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Kemono Friends – Story Done Right


The adventure is only just beginning

If you asked in me January if I’d be here gushing over Kemono Friends I’d call you insane. This was a show never on my radar given the mobile game origins, the meant-for-kids story, and the distinctively underwhelming animation. Yet gradually and inexplicitly this show became the show to watch, capturing Japan’s attention by storm, sparking a torrential stream of artwork, and even powering to the top of global (!) Twitter rankings. Of course I had to watch and see what the huge fuss was about. Never have I made a more correct decision.

What stands out regarding Kemono’s success is its incredibly simple premise. Amnesic girl wakes up, is discovered by a local resident. Both girl and resident decide to venture off and find out who/what she is. Along the way girl and resident meet other residents, solve their problems, and make new friends. Cue end scene. It’s the tried and true format of most children’s shows gracing midafternoon TV. Such a premise by itself is nothing special—certainly not for explaining the show’s popularity—but Kemono Friends does execute it flawlessly. Each Friend encounter is cute and upbeat, with the self-contained stories never particularly boring. Every Friend problem is approached positively where the answer, more often than not, boils down to teamwork and cooperation. Fun and adventure really is the name of the game here; there is no cynicism, no serious complexity, just a lighthearted story about wonder and discovery. If this was all there was to it, Kemono Friends would deserve brownie points just for its pure and honest approach to storytelling.

Where the show finds its real strength, however, is in its other story. While post-apocalypse plots are always interesting in some capacity, Kemono Friends’ seeming Muv-Luv meets Planet of the Apes backstory turned the whole show on its head. The reason for this though is not for what the backstory was about—and very little was actually said on it— but how it was told. Rather than light novel-esque info dumps, Kemono went show instead of tell, relying on audience curiosity and imagination to identify the secrets hidden in plain sight. Every episode had some clues, whether it be the rusted remnant of a tour bus, an abandoned mountain café, or a dilapidated hot springs. Even the Friends revealed snippets at times, commenting on these manmade features—particularly Boss’ talking—or remarking on their own bodily changes. A good example of the concept is episode four, where Kaban and Serval wind up in an abandoned underground traffic tunnel. Besides the usual inquisitive banter between the two as they walk around, nothing is said, and all that pierces the silence is a peaceful synth music piece. It’s a tranquil, but chilling scene; we are on a happy adventure, but something is clearly amiss in this world and we have no explanation for it. Not until Tsuchinoko drops the bomb and Shoebill asks the obvious question two episodes later is any sort of confirmation provided.

The gradual release of information under this structure combined with the well-executed premise is ultimately what made this show so infectious. Without the jovial, adventurous spirit this would be just another (potential) alien invasion story, while removing the mystery would take away a significant portion of curiosity and intrigue. Both components synergized perfectly, providing the audience a relaxing bit of escapism and something to chew on after the credits roll. Helping in this regard was the simplistic character development. Every Friend was largely defined by their animalistic traits, whether it be Serval’s curiosity, Lion’s laziness, or Beaver’s worry. Kaban in particular featured little actual development outside of her quest for self-identification. The simplicity of character and story both heavily encouraged the audience to imprint their own feelings and emotions onto the cast, grounded by the happy-go-lucky atmosphere. This investment, however, naturally forgot the apocalyptic backstory lurking in the shadows. It’s why when the adventure inadvertently goes south we feel immense shock and sadness because it was never anticipated—the tragic history was supposed to just be for show! All that buildup, all that investment, emotionally released in an instant. It’s the type of setup every story dreams of executing, a well-structured ride of emotions that hits just as the audience is ripe for the picking. And this show pulled it off with no budget and minimal staff.

Without a doubt for me Kemono Friends was this season’s black horse, and is a serious contender for anime of the season, if not the year. Everything in this show worked and worked well; it was a perfect mix of story, narrative and development. More from coincidence than design, however, Kemono Friends succeeded because it never had to succeed. Low expectations and minimal budget allowed the staff to run wild, arguably producing the conditions necessary to defy everyone’s expectations. Other shows will certainly try and emulate the format here—including Kemono’s inevitable second season—but I seriously doubt we will see something quite like this again for a while yet. It may not be the absolute best of anime, but Kemono Friends is a shining example of just what is possible when all the pieces come together right.

