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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Final Thoughts: Pupa

Pupa/ピューパ: The "life-and-death sibling" story follows 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. (Source: ANN)
Spoiler warning: So many spoilers, so little time. If you haven't finished the Pupa anime, turn away until you have!

Content warning: Pupa the anime is very NSFW. Do not watch the attached episodes in mixed company.
It will take you less than an hour to watch all twelve episodes of Pupa. It will take you less than the length of one episode to realize that this series just doesn't work. Nothing makes sense and the only thing holding it together is the fact that the manga just has to be better than this mess. It started as one of the most anticipated titles of its season. It ended as possibly one of the most despised titles in recent memory.
Just look at the synopsis from Anime News Network! The show goes against its own basic premise. It claims that Yume turns into a monster because of the red butterfly, or maybe it's the strange virus 'Pupa', but then the series goes on to describe Yume's birth and how her own mother tried to kill her. So obviously Yume was a monster long before meeting the butterflies and mad scientist Maria with the big hat. Right? I don't know! They never explain it!

And then there's older brother Utsutsu's supposed struggle to return Yume to normalcy (which, again, impossible as Yume was born that way, there's nothing to be restored to). If that's true, then his struggle barely lasts an episode before Maria gives him a 'better' option - be Yume's "human bait" for life, letting Yume feed off his immortal body for the rest of her life.
Yeah, Utsutsu is immortal or something! He can't die? Or at the very least, his body can instantly regenerate all injuries, no matter how dangerous or life threatening they are. It's never explained how Utsutsu gets this ability, but it's just understood that it came to him at the same time as the red butterflies and Yume's monster transformation (which happens once and never happens again, not in the same way). Still, now Utsutsu and Yume can be shiny together!
Of course, they are soon targeted by evil, inhumane medical testing companies. Why? How did they find out? Are their abilities now common knowledge in seedy areas of Japan? They don't even dissect Utsutsu properly for use in medical experiments. They just randomly cut into him for masochistic fun and games! And what good does it do? It ends in Yume hulking out to save her onii-chan and killing everyone - right before they escape to resume their daily life of erotic flesh eating to sate Yume's eternal carnal hunger.
Above: ONII-CHAN DELICIOUS and totally NSFW.
And who the hell is Maria? A mad scientist who has a strange underground bath and an assistant who wants to grope her breasts, and a cat and a hat and devious intentions who only appears when we need vague hints of what is going on without actually giving answers. If I had been Utsutsu, I would have cornered this woman and demanded of her, "TELL ME EVERYTHING THAT IS HAPPENING TO US IN EXPLICIT DETAIL AND HELP US REVERSE IT, NO ONE WANTS TO LIVE LIKE THIS EVER."
But no, Maria skips around without a care, and Utsutsu and Yume just live with it. Seriously. No attempt on either of them to figure out why this is happening or who is to blame for Yume's transformations. Nope, we are given an entire episode of Yume gnawing on Utsutsu's body as she feeds. Even with the series' obnoxious censorship, the scene has serious airs of something ecchi, from Yume's throaty eating and whimpering of "onii-chan" to Utsutsu's pained moans verging on sexual.
Utsutsu and Yume have an extremely messed up relationship, but it's not focused on. Yume has these incredible abilities, but they are just used to break Utsutsu out of trouble. Maria and her assistants have plans and schemes and a big ugly demon child in their basement, but it's not even touched upon after introduced. We have dangerous medical companies targeting the two siblings, but they are never expanded upon. We have back story for Utsutsu and Yume based on their screwed up childhood, involving an abusive father who beats them up and a mentally ill mother who tries to kill Yume as a baby, that is only briefly looked at before moving on to the gore and erotic violence.
Above: the only and last friggin' time they talk about Yume's mom. Ever.
That is Pupa's biggest problem. It knew that each episode would be shorter than it would like. It knew that they only had twelve episodes with four minutes duration each to tell a decent story. They could have focused on one big storyline instead of hopping around plots and throwing all their ideas into the pot without thinking. But Pupa does the latter and the resulting series makes no sense and lacks direction. It's painful to watch what little promise is introduced in the first couple of episodes quickly fade behind an impenetrable wall of "onii-chan!"s and bloody mouths and censored knives.
(Seriously, they censored a knife. They censored gore, blood, and the like - but also a knife? I'm pretty sure those watching Pupa know what a knife looks like. That's a broadcast problem, not a series problem, but still. Get over yourselves, Tokyo MX!)
As of today, Pupa is the lowest rated anime TV series on MyAnimeList (several OVAs are below it before ratings hit zero), a website with approximately 40k daily members. Of those members, almost 35k have Pupa on their list. Out of that number, we have 8,790 who actually finished watching it. Let us salute them all, as they stubbornly clung to the skin of this horror wannabe series with their fingernails, clawing for a satisfying conclusion. Then you see that nearly 57% of all ratings for Pupa are below average. A staggering 83% of ratings barely crest the 'good' level. And a good number of 10s are already known as troll ratings.

There is no great love out there for Pupa. I have no love for the series. If there will ever be a season two, it will only exist as someone's pipe dream, a sea of unfulfilled promises and dropped story lines never to be realized. Well, that and an obnoxious teddy bear motif. Can't forget the bears!