Suck it Crow! You thought it was gonna be Chivalry of a Failed Knight!
2020 is here, and I’ve got a bunch of things planned for Shallow Dives in Anime. We’ve got the Summer of Love Part II, dives into the light novels of Goblin Slayer and more, along with more of everything at people here love (or tolerate). However I wanted to start off the year with a bang, with something to really get the blood flowing. This is going to be the “fun’ part of the post, because after this, it’s time to get serious. Without further ado, the series I thought I would NEVER talk about on this blog. Join me after the cut as I dive into the hentai manga with three different names.
Some call it Metamorphosis. Others call it 177013, I’m going to call it by it’s real title: Emergence
((THIS IS A HENTAI MANGA, AND NOT A HAPPY ONE. THERE IS SOME SERIOUSLY UNSETTLING AND NSFW SHIT UP AHEAD. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED))
When Emergence first hit the public anime eye, it was either treated two different ways. People loved it for it’s shock value and dark depressing story, or people HATED it for those same reasons. It’s become a bit of a meme among the online anime community because of this, but I wanted to actually sit down and look at the series with fresh serious eyes, to judge it based on what it is, not what people have made it to be. What is that end result?
Emergence is a bad series.
Now hold on, not ‘bad’ as in this is not a good story, or well written or even well drawn, but bad as in Emergence is a story about bad things happening to a presumed good person. Even in hentai where “good girl goes bad” is a part of the genre and is always considered just a bit tongue in cheek. Emergence and it’s author ShindoL have decided to tell a story about what happen when a shy young girl decides to better herself, and just how horribly, horribly it can go wrong.
The story follows Saki Yoshida, a young girl whom upon entering High School decides to do away with her meek, milquetoast appearance and try to reinvent herself as a new woman. A bit of make-up and a hair cut later, and we see Saki as a new girl, beautiful, pleasant and already becoming popular. With this newfound confidence in herself, Saki thinks High School will be nothing but fun times, until one day she comes across a young man name Hayato who invites her to Karaoke, and her life changes forever.
If Emergence does one thing right (aside from the hentai aspect), it is how it pulls the reader into this world with its depiction of problems that absolutely happen in real life. Saki’s desire to change herself upon entering high school is somethings that countless young girls have experienced. A beautiful swan hiding under the ugly duckling, the thrill of power and happiness that comes with sudden popularity, the need to keep that feeling going, the pressures of trying to “fit in”, and the self hatred that can come from it. It’s something we may have seen time in again in after-school specials and sitcoms, but they are there for a reason. Those are real things, they happen in the real world, and they happen to real people. I’ve seen men and women who, after putting more care into how they look, dress and act suddenly become completely transformed by the attention and views they are given. Sometimes it was for the better, and other times it left them worse off, becoming people I know longer recognized. However none of ever descended into the very bowels of darkness that happens in Emergence.
Saki’s encounters with Hayato which form the backbone of the series, and her decent from a sheltered and shy woman, to a pathetic, dying and defiled crack-whore are what give Emergence it’s name. The transformation is slow, steadily taking place over the series 225 page length, starting out with Saki having the courage to have some fun, and then a little bit more, then a little bit more. Soon drugs (a VERY taboo subject in Japan) are introduced and the party gets wilder. Saki’s decent becomes crueler and harder, her friends turn their backs on their, labeling her a slut and whore. Her mother who was so supportive of her initial desire for a make-over, lashes out at her daughter with anger and hatred, and her father…well this is a hentai series…..
By the halfway point of the series, we see Saki has left school, is living with Hayato and has completely transformed or emergence as a different person. Tanned skin, blonde hair, tattoos and proactive clothing. She sells her body to make money for her boyfriend, engages in hard drug use, and when confronted with the fact that she’s become pregnant, decides to listen to her boyfriend and ‘take care’ of the problem, and yeah…
Emergence pulls zero and I mean ZERO punches in its depiction of Saki’s fall, which is what makes the series so damn effective. The use of drugs, something again, is very, VERY taboo in Japanese media, serves as the secret gut punch of the series. Saki’s use of hard drugs, from cocaine to presumed heroin, even when she is carrying a child is absolutely horrific to watch. The addiction, the way it destroys your life and your body is absolutely real and shown without any warmth in this series. There is no happy ending, no white knight who will jump in at the last minute to save her, no parents who will love their no matter what. Even when Saki attempts to get clean and better herself, we see that the demons she has danced, some intentional, many forced upon her, with are too strong, and she just ends up worse and worse, until she reaches her final destination, barefoot, beaten and pregnant in a bathroom, where she decides to take her journey to the logical and lasting conclusion. When Emergence has said it’s last word, you aren’t left with the thought that Saki turned her life around, more than you hope this girl finally got a fucking iota of inner peace.
You may have noticed I have not talked about the hentai aspect, something that is very present in this series. The reason is that it I couldn’t really care for it. It’s here in spades, and drawn exceptionally well, but what is depicted and what it represents for the character and story was something I just couldn’t get behind, it just isn’t my choice from the menu. For those who enjoy this type of sexual escapades, you’ll probably find the best ever created in the genre, but for me, I was more entranced by the story and fall of a young girl who wanted, just once, to look pretty, and the merciless way that ShindoL decides to depict it.
Emergence, or Metamorphosis or 177013 is a difficult read. Unless your a masochist, it is not a fun read, but a difficult and powerful look into what happens to a person whose desire to change can spin out of control. The events depicted are unsettling, disturbing and most of all, examples of what (and has) happened to real people in our real world. ShindoL doesn’t hold back, and that commitment to the premise rewards the viewer with one of the most unsettling, sad and powerful manga, not just hentai that I have ever read. This is a series that stays with you after you’ve read it, an aftertaste in your mouth that makes you look back and think.
I did not want to review this series. When I first came across it I had only heard it from the memes and discussions from some anime fans on YouTube (and you should check out That Anime Fan’s excellent interview with the creator himself!) However my work here on Shallow Dives in Anime has never shied away from talking about the stranger parts of this artform, and after actually sitting down and reading this piece cover to cover, I knew that this was something I needed to talk about. People smarter than me can probably dig into the themes and meaning behind this series, but I just wanted to share my thoughts on something that challenged my views of what anime and hentai can be. It isn’t all comedy, and harems, and angst, and action. Every now and then a piece of work can come along and really challenge the reader. Emergence may not be that for many people, but it will be for a lot, and it absolutely was for me.
So yeah, Happy 2020! Don’t worry Crow, you’ll get Failed Knight this year…sometime…