318th G-View: Kemono Friends

The anime that shocked the internet in the Winter of 2017 by being the “Show that could with the little bit it had”. Question is whether it was worth the attention it got, ESPECIALLY in Japan. Let us find out as we take a look at Kemono Friends.

Kemono Friends Drawn Cover.jpg

Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Educational, Mystery

Themes: Kemonomimi, Animal Girls

Number of episodes: 12+1 Bonus short (12.1)

G-Rating: 9/10

Plot Summary: The story takes place in Japari Park, an amusement park whose main attractions are the various anthropomorphic animal girls (kemonomimi) who are referred to as Friends. A girl known only as Kaban wakes up in Japari Park  with no recollection of who she is or how she got there and encounters a Serval Friend. Together, they set out on an adventure to find out what kind of animal Kaban is, passing through multiple regions of Japari Park and meeting new Friends along the way.

backpack-and-serval

Serval and Kaban. The leading ladies and also the best characters on the show.

I mentioned this during my weekly coverage of the show and it bears repeating because it is an essential barrier to overcome in order to see whether the show is worth viewers’ time or not: This anime’s characters are all CG. Not Pixar quality CG but average to below average depending on who one asks. As the above gif shows the anime, in video game terms, runs at about 30-40 FPS give or take. Readers who cannot handle TV anime CG long before this show’s existence will most likely have skipped it long ago, which is a shame but understandable. For everyone else who willing to up with this I can vouch that it may take two episodes to get used to but I assure readers that the longer the show is watched the less of an issue the CG becomes to the point that the it can be overlooked.

serval-vs-a-cerulean

The Cerulean. They rarely appear but when they do they are not to be taken lightly.

Should viewers be willing to put up with it long enough they will discover an anime that has A LOT TO OFFER than is initially expected. Admittedly the first (and possibly second) episodes come off as average but should the viewer pay very close attention to what is being said and the various clues scattered throughout the park and the conversations between Kaban, Serval and the other Friends reveal a much greater mystery than simply Kaban’s search to find out what the viewer can already tell. What animal Kaban is small potatoes compared to the mysteries of Japari Park, the Friends, the mysterious one-eyed creatures known as Cerulean and much more.

moose-and-armadillo

Moose and Armadillo, two of several unique animal girls on the show.

All of this intrigue is hidden behind a show that is about two girls visiting various different wildlife environments meeting lots of animal girls, helping them solve amusing puzzles and undergoing varying degrees of adventures ranging from Non Non Biyori to Indiana Jones level of intensity, culminating in what I personally consider one of the most epic climaxes I have ever seen in my anime viewing career. I am not joking. Basically the show can be seen as “National Geographic/Animal Planet meets a certain very popular modern Cartoon Network show that takes place in an unusual setting“. Another reasonable comparison is “Wild Thornberrys meets the aforementioned Cartoon Network show“.

A basic explanation for most of the episode’s progression is the following:

  • Kaban and Serval come to a new “Area”.
  • They meet some of the Area’s unique Friends.
  • They hear out the Friends’ problems.
  • Kaban uses her intellect to figure out a solution.
  • Everyone works together to solve the problem.
  • Happy times.
  • Our heroines get more information to help them in their quest.
  • They head to the next area.

That is the basic setup for most of the episodes but of course that is only scratching the surface as I have already explained.

As the above image shows another of the show’s many highlights is the abundance of unique animal girls, Friends  rarely seen in other anime. Examples include the Moose, Armadillo, Prairie Dog and Shoebill among others. Oh the Shoebill and her popularity after she debuted…my goodness. Of course there are the more common ones like wolves and foxes but even they have a uniqueness to them. Each Friend is diverse and has their own special charm be it an anime character archetype or something different. Each of them form part of the various “Areas” in Japari Park such as the Savannah, Mountain or Desert Areas that each stand out. All this gives the subpar animation its own special charm that gives the show its own brand of uniqueness. Speaking of budget the music is surprisingly excellent. Not only are the OP and ED wonderful but the soundtrack fits the wildlife adventure the show is going for perfectly. Amusingly my favorite tune in the show is the commercial theme, the one that plays every time there is a recording of experts describing animals and their unique traits in zoos. Maybe it is the “wa wa wa wa” but I love that little commercial jingle.

prairie-dog-greeting

Like many other high quality Girls Club anime or one with an all-female cast this show is not devoid of yuri goodness.

