Kemono Friends

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Logo of the Kemono Friends franchise.

Kemono Friends (Japanese: けものフレンズ Hepburn: Kemono Furenzu), sometimes shortened to KemoFure, is a Japanese multimedia franchise created by manga artist Mine Yoshizaki. The project initially debuted as a mobile game developed by Nexon, which ran from March 2015 until December 2016; however, Kemono Friends was always envisioned as a multimedia franchise, with the first manga and anime intended as additional branches of the series.

The series was met with lukewarm reception until the release and subsequent explosion of Kemono Friends' 2017 anime. Due to the anime's popularity, the IP was renewed for numerous additional projects, including new mobile games, a second season of the anime, and live musicals. Since then, the franchise has thrived and expanded, most notably into music, with several Kemono Friends albums having been released in the time following the anime. Since 2021, the franchise has started Kemono Friends V Project and expanded into virtual Youtubers and livestreaming.

Etymology

The title Kemono Friends literally means "Animal Friends" or "Beast Friends" in Japanese, with the word "Friends" being written in Katakana and pronounced almost identically to the English word. The word "Kemono" is a reference to the animalian nature of the majority of the Friends, while the word "Friends" refer to their generally amicable natures and their status as companions in various franchise installments.

Plot

Kemono Friends focuses on the adventures of the titular Friends, anthropomorphized animals that have taken on the shape of human girls and live in a massive, open zoo known as Japari Park. Friends are formed by an interaction with a substance known as Sandstar which flows forth following volcanic eruptions in the park. However, Friends are preyed upon by monsters known as Celliens, which serve as the collective antagonist of the series. Celliens, formed by the Cellium which comes from the same volcanoes that produce Sandstar, have no known goal, and their nature is shrouded in mystery. However, they pose great threat to the Friends, as falling victim to a Cellien will revert them back into an animal, who will have no memories of their life as a Friend.

The most notable feature of Kemono Friends, however, is that the story of the franchise spans across several large periods of time, where new entries often build upon or reference ideas introduced in previous entries. While most Kemono Friends entries are independent and do not rely on prior knowledge of another entry, they lock together to create a more expansive whole that tells a multi-generational story. The many works in the Kemono Friends franchise can even be categorized depending on which era of Japari Park it takes place in, along with which generation of Friends was present at the time. Although Friends from different parts of the timeline are typically identical and are referred to by the same name (i.e. that of the real animal or creature from which they were formed), Friends from separate generations have different personalities and backstories; and may even appear drastically different compared to their appearance in a previous generation.

Despite the complexities of the franchise's overall story, Kemono Friends itself centers around self-contained cute, slice-of-life antics, with the mysterious world that lurks just behind the happy-go-lucky tone appearing only as often as it needs to.

Main Entries

Since its debut in March of 2015, Kemono Friends has seen massive growth, with numerous releases that dive into the world of Japari Park.

Games

Gameplay of the original Kemono Friends mobile game.

Kemono Friends (2015 Mobile Game)

A mobile game, the first entry to the Kemono Friends multimedia franchise was developed by Nexon and released in March 2015, and shut down in December 2016. A roleplaying game with a detailed storyline, players would take Friends into battle against Celliens. In addition to the expansive main quest, the game had over 100 side stories which served to help characterize its large cast, with over 300 Friends making their first appearance in this entry. This game was the first entry to feature the second generation of Friends, and concerned a battle to reclaim Japari Park from the Celliens who had overrun it and threatened the peace of the Friends.

It was met with lukewarm reception, and failed to stand out amidst the many similar mobile games on the market at the time. It would not survive to see the premiere of the series' anime in January 2017. Despite renewed interest in the mobile game after the success of the anime, the original game was not revived, however, it was instead given an animated adaption in the form of the Welcome to Japari Park original net animation. As the first entry of the Kemono Friends franchise to debut, several elements of this game are referenced and reused in later entries.

Kemono Friends Pavilion

A second mobile game, Kemono Friends Pavilion, was released on January 26th, 2018, produced by Bushiroad, and developed by Moshimo and UniqueWave. Pavilion is a passive "observation game" in the vein of Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector where players leave Japari Buns and Playthings out for the Friends of Japari Park to enjoy. Players observe Friends whenever they appear, and can observe collectible conversations via the Pavilion that was once an attraction within the park sometime before the arrival of Generation ?. The game takes place in a virtual archive, and primarily focuses on a data copy of Generation ?, though later updates also allow players to observe data copies of Friends who appeared in Generation 2.

Kemono Friends Puzzle Puzzle Gokko

The third mobile game, Kemono Friends Puzzle Puzzle Gokko, known as Kemono Friends - The Puzzle internationally, is a free-to-play mobile game developed by Funple Stream, released worldwide on 21st February 2018 for iOS and Android. It is notable for being the first game in the Kemono Friends franchise to be released internationally and with translations.

Kemono Friends Festival

The fourth mobile game, Kemono Friends Festival, was developed and published by Goodroid, and released on June 7th, 2018. The game is a gacha-based adventure RPG with gameplay reminiscent of Monster Strike, where the player launches balls at enemy characters to attack them, similarly to billiards. The game takes place in the Riukiu Region, a tropical region of Japari Park which draws from the culture of real-life Okinawa. The plot of Festival centers around Serval and Aardwolf on an adventure around Riukiu during an event known as the Japari Festival, where Friends compete with each other. However, for this Japari Festival, a legendary treasure will be awarded to the victors. Festival takes place in an unknown Generation that has yet to reappear, but there are hints that imply that it is a generation which follows Generation ?.

