BEM

BEM

BEM anime series cover art
BEM

Overview

BEM (also known as Yokai Ningen Bem / 妖怪人間ベム) is one of those anime which was created for the 50th anniversary of its original anime. It’s just like Devilman: Crybaby, Megalo Box, and Dororo, but those are all actually good. My guess is that this is going to be a continuing trend for some time.

This series was created by Production I.G and LandQ Studios. Production I.G is one of the biggest names in anime, but I don’t actually think they had much to do with this series. If I had to guess, this was mostly the work of LandQ Studios, whose best series clocked in at a 6.49/10 on MAL.

And now that you know that, I think you’ll be more understanding of why I didn’t particularly think this was a good anime.

But don’t misunderstand, the art and animation quality weren’t the only reasons I didn’t find this series to be good. After all, I’ve stated many times that animation quality doesn’t actually matter as much to me as it does to many others. However, having bad art and animation definitely doesn’t help a series — and this series needed help.

It’s a story about three monsters, Bem, Bela, and Belo, who want to become human. They don’t care that becoming human would mean giving up their immortality, they just want to be able to live and die alongside humans. But the big question is, how do they become human?

They have no proof that this will ever work, but they’ve decided that the only way for them to become human is by saving humans. With every human they save, they believe they will be one step closer to becoming humans themselves.

It’s a fairly good premise, but the execution is poor as I’ll discuss later on.

Characters

The only characters who are worthwhile discussing are the three monsters, Bem, Bela, and Belo. There’s also detective Sonia Summers, technically one of the protagonists, but there’s not much to say about her other than she’ll do whatever it takes to disrupt corruption and take down criminals.

So the thing about Bem and his companions is that although they’re monsters, they have human forms. Well, their ears are a bit pointier than the average human’s but aside from that they have human appearances. How exactly they came to look like this is explained later on, so I won’t spoil it.

But when in their monster forms, these three are anything but human. And while I don’t mind their monster forms that much, I do need to point out how bad the transformation animation is. It’s almost Berserk 2016 animation when they change between forms.

Bem and Bela from the anime series BEM (2019)
Bem and Bela

Bem doesn’t seem to try all that hard to blend in with humans when in his human form. He doesn’t have a job or anything. He simply goes around fighting crime. When in his monster form, Bem has an electric ability.

Bela is the one who tries the most to fit in with humans. She’s enrolled in a local high school, attends classes there, and is even popular among her friends. However, she doesn’t believe they can become human quite as much as Bem does. In her monster form she has an ice ability.

Belo is the most jaded of the trio. While he does his part to blend in with humans as an elementary or middle schooler who hangs out with his friends at the local arcade, he has doubts that they’ll ever become human. In his monster form, Belo has an acidic ability.

A Failed Adaptation

BEM isn’t the worst anime around — far from it. It wasn’t even near being the worst anime of the Summer 2019 season. But that doesn’t mean the issues it has are things which can simply be overlooked. For example, the aforementioned human to monster transformations.

I get that not every anime can have the highest quality of animation. But if you have a scene which you’re going to be reusing multiple times throughout the series, you should probably make it look good. It’s just like how OPs often have higher quality animation because they’re used in every episode to introduce the series.

And while I didn’t exactly like the CGI transformations Sailor Moon Crystal used for its first two seasons, at least they made those look pretty considering we saw them in literally every episode. BEM didn’t even do that much.

Bela as seen in the ED from the anime series BEM
Bela as seen in the ED

There’s also the fact that this series was delayed after episode 3, in part due to the arson attack at Kyoto Animation. That’s the official word on why episode 4 was delayed for multiple weeks, but there seems to have been more to it than that — because that alone isn’t a reason I would complain about.

Not only was episode 4 delayed and changed, but episodes 5 and 6 were altered as well. I could understand if one of those episodes had to do with a fire given the circumstances, but this is an episodic series. All 3 episodes wouldn’t have been affected.

I’ve heard that some of the staff were unhappy with the direction of the series which is why it received extra changes. And when something like that happens mid season, it kind of reinforces the idea that this isn’t a very good adaptation. Why was the original direction even approved?

Conclusion

In the end I gave BEM a 4/10. It’s not the worst anime, like I said, but it is a bad anime. And that’s not to say that the original source material is bad, simply that this adaptation of it is. Have you seen BEM? If so, what did you think of this series? Let me know in the comments.

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