March 28, 2017 at 8:26 pm
52 comments »
  • March 28, 2017 at 9:44 pmdaikama

    Thanks for the FYI. Must admit, you have piqued my interest as I passed on the show figuring this was something made for kids (nothing wrong with that per se). FYI – you might want to put some spoilers in a tag since not everyone reading may have watched this yet, but after reading your post might want to do so (e.g. a certain character’s outcome).

    Time permitting, I’ll give this a try, albeit this time around for better or worse my expectations will be significantly raised. If I do watch, I may post my thoughts later.

    • March 28, 2017 at 10:33 pmPancakes

      Thanks for the heads up daikama, wasn’t sure if they were too much so I initially left them in. They’re removed now.

      I would give this a shot if you at least like upbeat shows. It’s a very simple story, but the added mystery, the focus on showing rather than telling, and the encouragement to think raise the whole thing up immensely. Certainly not a show for everyone, but Kemono definitely earned the accolades it’s receiving.

      • March 28, 2017 at 11:18 pmdaikama

        @Pancakes: No problem. Generally speaking, I would err on the side of caution when it comes to such things. To me, your post is a bit different than a typical end of season review because you’re highlighting a show many may have missed, and if so, encouraging them to check it out (thus the reason to limit spoilers).

        Hmmm… upbeat, huh. Maybe I misinterpreted something, but my impression was that this is a little darker than what I would normally imagine. Regardless, I’m fine with upbeat. Thought provoking is certainly a plus.

        As for “show don’t tell”, I may have a somewhat atypical view on that. Certainly exposition can be overdone, and the type of medium plays a factor. For example, written works lend themselves more to lengthy exposition. That being said, IMO even for visual media there are limits to “show”. It depends upon what one is trying to convey. Show AND tell can be an effective solution to clearly and efficiently delineate more complex notions and still not seem boring.

        Thanks again for the post & tip on the show. I’m caught up with this season (fell behind even though not watching much) apart from one series, but TBH, I’ve lost interest in that and was thinking of just dropping it anyway (I’m at Ep. 09 of 12, but don’t care). I might be able to marathon this before the next season is fully underway.

      • March 29, 2017 at 10:37 amPancakes

        I term it upbeat because the darkness is largely relegated to the background. It’s there if you’re looking for it, but it never is emphasized or overtly analyzed by the characters. The story all about fun adventures with friends, until the one moment it suddenly is not.

    • March 29, 2017 at 12:19 pmil-Palazzo

      I’m with Daikama here. I didn’t even finish episode 1 but you really pique my interest. Will check this one up later.

  • March 28, 2017 at 10:04 pmLoliHat

    The post-apocalyptic vibe from the background combined with the heartfelt childish innocence combined perfectly to augment each other while never detracting from either.

    It just worked.

    • March 28, 2017 at 10:39 pmPancakes

      Of boy did it ever, this show found the one in a million combination. Kemono in a sense is the anime version of My Little Pony or Adventure Time, it discovered the magic that turns a basic concept into a creative juggernaut. From what I’ve read this show single-handedly tripled visits to Japanese zoos lol.

  • March 28, 2017 at 10:16 pmHylarn

    Dude, spoilers. At least have a warning up front

    But, yeah, that’s about right

    • March 28, 2017 at 10:34 pmPancakes

      Haha no worries they’re removed.

  • March 28, 2017 at 10:20 pmSuichi

    I’m glad someone actually spent some of their time watching this, it’s totally worth it imo. I was kinda sad when I read that none of you guys were gonna review this anime, and also the description you showed was kinda off. What a wild ride this was however, I was hooked from the very beginning, even though I thought the animation quality was poor, I did enjoy everything else. What really got me into this anime was the lightheartedness it showed and how it suddenly changed into a find-the-clues-solve-the-mistery kinda thing, the dark undertones made it all that more interesting. Would I recommend it? I think this anime isn’t for everyone but I’d say definitely give it a chance.

