Anime / Kemono Friends

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Welcome to Japari Park!note 

One day a girl without any memories wakes up in the middle of a savannah before being chased and "hunted down" by a Cat Girl. Said catgirl, calling herself a Serval cat, reveals that they are in just one region of a vast integrated zoo called Japari Park, which is inhabited by Little Bit Beastly girls called Friends who are created when regular animals come into contact with a mysterious substance called Sandstar. The girl, given the nickname Kaban after her backpack, sets off on a grand adventure together with her new friend Serval throughout Japari Park to find out what kind of Friend she is. Friends ensue!

During an episode, each Friend is introduced along with their scientific classification. For eyecatches, zookeepers from all over the globe give short lectures on the nature of the featured animals.

Kemono Friends is an anime that aired during the Winter 2017 season. It is part of a formerly unsuccessful multimedia franchise created by Mine Yoshizaki, centered around a mobile game by Nexon which was discontinued a month before the anime aired its first episode. The anime has gone on to become a massive Sleeper Hit and has revived the franchise in a major way.

Part of the franchise's unsuccessful period was a Slice of Life manga about a new keeper called Nana coming to work at Japari Park with the Friends, which ended after two volumes. The anime's success resulted in the manga being licensed by Yen Press for release in 2018, collecting the two volumes in one.

Kemono Friends is currently being aired by Crunchyroll and is also available for streaming on Steam. After the success of the anime a "new video project" has been greenlit.

On April 5 2017 the director TATSUKI released an unofficial short titled "Episode 12.1" on Nico Nico Douga. He has stressed that it was just for fun and not the aforementioned video project currently in the works. A couple of additional shorts have followed, again none of them the project.

In the last week of September, 2017, a wrecking ball may have been taken to the franchise: Kadokawa fired the director ostensibly over the 12.1 episode, which lead to Japan's social media exploding and the entire staff resigning in protest. The reaction in Japan was so bad that the company's stock dropped over 33% in a day after this event. Although, as of late, Kadokawa has publicly apologized for causing the fan outrage and begun to negotiate with the staff.


Examples:

