We've done episodes about "Fringeworthy in..." set in different video games or other IP.
Now one IP, the Kemono Friends video game/manga/anime setting has only one season so far, and if it wasn't for the anime series, no one would have heard of this property.
"Kemono Friends" was originally slated to promote the video game. Sadly, the game was pulled 6 months before the series aired. But the production crew were able to capitalize on that to create the sleeper hit of 2017.
Here's the plot, and it's not going to spoil anything:
"A human with no prior memories awakens in the middle of a savanna. Before long, she encounters a kind and playful animal girl called Serval, who introduces the human to her home: a massive, open zoo called Japari Park, where she and her fellow Friends live simple and happy lives. Serval asks the human what kind of animal she is, but she isn't sure herself. Never one to become discouraged, the Friend gives her new friend the name "Kaban", after the backpack in her possession. Serval merely offers to escort Kaban to the ends of the savanna, but the two end up on a grand adventure which takes them all over the island, making dozens of new friends along the way."
Watch the Anime on Crunchyroll or Steam first!
OK, back? Good, I hope you liked it.
Friends... yeah, the trope they invoke is "Little Bit Beastly": They appear to be human females with animal ears, tails, and for birds, "head feathers". And yes, they also have human ears. They are animals that were touched by a substance called "Sandstar". It turns any organic matter into a Friend. A female Friend. It doesn’t matter if the animal was male when it was touched, it becomes a female. There are several examples in the anime and game: Moose complete with a sizable set of antlers, Lion with a lovely mane, and most importantly, Peacock, with a beautiful set of plumage. (Peahens are dull and not very extravagant) All three are female.
Well, almost. There are no fish Friends, no crustacean Friends, no insect Friends. (There are some "crossover" Friends, but they are not seen in the anime.)You never see any plant Friends, so it seems to be limited to animals, primarily mammals, reptiles, amphibians, lizards, avians, and cryptids. (The latter are either mythological creatures or animals everyone has claimed to see, but no one has ever caught one on camera or otherwise, such as the Tsuchinoko.)
Based on the video game and anime, there are no plant Friends. Thank God. That’s means Broups are safe. No Broup Friends. (And therefore, no Tehrmelern House Tree Friends. Let that image burn in your brain for a second or so.)
Sandstar can turn inorganic matter into something else: Ceruleans:
"The Cerulean are an aggressive, invasive species of monster which is formed by the union of Sandstar and inorganic matter. They are mainly amorphous in shape, although they come in various shapes, sizes and power levels. They are the collective antagonist of the Kemono Friends multimedia franchise. Ceruleans are a threat to Friends and humanity alike, absorbing and devouring them if given the opportunity."
Bad news, especially as you have to attack their only weak spot, a crystal located somewhere on their body.
And, Sandstar can create a Friend from any biological material, like a piece of skin or hair follicle.
The main human character in the show, Kaban, turns out to be a "Human Friend". She is cloned from the former Japari Park head ranger Mirai's hair.
The other thing is that the anime is set many years after the end of the video game. Many years. Long enough for wooden bridges made from thick lumber to have collapsed. At the very least a decade, if not more. It’s a post apocalyptic setting.
OK, a lot of backstory, so what does it mean for UNIDA and the fledgling New Commonwealth? Some interesting consequences in visiting here.
First, it must be noted that Sandstar is everywhere in the Japari Park environs. It alters the island that the park is on creating all the major environs on Earth in a relatively small island. Based on the artwork and the time it takes Kaban and Serval to travel from the Savanah biome to the Harbor, it’s about a hundred miles across, about the size of Hawaii. It’s part of an island chain, and there’s evidence that the other islands have been “blessed” by Sandstar as well.
Because Sandstar is everywhere, it’s safe to assume that humans were never turned into Friends by it until Kaban. So your IDE team will be safe here: Human, T’ziel, Blizniz, Dimixi, Keegak… Slarg? There’s the question. Are Slargs sentient or are they really smart animals? They were created by the Tehrmelern as a cure for the infected Mellor. What they are now is probably due to Keegak meddling. So, in my opinion they are smart animals. Ones that have independent access to the fringepaths that other animals don’t have. If you want to argue that they are not, we can do that in another post.
