Kemono Michi: Rise Up – Mid Season Anime Review
Synopsis: 3,2,1…RUMBLE! Genzo, Japan’s number one animal-loving pro-wrestler, gets transported to another world where magical beasts run rampant. In order to save the kingdom, the princess asks him to rid the world of the beasts, but he refuses and wants to save them instead! Genzo opens a pet shop for his new beast friends, but he gets too attached to them and is unable to sell them which leads to constant financial problems for his new shop! Join Genzo and his cute demi-human employees as they find loving homes for the many beasts of the kingdom! (Official Funimation Synopsis)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to
Tom: Kemono Michi: Rise Up opened Fall 2019 as one of the season’s stronger comedies. Written by the author of the ever beloved Konosuba, Kemono Michi sees Genzo, also known as Animal Mask, transported to another world. The twist here is that Genzo is a crazed animal lover and Japan’s top wrestler. Discovering that this new world is filled with tons of fantastic creatures he seeks to open a pet shop with the help of Shigure, a money hungry, wolf girl. Similar to Konosuba Genzo quickly gains a full four person party of wacky companions. The basic concept of Kemono Michi is pretty fun, and Genzo’s unique animal loving trait, and wrestling background, sets him apart from other, more typical, Isekai protagonists. It’s over the course of Kemono’s first four episodes that we pull our regular cast together. Genzo and Shigure are eventually joined by Hanako, a cute, demon girl with a bottomless belly and her worthlessly inept, busty vampire aid, Camilla.
Linny: There’s no denying that Kemono Michi has a heck of a unique protagonist and his quirky traits of extreme animal loving and pro-wrestler bravado alone may be enough to woo most viewers. Those more familiar with the author, Natsume Akatsuki, might start to notice the same set up as in his other works; a male protagonist who finds himself in another world and is surrounded by mainly female companions. Thankfully, Kemono Michi does branch out by having its male lead be air headed and more flawed than helpful versus being the somewhat level headed team leader that Akatsuki’s other leads have been. It’s not a giant issue by any means but more of an observation of the basic set up the author seems to enjoy working with and Genzo might be a nice surprise to anyone a little disappointed by the similar character types found in his other two works.
Tom: Shigure, despite being a bit quirky herself, generally acts as the straight man to Genzo’s obsession with animals and helps to highlight him as the most comedic member of the group. Trouble starts to rear its head once we look past our initial duo however. Kemono Michi’s cast additions of the ever hungry Hanako and her aid Camilla aren’t nearly as successful. Part of the problem is that both characters are very one note. Really the whole cast is, but Camilla and Hanako are compounded by how unoriginal both characters are. Comedies are a dime a dozen with constantly munching characters and woefully inept fighters. This makes Hanako and Camilla feel like fairly weak additions to the line up, especially when we compare Kemono with the author’s original success, Konosuba, which did a better job of crafting unique, quirky characters that bounced off each other quite well. Kemono really runs aground when it decides to shift focus to Camilla and Hanako in Episode 6, using them as a vehicle to introduce a new, major villain. Since Hanako and Camilla aren’t nearly as interesting as Genzo and Shigure, this makes Episode 6 feel like a step down from the earlier highs of the series.
Linny: To its credit, Kemono Michi tries to expand its world and explore its characters, specifically Hanako and Camilla, as it moves forward, diving deeper into the past of these two. However, as Tom pointed out, these two aren’t the strongest of characters and the actual entertainment and interest value of the backstories is going to highly depend on your own affection or enjoyment of Hanako and Camilla. Even though we see it play out through the eyes of another cast member, our newest adversary to the group, there’s no avoiding that these are mainly Hanako-centric (and Camilla to a lesser degree) events.
Tom: One of Kemono Michi’s greatest strengths is its sheer number of ongoing gags. Kemono produces quite a few repeat jokes that it peppers it every episode or two. These little sequences are often pretty funny, despite their repetitive nature, like Shigure always stealing a certain adventurer’s sword after Genzo pile-drives him. In some ways that’s where Kemono Michi excels the most, crafting these ongoing gags that manage to keep feeling fun, even if we’ve seen them three or four times by now. But the core concept doesn’t seem quite as fluid as Konosuba, keeping Genzo and Co. in a perpetual state of pennilessness without any other changes or shifts in the status quo. We’re six episodes in and by and large nothing much has changed about their situation from Episode 2. We have a couple new cast members, and Genzo is still acquiring new animals at a rapid pace, but zero progress has been made otherwise on his dreams of owning a pet shop. This’ll probably be addressed in the second half of the season, but it feels like it’s moving a lot slower compared to Konosuba, and that stagnant level of progress is more noticeable when two members of the cast, Hanako and Camilla, simply aren’t pulling their weight.
Linny: Kemono Michi does a good job of making some of its more repetitive gags work every episode but I disagree with Tom and feel Kemono is actually at its best when it focuses on more unique lines of comedy. Like when we spend an episode learning about how Genzo’s wrestling rival, MAO, finds himself intensely obsessing over him after his disappearance. Or the fact that the show just injects this human sized non verbal ant helper into the cast as a worker/maid at Genzo and Shigure’s new dig yet never once bothers to introduce or explain his sudden existence and appearance in almost every episode making the ant this shocking elephant in the room kind of joke.
Tom: Overall Kemono Michi: Rise Up hasn’t quite built upon its initial designs from Episode 1. The series has remained stagnant, and while that was fine at first, Episode 5 begins a soft, downtrend as the dynamics between Genzo and Co. feel like they’re rapidly aging in terms of comedic worth, while it’s then taking forever to move onto something new. Something new is in the works, Episode 5 turns attention to MAO, Genzo’s wrestling rival, and seems set to have the two do battle yet again. But Episode 6 delays that in favor of the episode long villain introduction I talked about before, an episode’s worth of material that really would’ve been better as a five minute flashback. Kemono Michi isn’t awful, but it is underwhelming, and as far as Fall 2019 goes, there’s other, better Isekai and Comedy anime that haven’t suffered such a dip.
Linny: Kemono Michi isn’t a bad show by any means. One has to give it credit for its originality and also for how, despite painting Genzo as an insanely powerful wrestler and devoted animal lover, it isn’t afraid to show him failing to defeat or love every single new animal he encounters in this new world. This injects some variety and unpredictability in his encounters with them. And while the first episode had Genzo putting the princess in a suplex hold and the camera offered some very gratuitous shots of her bottom and thighs, it has thankfully stayed away from such obvious and direct fan service content since then (Yes, Camilla is exceptionally busty but the show doesn’t really paint her as a seductive character or ogle her with tight shots.) Unfortunately, the comedy and cast can feel stale as the show continues and the small bouts of original humour may not be enough for everyone to stay invested. Give Kemono Michi a try if you are on the lookout for some outrageous and strange comedy but go in with tempered expectations for best results.
Kemono Michi: Rise Up is available for streaming via Funimation.