Today we are going to talk about Pupa. This is the story of a girl who is infected with a virus after encountering red butterflies in a park. A horrible human flesh eating monster inhabits her body, but luckily her brother is also infected, but differently. He now heals really fast. She craves human flesh which he can eternally provide, so they are a match made in heaven. There is a very strong undertone of incest, obviously, though they do come about that relationship somewhat honestly. Well as honest as incestuous cannibalism can be.
In the news, Death Note the musical. That there is a Death Note musical may be news alone, but they have been releasing casting pick photos, beginning with the illustrious L and most recently Ryuk, Rem and Misa. I can only hope that this will come overseas to us in some form.
From Crunchyroll: “A stage music adaptation of Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s Death Note will be staged in Japan and South Korea. After opening at Tokyo Nissay in April 2015, it will be playing in Seoul over the summer with a different cast.
American composer Frank Wildhorn will be writing the music, with Jack Murphy writing the lyrics and Ivan Menchell the script. Tamiya Kuriyama directs.”
So, it seems to be done by an international team so there is hope yet. I have seen a few really cool and semi-cool cosplay versions of Rem and Ryuk and I can only dream of how these sets and costumes will look. The music was a driving force in the tone of Death note. Not only the title track, notably the second season open and closer by Maximum the Horomone with “What’s Up People” and “Zetsoubou Billy”, but ambient and incidental music was well chosen too. I can definitely see some of the major soliloquy’s being set to dramatic music. It’s a dramatic horror after all.
Now back to Pupa, From the pupa wikia – This is “the “life-and-death sibling” story following Utsutsu and Yume Hasegawa, a boy and his little sister who find themselves all alone. One day, 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.
Pupa (ピューパ Pyūpa) is a Japanese horror anime adaptation of the manga and is produced by Studio Deen.”
Studio Deen has been around since the 80s and done some other horror, action, and harem stories. The Beyblade OVA and the Vampire Knight series stand out among their projects. They have a large body of work, so the animation style is clean with a default colour palette, all in all easy to watch. They remain in a very realistic if not slightly simplistic rendering, until the last episode, where they draw in a chibi or childlike form with brighter colours and bold black line work.
So – how much people hate Pupa. I was braced for it after seeing the first episode when it was streaming on Crunchyroll. I took a break to watch other things, then came back to it after having read some reviews. Not sure why in all of the hate notes these shows received why the teddy bears weren’t mentioned. I loved every scene with the teddy bears. So creepy. So menacing. Such a fun plot device to have them relate the story. Some of the torn off eye and menacing fanged grins the bears give are real nightmare fuel.
My favourite character by far is Maria. She seems to be the one behind the pupa infestation… or experiment… or whatever the reason these kids are infected. Her lady-goth look, calm demeanour and kingpin style tempts me to pick up the manga. Maybe it is also that she is the least developed of the characters and I would like to know more about her origins and what the hell she is doing. It’s all really barely explained.
See, it’s only 4 minutes per episode and there are only 12 episodes, making it basically a 48 minute show- so less than feature length – and most of that is intro/outro music for fuck sakes. I wish it were longer, and like so many others I can do without the last episode. it must be seen to be believed. And not to set you up for the ultimate gore fest…. the last episode is the polar opposite! if you want to have several ‘what the fuck’ moments followed by a ‘what the actual fuck’ moment, this one is a fun ride. Deep down in my girly girl core I do enjoy the last episode on it’s own, but it seriously has no place in this story.
That said, for those sensitive to the sexualisation of what could be younger people engaged in sensualised cannibalism you should steer clear. The censored version is even worse actually, as noted by many in anime forums and similar discussion spots, the censorship leaves too much to the imagination. The sisters head may be placed in a spot that since obscured, takes on the look of a sex act instead of one feeding on live human meat. Seeing is believing in this case. It is really super bloody no matter which version, but the censored version is heavily censored at point of entry, actual flesh eating and tearing with the mouth, and penetration by weapons with large black shadows.
It is interesting to see a study in cannibalism taken as seriously as this in the wake of the bath salts craze and Luka Magnotta. Well, semi seriously. They don’t make light of it and it seems the siblings make no secret of their behaviors either. At one point, a thug recruits them… or more like kidnaps them… to have some fun with.
Through the story, you discover that they are near orphans as both parents have left them. This is not all bad as their parents were both mentally and physically abusive, explaining the large scar on Utsutsu’s face. The parents abuse not only primed the siblings for such a surreal existence as those infected with pupa, but provide some lurid backstory as to how these two are nearly ‘chosen ones’ for this apparent experiment. You learn a lot about this while they are dealing with being abused by this kidnapper.
So others in their world seem to know that this brother and sister duo are indulging in cannibalism. The first big feeding scene takes place in bed and is highly sexualized, certainly with Yume breathless chanting of his honorific, big brother, “Onii-chan” over and over. Unsettling. There is also a rather gory scene of her eating her brothers flesh in a school locker room. Apathy is just not how polite society would react upon discovering such a situation.
And why does Utsutsu wear a pretty hair pin? Because he’s super hot, that’s why, and he can do whatever he likes. Also, with the amount of time he spends protecting and being fed upon by his sister, I don’t think he really cares what he looks like.
The music is kind of amazing. It subtly sticks in your head. In fact, the theme song and end song are as infectious as the red butterflies are. The sound design of this anime is superb with the glaring exception of the over use of the characters honorific. Bleh. Annoying. Otherwise, the foley work is a real treat, considering how much time she spends eating flesh and making such delectable little flesh eating sounds. Fans of body horror that hits all these squelchy squicky gross out notes may like that.
I give Pupa 3 out of 5 Human Centipedes for horror, since it certainly exists in that place where there are no stars. Highly recommended if you want to see something not quite tentacle porn, but makes you think nonetheless. It is also super short, so why not?
You can get this on BluRay and DVD or stream it on Crunchyroll. I suggest you get the uncensored version of course, as the streaming version will be censored. You can seomtimes find the bloody version on Youtube. Look for the Pupa Unrated Complete edition and it will pop up on Amazon, ebay and cdjapan for about $55.
What Is Up Next? Berserk. Not really horror, but bloody as fuck with a little bit of a bonus hell-ride. I’ll get into a little of my definition of horror and horror in anime then too.
If there is anything you think I should be watching, let me know on twitter @typicallydia or tumblr, youtube, wherever you hang out online. This has been Re:Animation on Dead Cells, part of splatterpictures.net.