Kemono Friends (Japanese: けものフレンズ Hepburn: Kemono Furenzu) is a Japanese media franchise created by manga artist Mine Yoshizaki. The project first produced a mobile game developed by Nexon, which ran between March 2015 and December 2016. A manga by Furai was serialized in Kadokawa's Monthly Shōnen Ace between May 2015 and March 2017. A second game in the series was released by Bushiroad on January 26, 2018, while a second anime season has been greenlit for production. An anime television series produced by Yaoyorozu aired between January and March 2017; the anime was co-financed and licensed by Crunchyroll. A second season by Tomason aired between January to April 2019.
Anime key visual
|Designed by||Mine Yoshizaki|
March 16, 2015
March 19, 2015
|Kemono Friends: Welcome to Japari Park!|
|Published by||Kadokawa Shoten|
|Magazine||Monthly Shōnen Ace|
|Original run||July 2015 – March 2017|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Tatsuki (season 1)|
Ryuichi Kimura (season 2)
|Produced by||Yoshitada Fukuhara|
|Written by||Tatsuki (season 1)|
Takuya Masumoto (season 2)
|Music by||Akiyuki Tateyama|
|Studio||Yaoyorozu (season 1)|
Tomason (season 2)
|Original network||TV Tokyo, TV Osaka, TV Aichi, AT-X|
|Original run||January 10, 2017 – April 1, 2019|
|Kemono Friends Pavilion|
|Designed by||Mine Yoshizaki|
|Released||January 26, 2018|
|Original net animation|
|Welcome to the Japari Park|
|Released||August 10, 2018 – present|
|Kemono Friends Picross|
|Released||October 4, 2018|
Japari Park is a large zoo home to extant species, endangered species, extinct species, cryptids and some legendary creatures. Due to a mysterious substance known as "Sandstar", many of the animals have become anthropomorphized into girls known as Friends (フレンズ Furenzu).
The manga follows a park keeper named Nana who looks after the various Friends in Japari Park. In the anime, a girl known only as Kaban wakes up in Japari Park with no recollection of who she is or how she got there and encounters a Serval friend. Together, they set out on an adventure to find out what kind of animal Kaban is, passing through multiple regions of Japari Park and meeting new Friends along the way.
- Kaban (かばん, lit. Bag)
- Voiced by: Aya Uchida (Japanese)
- The main protagonist of the anime series. A young girl who finds herself in Japari Park with no memory of who she is or where she comes from. Her name was given by Serval due to the backpack she carries. Shy yet resourceful, she travels through Japari Park along with Serval to find out her identity while encountering more Friends along the way, eventually discovering that she is a human. She is the only character with whom Lucky Beast will directly communicate. In Kemono Friends 2, she reappears as an adult, working alongside the owls to research the phenomenom of Ceruleans.
- Serval (サーバル Sābaru)
- Voiced by: Yuka Ozaki (Japanese)
- A serval cat that was originally from the Savannah Area of Japari Park. She is the first friend to meet Kaban, eager to journey with her in the search for her identity. Energetic and curious, Serval is often amazed by the skills and talents of Kaban and the Friends they encounter on their journey. She reappears as a main character in Kemono Friends 2, though appears to have lost her memory of her time with Kaban.
- Kyururu (キュルル)
- Voiced by: Yui Ishikawa
- The main protagonist of Kemono Friends 2, named after the sound of their stomach grumbling. They emerged from a mysterious laboratory in Japari Park, with their only clue home being a sketchbook.
- Fennec (フェネック Fenekku)
- Voiced by: Kana Motomiya (Japanese)
- A fennec fox who accompanies Raccoon as she pursues Kaban and Serval.
- Raccoon (アライグマ Araiguma)
- Voiced by: Saki Ono (Japanese)
- A raccoon who is chasing after Kaban and Serval, believing that she stole something from her. She calls herself "Arai-san" instead of using the word "I".
- PPP (ぺぱぷ PePaPu)
- Voiced by: Mikoi Sasaki (Princess), Ruka Nemoto (Emperor), Kyoka Tamura (Gentoo), Aina Aiba (Rocker), Ikuko Chikuta (Hululu)
- An all-penguin idol group, consisting of Princess (プリンセス Purinsesu), a royal penguin; Emperor (コウテイ Kōtei), an emperor penguin; Gean (ジェーン Jēn), a gentoo penguin; Rocker (イワビー Iwabī), a rockhopper penguin; and Hululu (フルル Hururu), a humboldt penguin.