    • March 28, 2017 at 10:49 pmPancakes

      Personally I was never going to give it a shot, but the discussion on episode 11 and a picture of the Show Spoiler ▼

      changed my mind.

      For me it was the freakishly addicting combination of upbeat adventuring with ominous backstory that won me over. I have not seen a show mesh such drastically different components together this well in a long time, hinting towards disaster while still producing warm, happy feelings. The best part though? Hardly anything was actually explained, the whole damn world remains to be explored. I’ll be floored if a second season doesn’t happen eventually.

  • March 28, 2017 at 11:01 pmLonghaul

    I will confess to being one of the people who watched the first episode, wasn’t terribly impressed and didn’t come back until some episodes later based on the feedback of people who stuck with the show.

  • March 28, 2017 at 11:03 pmET

    When they announced this before it aired, I knew I had to watch it since it was by Yaoyorozu, the same studio who made Tesagure Bukatsumono, one of my most favourite comedy anime ever. It met my expectations and easily surpassed them as well. A lot of people relegated Kemono Friends to the trash heap and dropped it after the first episode because of the “horrible animation”. Well, the last laugh’s on them.

  • March 28, 2017 at 11:32 pmpuppygod

    “Underwhelming animation” is understatement. It looks like something knocked up with some guy and his younger brother with MMD over weekend. I’ve tried first episode because, hey, catgirls, and was seconds from turning it off… but story did hook me up. The rest is, as they say, history. Dark horse indeed.

    The key to the success of this anime is in my opinion two ‘s’: soundtrack and suspense.

    Soundtrack is surprisingly good, given the overall production values of the show. And not just OP and ED music. All the background sounds, and especially that stinger shown whenever we see remnants of civilization gone build the mood and draw attention when needed.

    Suspense have some hitchcokian vibe to it. As Hitchcock himself explained in one of the interviews, suspense is created when audience knows something the characters don’t. And they know something is going to happen. The boy gets package to deliver. We know there is time bomb inside, but boy does not. So he plays along the way and wastes time. We – as audience – know there might be explosion any time now, and are on the edges of seats – whereas on screen there is just some boy playing.
    Similar with Kemono friends. We know how attraction parks should look, we know what robots and AI are, we know what humans are and can do. But characters don’t. For them it’s just part of the scenery. So they play along the way merrily, but audience – cued by that stinger – is raking their brains trying to figure out what the hell happened here? And who really is Kaban-chan. Human? That we know – or at least suspect since first scenes. But question what she really is is not answered until the last episode. Suspense.

    • March 29, 2017 at 10:32 amPancakes

      Haha oh yes the animation was bad, but once the story and atmosphere kicked in I largely forgot all about it barring a few scenes (i.e. random clipping, strange movements, etc.).

      The background music especially deserves kudos here for how well it accentuated the atmosphere. Those scenes felt a lot like the ruined city in Nier: Automata, where the moment–defined by the music–is peaceful, but it’s juxtaposed against this backdrop of destruction. Suspenseful, but in a solemn sort of manner.

    • March 29, 2017 at 3:38 pmFaolin Eye

      I’m glad to see that more and more people acknowledge the sound direction of this show. Among many other things, the background music was outstanding and the OP and ED was also above average. I particularly liked the ED, the catchy song with a somewhat bittersweet tone paired with monochrome pictures of abandoned amusement parks just works so incredibly well, that it became my favourite anime ending of the last two years. And for some extra, here‘s a piano arrangement of the song as I’m also really fond of this version, too.

  • March 28, 2017 at 11:50 pmgandalf8

    It feels great to see RandomC giving some attention to one of the season’s most unexpectedly good anime for the Winter 2017 series. So thanks Pancakes for this series impression that hopefully convinces a few more people to try and give this series a chance.

