainly the anime, was just not satisfying; it blindly substitutes much of the alluring content disclosed in the manga with a forgettable, sloppy rendition that many refuse to even call anime. And it’s not surprising (maybe a little) that an anime titled Pupa would not have much variety considering an actual pupa is nothing more than a cocoon or chrysalis (remember that unit in biology). Cocoons are pretty boring after all.
I do wonder if the monsters depicted so grotesquely in the show are meant to broach larger conversations; specifically around society’s romanticization and simultaneous rejection of otherness. An otherness that strips human beings like Utsutsu of their humanity—ironically, there are scenes in the anime where Utsutsu is tortured, his otherness or pupa abilities becoming his only source of intrinsic value. I also ponder the meaning of these roles in Pupa, and in our own society. Historically there are always two sides (maybe three) to a story. In this case, there are people and then there are monsters. But what happens when the monsters we fear are the very people that control the systems we thought would protect us. Utsutsu loves his sister endearingly so yet ultimately chooses oppression over freedom. We later learn that Yume had actually always been a monster; a discovery of which is not only a symbolic nod to unmanaged trauma but the detrimental result of enabling beliefs and systems that don’t serve you.
While Pupa’s end equates to something quite unresolved, I found that rather significant as many of the issues we face today seemingly are.
And even now, after I’ve finished the show, Pupa’s end theme song still rings eerily, delightfully in my head…
”Se wo mukerareru to fuan ni naruuuuuuu
Dare yori suki na no ni..”
An emerging Black poet, NaBeela Washington works towards her Masters in Creative Writing and English at Southern New Hampshire University. She was invited to read her poetry by the Takoma Park Poetry Reading Series, and has been published in Juke Joint Magazine, perhappened mag, The Cincinnati Review, and is forthcoming in The Washington Writers’ Publishing House.