Kemono Friends Picross

Kemono Friends Picross is a puzzle game for the Nintendo Switch in the Picross series of puzzle games developed by Jupiter, as well as the first Kemono Friends game to be released on a dedicated video game console. The game released on October 4, 2018 in both Japan and the west, making it the second Kemono Friends game to be released outside of Japan, the first being Kemono Friends Puzzle Puzzle Gokko. The game is download-only, and can only be purchased through the Nintendo E-Shop.

Kemono Friends 3 and Planet Tours

Kemono Friends 3 and Kemono Friends 3: Planet Tours are a set of two games developed by SEGA. Kemono Friends 3's story takes place during the Japari Park's pre-opening period after the main story of the 2015 mobile game by Nexon. Friends including Dhole, Meerkat and Short-Beaked Common Dolphin play as new leads and help JSRT Captain (the player) to protect the Park against new Cellien threats.

The arcade game, Planet Tours, is a competitive game where players use the skills of Friends such as Serval and Malayan Tapir in battle against another player. Additionally, the game can print out physical cards that are used in the game as skill cards, providing bonuses in battle. Further details on the game are currently unknown.

Cover of the first volume of Kemono Friends: Welcome to Japari Park!

Pachislot Kemono Friends

Pachislot Kemono Friends is a pachislot machine developed by Rodeo and published by Sammy (both subsidiaries of Sega Sammy Holdings). The story of this game takes places in Juuoh Park. The plot centers around friends going on an adventure in Juuon Park where they meet the Beast King Friends, defeat a big Cellien and then go back to Japari Park.

Kemono Friends Kingdom

Kemono Friends Kingdom is an officially licensed mobile RPG developed by the Chinese developer, ZLONGAME. The Singapore/Malaysia server which is in simplified Chinese has officially launched on 31 May, 2022. Launch dates for the servers of mainland China and Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan regions to be announced. The game's main story appears to be in a standalone timeline that differs from Kemono Friends animes and previous games. A human girl named Jinri wakes up in Kingdom, a park entirely separate from Japari Park, met by Least Weasel and Chevrotain. They fight against artifical Celliens that are the result of failed anti-Cellien weapon research.

Manga

Kemono Friends: Welcome to Japari Park!

A two-volume manga, written by Fly, was serialized in Kadokawa's Monthly Shōnen Ace from May 2015 to March 2017. Unlike most entries in the Kemono Friends franchise, Welcome to Japari Park features no overarching story, but is rather a series of individual slice-of-life stories, usually starring the caretaker Nana, Serval, or Ezo Red Fox. Welcome to Japari Park is notable for introducing Generation 1, which is characterized by a relatively stress-free, happy life where Japari Park is still in business and Celliens have not yet become a major threat. It is considered the first entry in the Kemono Friends timeline chronologically, though several elements from it have been retconned by future entries.

Anime

Kemono Friends (2017 Anime)

Produced by Yaoyorozu and directed by TATSUKI, an anime for Kemono Friends began broadcasting on January 10th, 2017 and concluded on March 28th of the same year. It was originally dismissed by critics and viewers for its poor animation quality, owed to a small budget and tiny staff). It became a sleeper hit of the season when fans took note of the show's unexpected charm and worldbuilding. Since then, the anime has become the most popular of all of the entries in the Kemono Friends franchise and is responsible for a large part of its western exposure. The anime follows a mysterious Friend named Kaban who is unaware of which kind of animal she is, and her Serval companion, as they travel through the Kyōshū Region with Lucky as their guide. The anime introduces Generation ?, which is designated as such to refer to the ambiguous gap between it and Generation 2. This generation is characterized as more animal-like, with far less awareness of human society than previous generations, and minimal human contact. The events of the anime are a pseudo-sequel to the 2015 Nexon mobile game, though few things from the mobile game have direct relevance to the anime.

Kemono Friends 2

The second season of the Kemono Friends anime, titled Kemono Friends 2, began its broadcast on January 7th, 2019. Kemono Friends 2 is produced by Tomason and Ryuichi Kimura and takes place an unspecified, though short, amount of time after the first season. The main character of this season is Kyururu, who travels with Serval and Caracal through Japari Park in order to find their home.

Stage Plays

Stage Play "Kemono Friends"

A stage play adaptation of Kemono Friends, featuring an original storyline separate from that of any pre-existing media, ran from June 14-18, 2017 at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel Club eX in Tokyo. It was directed by Hiroki Murakami and starred many of the actresses who provided voices for characters in the anime. The show was brought back for a second run in 2018, from January 13th-21st.

Others

Kemono Friends V Project

KemoV Project or simply KemoV is a Virtual YouTuber project under Kemono Friends Project began in 2021. There have been 11 members debuted and their Vtuber avatars are redesigned based on Friends in the franchise. They livestream a variety of contents, notably gaming, chatting with viewers and singing. They also do collabs with various Vtubers outside KemoV.

Kemono Friends: Comic à la Carte Japari Park Anthology

An anthology manga, also serialized in Shōnen Ace, featuring non-canon stories by various manga artists. It was produced in homage to the anime following its success.

Welcome to Japari Park (2018 ONA)

An original net animation based on the events of the original Nexon mobile game premiered on August 12, 2018.