    I was probably one of the handful off people who gave it a shot by watching the 1st episode premiere. It never grabbed me, thus I dropped it from my watch list with nary a guilty feeling. I’d already filed it under my “childish, low-budget fare” in my head, and resumed to follow the other anime series that I had determined was worth my limited time.

    So imagine my surprise when I read about its apparent popularity in Japan. My interest piqued, I decided to give it another chance. Lo and behold, I have just finished the final episode and at the end find myself satisfied at finishing one of the shows I anticipate watching the most every week.

    The shows upbeat positivity is just infectious, and the way Kaban and Serval discover and befriend the various Friends they meet on their travels was so enjoyable to watch. Each Friend is based on a real life animal, with each one showcasing characteristics that are consistent with their real-life counterparts (for the most part). Besides marveling at how they ingeniously adapted these characteristics to construct the personality of each Friend, it also managed to educate the users regarding the characteristics of their respective real-life counterparts without just outright stating each particular Friends characteristics.

    The story is also one of its strong points in my opinion, although different in what I’d usually deem as a good story. It isn’t really original or complex, nor is it chock-full of surprising plot twists and revelations. Instead I think that because the creators teased the plot slowly throughout the series, I found myself eager to find out about the story as each new episode I watched divulged another piece of the story, up until the final episode. The bleak post-apocalyptic vibe of the story also gave a nice undercurrent to the surface feel-good travel and adventure story of Kaban, Serval and Lucky-san through Japari Park. Rather than feel jarring due to the disparity, I think they both complement each other rather nicely.

    Now at the end, I am happy to say that I very much enjoyed watching this series. It may not have the best story, action or visual prowess, but it definitely has a lot of heart. Sometimes treading off the well trod path only are we able to find the hidden gems of anime series. Just give it a chance if you haven’t, and maybe you too might find yourself enjoying the trip through Japari Park. As for me, I’ll just be munching on my Japari manjuu as I eagerly await the next season to come.

    • March 29, 2017 at 10:17 amPancakes

      Thanks for liking it :), I also hope others use it as an excuse to give this show a shot because it definitely deserves the attention. Truly a sleeper if there ever was one.

  • March 29, 2017 at 1:11 amJaguar

    Probably one of the Most satisfying anime i’ve watched ongoing since when i started in 2012. Just thinking how this huge success was created should be a lesson for eceryone. Low budget, a little group of ppl working on it… and still they defeated all other shows from huge teams and companies. Last episode op moment gave me chills like gurren lagann last fight when sorairo days kicks in. Really amazing

    • March 29, 2017 at 10:14 amPancakes

      It’s probably more a sign of over-engineering versus “organic” production. The low budget and small staff let the studio make the show they wanted to because there weren’t expectations of financial success. It’s a risky strategy, but every once in a while a Kemono Friends results. If anything it should be encouragement for larger productions to take more artistic risks.

  • March 29, 2017 at 5:29 amMignear

    One thing Kemono Friends did very well, was the subtle things.
    The Friends are defined by their animalistic traits, but they aren’t just humans with animal features, they behave like their animal counterparts. When they sleep on a bed, they sleep in the same position as they would if they were a normal animal. Hell, with the exception of the Brown Bear, they are afraid of fire, How else do you portray animals than to make them behave like animals?
    That said, there was more than just the hints to the backstory, it also traced the steps that humanity took.
    Show Spoiler ▼

    • March 29, 2017 at 10:07 amPancakes

      Agreed, it wasn’t just limited to the traits too. One that sticks out to me was the PPP talking about being “third generation”, which simultaneously questioned how long the world has been like this, and what happened to the predecessors. A quick remark, but it induced a lot of discussion.

