I wanted to write about an Anime I fnished watching the other day called Kemono no Souja Erin. It has become one of my favorite Anime mostly due to the relationship between Erin and Lilan. If you are concerned about spoilers, don’t read further.
I have always really liked non-human creatures in stories, particularly so when they don’t act or think like humans. The Oujyuu had enough time devoted to them in this series to really create an intriguing species, and the relationship Erin has with Lilan brings up a lot of philosophical questions as well.
Erin’s motives for going to the Oujyuu center revolve around her truly wanting to help make the Oujyuu’s lives better. She refuses to use the mute whistle, an ultrasonic whistle capable of paralyzing the Oujyuu, but which the Oujyuu grow to fear. Erin’s ability to communicate with Lilan is based on their trust of each other, but that comes at a very high price. Erin is almost killed by Lilan once when she gets startled over a hair brush, and her steadfast abhorrence of using the mute whistle does lead to another character nearly getting killed, and Erin losing three fingers, which leads her to use the mute whistle herself to stop Lilan as much as it pains her to do so.
Interestingly, despite Erin’s strong belief that using the whistle against an Oujyuu would destroy the trust between them, it seemed that Lilan did not truly remain upset with Erin for long. Lilan was willing to trust Erin and her friend Ial enough to conceal Ial from their political enemy. Why did Lilan still trust Erin despite using the mute whistle against her, and several threats to use it after that? I think perhaps that Lilan understood how much it hurt Erin to see the whistle used, and that Erin still cared deeply for Lilan.
Perhaps even more interesting is that at the end when Lilan was mad with the bloodlust for Touda, Erin was able to break her out of it with the threat of using the Mute whistle. Even Je, the queen of a group of people who had an almost symbiotic relationship with the Oujyuu long before when the Anime takes place, had been unable to stop her own friend Luke from that same bloodlust despite likely having decades of friendship between them. Did Lilan truly want to kill the Touda, or was the bloodlust driving her mad in a way in which Erin’s threat had freed her from?
In the end, Lilan didn’t care what Erin had done or threatened to do, and risked her own life to save Erin.
Perhaps the most interesting question is did Je’s people know about or use Mute whistles? It’s clear in the story that Lilan nearly unintentionally killed Erin twice by not understanding the consequences of what she was doing. As large as the Oujyuu are, it’s hard to imagine that it’s only the rules about how to raise the Ojyuu that would lead to such problems.
I think it perhaps likely that Je’s people did use the mute whistles when necessary, understanding that they were unpleasant at best for the Oujyuu, and the Oujyuu understood that necessity. When Je came to form the new Kingdom however, she wrote the rules for it to be used instead of forming real relationships with the Oujyuu.
Erin perhaps hated the whistle because it was used for that purpose. It was that which she was referring to when she said that a Oujyuu would not become friends with a human who uses a whistle against them.
Erin is not seen carrying a Mute Whistle in the closing scene with her child and Owl, but I certainly was not expecting them to show that. Her openly carrying the whistle around her neck in the last episodes was a symbol of the lack of freedom for her, Lilan, Eku, and Owl. The lack of it was an indication of their freedom. Erin is not likely however to forget the hard learned lessons about the danger the Oujyuu present to humans. If Lilan, Eku, and Owl freely decided to stay with Erin, I could certainly believe she may still carry one.