BEM Episode 2 Anime Review – Awesome, you’ll love it!

As you know, from last weeks BEM Review, this is a remake of a respected Japanese anime series called Yōkai Ningen Bem, an original classic supernatural adventure anime dating back to 1968. It’s very good and character design is by the same people who have recently undertaken the character design for Cop Craft.  This weeks episode is called Liar and it’s another cracker!  It’s probably better than last weeks show.  I loved almost every minute. By the way, you can rate this episode yourself too, just click the ‘Users’ tab in the review block on the right and click the stars.

Sonia Summers at the Crime Scene
Sonia Summers at the Crime Scene

BEM Episode 2 – Liar

The show opened with a spooky scene in a derelict part of Outside.  Sonia Summers, (a rookie cop who was transferred to a department on the outskirts of town because she was not corrupt) is talking to one of her colleagues another honest cop called Joel Woods.  She is at the murder scene of a young woman who has had all her bones broken.  The victim was in a washed out shallow grave.

After the credits, the story moves away from Sonia to a scene in a rather affluent part of town.  In a college, a group of students are listening to a lecture about French history. One of the students is sketching a nearby and attractive red-head (yep, it’s Bela) when he should really be attending to his studies.

After the lecture is over, Bela’s friends (actually, Bela’s friends call her Annie) are berating her because the young dude that was sketching her, is making his activities and his attraction too obvious.  They rudely take his sketchbook away from him to see what he has been drawing.

Bela checks out the dudes artwork
Annie and her friends check the young dude’s artwork.

They make comments like, ‘he’s creepy’ but they all seem to agree that his drawing is good.  Annie doesn’t seem to concerned (I’m not sure what the demon inside thinks).  They continue to make fun of him for a little while and then head off to the shopping Mall.

While they are eating ice cream, Bela/Annie feighns and excuse to leave the table for a napkin to meet up with Belo.

Bela meets Belo in the Mall
Bela meets Belo in the Mall

He comments that it seems pointless for her to be eating ice-cream since she can’t taste it.  She remarks that it is good practice for when she will become human.  She asks why Belo is in the Upper part of town.  He tells her that he is with friends who are about to undertake a Proxy War in the gaming arcade.

They go their separate ways and Annie heads back to her friends and Belo goes to the gaming arcade with his pals.  When Annie gets back, she meets a 27 year old woman who insists that she is called Mary.  The woman is shocked but very happy and excited to see that she is still alive and asks how she is doing.  Annie/Bela, has no idea what she’s talking about.

Across the other side of the Mall, Belo is gaming with his pals but seems to be able to hear the conversation.  The lady who is confusing Bela with someone else asks where she got the heir clasp.  Annie mentions that she picked it up from a flea market sometime ago.  Annie’s friends are getting very excited at such a silly case of mistaken identity with a girl their age that should be 10 years older.

Meanwhile, in the police station, Sonia Summers has managed to identify the dead girl that was found in the derelict area.  It is the body of a 17 year old girl called Mary Russel.  She was 17 when she went missing 10 years earlier.

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Mary Russel. 17 and 10 years deceased
Mary Russel. 17 years old and 10 years deceased

Later that evening, Bela, Belo and Bem meet on top of their usual meeting place (I think it’s a bridge between the Outside and the Upper part of Town).  Bela is studying the hair clasp and she tells them what happened. Sonia Summers and her colleague Joel Woods, continue their investigation.

The lady who met Bela in the Mall however, is called Elaine and later that evening, she meets with another woman in the Upper part of town.  Elaine shows the woman a picture of Bela with the hair clasp.  The other woman looks very shocked.

Elaine and her friend are shocked and worried
Elaine and her friend Dominique look shocked and worried

The investigation is being conducted thoroughly and Sonia chats with a number of Mary Russel’s school friends.  It seems that Mary was accused of stealing something that belonged to one of her friends, Dominique.  It also seems that no matter how much Mary would deny it, nobody would believe her and she was ostracised.