As far as the yuri goes let me put it as simply as possible, besides the obvious Serval X Kaban, almost every single duo can be paired up with each other. The most prominent pairing are Beaver X Prairie Dog. Those two might as well be a couple.

Overall, as much praise as I have given Kemono Friends and the fact it is THE surprise juggernaut hit of 2017 it is also not for everyone. Some are driven away by the subpar, others just do not like Girls Club shows or shows with an all-female cast. I cannot see my best friend getting this anime at all for example. Even so it is definitely in my top 10 favs list of 2017: The large cast of unique, cute and charming animal girls, the compelling mysteries behind the world and its inhabitants along with the clues scattered that made it fun theorizing what was going on/happened, a great presentation despite its subpar quality that gave the show its unique charm. Again not for everyone but the interested can apply the “3 episode rule” and see for themselves.

PS: My theory to its popularity, after reading some interesting articles discussing that very subject, is that it aired at the perfect time in Earth’s history. Japan has been going through a big economic crisis from what I have heard and Kemono Friends is both special and an excellent “feel good” show. That is why it became a juggernaut, whether Western audiences and even some Asian critics like it or not.

About OG-Man

Yuri and Slice of Life are my anime passion.
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24 Responses to 318th G-View: Kemono Friends

  1. cirno9fan says:

    I just…words escape me how grand an adventure this was. Especially that finale. I dearly hope that hidden message was referring to a second season…

    Liked by 4 people

  2. LuzeriP says:

    Looks like the fans keep pushing for second season since last night. And from what I heard the creators also want a second season. Expecting an announcement from them later.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. MarkS00N says:

    I really wish I was there from first episode…
    I forget that this show even exist and while I know this series get a big buzz, I only have time to marathon it when episode 10 arrived…

    This show in many ways like Precure or other popular kid show, it is lighthearted, warming, yet maintain an atmosphere of uncertainty that makes you want to cheer the characters because you can feel their struggle and thus you also glad with their achievement…
    It takes talent and most importantly passion to be able to pull such feeling, especially from a low budget show with wonky animation…
    And the show apparently only have 10 staffs (aside from VA I suppose) and don’t have enough budget to animate the tier in episode 1, which makes the already impressive achievement even more impressive…

    And this shows is very deep, like the story is structured to mimic human evolution (begin from savanna and steadily moving to the sea, each episode depict human invention from houses to mastery of fire, etc.), but unlike many show, they don’t present its symbolism in the front…
    Not saying show like Utena or Yuri Kuma Arashi bad or something, it just Kemono Friend’s approach to symbolism allow people who don’t care for its symbolism to treat it as regular adventure anime while those who love symbolism can dissect it as their heart content…

    Overall, this is an anime that I like a lot and I hope emulated by other animes (not copied, as different anime has different need) and I am glad this show is a sounding success…

    And because there are kisses and all of the characters are shippable, this is another sign that yuri shall conquer the world!

    Liked by 4 people

    • OG-Man says:

      What matters is you picked it up and watched to the end.

      Lots of fun mysteries to solve and it was well balanced for both audiences to enjoy.

      Yup. Yuritopia’s rise to power continues.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. yoyo says:

    So, Hyena is the mysterious friend that get eaten by cerulean on the first episode..case solved.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. elkat4 says:

    Things that should not be said out loud….
    Kaban: Um, excuse me professor, I’d like ask you something.
    Professor: Of course. Ask me anything.
    Kaban whispers into the professor’s ear.
    Professor: I see. So you want to know about the mating habbits of the serval.
    Kaban: D-don’t say that out loud!

    Having a harem is not all it’s cracked up to be….
    Princess: Margay, you’ve been spending too much time with Emperor! I want some affection too!
    Rocker: Excuse me, but I’m next in line after Emperor!
    Hululu: Me too, me too!
    Gen: You already had your turn!
    Hululu: I did?
    Margay: P-please girls, I have time for everyone!

