Kemono Friends Review - Planet of the Friends


Planet of the Friends


  • Episodes : 12
  • Genre : Adventure, Comedy
  • Airing Date : January 2017 - March 2017
  • Studios : Yaoyorozu

Contains Spoilers


Kemono Friends Introduction of Story (Spoilers)

Japari Park is a gigantic zoo with various biomes or “Areas” ranging from the savanna to the frozen tundra. The park hosts a huge variety of animals for visitors to see. Or it used to be. Japari Park has been abandoned due to a mysterious particle called a “Sandstar” emerging from a volcano. Animals touching these particles causes them to transform into human-shaped animal girls known as Friends.

Serval, a serval wild cat turned into a Friend, lazing around one day and then she saw someone wandering around the bushes. After investigating, Serval sees a frightened young girl wearing a hat and carrying a big bag. The girl has no recollection of where she came from or who she is, and Serval named her “Kaban” or “Bag” in Japanese because the girl carries a noticeable big bag. With no memories of the past and no idea what type of animal species she is, Kaban, Serval, and a robot rabbit named Lucky sets out to find answers. Kaban, Serval, and Lucky meet a huge cast of Friends with their quirky personalities and thus their adventure begins.

Kemono Friends is about traveling across the large Japari Park in search for answers and making lots of friends along the way. The animal girls known as Friends is the main highlight of the show and they aid Kaban in traversing Japari Park with their animal abilities. For example, Kaban meets a Japanese crested ibis Friend for a lift up to the mountains because the tramway was broken. And there’s an episode where Kaban asks the help of a jaguar and otter Friend to help build a makeshift bridge so their bus can go to the other side.

The amnesiac girl Kaban is unique because she has no tail, fur or large ears compared to other Friends she met. Kaban is a human but she doesn’t know it yet and none of the Friends she meets knows, so the two travels to one Area to another to access the library. As they travel to various locations of Japari Park, we soon discover the park is completely abandoned with facilities in total disrepair and nature taking over. Where are all the humans? Are they all extinct or evacuated because of this mysterious Sandstar from the volcano? And what are these alien-like beings called Ceruleans who eats Friends?

What You/We Liked About Kemono Friends

Despite its backstory about Sandstar, Ceruleans, and its post-apocalyptic-like setting, the overall mood of the anime is very light-hearted and children-friendly with a colorful presentation, educational bits about animals, cute music, and an equally cute cast of characters you can’t help but love. Each Friend’s personality is based on the behaviors of the animals they represent. Kaban is not powerful or fast, but she’s clever and inventive. Serval is very agile and can jump at great lengths and is nocturnal. Tsuchinoko is very shy and can see in infrared. Lion is stern, intimidating leader but lazy and laid back. Margay has an ability to mimic the voices of other Friends. Sand Cat is adept at moving around the desert due to the thick padding on her feet. And so on. These wide varieties of quirky personalities keep the show fresh throughout and it’s sometimes fun to figure out what kind of personality a Friend has and how they show it.

While being child-friendly, Kemono Friends also focuses on the story about Japari Park’s fate for adult viewers to ponder and discuss. The story unfolds in every episode through dialogue and hints to get the viewers interested. The first episode introduced the main characters and their reason to travel around the park. On the second episode, it is pointed out that all animals in the park are all Friends and hints that the park has been abandoned for some time. Then in episode three, something big must’ve happened in the past and with the absence of humans, Friends ended up occupying the abandoned buildings. This breadcrumb like approach to the story encourages the viewers to piece together the mystery.

Discussion Time

Kemono Friends isn’t a complicated show nor it tries to be. Below are the three main points to be discussed here.

Story — The first part of the story is Kaban finding out what kind of animal species she is and the second part is uncovering the mystery surrounding Japari Park. As pointed before, Kemono Friends is a child-friendly series, so any thought-provoking, gut-wrenching story or tragedy are mostly absent or weak. However, the story ended with every question answered saved a couple of mysteries that leaves you satisfied and a hint for a second season.

Characters — It’s easily the show’s strongest point and it’s near impossible to not like these cute characters. With that said, some of the Friends felt were underappreciated due to the short runtime and other characters. The pacing of the anime gave each Friend sufficient screen time, but sometimes you just wished they get another episode. On the bright side though, every Friend got together in the last episode showing off their charm one last time.

Art & Animation — This is Kemono Friends’ biggest fault. The budget for making the show is very small so there were lots of scenes where they cut corners like the backgrounds were poorly drawn and the badly animated CGI characters. Yes, all of the cast in the show are all in CGI that was made in the PlayStation One days. Wonky animations (wheels of a bus not spinning, a bird Friend’s wings aren’t flapping) and wonky character models are an eyesore.

Why You Should Watch Kemono Friends

1.  

The story and the characters alone are reason enough to pick up Kemono Friends. It’s akin to Pokemon in many ways like the main character on a grand adventure meeting friends along the way, and overcoming obstacles and facing adversaries together.

2.  

Kemono Friends lacks any drama and angst make the show very relaxing to watch. The story behind the Sandstar, Ceruleans, the disappearance of humans and Kaban’s existence are presented bit by bit so you won’t get overwhelmed by tons of expositions at once. And unlike most shows that force you to read the source material for the ending and story details, Kemono Friends’ story has an actual satisfying end. The mystery of the Sandstar’s existence and the missing humans are still unanswered, but they also serve as good catalysts for a second season.

3.  

The bad CGI no longer matters since you’ll be too busy snickering at the things Friends do like the wolf Friend draw inspirations for her manga by scaring everyone with creepy stories, or the prairie dog and beaver Friends making their own home. Actually, the CGI itself adds charm to the characters. It’s so unique that you can’t find this awkward style anywhere.

Why You Should Skip Kemono Friends

1.  

The low-quality CGI and awkward robotic-like animations are a turnoff for people looking for that perfect audio and video experience.

2.  

The story isn’t intriguing enough. Kemono Friends is made for kids so don’t expect anything philosophical or romantic. It’s essentially a mysterious rock turned everyone animal into girls in animal suits for the otaku to gawk and fawn over.


Final Thoughts

Kemono Friends is a one of a kind experience that turned its flaws into one of its greatest strengths. The show has a soul and you can feel it through the CGI, story, voice acting, the cast of cute characters, that tiny details of transforming animal behavior into a personality trait, and likable main characters. The story may be too simple, but to some, a good old fashioned fun is what the doctor ordered.

Japari Park is a huge wildlife preserve and everyone can visit and look at the wide variety of animals. It also has a few attractions like mazes and rides. In a sense, Japari Park is like an amusement park — It’s for everyone of all ages.

Antoine Rizal

Writer

Author: Antoine Rizal

I've been an anime fan for as long as I can remember. Actually, anime is very much a part of me now for I have extended my reach beyond just watching them. I am a fansubber for more than 8 years now and contributed a lot to the anime community. Me and my group has translated shows, manga, drama CDs and doujinshi. Right now I'm learning Japanese so I can better serve the community and read interesting stuff about the Japanese culture as well.

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