I couldn’t believe my ears at Anime Boston when people were raving about a Winter 2017 show called Kemono Friends. But a few weeks later, I’m the one recommending it!
Kemono Friends looks downright awful. And it gets worse from there, according to this Tokyosaurus YouTube video about its production:
- The anime was created to promote a cell phone game which was already canceled before the anime began airing.
- Only ten people (not counting voice actors) worked on the anime, including the director and producers.
- It cut a lot of corners. In the earlier episodes, the wheels on the bus the characters ride around in don’t turn. Also, the majority of the characters are girls with animal characteristics—and they have both animals ears AND human ears.
But despite all that? People friggin’ loved it.
With a simple “hero’s journey” plot that shows instead of tells, and plenty of relatable characters with easily-digestible storylines, it’s a simple, sweet show. Accompanied by an undercurrent of bizarre mystery, it stood out as a mold-breaking show partially because of its risky cheapness.
This is a certainly low-budget and undeniably flawed, but unabashedly adored show. It reminded me of an illustration I’ve seen going around Tumblr about two cakes:
I was thinking about this after doing a collaboration video with Crunchyroll last Monday. My video isn’t perfect—I flubbed my lines and misstated at least one fact. Plus, there are already a lot of way better videos out there by people more talented than I am. I feel stupid admitting this now, but for the day after the video came out I did not spend my time celebrating this great opportunity to work with one of my favorite companies, or feeling good about sharing one of my favorite hobbies, Gunpla building, with a much wider audience than usual.
Instead, I felt that time feeling like crap. I kept thinking that I could have done a better job if I had redone the video. I kept thinking somebody else entirely could have done it better than me.
Of course, that’s not how the audience reacted! Just like Kemono Friends fans were happy to watch a quirky new anime and the audience in the cake comic was excited to chow down, people were happy to find another Gunpla fan, and sent me all sorts of praise. I got email from people who said it inspired them to make their own Gunpla, or even their own Gunpla videos.
Even if I wasn’t 100% confident about it, I know the world is a better place because I got over myself and made something. The world is a better place with more cakes in it. We assume other people look at us through the same harsh lens through which we view ourselves, every fault magnified. But I assure you you’re being way harder on yourself than anyone else would be.
To make your audience happy, you don’t need to be the most talented person. You don’t need to invest tons of cash into a project to make it watchable. You need an idea that you believe in and the enthusiasm to power through and put it out into the world.
You might think you suck, but your audience doesn’t. If even a show as cheap and weird as Kemono Friends could find a massive audience, who is to say your idea is too “out there” to succeed? If you have an idea you’re so passionate about that you can convince your audience to be passionate about it, too, it doesn’t matter how you get it out there as long as you do.
Lead image via Kemono Friends.