So, what happens when Standstar touches a Slarg? It turns into a Slarg Friend: A young woman, wearing a fur outfit that is just decent, fluffy tail, and eyes. Yes, eyes. She’ll also have the Slarg sonar equipment on top of her head along with her Slarg ears, right above her human ears. And she’ll be a super Slarg.
What you say? Sandstar does one more thing. It makes Friends superhuman. Serval hefts the front cab and engine of the Japari Bus, which probably weighs in around a half ton or more, and then Jumps 40 Feet With It More Than Once. She can leap great distances and her claws can do devastating damage. And she’s a lightweight compared to other Friends. (Don’t rile up Indian Elephant for instance.) Even Kaban shows superhuman abilities as she learns how to control her body. She took falls that should have severely injured her. She could probably break your arm if she wanted to.
But she wouldn’t. In fact, the only thing Friends attack are Ceruleans. Or sure there are a lot of play battles between Friends, but that’s what they are, play. The claws only come out for Ceruleans.
Let’s go back to our Slarg Friend. She would be timid, but the abject coward in her natural form. Yes, she would shy away from danger, but not like a natural Slarg. But if she had to fight, she would. Also remember that her kind were designed to fight Mellor. Let that one sink in for a second.
A Slarg had an even chance against a Mellor. Our Slarg Friend has all the fighting abilities of a Slarg at Superslargian levels. And Slargs could also cure Mellors by injecting them with a specially tagged RNA sequence to reprogram them. She has that at super levels. The cure doesn’t take minutes, it’s more or less instantaneous. And probably infectious. A Mellor cured with super serum can cure others. And probably doesn’t kill the lesser Mellors, it just turns them into “baby Mellors”.
Oh, and Mellors would get turned into Friends as well. They are not sentient creatures, they are just biological robots running a really complex program. All the Keegak did was rewrite their software.
A Mellor Friend would have all the abilities of a Mellor turned up to 11. But, because of the calming abilities of Sandstar, it would be aggressive, but in a playful way and be overall friendly. It’s not cured, if the Sandstar were removed from it, it would return to its infected state. (But if a Slarg Friend were to give it a playful bite, it would be cured.)
Pangos would also be turned into Friends, looking pretty much like the Giant Pangolin Friend, and have all the abilities at superpango levels.
Pets that you have could be turned into Friends. (A Corgi Friend would be so kawaii!)
Friends are animals, albeit Smart Animals. Watching the anime, you come to realize that they lack the cognition a human has. (It took Kaban to tell them that they are wearing clothes and that they can be taken off…) You can take them through the portal just fine, just like other animals. The big question is: What happens 18 hours later after they leave their universe? Do they turn into animals or do they stay “a little bit beastly”?
In my opinion, they stay a little bit beastly. However, they are no longer animals. They are genetically humans with modifications. It was the Sandstar that keeps them as animals. Are they Fringeworthy?
Hmm, that’s a good one. They are genetically human, but with a “signature” indicating that they are animals. Perhaps the Portal system looks at them, and decides that the only way deal with this conundrum, is to make them Fringeworthy. We have precedent for this. So after 18 hours, they are no longer Friends, but a human variant, that could breed true.
If you got them to a Final Fantasy alt before the 18 hours are up, they’d be OK, or for that matter, anyplace with Magic they would be fine. Sandstar is Magic, it just needs a universe that supports magic to operate.
So what we end up with is a way to turn your favorite critter into a human-like being that can do amazing things. A Slarg Friend can cure a Mellor and it becomes a carrier of the cure. The cure is not magic, it’s the Tehrmelern programing taken up to 11 and it can do a number on Mellors on other worlds. In fact, if an infected Mellor tried to copy an active Slarg Friend, it would be cured. That’s the power of friendship.
From here to there to everywhere. Are you Fringeworthy?
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