BEM (2019) Anime Series Review

BEM (ベム, Bem) is the remake of the anime Humanoid Monster Bem (妖怪人間ベム, Yōkai Ningen Bem), an original classic supernatural adventure anime aired from 1968 to 1969. In the original 26-episode anime, Bem, Bela, and Belo are ugly humanoid monsters (yōkai) who fight for justice. The monsters live among humans and protect them from evil yōkai. The three find themselves ostracized from both humans and other yōkai, but the three continue to fight in hopes of one day becoming humans themselves.

The new anime will be part of the 50th anniversary project for the franchise. Katsuyuki Konishi will voice Bem, M.A.O will voice Bela, and Kensho Ono will play Belo.

Bem, Bela, and Belo are ugly humanoid youkai who fight for justice. They live among humans and protect them from evil youkai. The three find themselves ostracized from both humans and other youkai, but the three continue to fight in hopes of one day becoming humans themselves.

Plot

The plot of the series revolves around three yokai (supernatural creatures), Bem, Bela and Belo, who arrive at a large coastal city and come across an evil atmosphere, which was brought about by immoral behavior by humans and mischief caused by monsters and yokai. They therefore decide to stay in the city, fighting against other monsters and yokai which attack humans, making a few friends along the way. Even though the three yokai are often abused and discriminated against by other human beings due to their appearance, they still strive in protecting the human populace of the city from other monsters, one day hoping to become human beings in return for their good actions.

My Personal Thoughts

I didnt saw the original series or the 2006 remake so i had nothing to compare it. I saw this show with no expectations at all and i think that best way to watch it in an objective way.
The story is a mess… The show introduces 3 main characters Bem, Bela and Belo anthropomorfic monsters with the long to be humans that live in Libra City, a city that symbolize classism, and that summarize the whole show. The way that was written and directed are the main problem, the show tried to be a social criticism about the classism, humans being the real monsters and corruption in goverments. Because of that the anime doesnt explain a thing… we dont know the origin of the main trio, how they met, why they live in that city and the secondary characters like Sonia or Vega “the main villain” are only plot devices to continue the story.
The final battle is rushed and the purpose of it didnt make any sense. I attribute all the to the low budget that the show had.

BEM-Wallpaper-502x500 BEM Review - "Who Wants to Live Forever?"

1. It Has Excellent Themes

While its themes may not be original, they’re still executed rather well. The motivations of Bem, Bela, and Belo all come from a real place and the series gives you the opportunity to see what drives them. While they’re immortal, their immortality gives them a point of view where everything seems to be trivial and by gaining mortality, they can get a better sense of what life is truly about and why people value it. As the famous Queen song goes, who wants to live forever?, and the series does a great job of exploring that very question.

2. Sharp Designs

Like the 2019 Dororo series, this is a remake. While the original Dororo does take inspiration from its source material for its respective designs, the character designs in Bem are entirely different from its source material to suit its respective story and setting. While this particular quality is more for a Then Vs. Now article (which we’ll make at some point), we’ll mostly concentrate on the 2019 series. The designs to the 2019 Bem are very sharp, and they do a great job of reflecting modern day anime techniques and how the youkai genre has evolved this past decade.

The city portrayed in this city is very accurate in its architecture to modern American metropolises, most notably the Big Apple. While Bem, Bela, and Belo are in their human forms, granted they do have qualities that are demonic with their ears and eyes, they can still blend-in with humans as they normally interact with them, but with their stoic expressions, you can see they can only view humans externally and still can’t internalize what they’re about.

3. Varied Soundtrack

If you like a variety of music with your anime, then Bem has it all. If you want pop, techno, jazz, or something orchestrated, Bem has it all to set the mood. The opening them is a jazz tune to get you into the classic noir setting, and the ending theme borrows more from J-pop to give you more of an upbeat perspective, and the music within the duration of the episodes are largely orchestrated to suit its action and horror settings. Overall, the music does a well-rounded job of introducing you to its world. Why You Should Skip Bem

1. Poor Use of Sonia

Sonia serves as our introductory character to the series. Through her, we first learn of the outside (think of it as Chicago’s South Side or LA’s South Central, but with monsters), of Bem and his allies, and the youkai ningen. You learn that she can’t stand the corruption and she’s world weary of being a police officer. After the first episode, she’s in and out and she’s just in the anime just for the sake of it. Throughout most of the series, she more or less feels underwhelming and her role as a surrogate for the audience just disappears. You don’t really learn more about her until the climax (which is very minimal and told in passing), and her individual development and her development with Bem are pretty much forced and inorganic.

2. The Series Is Too Short

As it relates to the poor use of Sonia, considering the two first incarnations of Bem were 26 or so episodes, it just feels insulting that the latest edition gets only 12. If the series were given 26 episodes, there’s no doubt that Sonia could’ve gotten the development she deserved. The first episode provides an excellent foundation to her character, and after that, as we shared before, the ball is more or less taken from her and her use as a surrogate for the audience is taken out.

3. Showing Vs. Telling Balance

When it comes to a shorter series, it doesn’t allow much opportunity to fully build the world. Granted some things are revealed at the last minute, but with more episodes, you get more opportunities to tell a more enriching story. Granted you do learn some things, but for example, nobody really talks about why the outside is the way it is, etc. It more or less relates to the argument of showing vs. telling. The anime has a lot of showing, but it lacks telling. We’ll admit most people rather want showing over telling, but there are some instances where a balance is necessary, and Bem is one example of that.

BEM-Wallpaper-502x500 BEM Review - "Who Wants to Live Forever?"

We’ll admit after watching this series, we’re very interested in its previous installments and when the time comes, we’ll do a Then Vs. Now comparing comparing all versions. Nobody can deny, the youkai genre is progressively getting oversaturated, but when you take into account this is a remake of a 50 year old series, in a sense, you’re watching one of the OG youkai anime that takes place in a modern setting but made for modern day audiences.

I will rate this anime 5/10.

Directed byYoshinori Odaka
Written byAtsuhiro Tomioka
Music bySoil & “Pimp” Sessions
Michiru
StudioLandQ Studios
Licensed byFunimation
Original networkTV Tokyo, TVA, TVO
Original run July 14, 2019 – October 13, 2019
Episodes12 (List of episodes)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.