I can’t think of a single success story as surprising as Kemono Friends, an anime that aired at the start of the year and quickly stormed through the anime community. I pride myself on an open mind when it comes to anime—I try to give every series the benefit of the doubt no matter my reservations about the art or genre. Somehow Kemono Friends slipped past my net. It wasn’t until I saw the hype on Twitter and many of the blogs I read that I realized I had almost missed out on something special. So I set out to remedy my mistake, and tried the first couple of episodes. The story didn’t seem remarkable, and the CG animation and art were an eyesore…but I kept watching. I wanted to visit the next area with Kaban and Serval. I wanted to meet more Friends. Before long, I realized I didn’t want the story to end. Japari Park had become real.
While Kaban and Serval were our protagonists and we followed them from one area of the park to another, there were several other examples of friendships seen on their journey. A couple of my favorites included Alpaca and Crested Ibis, and American Beaver and Prairie Dog. There are many other interesting relationships in Japari Park, but these particular examples not only got along well, but also boosted one another up in their individual lifestyles. They were also really damn cute.
The good news: more Kemono Friends is on the horizon. Whatever this new screen project may be—a full anime series, specials, or film—I welcome the chance to revisit Kaban, Serval, and any other Friends they encounter.
The bad news: Director Tatsuki was dismissed with questionable explanation and I’m afraid of what direction any new material will take.
Kemono Friends proved once again to me that a good story is so much more than just slick graphics and complicated plot lines. Sometimes the most powerful lesson of all is the most straightforward. I fell in love with Japari Park and all its inhabitants because of the affection that overflowed from their world into mine.
Watch Kemono Friends on Crunchyroll.
- 12 Days of Anime as hosted by Perpetual Morning
- 12 Days of Anime as hosted by Bibi’s World