We're only five episodes in to this adaptation of one of my favorite manga series of all time, but I figured it would be better to push this on you sooner than to wait for however long it will take for them to release the entire season. And if you had to deal with me relentlessly pushing the manga on you as a customer of the Comics Dungeon, sorry not sorry. Ya shoulda bought it if you didn't.
The anime is an incredibly faithful adaptation of the series, following the path of a creature set upon the planet by an unknown force.
Initially taking the form of an orb, it assumes the form of a stone that it lands near. After some time a wolf dies near it, and it assumes the form of the wolf. Gaining some level of sentience, it continues on until it comes across an abandoned fishing village and a lone boy who was left behind when the village occupants migrated away. Thinking the wolf was his pet who disappeared, the boy and creature live together for a time as the boy tries to survive the harsh elements.
The core push of the series is that the creature is immortal as it can alter its form and heal all wounds, but it has no knowledge of self or what it means to be alive. All stimulus furthers its knowledge though, so even pain and suffering lead to its eventual understanding of things and its abilities to make its own choices. The series follows its lifespan as it moves on from place to place, meeting new people and developing emotions.
The next story arc after the basic intro with the boy follows the creature's experience meeting a young village girl named March. March is chosen to be the next sacrifice to a forest god, a ritual forced upon the village and others like it by a more powerful nation. The creature meets March along the way, who sort of adopts it as she thinks she can be its 'mommy'.
The first six episodes cover the events of the first two volumes of the books and do a fantastic job of achieving the tone and voice of the manga. The style of animation maintains creator Yoshitoki Ōima art style, capturing her facial emoting and overall flow and really infusing the show with a strong sense of character. There's also a really great flow to the action sequences as well, so there's a nice balance in the storytelling.
I was frankly a bit surprised to see this optioned as an anime, but I'm extremely glad to see it so well handled. The series just has such a unique narrative and its exploration of its themes of consciousness, identity, memory, and grief are exceptionally rich (and soul shattering, at times). So while I still definitely recommend picking up the books, if you don't have the time or the inclination at least do yourself a favor and check out the anime as it's streaming on CrunchyRoll now.
And be prepared to cry.