Directed by Tomomi Mochizuki
Voice cast: Ibuki Kido, Nobunaga Shimazaki, Koji Yusa, Kyoko Narumi, Kenjiro Tsuda, Mamiko Noto, Mariya Ise, Shiori Mikami, Yurika Kurosawa
Studio DEEN, Earth Star Entertainment
Air dates: Streaming Thursdays at 2:30 PM CST on Crunchyroll
Japanese horror is a unique genre that touches on themes of possession, haunting, and psychological terror. Another recent phenomenon Iâ€™ve seen, particularly in the ONA, or Original Net Animation genre, is the under-five-minute format. The best series that are in this format have the ability to tell a compelling story in less time than it takes for the first act of a 24-minute show.
The series Pupa, now streaming on Crunchyroll as part of its new winter lineup, takes the horror/gore genre and combines it with the under-five-minute format, creating one hell of a mash-up.
Based on the original manga by Sayaka Mogi, Pupa tells the story of two siblings, Utsutsu and Yume Hasegawa. Brother and sister both bear a tragic past of abuse and abandonment. As a result, Utsutsu is extremely protective of his little sister.
One day, while walking home from school, Yume encounters a strange woman who warns her to get home before the red butterflies appear, but itâ€™s too late. Yume is attacked by the Pupa virus, turning her into a ravenous demonic beast. Utsutsu finds Yume and is quickly overwhelmed by the same virus; only instead of transforming into a monster he gains the power to regenerate his own flesh. This sets up a situation where one must give while the other must take in order that both might live.
I have to admit that this series very much surprised me. It is well written and produced, and like a kind of horror haiku, tells a compelling tale of possession, degradation, love, and sacrifice in a fast-paced, highly condensed format.
I would recommend this series, but be warned. If you do watch, donâ€™t be surprised if you suddenly find that youâ€™ve developed an aversion to red butterflies and walking through parks all alone. Pleasant viewing!