  • March 29, 2017 at 6:12 amitsukarine

    I found the show extremely meditative, which kept me going back to it. A similar feeling that Non Non Biyori had, when even though I normally hate “slice of life moeshit” as I would’ve called it a few months ago, it kept drawing me in for atmosphere. It was extremely soothing and the sort of comfortable quaintness to it (especially during Ibis’s cafe and introduction scene where she flew in with complete silence, always pops into my mind) kept drawing me back. I hope S2 can pull it off again as well, but I think we all know the rules of season 2′s after so many bad experiences.

    • March 29, 2017 at 9:58 amPancakes

      Those quiet, panning scenes were amazing IMO, no talking, just tranquil moments where the environment was left to speak for itself. And the background music accentuated it perfectly. It definitely would not have worked without the ominous backstory though, all those hints/clues visually filled in the narrative space left vacant by the characters and encouraged you to pay attention. Probably the main reason I was never once bored during any episode.

      I also think any second season likely won’t match up to this one, but given how much was left unsaid/unexplored, the potential is there to strike gold twice.

  • March 29, 2017 at 6:37 amzztop

    It’s ironic how the franchise was unpopular before the anime – even the source mobage got shut down a few months prior to the anime airing.
    And despite the anime’s success, they won’t be restarting the mobage again.

  • March 29, 2017 at 6:43 amRak

    To me, after watching 12 episodes of Kemono Friends, the indie game “Undertale” suddenly came into my mind. Despite having different setting, story, and form of entertainment, both have one thing in common: a very fulfilling content.

    • March 29, 2017 at 9:49 amPancakes

      Interesting I’ll have to ask some friends who’ve played the game, I never considered Undertale would be similar in feel. Makes sense though, both stories do not really push a message, but let the audience/player come to their own conclusions through exploration. Really shows how well Kemono succeeded in its base premise.

  • March 29, 2017 at 7:18 amArche

    Thanks for the writeup. I haven’t seen the show and was curious about what made it explode in popularity but was too lazy to actually check it out. I’ll have to change that when I finish the current show I’m watching on the side

    • March 29, 2017 at 9:41 amPancakes

      Thanks for enjoying, I had a blast writing it that’s for sure. Definitely give this show a shot when you have the time, it’s easily worth the price of admission (at least for me).

  • March 29, 2017 at 7:43 amMagewolf

    It was not just the animation that put people off the first episode. It had a very stretched feel to it like they took the plot of a half length show and added a lot of empty space to make a full length show.

    I keep watching because I am weak to catgirls so I got to see that episode 2 lost the stretched feel and by episode 3 everything really started to come together. But for people just checking the first episode of new shows it was a very hard sale.

    Also I must say that this anime had the best ending of the season. Trying not to put in spoilers but the way that everything that happened in earlier episodes tried into the end was great.

    • March 29, 2017 at 9:39 amPancakes

      The first episode definitely was the weakest, but even it picked up in the latter half once Serval and Kaban reached the gate and the foreboding signs started appearing. I think the bigger turnoff was the animation, especially that opening chase scene which was terrible lol. This really was a show relying on substance more than style, and required an audience of similar mindset.

  • March 29, 2017 at 8:28 amToto

    Couldn’t get into it. The terrible artistry (modelling, animation, voice/sound directing) on display and lack of anything interesting happening in the foreground as far as the first four episodes made me give up.

    Perhaps somebody will turn this into a comic or something so I can join the enjoyment train, but the anime alone just did nothing for me.

    • March 29, 2017 at 8:50 amAex

      I do think there’s a manga somewhere but the story’s a little different.

      • March 29, 2017 at 9:34 amPancakes

        Yeah it’s different, the manga is a prequel set a few years before the show. Probably will be something written on the show’s story eventually though, the popularity alone demands it.

  • March 29, 2017 at 9:02 amAex

    Proud to say I watched this from the start. I thought it would just be shorts, then became interested when it was full episodes. The animation was cute minus the jank, and the idea behind the story kept me coming back. There was just enough mystery mixed in with the absurd cuteness to make me look forward to getting back to the park every week, and every character was just too good. Like, seriously good. Probably the best “‘humans’ acting like animals” I’ve ever seen, cause they really did start at the animals.

