Furry Lens

Anthropomorphic animals tend to be allegorical by default. After all, as conceptions of human beings, anthropomorphic animals are based off a human template, and tend to be metaphors for the human condition, political groups or even just individuals.

Some creators, however, go one step further and make the characters straight up not anthropomorphic animals at all, but human beings, visually portrayed as anthropomorphic animals. In this case, the characters are contextually human beings, but are portrayed as animals, often for symbolic reasons.

Sub-trope to Stylized For The Viewer. Compare and contrast Furry Denial, which can invoke this, but it is (usually; see the Disney examples below) non-overlapping since it directly acknowledges that the characters are animals.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Punpun and his family from Goodnight Punpun are depicted as sloppily drawn cartoon birds. Everyone else is a semi-realistic human. It's been shown that Punpun is also a human, and that "Punpun" probably isn't even his real name, however he resembles a bird to the reader. Punpun's form also changes when he becomes dark or depressed. Punpun's real face is never fully depicted, only bits and pieces of it are shown at a time. A character drew him once however marked out the eyes.

    Comic Books 
  • The Trope Namer is Circles, where the characters are drawn as various anthropomorphic animals, but stated by Word of God to be actually human beings seen through a "furry lens". Finally confirmed in the last "issue", which is actually an illustrated novel, where the narration pretty explicitly describes the characters as human... while the illustrations still show them as animals.
  • Maus is an a biography of Art Spiegelman's father, in which various ethnic groups are visually portrayed as animal species (i.e. Jews as mice, Germans as cats, French as frogs, et cetera). Contextually, they are still human beings, not allegorical animals representing human groups (though a few gags mock the concept).
  • Disney Mouse and Duck Comics generally do depict their characters as actual animals (albeit functionally human, for all intents and purposes). Not so much The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, where the characters are very explicitly human beings, depicted (often randomly) as either ducks or Dog Face. The fact that they meet historical figures and racial/ethnic profiling conforms to the real world pretty much seals the deal.

    Music Video 
  • The video for Daft Punk's "Da Funk" shows an anthropomorphic dog walking around New York City with a boom box playing the song. He has a number of small adventures, but no one seems to acknowledge that he's an anthropomorphic dog.

    Video Games 
  • Night in the Woods has both its anthropomorphic characters, who live exactly like regular humans, and actual animals, with no suggestion that they're meant to be the same. There are even references to "people" and "humanity," with only a Furry Reminder or two that would suggest they're really meant to be animals.

    Webcomics 
  • The characters of Lackadaisy are portrayed as anthropomorphic cats, but (at least in the canon strips) act exactly like prohibition-era humans. The non-canon strips have an occasional Furry Reminder, like Rocky claiming he had to shave Freckle's face to see his freckle, and the characters being confused what Tracy J. Butler's Author Avatar (depicted as a cartoony human) actually is. Tracy J. Butler also made some drawings how the characters would look like as humans - which is presumably their actual appearance.

    Web Original 
  • The Furry writer's podcast "Fangs and Fonts" refers to this type of fiction as "zipperback", with the implication that the characters might as well be humans in fursuits.

     Western Animation 
  • This was Walt Disney's intent with the Classic Disney Shorts characters. Early shorts clearly had them as animals however eventually he began to see them as humans who simply look animal to the audience. This explains why many older shorts portray the characters living alongside humans. He banned any Furry Reminders, such as Mickey eating cheese. Since Walt's death, Disney has ignored this idea. Mickey Mouse and the others are repeatedly noted to be Funny Animals and Furry Reminders aren't that uncommon.
  • Arthur has toyed with this trope a lot. The original books and early episodes implied that the characters are animals, however most episodes past season one imply that they're actually humans.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FurryLens