Winter 2014 is upon us and we are on to opening fortnight. It’s a solid, two-week first episode free-for-all! And in true buffet style, there are just so many to choose from. Although spoilt for choice, the very first Winter anime I chose, without hesitation, to sink my teeth into is Pupa. Originally planned to have been part of the Autumn 2013 lineup, the series got bumped to this Winter 2014 season, as the production studio allegedly couldn’t find a channel to air it on (I read this some time back, it might have just been a rumour though). In any case, it has indeed been a long wait.
Classified under the horror genre, Pupa follows the story of two siblings – a younger sister and older brother. One day, the younger sister sees a mysterious red butterfly and undergoes a metamorphosis, turning into a human-eating creature. Having witnessed his sister’s transformation, the older brother struggles to find a way to save her. I pause for a moment..
Before going into the review of Pupa’s first episode, I’d like to point out the issue that I had even before the series commenced. And that’d be the fact that Studio Deen decided to make this into a 5-minute-per-episode-short. Honestly, why they did so is simply beyond my comprehension. Having never read the manga, all I knew was that it was going to be a horror anime about a brother saving his cannibal sister. As an occasional fan of the genre, I do enjoy the rare scary series (for example, Another). And after watching the trailer (yes, it’s the extremely odd onii-chan one), I was really looking forward to this anime. Of course, the 5-minute-per-episode discovery did dampen my spirits a little, but did not deter me from wanting to watch this anime – after all, the ever so lovely Yusa Kouji and adorable, queen of wispy voices Noto Mamiko were credited to be supporting characters. That made this one of the more anticipated series for me.
Alas, the first episode finally aired~ and goodness me oh my, was it disappointing. I was really hoping that with such a long wait, we would get our money’s (or rather, time’s) worth. Having had to wait for an additional entire season, you’d think that the series would deliver. However, that was wishful thinking on my part, as my expectations failed to materialise. With the kind of anime we’re dealing with here, 5 minutes is too short an amount of time to squeeze in any detail at all. The result? Pieces of chopped up scenes with a lack of attention to specifics. Quite the let down, to say the least. Well, to be fair, we are only at episode one. So I will give it a few more episodes before I make the final judgment. However, first impressions really do count and this series did not give a particularly good one.
That aside, I have to admit that the art was quite stunning. It was rather old school, but very pretty. Watching the anime, I felt like I was in a watercolour painting. The background was slightly muted, with cool colours and did not distract from the drawings in the foreground. The clever use of colours could be seen midway through the episode, when the softness of the background was heavily contrasted with the rich and vibrant red that was the butterflies. The redness of the butterflies stood out, accentuating their importance to the storyline. In addition to the visual appeal, we also had the effective use of sound effects. The butterfly flapping was not only apt, but also gave the anime a very eerie atmosphere. In addition, the music used created a somewhat nostalgic yet mysterious undertone, which added suspense and a touch of ominousness. With that much attention to detailing the setting of the series, it’s quite a pity that the storyline didn’t follow through.
So was Pupa worth the wait? After a dismal first episode, I’d say it was most likely not.