Dang, didn’t realize Kemono Friends 2 was airing already! Oh wait–

Summary:

Three sisters inhabit an abandoned island in a post-apocalyptic world, where they must constantly defend themselves from robotic, insect-like creatures they call “Red Bugs.” Their sole food source comes from a tree they have named Midori, whose leaves also give them magical abilities. To keep the tree alive, they must constantly seek out fresh water to give to the tree.

what exactly am i looking at here

One day as they are collecting water from an abandoned building, they accidentally scoop up a human man. He appears to have no idea where he is or what has happened. The sisters are distrustful of him, believing that he’s some kind of new “Bug.” However, they start to trust him a little more after he saves the youngest of the sisters from a Red Bug. The sisters also mention how this mysterious man reminds them of a person they knew in the past, named “Riku”…

CG can definitely used to make good looking action sequences, but if not done well it can also make your action sequences look… really really bad

My Opinion:

Oof, I’ve never been so intrigued by a series before an anime season started, only to be terribly disappointed with the end result. Though I suppose that’s my own fault for not bothering to do any research beyond reading the little blurbs that anime news sites give out to each new series that is set to be aired.

Some background info: Kemurikusa (the TV series that’s airing now) is based on an award-winning entry for an anime 3D contest from 2012. And that entry was directed by a man named Tatsuki. Tatsuki also happened to be the director for Kemono Friends, a series that aired in 2017, and was pretty well-known for its… interesting 2.5D animation style. So… that actually explains a lot about what’s going on with Kemurikusa.

I watched this first episode before knowing about this information, and I was pretty blindsided by Kemurikusa having essentially the exact same visual style as Kemono Friends… even right down to the somewhat janky animation. For Kemono Friends, this animation style kind of worked because; even though it was obviously on the lower quality end, the clumsy 2.5D animation was kind of charming for a pretty laid back series about animal girls. For Kemurikusa… this “cutesy,” low quality 2.5D style just doesn’t work at all, on several levels. Kemurikusa is an anime with a slightly more serious and “dark” tone from the get-go. There is also a lot more focus on the action sequences because the characters are fighting a lot more. So using such an art/animation style just clashes horribly with the type of story the anime is trying to tell; and makes the “action sequences” look terrible.

Beyond the visual style, everything about this episode felt awkward. This anime appears to be trying to balance the darker aspects of its story with some… really bad comedy. The youngest sister (named Rina) just suddenly dies about six minutes into the first episode–but there’s actually like, multiple clones or copies of her or something so everything is A-OKAY! Never before has the mood-whiplash been so strong in a series. What emotion am I supposed to be feeling here? Kemurikusa has a slow-pace to begin with, but I swear the series felt like it ground to a halt the moment Wakaba (the human dude) appeared. Did we really need half of the episode dedicated to the sisters musing over whether this guy is a bug or not? The sisters’ banter with each other was loud and obnoxious. Wakaba also acts like an idiot most of the episode (I guess for more “comedy”) and it was just painful to watch.

I actually went back and took a look at the original Kemurikusa animation from 2012… and it’s pretty sad(?) that this original piece of animation (from freaking Two-Thousand-and-Twelve) looks better than what we got now. Yes, the original animated piece is a whole lot rougher in terms of animation, but there’s so many more interesting and dynamic angles. Plus, you have to keep in mind that the original piece was essentially animated by an indie team.

Overall… I’d have to say that this first episode was bad. Kemono Friends was a surprise break-out hit, but that doesn’t mean that its animation style should be applied to other projects. I’m really worried now that the unexpected popularity of Kemono Friends will give other studios the idea that it’s okay to use crappy 2.5D animation as a way to cut production costs. I’m welcome to the idea of 2.5D animation, and it can definitely be done well (like in Houseki no Kuni, Etotama, and the Precure franchise). But I want animation studios to use it as a way to enhance their shows, not as a shortcut.

Out of five:

precure heart2 and 1/2

In some scenes, the show doesn’t actually look that bad… but then you see the characters in motion and everything looks awkward.

Advertisements