Pupa Winter 2014 First Impressions

Pupa       Pupa Anime Image

Staff: Director: Tomomi Mochizuki, Original Creator: Sayaka Mogi, Character Designer: Maki Fujii

Voice Actors: Ibuki Kido (Yume Hasegawa), Nobunaga Shimazaki (Utsutsu Hasegawa), Kyoko Narumi (Maria), Koji Yusa (Shiro  Onijima),

Studio: Studio DEEN



Utsutsu and his little sister Yume Hasegawa are close so when Yume sees a mysterious red butterfly and her body undergoes a strange metamorphosis into a creature that eats humans, Utsutsu struggles to find a way to restore his sister.

 Mild Spoilers for Anyone not Familiar with the Story


I was curious about how this “life-and-death sibling” story based on Sayaka Mogi’s rather gory horror manga would turn out. The story is shot through with incest, cannibalism and an innocent moe girl in peril with onii-chan trying to stop his beloved little sister munching on humans and letting her eat “his meat”.

Pupa Manga Image 2

Out of context that looks wrong but older brother (and siscon) Utsutsu becomes a food source. Normally I would stay away from incest and moe but it’s horror and I’m game for anything when it comes to the horror genre. I was also intrigued that this was directed Tomomi Michizuki who does great drama like House of Five Leaves a unique historical and beautiful drama from a couple of years ago. Then news started to leak out about problems.

The signs for this being a decent anime adaptation were not good. It was delayed supposedly due to censors demanding Studio Deen tone down the explicit content. Then it was revealed that the running time was just shy of five minutes. That is long enough for a gag anime but horror? Maybe.

Pupa Mysterious Woman

The final run time comes in at around three minutes if you take out the OP and ED themes. Reading the manga I never got the sense that it would work as a two-cours show with 23 minutes per episode. Maybe an OVA like Gyo. Judging from the two episodes released so far it can still work especially with tight editing and sharp writing. The first episode skips a little ahead into the manga to get to the inciting incident to hook viewers before giving the tragic back-story of the siblings which comes heavily into play later in the manga and so I think the show might be able to pull the horror off with further intelligent decisions that places the drama at the right points. However the censorship issue is more problematic.

The censorship has resulted in Studio Deen toning things down… actually, black it out might be a better way of putting it because whenever anything horrific happens a black haze covers the violence and bloodshed and deadens the impact that the visuals should have. It is very distracting. You cannot see a thing but can still here the disgusting squelching and crunching.

It’s a shame because the animation creates a great dark atmosphere full of foreboding and mystery and I can only imagine what impact the violence would have had in bringing things to a crescendo. When things are shown it is pretty horrific!

Pupa Horrific Bloodshed

It was rather strikingly beautiful with its dull and grim visuals at points and the character designs by Maki Fujii are excellent.  When we do see violence the impact of the bright colours – the red butterflies and gore – is startling.

Coming back to the running time, it will be interesting to see if an anime with as short a duration as Pupa can establish anything like a decent narrative and characterisation and I’ll keep watching.

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