    Lot of heart in this one, and that ending was perfect! I would watch another.

    • March 29, 2017 at 9:29 amPancakes

      They definitely had the personalities down pat, especially the cats. Lion randomly stretching and sharpening her “claws” on things, or Desert Cat quickly getting bored and moving on to the next fascination. I also loved how unique the character designs were, they were quirky, but incredibly endearing.

      Tsuchinoko won me over the most though, just for the voice acting :P

  • March 30, 2017 at 4:04 amPsyId

    i really want to see other RC writers opinion of this show. the next podcast maybe?

    to be honest i’m one of those people who find the first episode unbearable. just the delayed lip syncs, floaty models, awkward movements, and all. basically, i had to frequently pause the video and do something else in between just to make it to the ending. thank god everything is greatly improved in subsequent episodes, and it’s has become the anime that i can’t wait to watch the next episode, as much as demi-chan and maidragon in fact.

    another thing, it’s a shame that the post-apocalypse theme seems not included in spoiler territory. for me, figuring that thing myself is what pique my interest. i started to watch this series quite early on and i don’t get spoiled about the setting. and that clicking feeling of “eh…wait, what?” and “is this where i think this is going?” in second episode is the one that really do it for me.

    • April 1, 2017 at 12:32 amPancakes

      Personally I left that bit as is because I figured most coming here would have seen/heard spoilers on the basic idea already. Episode 11 was particularly proficient in releasing them and seeing one myself was the main reason I even watched the show.

  • March 30, 2017 at 7:14 amOrse

    Wow this show really makes one feel complicated, feels like yama no susume mix with gakkou gurashi, while gakkou gurashi exposing all the dark conclusion at early episode this one smartly tease the audience slowly with hint here and there at every episode. Thumbs up for the teams! Hoping there will be second season…there are still many friends out there to meet bag-chan!

    • April 1, 2017 at 12:29 amPancakes

      I’m guessing there will be a second season eventually, the popularity alone demands it.
      Hell I’m pretty sure the Japanese zoos would fund one just to retain the increased visitor count Kemono brought on.

  • March 30, 2017 at 7:30 pmdaikama

    Found some time and marathoned this. First, thanks again to Pancakes because I would have skipped this. I did enjoy watching the show, flaws and all. It kind of grows on you around Ep. 03-04 (did for me at least). It’s not for everyone, but IMO worth checking out. That being said, I’m not as effusive in my praise as the review. I agree it’s a surprisingly good show, but a “serious contender for anime of the season, if not the year.” Eh, I don’t know about that. It’s good, but I don’t know if it’s that good. Now an “exceeding expectations” award? Totally on board with that.

    Apart from the (IMO uncertain) background story, this is a nature show documentary crossed with a cute, fun, lighthearted adventure with the Power of Friendship anime. A LOT of that last component, down to the animal girls literally termed “Friends”. That’s not meant as criticism – just the kind of show this is. After watching, I wouldn’t say this is a “kid’s show” (as one could easily think from preseason material or even after 1-2 episodes), but rather an “all ages” type of show.

    Definitely agree that this has good storytelling. Can’t say “good execution” uniformly because of visual quality, occasional audio issues (including some bad phone call audio for the zoo keeper interviews), etc., but there are a number of positives here. There’s some “show”, some “tell”, some of both, but regardless of method, exposition is handled well with good, piecemeal dissemination. It’s largely episodic (up until say Ep. 10 or 11), BUT the central plot still advances smoothly. Frankly, LWA TV adaptation could learn something from Kemono Friends in this regard.

    There were a couple times I thought pacing got a bit slow, but that’s a minor issue and doesn’t affect my overall impression. True, characters stay in their lanes, but the adventures and execution did make it feel like a real bond was forming between the FL and Serval chan. To my surprise there were even a couple endearing moments. There’s a ton of anime with Power of Friendship, but unlike some other shows, it didn’t feel overwrought here. Mignear’s post above mentions a nice, subtle bit of symbolism. I had a similar thought about that as well. Another sign of good storytelling IMO is that while there are some wonky moments, by the end the show had built up enough viewer goodwill with me that I just gave them a pass. The light-hearted, fun tone also helps with that. Throwing this in randomly, but I also liked the ED song.