- Ezo Red Fox (キタキツネ Kita Kitsune)
- Voiced by: Suzuko Mimori
- A reoccuring character in the manga series. An Ezo red fox who is rather lazy and enjoys eating Japari buns.
- Northern White-faced Owl (アフリカオオコノハズク Afurika ōkonohazuku) and Eurasian Eagle Owl (ワシミミズク Washi Mimizuku)
- Voiced by: Shiori Mikami and Akari Uehara
- A northern white-faced owl and eurasian eagle owl - respectively referred to as Professor (博士 Hakase) and Assistant (助手 Joshu) - who reside in Japari library.
- Giant Armadillo (オオアルマジロ Ooarumajiro) and Giant Pangolin (オオセンザンコウ Oosenzankou)
- Voiced by: Kana Motomiya and Saki Ono
- A giant armadillo and giant pangolin - respectively nicknamed Alma and Sen - who work as detectives who will take on any request in exchange for food.
- Lucky Beast (ラッキービースト Rakkī Bīsuto)
- A small, robotic creature also referred to as "Boss" (ボス) by the Friends. While he does not respond to the Friends themselves, he will directly answer questions and statements made by Kaban, providing information on Japari Park, Friends, and needed items when trouble arises.
- Mirai (ミライ)
- Voiced by: Aya Uchida
- A park guide who worked at Japari Park when it was still open and adores animals. During her time at the park, she recorded various reports which are played through Lucky Beast. A different Serval (Voiced by: Ai Nonaka) worked alongside Mirai when Japari Park was open.
- Nana (奈々)
- The main protagonist of the manga, who works as a caretaker at Japari Park.
The first smartphone app by Nexon launched in Japan in March 2015, running until its service was shut down on December 14, 2016, one month prior to the anime's premiere. Nexon initially stated that there were no plans to restart the service despite the popularity of the anime series, although the company later announced that, while a return is possible, no final decision on a game relaunch has been made.
On April 23, a new game in development by Bushiroad was announced. On August 14, its name was revealed to be Kemono Friends Pavilion (Japanese: けものフレンズぱびりおん Hepburn: Kemono Furenzu Pabirion), and will be a simulation game. Originally meant to be released in late 2017, the release date was pushed back to January 26, 2018.
A manga illustrated by Furai, titled Kemono Friends: Welcome to Japari Park! (けものフレンズ ようこそジャパリパークへ! Kemono Furenzu: Yōkoso Japari Park e!), began serialization in Kadokawa Shoten's Shōnen Ace magazine from May 2015. The first tankōbon volume was released on December 26, 2016. At their panel in Anime Expo, Yen Press announced their license to the manga. In April 2018, Tokyopop announced that they will release the German version of the manga and that they will publish the first volume on July 26, 2018.
The anime television series, produced by Yaoyorozu, aired in Japan between January 10, 2017 and March 28, 2017; the anime was simulcast by Crunchyroll, which co-financed and licensed the anime series. The opening theme is "Yōkoso Japari Park e" (ようこそジャパリパークへ Welcome to Japari Park) by Dōbutsu Biscuits×PPP, while the ending theme is "Boku no Friend" (ぼくのフレンド My Friend) by Mewhan. Original content for TV Tokyo's AniTele service was released from April 1, 2017. An unofficial "episode 12.1" 2-minute short was uploaded by the director to Niconico and YouTube on April 5, 2017. Additional shorts have been created in collaboration with Japan Racing Association, Animelo Summer Live 2017, and Nissin Foods. Discotek Media will distribute the series for Crunchyroll in North America, and will produce an English dub by Sound Cadence Studios.
A second anime season was announced to be greenlit for production on July 26, 2017 and was officially confirmed on September 2, 2018. The second season is animated by Tomason, with Ryuichi Kimura and Takuya Matsumoto replacing Tatsuki as director and writer, respectively. The rest of the cast and staff are reprising their roles. The second season aired from January 14 to April 1, 2019. The opening theme is "Notteke~ Japari Beat," by Dōbutsu Biscuits×PPP. The ending theme from episodes 1-5 is "Hoshi o Tsunagete" by Gothic×Luck. From episode 6-onwards, Gothic×Luck performed the series' second ending theme "Kimi wa Kaeru Basho." A short anime titled Kemono Friends 3 has been greenlit for production.