    Praire Dog is a little too friendly….
    Beaver: Praire Dog, we need to talk.
    Praire Dog: Yes?
    Beaver: You need to stop kissing every friend you meet.
    Praire Dog: But it’s how we praire dogs greet people.
    Beaver: I know, but it makes me jealous.
    Praire Dog: But I greet you all the time. Isn’t that enough?
    Beaver: No it isn’t! I want to be the only person you “greet”!

    Silver Fox plays dirty….
    Silver Fox: You’re playing that game again?
    Red Fox: So what if I am?
    Silver Fox: It’s just you haven’t been spending all that much time with me.
    Red Fox: I promise to spend time with you after I clear this next level.
    Silver Fox undresses.
    Red Fox: Oh, look I just completed this level.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. The Otaku Judge says:

    Sounds like a cute show. It’s not often that an anime adaptation surpasses the popularity of the video game.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. yurimylove says:

    I like this anime overall. the only drawback for me, like most anime that introduce a lot of characters (like Girlfreinds Beta, etc.) is that most characters don’t have enough time to shine…

    Liked by 1 person

    • OG-Man says:

      Not really an issue because there wasn’t much to tell. Maybe Shoebill was the one character who got the short end but her inexplicable popularity guarantees she’ll have more to do next time. Otherwise this wasn’t a show where the side-characters needed more than one episode to shine.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. At the beginning of the season, I initially thought I would skip this show entirely. Nothing about the visuals etc. really drew me in, so I ignored it for a while, since I had plenty of other great shows to watch already. I kept seeing stuff about it online for a while, but not enough to really draw me in.

    Then, around Ep8/9, an anime Youtuber I sort of respect made a video where he gushed about how great this show was despite it’s low budget/quality of animation, and I decided to give it a shot. And I am sure glad I did. Never would I have thought that this show would be the one to elicit the greatest amount of feels from me (so far), or have the most sudden, shocking cliffhanger of the season (that I’ve seen). I sort of regret not picking the show up earlier in the season and being able to theorize about everything in it now. But what’s done is done.

    Great, brilliant show. Brilliant characters, brilliant story, brilliant world building/lore. A show that likely wouldn’t have been as great had the mobile game been doing well…basically an example of what the creative talent behind a show can really do when set loose to do whatever they want, even with so little budget.

    As to the “feel good” nature of the show…sure. Until Ep11, that is. At the end of that, everyone’s mouths dropped open in shock (I know mine did). “I thought this was supposed to be a happy show! Now it’s Madoka (lite) all over again!”

    2nd season is needed indeed. Must have/see. It’s good if the creators are interested in making it…a sign of hope, if you will. And this time, I will be watching it from the start (whenever it airs/if we do get a 2nd season).

    Liked by 1 person

    • OG-Man says:

      I’m disappointed you didn’t trust my judgment but I’ll let it slide.

      In any case what matters is you saw it and have felt its magic.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry if I gave off the wrong impression there. I definitely probably would have started watching it, had I actually read any of your posts about the show prior to getting interested through other channels.

      It’s just since this season has been a season filled with happy, non-angsty/cliffhangery/plot-driven action shows for me, I felt I already had a lot of happy/comedy shows to watch, and thus this one, despite seeming decent enough even with my first impression (impression as of series’ end is: brilliant!) was skipped at the time, as I felt I didn’t really need to watch it (to heal me from cliffhanger-ending angst or any such thing). Oh how wrong I was. Also didn’t help that nobody else I know was really watching the show either as it aired, so was left in the dark that way too.

      Like

  9. mutopis says:

    Economic, political, and social alienation. Anime studios stuck with safe formulas/tropes, along with social media and memes, and good timing made this show the dark horse of the winter season. There seems to be a lot more going on to explain the phenomenon and I believe people will study Kemono Friends for a long to make sense of all this.

    This show had a lot of creativity, heart, and honesty (with the occational ad-lib and animation error) in the making process. The success is goind to be hard to be replicated.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Kemono Friends was going to be a preschool show but they were running out of money so they could not buy the timeslot they wanted.

    Like

  11. Pingback: Nanoha Detonation and Kemono Friends 2 Announcements | The Yuri Nation

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