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, however, the company has yet to announce a home video release for North America. A second season has been green-lit.
|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|
|Produced by||Yoshitada Fukuhara|
|Music by||Akiyuki Tateyama|
|Original network||TV Tokyo|
|Original run||January 10, 2017 – present|
|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
- 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.
- Serval (サーバル Sābaru)
- Voiced by: Yuka Ozaki
- A serval cat Friend 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. A different Serval (Voiced by: Ai Nonaka) worked alongside Mirai when Japari Park was open.
- Lucky Beast (ラッキービースト Rakkī Bīsuto)
- Voiced by: Mirai
- 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.
- Raccoon (アライグマ Araiguma)
- Voiced by: Saki Ono
- 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".
- Fennec (フェネック Fenekku)
- Voiced by: Kana Motomiya
- A fennec fox who accompanies Raccoon as she pursues Kaban and Serval.
- 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 with are played through Lucky Beast.
- 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. The second game officially acts as the prequel to the anime series.
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. A second anime season was announced to be greenlit for production on July 26, 2017 and was officially confirmed on September 2, 2018.
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.
|#||Episode title[a]||Original air date|
"Sabanna Chihō" (さばんなちほー)
|January 10, 2017|
|In the Savanna area of a place known as Japari Park, a girl carrying a hat and a bag comes across Serval, who is a humanized animal known as a Friend. Noticing the girl has no memory of where she came from or what kind of animal she is, Serval names the girl "Kaban" after her bag and decides to lead her to the Savanna exit so she can find the Japari Library for more information. After receiving some help from a Hippopotamus, Serval comes across a dangerous creature known as a Cerulean, struggling to find its weak point. However, Kaban manages to find the weak point on the Cerulean's back and uses a paper airplane to distract it so Serval can defeat it. Continuing into the Jungle Area, Kaban and Serval come across a robotic rabbit named Lucky Beast, who converses with Kaban despite having never talked to the other animals.|
"Janguru Chihō" (じゃんぐるちほー)
|January 17, 2017|
|Lucky Beast guides Kaban and Serval through the Jungle area, where they soon discover a broken down bus. With help from an Asian Small-clawed Otter and a Jaguar, the girls manage to find the bus' driver seat section on the other side of a river, but struggle to find a way to carry it back to the bus. Luckily, Kaban manages to use her ingenuity and helps the others to build a partial bridge across the river, allowing Serval to carry the driver seat across. They then discover, however, that the bus' battery has died and must be recharged at a café at the top of the mountain.|
|January 24, 2017|
|Receiving a lift from a Crested Ibis, Kaban manages to reach the Japari Café at the top of the mountain, run by an Alpaca who is depressed over the lack of customers. While the bus battery is left to charge, Kaban helps Alpaca make her café more noticeable by pulling out grass to make a makeshift sign. With the battery fully charged, Kaban and Serval get the bus running and set off on their way. Meanwhile, two other Friends, Raccoon and Fennec, start following Kaban and Serval's trail.|
"Sabaku Chihō" (さばくちほー)
|January 31, 2017|
|While passing through the desert, Kaban and Serval become trapped in an underground attraction alongside a Tsuchinoko, having to work together with her to find an exit.|
|February 7, 2017|
|Serval accidentally knocks the bus into some logs, which an American Beaver was planning to use to build her house, despite lacking the courage to go through with it. While searching for replacement trees, the girls come across a Prairie Dog, who is also having trouble building a home as the tunnels she digs keep collapsing in on her. Taking note of both Friends' strengths and weaknesses, Kaban suggests that they work together to build a house they can share.|
|February 14, 2017|
|Kaban and Serval come across a fort, where a Lion explains that she is always easily beating a rival team, led by a Moose, and wants them to become good enough to fight her directly. Thus, she sneaks Kaban and Serval into Moose's team, where Kaban gives them a new strategy allowing them to sneak into the fort and reach a draw against Lion. Afterwards, one of Moose's minions, Shoebill, informs Kaban that she might be a human.|
"Japari Toshokan" (じゃぱりとしょかん)
|February 21, 2017|
|Wanting to find out more about humans, Kaban and Serval head towards Japari Library, first having to go through a trivia-based maze. Upon reaching the library, the girls meet a Northern White-faced Owl and a Eurasian Eagle Owl, who task them with cooking them a meal. After Kaban manages to please them with a curry, the owls reveal that humans have allegedly gone extinct, suggesting they search for a human-suitable area for more information and giving them some concert tickets to PPP, Japari Park's penguin idol group, as a reward.|
"PePaPu Raibu" (ぺぱぷらいぶ)
|February 28, 2017|
|Kaban and Serval travel to the Waterfront Area, where the third generation of PPP are holding their first concert, and meet a fangirl Friend named Margay. As the girls get to sit in on PPP's rehearsal, they discover the group is worried about living up to the standards of their predecessors. Just before their performance, one of the members, Princess the royal penguin, starts acting strange after Margay brings up how the previous generations had fewer members. Upon learning that Princess has stage fright due to the group never having a royal penguin before, Kaban and Serval drag her back to the stage, where she hears the other penguins praise her for everything she's done for them. With an extra push from Margay, Princess rejoins the group and brings out a successful performance. After assigning Margay as their manager, the penguins direct Kaban towards the harbor, where humans were last seen.|
