Mar 28, 2017
VirtuaSphere (All reviews)
Question: Should I watch Kemono Friends?

Answer: If you have any interest at all in Kemono Friends, then you should watch the first episode. If you get through the first episode and like it at all, or still have interest in the series, then you should watch the second episode. If you get through the second episode without dropping the series because it looks bad or seems too childish or simplistic, then you will have no trouble watching the whole thing, and let me tell you, the viewer who sticks around for the whole show is in for an absolute treat. Dig in and enjoy.

So, what is Kemono Friends? There are two main answers to this, depending on what you focus on.

Firstly, Kemono Friends is a show made with the idea of being enjoyable for everyone. It is made in a style similar to that of a children’s show, and the producer has said that it was done that way with the intention of it being family-friendly, which it succeeds at, with only a couple of points that could even be considered questionable throughout the entire series. It is a story about Kaban-chan going on an adventure across different biomes of an expansive zoo; meeting various animals-turned-people, called Friends, along the way; and overcoming the various challenges that present themselves along with the Friends’ support. The story is charming, which even the 3D CG ends up contributing to. Kemono Friends is definitely not the best looking show of the season, but the artists did a great job of bringing what they made to life. The Friends aren’t humans who look like animals, they’re animals who look like humans, by which I mean they maintain their animal traits and behaviors. The Friends don’t know how to read, they don’t know how to use or make tools, and usually they’re found doing things you would expect them to do if they were still normal animals. It’s a kind of characterization that I’ve never seen in anime before, and it works well.

Secondly, Kemono Friends is a mystery series; not the kind of mystery where there’s a crime to solve, but rather it’s a mystery about what exactly is going on. I don’t mean that the series makes you feel lost or confused in the moment, this was never the case, instead the series makes you wonder about larger questions, such as where is this all taking place, is there something more going on here, and what, exactly, is a Friend. There’s a subtlety to the writing and the setting that I’ve never seen anime do as well as Kemono Friends. Gradually the pieces of the puzzle are put into place, episode by episode, rather than in huge lore dumps that fill the whole picture in at once. This means that while the picture is slowly being filled in you can make guesses as to what it will turn out to be, which makes the story engaging.

To wrap things up, I want to say that Kemono Friends has earned its popularity. The series exploded in popularity in Japan essentially overnight, a third of the way into the season. That outpouring of fan support is what originally got me to give the series a second chance myself, and I’ve been hooked ever since. The first episode can be rough at times, but trust me that the staff has succeeded at polishing it into a gem of a show. To those of you willing to give Kemono Friends a chance, welcome to Japari Park.