The person that knew Mary best was a friend of hers called Elaine Heiding but, according to one of the people interviewed, Elaine was a liar (she would pretend that she was from a prosperous family in a prosperous part of town when really, she wasn’t).  One person said that Elaine was a dangerous person and to beware if she ever said, ‘I wish I’d met you sooner!’  Dominique was from a wealthy family and was very powerful as a result.

Others said that Elaine was not a liar at all and that she was simply a victim of bad rumours. Yet other people would say that Elaine would always have bad things to say about Mary and Dominique.  Clearly, the two people to talk to are Dominique and Elaine!

The detectives discuss the two suspects in their car.  Dominique (spelled Dominic in the show which is sometimes confusing) is the wealthy wife of an elite businessman and Elaine’s husband works for him.  The two are therefore considered quite close although one is of a ‘lower status’ than the other.

In the Shopping Mall next day, Annie/Bela is accosted by three ‘older boys’ who would like to have a little fun with her. They are in a well populated part of the mall so whatever happens, it isn’t likely to get nasty, but despite her girly requests to get them to leave her alone, they refuse.

Heya girly, wanna come and play with us
Heya girly, wanna come and play with us

Annabelle/Annie/Bela is just about to show them her demon-ways when Elaine comes running to her aid with a couple of store attendants. The ‘boys’ are chased off and Elaine greets Bela.  Apparently Bela had contacted Elaine for a chat.  She wanted to find out about the mysterious previous owner of her hair clasp.  Elaine tells Bela that Mary was a lovely person.  She had said that it was the best hair clasp she had made.  Mary was very confident and determined to become a jewelry designer when she grew up.  She was always proud to wear her creations.

Unfortunately, one of her friends, Dominique, had one of her jewelry accessories stolen.  Elaine explains that she stepped in to reconcile the two and Dominique agreed that all would be ok if Mary visited the Outside part of town as a test of bravery.  If she did that, they would be friends again.  Sounds ludicrous and more than a bit scary!

While Elaine is telling Bela the story, Sonia Summers is contacting Dominique by telephone.  She tells her that Mary’s body has been found and that she has a few questions.  Dominique agrees and tells Sonia that she too, has something to discuss. The drama is building up nicely!

Elaine continues the story with Bela.   Dominique would be return to the Upper part of town once she saw Mary cross the bridge that separates both parts of town.  Elaine explains that everyone was against the whole idea of Mary visiting the Outside on her own but nobody would speak up in case they were ostracised too.  Elaine goes on to say that she believes Dominique lied about her accessory being stolen.  She believes that Dominique hated her and Mary as she though they were commoners and beneath her.

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Then Elaine gets a lovely piece of jewelry out of her handbag that was once given to her by Mary.  It’s a beautiful hair clasp and she hands it to Bela asking her to put it on.  Bela puts it on and Elaine complements her, and asks her to keep it. “I wish I’d met you sooner!” she says with a warm smile. Bela takes the gift and tells Elaine that she would like to know more about Mary.

Elaine - would like to have known Bela sooner
Elaine – would like to have known Bela sooner

Later, back at school, Bela is thinking about Mary and the warm generosity shown by Elaine.  She leaves the classroom and heads out across the bridge.  She is met by Bem on the bridge.  Bem tells her that she shouldn’t go further outside town today.  He adds, “Especially if you treasure the girl with that face.” Really cryptic much!?

Bem asks Bela not to go to Outside

Bela tells him that she is going because she treasures the memory of Mary.

When Bela gets to the Mary’s grave-site she calls out Elaine’s name and car headlights come on and Dominique stands before her. “I can’t believe it” she says, “You’re really Mary!”

Bela is still wearing the hair accessory that Elaine gave her and Dominique suddenly recognises it as her clasp, the one she originally accused Mary of stealing 10 years ago.  Bela explains that Elaine gave her the hair clasp and that she had said that Mary had made it.  They both work out that Elaine had called them both to where Mary’s body was found.