An original net animation mini-series based on the original mobile game, titled Welcome to the Japari Park (ようこそジャパリパーク Yōkoso Japari Pāku), began streaming on TV Tokyo's AnimeTele service from August 10, 2018. Crunchyroll began streaming the series from October 16, 2018.
A stage play adaptation of Kemono Friends with an original storyline ran at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel Club eX in Tokyo from 2017 June 14 to 18. Hiroki Murakami directed the play and penned the script while some of the characters were portrayed by the same actors who voiced them in the anime series. It ran again from 2018 January 13 to 21.
Initial criticism often latched onto the 3D CGI animation style and character design. Critic Hiroki Azuma reported on Twitter that he stopped watching partway through the first episode. However, its popularity increased explosively after the release of the fourth episode. Referring to the simplistic and innocent but addictive nature of the show, it has been described by cynical bloggers as "causing one's IQ to melt" and "lowering one's intelligence". Despite its low production quality, the anime series earned praise from critics and viewers in Japan due to its well crafted storyline and characters, becoming a fad in the country. Nick Creamer of Anime News Network gave the series an overall grade of B, praising the worldbuilding and criticizing the visual aspects.
The first episode of Kemono Friends quickly surpassed the first episode of Is the Order a Rabbit? (9 million views as of September 2017; uploaded on April 16, 2014) as well as other popular shows like Attack on Titan in total views on Niconico Douga. By February 5, it had surpassed 1 million views, by April 4, it had surpassed 5 million views, and by August 24, it had reached a record-breaking 10 million views.
The week after episode 12 and around the time episodes would normally air, demand for an episode 13 reached Twitter's international trends list, and the episode 12.1 short that was uploaded that day (April 5) had reached over 1 million views on both Niconico and YouTube by April 7.
The opening theme song "Yokoso Japari Park e" rose to 3rd place in the iTunes charts upon release. It was revealed on May 20 that "Yokoso Japari Park e" had reached gold status (sales of 100,000+ in Japan). Gen Hoshino has expressed high praise of the song. Hisashi, guitarist of the band Glay, was inspired to create a guitar arrangement of the opening theme song after watching episode 11.
Multiple other Kemono Friends merchandise topped Amazon rankings upon announcement. The unexpected popularity of the show created a shortage in supply and reservations had to be placed on backorder.
It was reported on NHK's News Check 11 that an increase in the number of visits to zoos rose as a direct result of inspired viewers of Kemono Friends. Kemono Friends has also participated in multiple promotional events with zoos and other establishments, such as posting boards in the image of the franchise's anthropomorphized animals near their real-life counterparts. One of the results of this was a Humboldt penguin named Grape-kun (Japanese: グレープ君) at the Saitama Tobu Zoo that appeared to have fallen in love with its Kemono Friends depiction, display mating behavior towards the board. The popularity of this unusual incident was substantial, such that the penguin was featured on the obi of the fourth guidebook, and the board was not removed after the promotion ended. Grape-kun died on October 12, 2017 beside the cutout.
Dispute between Kadokawa and YaoyorozuEdit
On September 25, 2017, the director of the anime, Tatsuki, revealed on Twitter that Kadokawa had decided to replace him for the production of the second season; fan response included immense condemnation of Kadokawa and widespread support of Tatsuki, as Tatsuki is regarded as being a highly instrumental part of the anime's charm and success. Fans left angry comments en masse towards Kadokawa on Niconico Douga's stream of the first episode, with some declaring that they would cancel their Niconico Douga premium membership with the service in response to Tatsuki's firing, as Dwango [Niconico's owner] and Kadokawa are both child companies of Kadokawa Dwango. The Nikkei reported that stock prices for Kadokawa Dwango fell by 3.3% compared to the previous day at the Tokyo Stock Exchange as a result of the news. In response, the production committee of the Kemono Friends anime announced that director Tatsuki and the animation studio Yaoyorozu had been using the Kemono Friends property on its own without consulting all concerned parties and that Yaoyorozu would not agree to a normalization in communication and withdrew from the project as a result. A September 26 Kemono Friends streaming program on Niconico Douga then featured several voice actresses from the anime publicly apologizing for the ongoing controversy, despite having little connection to the corporate decisions made. This led to further backlash against Kadokawa, with accusations that they had used the actresses to deflect blame from the company itself.
On December 27, 2017, Fukuhara, the producer, confirmed that Yaoyorozu would ultimately not go on to produce the second season.
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