  • After the End:
    • It becomes clear pretty quickly that Japari Park used to have humans maintaining it, but now... doesn't. What crosses over almost into Tear Jerker territory is that the franchise was effectively DEAD when the first episode aired. How many franchises do you know which have a new installment set after the end of itself!?note 
    • The girls walk past an old wreckage of a B-2 Bomber and some spent bombs; neither they nor the show comment.
  • All-CGI Cartoon
  • All There in the Manual: A lot of the backstory was lost when the game closed, but is in the various Guidebooks. For example, the region Kaban finds herself in is the Kyoushuu Region of Japari Park, which was the first region of the game. In the game, it was a temperate grassland, in the anime the lack of maintenance and the unusual effects of Sandstar have caused it to have several Biomes.
    • The region she heads to at the end of Season 1 is Gokoku, the 7th region of the game. In the game, it was a temperate island that had both mountains and beaches. Notable is that both Kyoushuu and Gokoku were the only two regions not part of the Japari Park mainland.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: The abandoned state of the park has caused some parts to be rather dangerous. This isn't even adding the threat of the Ceruleans.
  • And the Adventure Continues: In episode 12, Kaban sets off to find humans in the Gokoku Region, which Boss indicates might have its own Friends in it since it's still part of the park. After she sets off, she runs out of gas for her boat, but is joined by Serval, Raccoon, and Fennec. Then a new unseen Friend comes by and asks what they're doing...
  • Animal Gender-Bender: Quite literally so. According to Word of God, any animal turned into a Friend is always female regardless of the original sex, which is why some of them (such as Lion and Moose) exhibit male characteristics.
  • A Wizard Did It: In the show, the tails of Friends can often be seen clipping through their clothes. According to the official guide book, this is actually because Friends don't realize their clothes aren't part of their bodies yet.
  • Blob Monster: Ceruleans.
  • Book Ends: In both the first and last episodes, a paper airplane is used as part of a plan to defeat a large Cerulean, and Serval decides to follow Kaban after she parts ways.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Averted — everyone is content to eat Japari buns, with hunting just being a game. It probably helps that they're all biologically human.
  • Call-Back:
    • In episode 11, when Kaban needs to climb a tree fast, she starts climbing and chanting the way Serval did in episode 1.
    Kaban: Mya, mya, mya, mya!
    • In episode 1, Kaban is forced to admit to Hippopotomus that she cannot swim, fly, run fast, or do much of anything. By the end of episode 11, she has done all those things to save Serval.
    • Hippo goes back on her first episode statement, telling Kaban in episode 12 that she can turn to them when she needs to.
    • A Friend was heard screaming in Episode 1 and mentioned that she may have been devoured by the Cerulean. Then a normal aardwolf was shown in Episode 12 in the exact same location the Cerulean was defeated.
  • The Cavalry / Continuity Cavalcade: Most of the plot-important Friends return to battle the black Cerulean in episode 12—not to destroy it, but to rescue Kaban from its innards.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Kaban's hat. If you were a fan of the original franchise, you'll recognise it immediately, and the fact it still has a single feather in it is why Boss even works.
    • Also in episode 1, Kaban gives Serval some paper airplanes. In episode 12, Serval uses one of these paper airplanes to lure the black Cerulean towards the boat so it can sink into the ocean.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • The ropes Kaban learns to make in episode 2 are used to make her lifeline in episode 11 and the Friends use it to modify the bus in episode 12.
    • In episode 6, Kaban rolls up some scrolls to give Lion and Moose non-lethal weapons. In episode 7, she learns paper burns. Her improvised torches in episode 11 are made by putting the two concepts together.
    • Every skill Kaban learns throughout the series is used in the climax to Episode 11: Tree Climbing, Rope Making, Athletics, Swimming, Creating Fire...
  • Cliffhanger: Episode 11 really leaves the viewer hanging.
  • Continuity Nod: Several heartbreaking ones, like the similarity Kaban has to a younger Mirai, She was a Friend created by accident when Mirai lost her hat while recording her message on the ferris wheel, which luckily had a hair in it which touched the sandstar. and the fact Serval looks very much like an updated version of Mirai's best Friend.
    • The most heartbreaking continuity nod is Boss. Every word, every factoid... Mirai herself recorded... especially that last message, which left the fanbase in doubt as to if she's even alive...
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: Crested Ibis, as her singing can really scare off other Friends (Serval just tries to shrug it off).
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Episode 12.1 is one for Raccoon, Fennec, and the Owls as they find a replacement for the broken Japari Bus.
    • The Owls also get major focus in the second special episode, which was made to promote the 2017 Animelo Summer Live.
