The Deer King

Mittsual, or Black Wolf Fever, is a deadly affliction passed on by canines. In Masashi Ando and Masayuki Miyaji’s anime feature, it is presented as something that is both magical and physical, a rising storm of black vapours that cloaks an onrush of rabid dogs. For two generations, it has broken out in repeated waves, leading to swift but largely palliative advances in medical knowledge among Zolian doctors. We see them at work, masked up and socially distanced, among the mass funeral pyres of a salt mine, where a mittsual outbreak has killed workers and guards alike.

“Entirely? No, not entirely. Someone has made it out alive, and in an impressive series of deductions like something out of Black Death CSI, Sae the tracker works out that it was a prisoner, who broke out of his cell and somehow clambered to freedom, despite suffering from an animal bite. A man is on the run, and if he is asymptomatic, his blood might form the basis for the long-hoped-for mittsual vaccine… all they have to do is find him.”

Over at All the Anime, I write up The Deer King, which has its UK premiere in Edinburgh this month.

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