    To me, it is the show’s storytelling in particular combined with the upbeat, heart-warming tone (again, except potential background story) that somehow, someway just ends up working.

    On to the story background. Since the review and comments have discussed this openly I won’t bother using spoiler tags (though it is a spoiler). First, certainly subjective, but frankly I don’t agree with Pancakes that ““Where the show finds its real strength, however, is in its other story ([possible] post-apocalypse plot)”. Per above, IMO, the storytelling combined with the cute, fun – sometimes even sweet/endearing, adventure is the show’s “real” strength. That’s not to say the uncertain background setting is void of merit. It’s a nice surprise extra and intriguing. However, it didn’t significantly influence my opinion of Kemono Friends overall.

    Another thing is that while Pancake and most posters are apparently convinced that the background must, absolutely 100% certain, be post-apocalyptic, world-wide human extinction, I’m not so sure about that. I do NOT dismiss the possibility, but watching the anime there IS another option for why no humans are on the island – evacuation. I did a little bit of checking on this and seen both possibilities mentioned. According to one site, the director/staff/etc. have remained coy (silent) on the subject, and have yet to expressly state what is the true background story. NOTE: If someone does find something that officially states what the background story is, then please post (ideally with link). Thanks.

    Each viewer will have his/her own opinion, and I do think there are arguments to made for either one (even with what Pancakes mentioned in a reply spoiler to Suichi’s post above (link not working). That raises questions for sure, but not dispositive IMO). Personally, right now I don’t have a definitive conclusion on the matter, but I do think from the anime alone the debate is far from settled on the matter, and frankly both theories should be noted rather than just one.

    • March 31, 2017 at 8:16 amMagewolf

      The problem with it being just an evacuation is that from the state of the park the humans have been gone for years at least, possibility decades. So I agree from the notes found in the show it started as an evacuation but something happened after that that kept the humans from coming back or even apparently keeping an eye on the park. You would expect that they would have some way of staying in contact with the bosses just to see if the place was overrun with Cerulean.

      Also you would have to think that there were some form of phones, tv, or internet access at the park that the bosses and the professor would know about but neither of them mention any of that to Kaban when she was looking for humans.

    • March 31, 2017 at 9:38 pmdaikama

      @Magewolf: Thanks for the reply. Agree there are questions, I still don’t think that one theory MUST be the answer. NOTE: This is very long so putting in a spoiler if you want to read. Show Spoiler ▼

    • April 1, 2017 at 12:41 amPancakes

      @Magewolf
      As daikama highlights better than I could at the moment, there is nothing definitive proving a wider “apocalypse” outside the park. Of course there are plenty of hints leading to that conclusion, but we have precious little information to go off and only an indication that the park extends over multiple islands.

      I sort of like this plot limbo though, it keeps things suspenseful and interesting. We want to know what’s going on, but the show keeps tastefully teasing–best way to encourage further watching in the future IMO.

      @daikama
      Agreed on the severity, I’m not sure an extreme ending would fit best as it would contradict the inherent positivity. Show Spoiler ▼

  • March 31, 2017 at 3:36 pmTarage

    I tried to get Stilts to watch it but he couldn’t get past episode 1. Maybe this will convince him to FRIENDSFRIENDSFRIENDSFRIENDSFRIENDSFRIENDSFRIENDSFRIENDSFRIENDS.

    • April 1, 2017 at 12:27 amPancakes

      Trust me I’m still trying too, but he can be stubborn at times haha

  • March 31, 2017 at 4:07 pmAoihoshikage

    Wow, thanks for this post. I had some inital hesitations picking this show up (got busy with work), but after reading high MAL reviews, it piqued my interest and I queued it up for watching. Now seeing the response to this post as well as your review, it is time to marathon the rest of this series. Got three eps in and enjoyed it so far. I look forward to enjoying the rest of this series.

