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27 February 2017: Welcome to welcome to Kemono Friends and the future of anime

Bag, Lucky, and Serval
Toonces, watch out!

If you've been paying attention to anime at all, you've noticed Kemono Friends exploded in the past month into an international phenomenon that's not entirely easy to explain. From the looks of it, it's popular because it's popular, but that's not to say this popularity is unjustified, because the show itself is quite good.

American Beaver
She's Belgian?

Typically, when a show seems to over-perform, the success can be attributed to a solid execution. Having caught up in short order with the seven episodes of Kemono Friends currently available, my view is that the key to Kemono Friends isn't so much execution as it is presentation. The show is crudely animated 3DCG (although notably superior from a technical standpoint to, say, Straight Title Robot Anime or Tesagure! Bukatsumono). Rather, there's the right amount of care in the storytelling, setting, and characters to hold the viewer's interest as the tales unfold. I suppose the distinction here between "execution" and "presentation" is pedantic, but if I had to explain the difference in the two, then I suppose execution comes across more as a product of skill, while presentation feels more like the result of sincerity?

Black-Tailed Prairie Dog
At least you aren't being shot for sport in Japari Park.

In any case, Kemono Friends is captivating as a road trip story with canned adventures which I'm sure will culminate in a grand set of lessons learned along the way. It's successful enough at it that I don't care about the 3DCG aspects at all. We're in that weird transition phase where, as I've remarked before, the use of 3DCG in future animation nearly seems unavoidable, but isn't quite yet at a stage where it can escape scrutiny, at least on a technical level. Kemono Friends gets by as Tesagure! Bukatsumono did because the animation itself doesn't detract from its charm. That's definitely a better approach than the one taken by Hand Shakers, which seems poised to "take one for the team" by assaulting the senses so violently that anything else will look fantastic in comparison.


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