Sora AmamiyaKimiko SaitoJunko MinagawaAkira Sekine
Kemono Michi: Rise Up
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2019: K
Also known as: Hataage! Kemono Michi
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2019
Director: Kazuya Miura
Writer: Touko Machida
Original creator: Mo-suke Mattaku, Natsume Akatsuki, Yumeuta
Actor: Akira Sekine, Aoi Koga, Arisa Sakuraba, Daisuke Ono, Hana Tamegai, Hayato Fujii, Hiroki Yasumoto, Hirosato Amano, Jun Fukushima, Junichi Saitou, Junko Minagawa, Kana Aoi, Katsuyuki Konishi, Kenichiro Matsuda, Kenta Zaima, Kimiko Saito, Kouzou Dousaka, Mie Sonozaki, Misaki Yuki, Rie Suegara, Sora Amamiya, Subaru Kimura, Takehiro Hasu, Taketora, Tetsu Inada, Toshinari Fukamachi, Yuki Yagi
Keywords: anime, fantasy
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Website category: Anime 2019
Review date: 20 August 2020
It's an isekai parody from Natsume Akatsuki, the writer of KonoSuba. I loved it, but be warned that some of it's problematic. There's a pseudo-rape, potential bestiality and a running gag about women being slammed upside-down and knocked unconscious with their knickers exposed.
The beautiful, kind-hearted Princess Altena summons a hero from another world to defeat the beasts who are ravaging her kingdom. Unfortunately for her, she's summoned Genzou Shibata.
(a) he loves animals. Really, really loves animals. I don't think he actually ejaculates when cuddling them, but he certainly has no sexual interest in humans. He's only excited if you've got furry ears and a tail. That pseudo-rape I mentioned is when a wolfman chose the wrong man to try to kidnap and sell into slavery. (I think Genzou only cuddles and strokes him, but the wolfman's still traumatised for the rest of the series.)
(b) he's a pro wrestler. If he doesn't like you, he'll give you a German suplex.
Everyone in this world expects him to be heroic, i.e. commit mass murder. They're incapable of processing the fact that he hates being called "Magical Beast Killer", even though anyone who says it will immediately get smashed through the wall, floor or ceiling. In a genre where one expects heroes to commit mass murder of non-human sentients, Genzou never kills anything. He'd clobber you for squashing an ant. Violent confrontations will be averted with squeaky toys, a handshake and mutual respect. I love those orcs. (There's also a traditional fantasy hero who keeps showing up to represent standard genre viewpoints, so Genzou keeps flattening him.)
That's what I loved. Genzou means tolerance in a racist world where half-animals are surprised to be treated like people. He's just indulging his fetish, obviously, but he's also bringing social change.
That said, though, this heartwarming message is reaching us through losers, perverts and comedic sociopathy.
Genzou is a disaster area. He's only interested in animals, wrestling and his dream of opening a pet shop. He's blind to everything else, including social niceties and money management.
Shigure is a wolf-girl who becomes Genzou's minder. She's the show's voice of sanity and not a bad person, underneath. She admires Genzou's ideals and wants to see the loving, conflict-free world he dreams of. However she's also a scumbag who'd do almost anything for money and can be driven to foul-mouthed, demon-eyed rage by her freeloading friends. (She's normally super-polite.)
Hanako (aka. Linda Blair) is a dragon in human form who only cares about food. Her friends are only alive because she thinks humans don't taste nice.
Finally, Carmilla's another problematic element. She's always getting body-slammed, punched, ignored, insulted, urinated on and in extreme cases killed. Fortunately, she's a vampire and can shrug it all off. She's made of iron and the only person to regularly measure up to Genzou in physical strength. However, she's also a lazy, drunken loser who never does anything useful and is sexually obsessed with her mistress (Hanako). She likes boasting about her own greatness, but she's the lowest, weakest class of vampire and regarded as a nobody by other undead.
For me, she's the show's most interesting character. She's unaware that the rest of the world doesn't share her inverted morals, e.g. seeing heroes as disgusting criminals. She genuinely loves Hanako and gives the show the nearest it gets to emotional depth in her desperation to serve her. I cared about Carmilla's bout in ep.11.
I like the show's other subversions too. On paper, Genzou's the best choice ever for an isekai hero, because he can fight. The baddies realise that if the good guys can summon allies from another world, so can they. For the best possible reasons, Princess Altena at one point assembles a death squad to murder a good man. (Comedy failure alert.) Then there's the neighbour Genzou's always flirting with, even though she's a fat middle-aged kobold with twenty children. It's rather charming to see such a wholehearted rejection of expected body types.
I like this show. I'm not going to apologise for it. Its content is near the knuckle, but there's a lot to admire in what it's saying underneath. Genzou wants to teach the world that humans, animals and beast-people can co-exist... and he succeeds. This is lovely, but the show's other jokes mean that you can't call it sickly-sweet. On the contrary, its most memorable moments tend to be, say, Genzou's friends' reactions in ep.9 to him being accused of criminal offences. (With friends like that, who needs the police?)
It's a show about friendship, racial tolerance and idiot scumbags. With cheap gags and gratuitous abuse.