Aya UchidaShiori MikamiMasumi AsanoAkari Uehara
Kemono Friends 2
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2019
Director: Ryuichi Kimura
Writer: Takuya Masumoto
Actor: Aina Aiba, Akari Uehara, Aya Uchida, Haruka Terui, Hikaru Tohno, Hina Kino, Hiromi Igarashi, Hitomi Ohwada, Ikuko Chikuta, Kana Motomiya, Kaori Ishihara, Kaori Maeda, Kaori Mizuhashi, Kyoka Tamura, Madoka Kan, Mami Yamashita, Manami Numakura, Mariya Ise, Mashiro Yagi, Masumi Asano, Mayu Yoshioka, Mewhan, Mikoi Sasaki, Natsumi Takamori, Riko Koike, Risae Matsuda, Ruka Nemoto, Ryoko Shiraishi, Saki Ono, Satsumi Matsuda, Shino Shimoji, Shiori Mikami, Tomoyo Takayanagi, Yui Ishikawa, Yuka Iguchi, Yuka Ozaki, Yuki Kaneko
Keywords: anime, SF
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=21589
Website category: Anime 2019
Review date: 2 November 2019
kemono-friends
Ha ha ha ha, serves them right. Oh, and this sequel season's all filler.
Let's explain the full, pathetic story.
1. In 2017, a director called TATSUKI was commissioned to create a super-cheap CGI anime based on a mobile phone game called Kemono Friends. The latter was so unpopular that it got discontinued before the anime aired. The anime, on the other hand, was a surprise hit. It's not that great, to be honest, but it's charming and very likeable, while also having dark post-apocalypse secrets to unearth. It's also award-winning, in the Television Animation Division at the 2018 Tokyo Anime Award Festival.
2. TATSUKI made a couple of bonus mini-episodes without notifying the entire production committee.
3. The parent company, Kadokawa, went all Insane Tightarse Control Freak. For his crime, they fired TATSUKI. The fanbase (both domestic and international) went ballistic and the show's entire production staff resigned in sympathy. Result: Kadokawa's stock price dropped by over a third in 24 hours. Some of the show's voice actresses were made to apologise publicly for the controversy, despite having no involvement.
4. Kadokawa commissions Kemono Friends 2 from a different production team. Many fans vow not to watch it.
5. One of the show's new producers, Nobuyuki Hosoya, creates a TATSUKI-bashing pseudonymous Twitter account and gains a reputation on social media for sneering at anyone who criticises the second season. TV Tokyo ends up apologising publicly for his behaviour.
Good grief. In fairness, the Japanese anime production system gives a power of veto to almost all interested parties in the production process. It's amazing the industry ever succeeds in making anything. You hear horror stories of licence-holders making childish or impossible demands, with the ability to kill the entire project if they don't get what they want. This might be a self-destructive example of that.
Anyway, this anime.
To be honest, I'm not convinced that even a TATSUKI-led Season 2 would have stood up to Season 1. The show's blown its secrets. We know that it's post-apocalyptic. It's not obvious what direction you'd take next, although there would have been lots of better options than the ones chosen here.
Kemono Friends 2 is basically... nothing. It's a soft reboot (although technically a sequel), with a Kaban replacement called Kyururu. (His gender is never specified, but I'll use male pronouns since separately released extra material says he's male.) He's also human, which makes him extremely rare. He befriends some animal-girls and goes wandering with them through Japari Park.
And that's it.
Season 1, much of the time, was just nice, inconsequential episodes about animal girls. You kept watching partly because it was charming, but also because there was also darker material underneath.
Here, there's no darker material. Result: it's just twelve inconsequential episodes. The theme song's fun, but that's as far as it goes for ongoing audience hooks. Kyururu's looking for his house, but then in ep.12 he decides not to bother. Huh. Admittedly the park contains dangerous beings (Ceruleans and Beasts), but neither of them does any real damage and the Ceruleans are just hero-fodder. The last two episodes reunite almost everyone and bring them under attack, but no threat is conveyed because it's so obvious that the Ceruleans' plot role is to get beaten up and give our heroes a chance to look cool.
Sometimes this is fun. I was amused by ep.3 and its reward obsession of a Bottlenose Dolphin and California Sea Lion. That had charm. A lot of these episodes, though, were soporific. I'd watch them and gently start drifting. They didn't grab your attention. They were nice and a bit silly, but no more.
Some of Season 1's more distinctive features are gone. We no longer have the ad break zoo-keeper interviews, for instance, which is a shame since this show's built on making characters out of specific animals and their unique quirks. Season 1 was educational. Season 2 is inaccurate. (Giant Panda has been given a black tail, a Greater Roadrunner is shown doing lots of flying and ep.8 incorrectly says that tanukis like living in wetlands and that a Crested Ibis is a mammal.) That said, though, there's an educational element here too, e.g. what would happen if a cheetah raced a pronghorn.
They've even changed the animation. It's still super-cheap CGI, but they've normalised the rendering from Season 1's simpler, cruder lines. I preferred the old style. It's more distinctive and makes the visual compositions feel more dynamic. Season 2's CGI is more plastic. It looks more like other CGI shows, with particularly smooth chest shading for the bustier Friends like Emperor Penguin and Gorilla.
For the most part, this season is okay. Sort of nice. Nothing special and a bit soporific, but still a good-natured traipse through the world of its superior predecessor. However the last two episodes annoyed me, with their shallow ideas of what constitutes a season finale. The season's one new element (what's creating Ceruleans) is nonsense that the show doesn't even try to justify. I'd have been okay if they'd made even a token attempt at explaining how that worked, but they don't. Then we have the Whack-A-Cerulean fan-pleasing parade and Kyururu deciding to overturn his motivation because the script says so. The only bit that woke me up in ep.12 was the Season 1 callback, with Kaban saying goodbye to Serval as a lead-in to the Season 1 theme song. That had more emotional weight than anything in season 2, which says it all.
This season had things I actively liked, but they tended to be minor details like the penguin-like choreography for PPP in ep.8. I also like the theme song. It's a pleasant season, but a disposable one.