Welcome, all, again. I apologize for my recent absence, but a death in the family required my rather sudden presence overseas. And compounding the sad reason for my trip was my intense dislike of air travel, so that it’s taken me several days from my return to fully recuperate. But here I am, ready to discuss my first pick of the new viewing season–Kemono Friends. OK, stop laughing! Because we’re really discussing this.
Fun fact: I’m old. My children are grown, and I even have grandchildren. . .and it’s a beautiful place in life to be! I love children’s books, what with all the clever wordplay and gorgeous pictures, and so many of those pictures in warm, bright colors! And I love Kemono Friends, which seems to me to be an anime version of a children’s book, but is actually based upon the Nexon smart phone game “Zoo RPG.” Set in Japari Park, the show follows the adventures of a lost girl as she tries to discover what sort of animal she is. Mind you, she has no memory of her time before waking up in the park, not even her name. (Serval, who finds her, calls her Bag-chan because she carries a pack.) So she can only compare herself to the [other] animals she encounters as she searches for a fabled library within the park that might provide her some answers.
As it happens, Japari Park is inhabited by animals with very human traits, pretty much meaning girls with certain physical and behavioral characteristics of their assigned animals. (Lots and lots of neko girls, nyah!) Why no boys? Probably because everyone in the park gets along, and boys–even amongst animals–tend to be somewhat aggressive. (Seriously, all that head-butting and chest-beating. . .) But these animals are a quiet and generally content bunch, pursuing their individual interests and filling their bellies with something called Japari buns. And so our poor confused child eventually changes her standard greeting from “Please don’t eat me!” to something a little calmer and less confusing to her new friends.
And the animals are friendly, the word friend even being how the animals refer to each other. None of the animals are trying to hunt or eat each other (although there are some weird, blob-like things providing an element of danger). But this omission of predation creates a very kid-friendly show. What’s more, it’s educational! We encounter animals in their native habitat, then learn about that habitat from the animals who live there and from a robotic automaton tour guide called “Lucky Beast” or “Boss.” There are even brief segments of voiced information about the animals encountered. Imagine The Magic School Bus meets Wild Kingdom (sans all the dramatic music and bloodshed). The resultant series is cute, fun, and smart! So grab an episode with the youngsters in your life, then jump onto the net together and look-up the real animals. It’ll be a blast!