|09||"Snowy Mountains Area"|
"Yukiyama Chihō" (ゆきやまちほー)
|March 7, 2017|
|Kaban and Serval pass through the Snowy Mountains Area, deciding to make their way towards a hot spring. While taking shelter in a snow hut Kaban made during a snowstorm, the girls are approached by two foxes, Silver Fox and Ezo Red Fox, who lead them to some natural hot springs on their way to fix some broken equipment. While exploring the hot springs, Kaban and Serval hear a recorded message from Lucky Beast, referring to someone named Mirai. Just then, a stampede of Ceruleans appear, prompting Kaban to create a makeshift sled, allowing everyone to escape safely back to the bus. After stopping by a hot spring inn afterwards, Kaban and Serval head towards a lodge where they can spend the night.|
|March 14, 2017|
|The girls arrive at Lodge Campo, run by a Campo Flicker. While exploring the lodge, they meet a Gray Wolf and a Reticulated Giraffe, while also hearing another message from Mirai. The next day, Campo Flicker mentions seeing a mysterious shadow lurking around, which the other guests suspect might be a Cerulean. As Kaban and Serval end up having to extend their stay due to the rain, they eventually stumble across the mysterious Friend-shaped figure that the other guests reported seeing. Kaban eventually deduces that the figure was actually a projection of Mirai that appears during her reports. As the projection clears up to show Mirai reporting on a dangerous Cerulean, Serval tears up when she sees another Serval alongside Mirai. Upon finally arriving at the harbor, Kaban and Serval prepare to board a boat out to sea, when they suddenly hear a loud noise.|
|March 21, 2017|
|Kaban and Serval are rescued from a black Cerulean by a Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, who works alongside Brown Bear and African Wild Dog as Cerulean Hunters. After Lucky Beast exclaims a warning about something called Sandstar Raw, Kaban and Serval follow him up a mountain while the hunters stay behind to hunt the black Cerulean's main body. After receiving another message from Mirai mentioning "four gods", the girls reach the top of the mountain where Sandstar forms. It is there that Raccoon and Fennec catch up to them, with Raccoon claiming that Kaban had stolen her hat, although she returns it after hearing about all of her good deeds. As the girls follow Mirai's instructions to dig up four tablets representing the four gods, the black Cerulean below starts absorbing Sandstar Raw from the mountain to grow larger. With the four tablets in place, the girls manage to put up a filter to stop the Cerulean absorbing more Sandstar Raw. Determined to protect the park, Kaban comes up with a plan to use the boat to lure the Cerulean into the ocean. When the plan goes awry and Serval gets swallowed up by the Cerulean, however, Kaban dives in to pull Serval out before luring the Cerulean away, sacrificing herself in the process.|
|March 28, 2017|
|Shocked to learn that Kaban had been eaten by the Cerulean while saving her, Serval goes with Brown Bear to attempt to save her. Meanwhile, Lucky Beast, breaking his rule of not speaking directly to Friends due to a human being in danger, sends a transmission to all of the other Friends, who join Serval in confronting the Cerulean and rescuing Kaban. Despite being eaten by the Cerulean, which would normally turn a Friend back into its original animal form, Kaban, having been a Human Friend to begin with, just ends up returning to normal. However, Lucky Beast sacrifices himself to bring the Cerulean out on the boat, sinking into the ocean along with it, although Kaban manages to find his A.I. still intact. One month later, as a big party is held at an amusement park, Raccoon explains how Kaban became a Friend after Sandstar landed on her hat, which originally belonged to Mirai and contained a strand of human hair from her head. After receiving one more message from Mirai, Kaban sets sail in search of other humans, with Serval and the other Friends deciding to follow after her.|
|#||Episode title||Original air date|
|April 5, 2017|
|With the Japari Bus broken down, the Owls help Raccoon and Fennec find a replacement.|
|August 9, 2017|
|Kaban and Serval come across a racecourse, where they meet three thoroughbred horse Friends.|
|Special 2||"Ani Summer"|
|August 29, 2017|
|While preparing a concert hall for a certain event, the Owls come across a bunch of cards depicting proper concert behavior.|
|September 19, 2017|
|Silver Fox and Ezo Red Fox watch a commercial to try and determine how to prepare instant kitsune udon.|
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 criticisms 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 childish but addictive nature of the show, it has been described (in ironic disapproval) 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 many anime shows are available for free viewing on Niconico Douga. 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. 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 "Yōkoso Japari Park e" rose to 3rd place in the iTunes charts upon release. It was revealed on May 20 that "Yōkoso 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, Fukuhara, the producer, confirmed that Yaoyorozu would ultimately not go on to produce the second season.
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