    • Silver Fox and Edo Red Fox get one in Special 3, which is a collaboration with Nissin Foods.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The theme song repeats the lyrics "Welcome to youkoso Japari Park!". 'Youkoso' is Japanese for 'welcome'. So the line is translated into: "Welcome to welcome to Japari Park!"
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The opening, Youkoso Japari Park enote  is sung by Serval, Raccoon, Fennec, and the PPP, the latter of whom also do the ending commentary.
  • Dramatic Irony: Kaban's Quest for Identity is obvious to the viewer, since we, of course, know what humans are, but most Friends have no idea. However, she's not a descendant of the remnants... not really, anyway. Kaban is a human Friend, cloned from Mirai's hair by the Sandstar.
  • Endangered Species: Every Friend who's based on an endangered or extinct species has Reflectionless Useless Eyes.
    • Crested ibis: At one point there were exactly seven crested ibis on Earth. These were rescued from extinction, with all survivors descended from these 7 birds. Apparently one of them became a Friend at Japari Park.
    • Humans: Kaban may be the last human on Earth, or at least in Japari Park. The Quest for Identity becomes a quest for the Lost Colony.
    • Tsuchinoko: They're a bit elusive.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: The PPP is the park's Idol Singer group consisting of penguin Friends.
  • Evolving Credits: Animal silhouettes appear in each episode opening, to be filled in after the new Friend is introduced. After Episode 11 all of the silhouettes disappear. It's because there is nothing to add after it. By episode 7, it also evolves into Foreshadowing. The new Friends and silhouettes added are holding rope and wood. It's the scene that happens off camera in episode 12 where they modify the bus.
  • Eye Catch: Instead of just a short still frame, though, you get a bit of narration from a zookeeper about the real-life version of a Friend introduced in that episode.
  • The Four Gods:
    • In the anime, these are the controls for the Sandstone Low filter.
    • In the game, they're basically Bonus Bosses of a Brutal Bonus Level where they're the strongest, at least in Cerulean form.
  • Fun with Subtitles: The final scene of the show. Serval and company's boat wipes away the "The End" subtitle. Right before the scene cuts to black, a faint "To be continued" fades in to replace it.
  • Gamer Chick: Ezo Red Fox. Those arcade cabinets were built to last, apparently.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Friends get these when using Wild Release. These also appear when the two owls lead all of the other Friends into combat against the black Cerulean in Episode 12.
    • Lucky Beast gets them when playing back recordings, or when sending out broadcasts to the other Lucky Beasts.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: The Lucky Beasts call in most of the Friends to help battle the black Cerulean in episode 12.
  • Green Rocks: The Sandstar is responsible for all kinds of weirdness.
  • Hair Wings: Most bird Friends have their wings on their head. Or hair coloured to look like wings. It can be hard to tell.
  • Happy Ending Override: By the end of the mobile game, the Cerulean Queen was defeated, Cerval became a Friend, Japari Park was opened, and everyone lived happily ever after... Then came the anime, which is set in an abandoned Japari Park, with the various fixtures of the mobile game being effectively Put on a Bus to Hell. The concept design exhibition takes this Up to Eleven by actually showing us some of the things that happened between the game and the anime: there was a massive Cerulean eruption, which forced the Four Gods and Cerval to pull a Heroic Sacrifice to save Japari Park. The Four Gods turned into statues, while Cerval turned into anti-Cerulean. Together, they formed the filter seen in Episode 11.
  • Hollywood Chameleons: The panther chameleon Friend's color-changing ability is treated as actual invisibility.
  • Idol Singer: PPP is an idol group made up of five penguin Friends.
  • Improbably Female Cast: Not a single male character is to be found. Word of God states that Sandstar will even turn male animals into female Friends.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: While Kaban and Serval are riding the ferris wheel, Kaban wonders if it's dangerous, but Serval insists that the Professor fixed it and made sure it was safe. The seat right next to theirs immediately falls off.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • Kaban's species is human. This is obvious from the start, but the Friends have little experience with humans (especially since they're all Petting Zoo People who already share most of humanity's distinctive traits) and so treat the reveal as a big discovery. Her origins are a legitimate plot twist, however.
    • The fact that they're in some sort of abandoned zoo is also obvious to the viewer, at least by the end of the first episode; but this takes the characters a long time to figure out because it's the only world they know.
    • Inverted by Mirai's recordings, which provide the viewer with lots of information about the setting but mostly come across as Techno Babble to Kaban and Serval.
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": "PPP", pronounced as PePaPu. Short for Penguins Performance Project.
  • Iyashikei: It's surprisingly upbeat for a post-apocalyptic alien invasion!
  • Kill It with Water: Thanks to her research, Tsuchinoko knows that water turns Ceruleans into volcanic rock.
  • King of Beasts: Played with. Lion is in charge of a group of friends and acts noble (though more shogun than king), but in private acts like a fairly normal cat.