    • March 31, 2017 at 9:40 pmdaikama

      @Aoihoshikage: If you’re in 3 episodes and enjoying the show, you should be good to go. Enjoy. :D

    • April 1, 2017 at 12:26 amPancakes

      As daikama mentions if you liked the first three you’ll definitely enjoy the rest. Don’t hold back, your body will thank you :P

    • April 7, 2017 at 4:58 pmAoihoshikage

      And I’m back after finishing the series. Kemono Friends totally did not disappoint. Kemono Friends is Anime at its finest.

      Kemono Friends played to the child within all of us. You could totally identify with the curiosity and wonder in the series all in a cute, bubbly, and positive manner. At the same time, the series maintained a mature, post-apocalyptic backdrop that slowly but surely sinks in as we get snippets of what’s going on in that world.

      This show proves that you don’t need sakuga or a high budget to tell a creative story and showcase awesome characters. Funny, I even looked up the animals I’ve never heard of, so I expanded my knowledge of animals after watching this series.

      Despite the complaints about the animation, the designs grew on me throughout the course of the series. To sum up my post, I have nothing but positive reviews for Kemono Friends. I should stop now before I type an essay on how good this series was. Hmm, maybe it’s about time to start writing some MAL reviews…

  • April 2, 2017 at 3:22 amShawn

    Kemono Friends is such a refreshing show amidst an industry saturated with harems and love triangles and fanservice. It proves that you don’t need to sexualize the characters, you don’t need melodramatic teenage romance angst bullshit, you don’t need pretentious “symbolism”, you don’t need gory edgefests, and you don’t need to pander to the viewers self-insertion fantasies, in order to create an engaging story with lovable characters. The interaction and dynamics between the two leads stand out in particular for being really heartwarming and endearing.

    If you want 25 minutes of fun and laughter to forget your problems, you got it. If you are the type that likes to analyze things, you got it too. The show doesn’t shove how “deep” it is in your face, it doesn’t shove it’s world-building in your face, it doesn’t shove cheap melodrama in your face for emotional moments. Everything is much more subtle and naturally done. Why you feel for the characters, when you cry with them, it’s not because it was forced, but rather because you deeply care about the characters. It never gets preachy at any point, but yet manages to offer fantastic lessons about self-worth and friendship and sacrifice.

    Kaban-chan is one of the most memorable heroes of recent series. Most anime heroes either have some sort of special power (for example shounen anime) or have some kind of special equipment (for example mecha). However, Kaban’s just an ordinary, if rather intelligent, human, without any extraordinary abilities to set herself apart from others, other than for her incredible love and compassion for her friends. Her development from the first episode to the last is breathtaking, and the show manages to pull that off without any stereotypical internal monologues or existentialist crises.

    To top it off the OP and ED are absolutely amazing; the OP is energetic and infectious and I cannot get the song out of my head. The ED is more somber and overlaid over a background of real-life abandoned amusement parks, creating a melancholic bittersweet feeling.

    Don’t let the rather poor animation turn you away. You have to understand that this was done on a budget and staff that was vastly smaller than other major studios. The animation never becomes a big enough issue to take away from the writing and plot. Rather, it gives a sort of authentic, genuine feel that a more polished product would not have. Too often, studios splash the cash on breathtaking animation quality, but at the core the project is soulless. Here, while the animation certainly could be better, the charm and the heart that has gone into the show is evident. I was hooked within the first minute of the first episode.

    Kemono Friends is those rare series that show what the medium of anime is really capable of. Not only one of the most unique and underrated shows in recent memory, Kemono Friends is also the anime of the season. Truly a joy to experience; I don’t think there will be anything quite like it again.

  • April 2, 2017 at 12:33 pmDreammirror

    I agree. This anime was on my watchlist, but low on the rader. The big shows had my attention, but finally watched it. The 3d animation & low budget aside, its a really good story & character developement. I highly recommend it!