Then EVERYTHING changes and in a wonderful piece of direction, we are graphically reminded that we are in a yokai / supernatural anime and not a teen drama whodunit.  Dominique is hit in the face by a giant bowling ball thrown by what can best be described as a Bowling Ball Monster demon thing.  She is killed almost instantly. It was really jarring and graphic.  Alas the quality of the graphics were atrocious!  Truly terrible!  I’m not sure what why they would spend so much on character development and story and graphics and  then have animated fight sequences drawn by children!

Dominique is killed by a Bowling Ball Monster
Dominique is killed by a Bowling Ball Monster

The badly animated character faces off against Bela. Bela changes into her monster form to beat the Bowling Monster dude.

Bowling Ball Monster makes a final attempt to kill Bela - is it me of is this really bad badly drawn
Bowling Ball Monster makes a final attempt to kill Bela

He is eventually subdued by Bela and the demon admits that he was hired to kill Bela and Dominique by Elaine (the person who had originally engaged him to kill Mary 10 years earlier).  She kills the demon and transforms back into human form.  She’s naked when she turns back and Bem provides a jacket for her.  Belo explains that Elaine was a liar and that she used Bela to destroy Dominique (who’s husband was her husbands employer). 

Bela goes to confront Elaine in her apartment. Elaine admits the deception but is unworried since Bela doesn’t have any proof.  Bela tells her that she doesn’t need any and promptly turns into her demon form.

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Elaine's confession angers Bela who tries to kill her
Elaine’s confession angers Bela who tries to kill her

Bela begins to strangle Elaine and just as Elaine is about to die, Bem again comes to the rescue and stops Bela before she commits murder.

Sonia Summers arrives at the same time, she had been contacted by Bem and takes Elaine into custody.  Later, back at the station, her colleague, Joel Woods explains that the ‘school friends’ took an oath not to say anything about the bravery pact with Mary when she didn’t come back.  Under questioning by the police however, they admitted what happened. It looks as though Elaine will be tried for murder although it will still be difficult to prove.  She’s hardly going to be believed when she admits that she hired a Bowling Ball demon!

Bem, Bela and Belo meet at their usual hang out on the bridge between ‘Outside’ and ‘Upper’ town.

Phone Background - Bem, Bela and Belo
Bem, Bela and Belo at their usual hangout (by the may, I splices a couple of the frames together in – this would make a great mobile background image)

Bela did in fact meet Mary after she had just been killed by the Bowling Ball monster.  She wasn’t part of it, nor did she see it, she arrived on the scene soon after.  But she took the face of Mary for her human form (she din’t actually steal her face by ripping it of eewww! she just wanted to look the way Mary had looked.

The last scene was nicely done. They are all back at school and Bela’s admirer is drawing her again.  Bela’s friends chastise him for drawing her but Bela is impressed by the boys honestly and tells him that he can draw her from the front next time.

Bela tells the little boy to draw her from the front next time
Bela tells the little boy to draw her from the front next time

The boy almost faints and the show ends. The next episode looks like it will be about Belo.  It’s called “Shadow”.

The direction of the show was great and the development of the lead character was wonderful.  I have such a crush on Bela, who I am positive is the older sister of Cat Girl from Gegege no Kitaro! The story was really good and the shock of a supernatural villain bringing us down to earth from a teenage high school drama was terrific!  Lots of fun!  If I would criticise the episode, if would be for the cheapo character drawing.  Yeah, really weird – the design in the show is amazing but Ten-Pin-Bowling dude looked like he had been drawn by some animators apprentice!  Or worse still, in the style of a villain from the first series in the 1960’s. Really tacky animation spoiled the show.

Nevertheless, I really liked this  story and would therefore rate this 8.2 out of 10! Let down only by production (in particular the poor character drawing).

What did you think?  

Discuss this in the Bem Thread in the Anime Forum.

This review is copyright Tony Fawl and not for reproduction without permission.

The characters, pictures, story and everything else associated with the show is copyright  Production I.G and LandQ studios and Crunchyroll.  All rights reserved.

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