  • Left Hanging: We never find out whether there was really an apocalypse that wiped out humanity, or if humans just abandoned the park long ago because of the Ceruleans. The show ends before Kaban and her unexpected tag-alongs reach the next island.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Kaban is named for the bag she is wearing ("kaban" being Japanese for "bag").
  • Little Bit Beastly: All of the Friends are humans with a few animal features.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The anime already has a rather large cast, but it's only a fraction of the game's cast.
  • Made of Phlebotinum: Sandstar powers the entire show, causing both the Friends and the Ceruleans to exist. It also drives the Ceruleans to attack the Friends and forced the humans to leave Japari Park. Serval even mentions that Kaban may owe her existence to Sandstar in the first episode.
  • Mega Corp.: Wild life parks, cafes, food, hot springs, video games ... Japari is a very diverse corporation.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Japari Park makes no attempt to separate its animals and Friends by their original location, only by biome. And even then there's a lot of Friends in weird places, though that could be the result of them moving around unsupervised.
  • Missed Him by That Much: Raccoon and Fennec are pursuing Kaban on the grounds that she's a "hat thief". They visit each place she's been to, only to find out that she left not too long ago. They finally catch up in episode 11.
  • Modern Stasis: Despite the state of the park showing that a great many years have passed since Humanity abandoned it the Friends have done very little to learn about their environment and the various technologies of the park, which are slowly decaying. Some, like Alpaca or Campo Flicker are content to imitate the most basic functions of the buildings around them, while others like the Owls and Tsuchinoko are actively curious about the extinct Humans, but mostly it takes Kaban and Serval traveling through an area to cause any change to occur.
  • Moe Anthropomorphism: It's the basis of the franchise.
  • Mr. Exposition: Boss, aka Lucky Beast, provides background and information when entering new habitats. However, inside of attractions, it lets Kaban work things out for herself. In addition, in the event of something unexpected (such as a broken bridge), it freezes up.
  • Mutagenic Goo: The mysterious substance known as Sandstar turns regular animals into the humanoid Friends (even their remains or a single hair). It also turn inanimate objects into Ceruleans.
  • Nonindicative Name: The first Ceruleans we see are indigo-blue. After that they start coming in more colours and the name stops making sense. A popular view in Japan is that "Cerulean" is a mistranslation and "セルリアン" is actually a portmanteau of "cell" (セル) and "alien" (エイリアン), which makes much more sense.
  • Non-Nude Bathing: In episode 9 the Friends jump into the hot spring fully clothed until Kaban points out that you're supposed to remove your clothing first. The Friends are shocked to find out their clothes even can come off and comment once they've removed them that the water is much warmer.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: There's no squabbling from the penguin girls in the preview for Episode 12. Just an incessant beeping and the sight of Japari Park's sign in ruins. It turns out to be setting up more than just the Darkest Hour.
  • On the Next: Each episode ends with PPP discussing an animal that will show up next episode, which usually quickly devolves into squabbling. This is also the point within the show where the episode titles are given.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: Being who they are, Kaban and Serval quickly forget the directions Moose told them to get to the library, and take a forest maze instead, requiring the ability to read. This alerted The Owl-Knowing One staff to their intelligence, which they take advantage of to... have Kaban cook tasty food for them.
  • Ontological Mystery: Behind the fun Quest for Identity and meeting new Friends, there is a significant amount of unexplained background details that is gradually revealed.
  • Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious: Even a Tsuchinoko got turned into a Friend.
  • The Owl-Knowing One: Zig-Zagged. One of the owls at Japari Library is called "Professor" by all the other Friends, and the other is her assistant. And they certainly insist that they're wise. While they are smarter than most other Friends, and act as the leaders of the whole island, they still act childishly sometimes, like when they randomly crashed into Serval's head just to show off how they can fly silently.
  • Patchwork Map: The Sandstar somehow allows the various regions to be right next to each other in defiance to the laws of geography. Which allowed the formation of the Japari Park itself.
  • Peacock Girl: The Peafowl Friend who makes a brief appearance in episode 2.
  • Phlebotinum Muncher: What makes the Ceruleans so dreaded. They exist and grow by absorbing the Sandstar in their environment, including any poor Friends that happen to be caught by them. Getting drained of Sandstar causes Friends to revert into regular, non-sentient animals, which the others treat as Death of Personality. Kaban turns out to be mostly unharmed by the effect, as her base species is human to begin with.
  • Prequel: The manga, which is a Slice of Life of the park before it was invaded by the Cerulean. Which makes this all the more heartbreaking.
