With the initiation of the Patrian civil war came the creation of half-beast, half-human soldiers—a development of the outnumbered Northerners in a desperate attempt to counter the overwhelming Southern forces. Able to quickly dominate battlefields and achieve victory with ease, the soldiers' godlike abilities earned them the name "Incarnates." However, as the war raged on, the Incarnates encountered a problem involving the beasts inside them that they were unable to rectify by ordinary means. Once the war was over, mysteries and accounts of the Incarnates submitting to the misfortune of their war days surfaced. Aware of the horrors they faced during the war, Special Sergeant Major and former captain of the Incarnates Hank Henriette becomes a Beast Hunter—those who take the lives of Incarnates who have succumbed to the issues they experienced on the battlefields. After witnessing her father, a former Incarnate soldier, meet his end at the hands of one such Beast Hunter, Nancy Schaal Bancroft resolves to hunt the man who took her father's life. However, Nancy's eye-opening encounter with the Beast Hunter influences her to instead seek the reason behind her father's death and the Incarnates' problematic existence in society. [Written by MAL Rewrite]
This is one of the rare cases where I have actually read the first couple of volumes of the source manga prior to the anime version debuting. Because of that, this was one of my most-anticipated titles for the new season. The manga presented a mostly-grim story about soldiers who sacrificed deeply to help win a war only to have no place in a post-war era, effectively making literal the way that war can figuratively turn some soldiers into beasts incapable of functioning in normal society. The anime version seems to be following that theme as well, but the adaptation has already made some interesting choices in how it presents the premise, and they are choices that I think will benefit the series in the long run.
The manga opens with only a thin three pages of explanation before introducing Schaal, who will be the female co-star. In the anime version, however, Schaal is only briefly mentioned in the episode content and only finally appears in the episode’s very last scene. To fill in the intervening time, the anime version plays out how things got to the point where the manga starts, in part by incorporating in one pivotal flashback scene which appears in the manga’s second volume. As a result, this episode effectively serves as the main story’s prequel, to the point that I am a little surprised that this wasn’t listed as an episode 0. The big benefits here are that we are introduced to the Incarnates before they become the subjects of Hank’s hunts and shown how they get to the state of being problems, as well as being shown up front the defining betrayal on which the whole story pivots. We also get a much clearer idea up front of where Hank is coming from, though I am curious to see how that will impact Schaal’s discovery process about Hank in future episodes. Still, in general the material added here satisfyingly fleshes out the story, so the adaptation choices by director Jun Shishido (who has had previous successes with The Story of Saiunkoku and The Princess and the Pilot) so far are smart ones.
Evaluated on its own, the anime version presents a very graphically violent tale, one where a couple of scenes which are almost too light-hearted get ruthlessly drowned out by the bloodbath of the war. Emphasis is placed equally on how crucial the Incarnates are to the war effort and also on their mortality; they can die in battle, and even more terrifying things can happen when Incarnates fully lose their humanity. This is hardly new territory for anime, but this take on the basic “hunt down those who have gone dangerously rogue” premise has extra bite to it (if you’ll pardon the pun) that a lot of this title’s predecessors lack. Naturally it shows signs of a significant action component, but the first episode also holds the promise of the heavy theme suggested by the title and a sympathetic base is laid up front for the tragic nature of the monsters. On the downside, the episode also promises the incongruously light-hearted moments and the needlessly-sexy way that one recurring female character dresses which were both features of the manga, but those are minor distractions.
On the whole, a solid production effort by MAPPA and capable writing and directing choices make this a promising start to the Summer 2019 season. You can also free Katsute Kami Datta Kemono-tachi e anime watch online and free anime download.