Kemono Friends is an anime that is taking the internet by storm. People are captivated by the cavorting of a young girl named Kaban and her various animal Friends in the Japari wildlife park. Said Friends being animal and human hybrids. This slice-of-life series has a sense of innocence and charm that tends to captivate people. But, this isn’t some show that got its start as a manga and exploded. Rather, it began its life as a game.
Way back on March 16, 2015, Nexon decided to launch Kemono Friends on Android and iOS devices. At first glance, it didn’t look especially exciting; basically, it was the standard mobile RPG. Players recruited a group of incredibly appealing characters, would go through missions where they’d face waves of enemies, invested time and money into acquiring more Friends to fight their battles for them and hopefully found some sort of success in making Japari Park a safer place for the characters living there and humans that may visit.
In the Kemono Friends application, players were original characters roaming Japari Park after a Cerulean outbreak. While Sandstar material creates Friends, making normal animals into human-animal hybrids, it also creates destructive and violent Cerulean when it became part of inorganic substances. The Japari Park guide, Mirai, would help players find their way through areas and get together with Friends to clear the park during the first Cerulean outbreak after an eruption scattered Sandstar throughout the park. The app also marks the first appearance of Serval, a Friend who will remain a series staple across all media installments.
The game was the setup for the manga series, which began its run in July 2015. While the first eruption was the impetus for the park cleaning Mirai and players handled in the original Kemono Friends, Kemono Friends: Youkoso Japari Park e! showed what happened after people’s success in the app. It follows a whole new park guide and caretaker, Nana, who is learning from Mirai and making friends with some more Friends who appear at the park. This is the first instance of a more lighthearted take on Japari Park. While the original Kemono Friends is very much about salvaging things and crisis management, as well as collecting adorable young women who look like animals, the manga was the first instance where we could enjoy what these innocent animal-people would be like in a casual setting.
It’s after the closure of the Kemono Friends game, which shut down on December 14, 2016, that the anime began. On January 10, 2017, the 12-episode run of the show began. This series shoots forward into the future. There have since been three Sandstar eruptions, both Mirai and Nana are nowhere to be seen and Cerulean are once again a problem. There also are more Friends than ever before. However, there are two major characters who take charge this time. People follow Kaban and Serval as they head off in search of Kaban’s identity. Think of it as a “monster of the week” show, only instead of facing a villain, the duo are meeting new Friends each time. Of course, there are villains since Cerulean are a pretty big problem in the park, but it’s very much another slice-of-life show going through the character’s daily adventures.
At the moment, all forms of Kemono Friends media has ended. The game has been shut down by Nexon and there are no plans to reopen it. The manga ended its run in March 2017. The final episode of the anime ran on March 28, 2017. However, the twelfth episode of the series does end on a cliffhanger and both a continuation and Friend were announced, so we should be making more Friends soon.