  • Primal Fear: All the Friends fear fire, but Kaban, as a human, is easily able to control it. Note that Brown Bear is less afraid, similar to her Real Life counterpart. Brown Bear and the owls teach the other Friends how to be less afraid of fire in Episode 12.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: Mirai, the park guide from the mobile game, acts as The Ghost and her messages help guide Kaban on her Quest for Identity. Kaban herself is a human Friend born from a strand of hair that was on Mirai's hat as it blew away and was later hit by a piece of Sandstar.
  • Puppet Shows: The ending preview scenes are done puppet-style by PPP, the opening theme singers.
  • Quest for Identity: Kaban and Serval are on a quest to discover what species Kaban is.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Prairie Dog and Beaver. In Episode 5, the Beaver, being the blue, constantly plans ahead and has a great amount of knowledge on structural engineering, but, afraid of messing up, can't commit herself to action. The Prairie Dog, being the red, is a heads-on person who does things quick and efficient, but without the ability to think things through or a team to rely on, tends to mess up multiple times. It's through the collaboration of Beaver's planning and knowledge and Prairie Dog's quick work and teamwork dynamic that they become a very impressive construction team.
    • Raccoon is the red to Fennec's blue. Raccoon is desperately trying to chase down Kaban as fast as possible while Fennec just follows along trying to keep Raccoon out of trouble.
  • Robot Buddy: The Lucky Beasts seems to have been created to serve as guides to Human Guests. They will never talk to Friends as protocol unless a human is in danger.
  • Running Joke:
    • "Please don't eat me!" "I won't eat you!" - Kaban and Serval's opening dialogue gets repeated several times.
    • Several Friends are surprised that Lucky Beast (aka Boss) is now talking, although only to Kaban.
  • Science Hero: Kaban is about as close as you can get with no education to speak of. She regularly saves the day through quick thinking. Which is her Friend Special Attribute.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Hands up, how many people had heard of servals before? The animals featured are all over the place in terms of obscurity, ranging from very well-known (otter, lion), to nigh unheard-of (margay, campo flicker), and everywhere in-between.
  • Shout-Out: In Episode 11, the Black Cerulean is lured away by Kaban with a torch, much like Rexy did with Grant and Ian.
  • Silent Antagonist: The Ceruleans.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: Lion and Moose engage in this at the end of their first duel. The camera zooms out to reveal they popped each other's ball at the same time, resulting in a draw.
  • Stealth Sequel: While the anime seems unrelated to the mobile game it's based on, and features a completely different voice cast, with the introduction of Mirai, it's revealed that the anime is a direct continuation. The reason for the different voice cast is also explained: the animals in the anime aren't the same ones from the game, they merely share the same species. This is evidenced by the fact that the Serval seen with Mirai still has her VA from the mobile game. Even more so, Kaban is to the anime Serval what Mirai is to the original mobile game's Serval, their first and closest Friends.
  • Sting: Plays whenever the topic switches to the Ontological Mystery surrounding the park.
  • Super Mode: In the final battle, the Friends release their wild sides. Ass-kicking and Glowing Eyes ensue.
  • Support Party Member: True to the game that inspired the anime, Kaban acts as a support character in the anime. While slow and clumsy, she's the one who comes up with ideas to make the Friends more effective. Plus, she's one of the few characters who can read. Considering she's a Friend version of Mirai, it's a Justified Trope.
  • Tempting Apple: No actual temptation involved, but the library building resembles an apple core, evoking the Biblical fruit of the Tree Of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: The opening theme kicks in as the Friends power up for the battle with the black Cerulean.
  • Token Non-Human: The Lucky Beasts, who are little robots that serve as guides. Of course, until recently, there's been no humans to guide...
  • Vegetarian Carnivore: All the Friends eat Japari buns, which are made from crops and found everywhere. This allows carnivores and omnivores to be friends with herbivores without all that awkward killing and eating that would hurt friendships. Since Friends are animals changed into humans, it may be that the buns were originally intended just for people.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The seemingly invincible black Cerulean turns to stone on contact with water. They destroy it by luring it onto a boat and sinking it, leaving behind nothing but volcanic rock. Other Ceruleans may have the same weakness.
  • Wistful Amnesia: Serval starts to tear up when she hears the original Serval talking to Mirai in the latter's recordings. While it's an Ambiguous Situation, it's suspected to be hinting that they're one and the same, but that Mirai's Serval fell to a Cerulean, suffered a Death of Personality and reverted to a regular serval, and was hit with Sandstar again, becoming the new Serval with none of the memories of the old one.
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