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 or aesthetic reasons.
Can explain the Furry Confusion occurring in the work, because the anthropomorphic animals in the work turn out to be contextually human and the nonanthropomorphic animals are contextually their respective species of animal.
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. Contrast World of Funny Animals, where the whole cast really are anthropomorphic animals.
- 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 the eyes were marked out.
- According to Sanrio, this is what Hello Kitty is. Many fans disagree, however, preferring to see her as a cat.
- The Trope Namer is Circles, where the characters are drawn as various anthropomorphic animals, often fuzzy mammals, 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, and refer to themselves as such; they are not allegorical animals representing human groups.
- Humorously, the author does address the issues that arise when this trope meets Furry Confusion. At one point the Jewish protagonist— drawn as a mouse— visits a friend who owns several pet cats. In the comic, Nazis are drawn as anthropomorphic cats, which leads Spiegelman to write "Can I mention this, or does it just louse up my metaphor?"
- 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.
- 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 drawings of how the characters would look like as humans - which is presumably their actual appearance.
- 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.
- 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 like animals 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, and the idea that the characters were "actually" human was gradually discarded. Mickey Mouse and the others are repeatedly noted to be Funny Animals and Furry Reminders, while still rare, are not unheard-of.
- Arthur may or may not qualify. The original books and the very earliest episodes of the TV series stated or at least implied that the characters are animals, albeit functionally human. However, as the TV series went on, even these Furry Reminders were phased out. This is most obvious in the episode where Arthur and his friends watch the self-parody "Andy Aardvark" and point out all the Fridge Logic inherent in a Funny Animal series. Much like in The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck mentioned above, historical figures and racial profiling match those of the real world, further suggesting the characters see themselves as humans.
- The spinoff Postcards from Buster leaned heavily on the "furry lens" interpretation, as all of the locations Buster visited were shown in live-action, with humans—presumably, as they would appear to the audience if they were within the show.