Kemono no Souja (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 Souja Erin (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-Koh 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 Soyon 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 Soyon is the head Touda doctor.
But one night, the Kiba, the Grand Duke's strongest Touda, mysteriously die. According to law, since Soyon 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 is swayed along the river and leaves her mother to be eaten by the wild Touda.
Erin is taken into the Shin-Oh Region and is found and adopted by a beekeeper. There, she learns of the "king of beasts" the Ohju. Erin's spark for learning takes her to the Kazalm Ohju Breeding School, and leads her to the baby Ohju 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 secret war between the Tai-Koh and the Shin-Oh Regions.
- Erin (エリン Erin?)
- The female protagonist of the series. She is described as calm, collected, 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 Soyon and foster father, Joh-on, 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.
- 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 want to truly understand animals.
- As the series progresses, she becomes a Master at the Ohju Breeding School Kazalm to stay by an Ohju she cared for in her school years named Lilan.
- At the end of the anime series, it hints that Erin ends up with Ia-lu and have a son named Jesh.
Voiced by: Nanase Hoshii
- Lilan (リラン Riran?)
- A female Ohju that Erin takes care of in Kazalm. She is "raised" by Erin, who later sees her as her mother and is the only human Lilan is accustomed to. Later in the story, she regains the ability to fly and mates with a wild Beast King named Eku. They both have a baby named Aru.
- Eku (エック Ekku?)
- Another Ohju that is in Erin's care in Kazalm, but a male. Eku was originally a wild Ohju, 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.
- Shin-Oh Harumiyah (真王ハルミヤ Shinou Harumiya?)
- 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.
Voiced by: Ikuko Tani
- Princess Seimiyah (セイミヤ Seimiya?)
- The granddaughter of the Shin-Oh, a beautiful young woman who will become the Shin-Oh. She is a kind and gentle person who, like her grandmother, detests war but likes her uncle Damiya. Seimiyah has deep feelings for Shunan, the Tai-Koh's eldest son.
Voiced by: Takahashi Mikako
- Duke Damiya (ダミヤ Damiya?)
- The nephew of the Shin-Oh. 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. There are traces showing that he wants to break the bond between the Tai-Koh and the Shin-Oh.
Voiced by: Akira Ishida
- Ia-lu (イアル Iaru?)
- One of the Shin-Oh'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-Oh 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 Ia-lu seems to be in love with Erin.
Voiced by: Kenichi Suzumura
- 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 the Shin-Oh are united and make decisions together for the two regions without force before the country ends. He expresses this to Seimiyah, the next in line to be the Shin-Oh. There are moments showing that he is in love with Seimiyah.
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-Oh ruling it and the Tai-Koh protecting it. Nugan is extremely loyal to the Shin-Oh and decides to go against Shunan without holding back.
Voiced by: Kawamoto Naru
- Soyon (ソヨン Soyon?)
- 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 passed away early, and left his wife and unborn child to live in the village. Despite her being of the Mist People, Soyon 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. Soyon 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
- Joh-on (ジョウン Joun?)
- Erin's foster father and a beekeeper living in the Shin-Oh Region. Joh-on used to be a teacher at a very prestigious school, but quit. When he meets Erin, he decides to teach her about breeding. When Erin becomes infatuated with Ohju, Joh-on 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-Koh 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 Joh-on'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, Tetsuya Yanagihara
- Esal (エサル Esaru?)
- The Reverend of Teachers at Kazalm. She is an old friend of Joh-on, 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 Ohju 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.
- 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-Oh 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.
- They are the Sezan's enemy; a secret underground organization that has only one goal in mind: those with power should become the King or Queen, and of all things. They even killed the entire royal family, leaving only the Shin-Oh, Princess Seimiyah, and Duke Damiya as the sole survivors. Their members are known to wear dark capes and strange masks that aren't forged by the Wajyaku or Holon people.
- The Shin-Oh'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-Oh 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-Oh in their minds. They are even trained to ban their emotions.
- The citizens from the Shin-Oh's country and the servants in the Shin-Oh's quarters. Unlike Wajyaku, Holon are people who hate violence and are against the idea of war. They live in the Shin-Oh Region seeking a peaceful life from the battlefield. Some important people who work under the Shin-Oh are the Sezan and the Ohju doctors.
- 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 Ohju. But because of an incident many centuries ago involving the First Shin-Oh 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. Because of this, they later became known as the "Mist People."
| "The Beast Player I: Tohda"|
"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: Ohju"|
"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.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 "I.G to Animate Moribito Author's The Beast Player Novels." Anime News Network. October 22, 2008. Retrieved on January 25, 2009.
- ↑ "Kemono no Sou-ja Story to End in 2 Novels in August." Anime News Network. July 23, 2009. Retrieved on July 23, 2009.
- ↑ "獣の奏者 (1) (The Beast Player 1)." (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved on October 7, 2009.
- ↑ "獣の奏者 (2) (The Beast Player 2)." (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved on October 7, 2009.
- ↑ "獣の奏者 (3) (The Beast Player 3)." (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved on October 7, 2009.
- ↑ "獣の奏者 (4) (The Beast Player 4)." (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved on 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 on January 25, 2009.
- ↑ "獣の奏者〈2〉 (講談社青い鳥文庫) (単行本)." (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved on January 25, 2009.
- ↑ "Crunchyroll Adds Beast Player Erin Fantasy Anime Today." Anime News Network. September 4, 2009. Retrieved on October 7, 2009.
- Kemono no Souja on the Kodansha website (Japanese)
- Kemono no Souja 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