BEM – Ep. 1 (First Impressions)

Okay, but what kind of name is Bem?

So the usual disclaimer: I have not seem the previous BEM anime from 1969 and 2006. I actually didn’t even know this new one is the second reboot in a 50 year old franchise until I looked it up after watching. All I can really say in relation to those versions is that I have seen the character designs and boy were liberties taken for 2019. If you want comparisons, your best bet is to look elsewhere. I’m sure there’s a BEM expert somewhere on the web.

From my understanding, BEM centers around three supernatural creatures — the titular Bem (Katsuyuki Konishi), Bela (M.A.O.), and Belo (Kensho Ono). Living in the impoverished slums of a city, they spend their days battling crooks that are also of supernatural origin, all while hoping that one day, they’ll become humans. Simply put, it’s a cool premise on paper and this first episode does a pretty cool job giving you a taste of how it’ll bank on it. Bem has superhuman reflexes and physique, fights with a cane, and transform into a more monstrous form to augment his abilities even further. The monster of the week is a blob of water that drowns people by trapping them in his body. Though the visuals aren’t exactly the prettiest, especially for Production I.G., the urban slums combined with the fighting taking place a night still creates an distinct aura for the action. If Bela and Belo have cool abilities and weapons of their own and there’s more monsters like the one shown here, I can imagine BEM being worth watching for its set pieces.

As for actual story though, this is where the show has yet to impress. Right now, you’re not informed much on Bem’s relationship with Belo and Bella. Were it not for the character designs, I’d have a hard time distinguishing from one another. All three of them seem to be usual emotionless monster characters vying for humanity because it’s a quality they think they lack. There is also the curious appearance of a human character, Sonia Summer (Maaya Uchida). She’s not a bad character per se; you can probably do something interesting with her being an incorruptible cop transferred to a part of the city full of corrupted ones. It’s just that her story doesn’t seem terribly connected to the main one. Right now, she seems to be present for the sake of having a viewpoint character in the show, someone for the viewer to relate with as the nature of Bem and other supernatural creatures become apparent. Still, I’d be shocked if this episode is the only time Sonia appears. Maybe in the future, she’ll piece together that the main three mean no harm and she becomes a liaison for them.

Time will tell if there’s more meat to this story. I don’t mind watching an anime if it’s light on plot so long as it’s still able to entertain or intrigue. I am however more inclined to stick with something when it’s not just worthwhile for sensory purposes. And in a season as packed as this one, BEM could certainly stand to make a more appealing case for itself.

Thanks for reading!

Watch Bem on Funimation & Hulu

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