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One of the typical Kemono-style artwork by Ryuukou.
A Kemono-style art work by Sugandya, an artist outside of Japanese Kemono Fanzine.

Kemono (Japanese 獣, ケモノ, or けもの "beast") is a genre of Japanese art and character design that prominently features fictional anthropomorphic or sentient animal characters in human-like settings and situations. It is used widely in drawing, painting, manga, anime, and video game designs, many of which are popular in the rest of the world. Human-like animal characters are called Jūjin (Japanese 獣人 or じゅうじん "therianthrope").

Their unique design differs from artist to artist, but in general they combine popular character design with animal traits deemed cute and endearing. It can be largely agreed upon by the fandom that the kemono style lies in the face and the eyes. (Example: Smaller snouts.)

Most kemono character designs retain a fundamentally human personality, seldom acting like the real animals after which they are designed. As such, kemono are usually shown living the way normal humans live in the same setting: speaking normal language, wearing normal clothes, eating normal food, living in normal homes, in ways that blur their distinction from ordinary humans.

Currently, kemono art is often distributed through Japanese fanzine circles, "doujinshi." Fans of kemono are called kemona or kemoners (ケモナー kemonā), from kemono and English -er; this had once been controversial.

There is also kemono which depicts young animals, much like cub art: kemololi (female cub) / kemoshota (male cub).

Kemono and furry[edit]

Though based on very different cultural ideals, kemono and furry fandom on the Internet can occasionally overlap, both geographically and in influence. Some kemono artists appeal to both at the same time.

Due to similarity in subject matter, kemono fans are also frequently interested in furry art (and vice versa.)

In early 2010, Kemonochan was created as an image board for English-speaking users who are fans of kemono artwork, but it closed in 2014, leaving VeeBooru and WildCritters as the main English-speaking boards for such work.


Question book.png This section does not cite its references or sources. (edit)

Some kemono fans are called Kemoner (ケモナー).

The term "Kemoner" has very controversial over the years. It is sometimes used as disparaging one, and some people who are regarded as Kemoner by others loathe being called so.

Since the the middle of the 1990s, the term "Kemoner" had been used mainly by people outside those of equivalent to Kemono fanzine at the whole anime/manga fanzine in the quite negative context like "the sexual perverts" who have lust for animals (often confused with zoophilia) and the person-concerned had used it as self-torture.[clarify] In 1998, the prominent doujinshi circle (Kemono fanzine) KEMONERS which used this term as self-calling for the first time officially was launched, and it may be after this that "Kemoner" is used in the non-negative meanings.

Some definitions argue that Kemoner only stands for gay people in the fanzine, and does not include the straight people[clarify], because since the late of the 1990s they became the majority of Kemono fanzine due to the major kemono-specialized online service FANG that banished straight-adult content from the service.

And "kemoner" is sometimes labeled on people in the neighboring genres, including fans of kemonomimi, which stand for human characters with animal ears and tails, and also zoophiles and transfur. Those who were labeled as Kemoner without identifying themselves as such, loathe being called so because of the reasons listed above.[clarify]

Backwards, some kemoners are very sensitive to the labeling kemonomimi as Kemono. In 13 March 2015, a weblog on Otaku culture "Omaemoka? Me too dayo (お前もか? Me tooだよッ)" posted the article to introduce Kemono Friends (けものフレンズ), a new social game that all characters are female kemomimi, not anthromorphic jujin. The problem was that the blogger wrote the words on title "for Kemoner" (ケモナーのための), and moreover at the end of the article, the blogger added; "I haven't ever recognized myself as a Kemoner, but I am a Kemoner! Say Hallo!" (ケモナーの自覚はなかったけど、俺ケモナーだわ!よろしく!).[1] These words were severely criticized by many people, presumably kemoners, and otherwise were anticipated that kemoners got mad.[2] And tweets informed it by kemoners were retweeted over 900 times on twitter.[3][4] Soon the blogger apologized to kemoners and deleted the word "for kemoner" from the title of the article, while analyzing the cause of the trouble was that (s)he recognized the definition of Kemoner as "those who love animal-like something (『けものっぽいものが好きならケモナー』)"[5] Since then this weblog has never been updated (as of January 2017). This incident indicates that how some kemoners show the attitude toward the easygoing confusion between Kemono and Kemonomimi by people outside Kemono fanzine.

These facts make things more complex and it makes the term "Kemoner" very controversial.[clarify] Instead the term Kemonozuki (ケモノ好き) is sometimes used to avoid these problems and troubles though it is not so famous as Kemoner.

However, recently some people especially in the younger generations, begin to use the term Kemoner in the positive meanings, and it is strictly contradicted by the opponents, especially in the older generations.[clarify]

Offline Community[edit]

Until the 2010s when the fursuit culture and events emerged, Japanese kemono community was mostly developed in the context of Japanese doujinshi (同人誌) culture, and it may be one of the important characters of Japanese kemono culture, compared with the equivalent in other countries.

Doujinshi refers to the self-published works (similar to fanzines), most of those are uncommercial but paid, and "doujin" refers to the related activities. Doujinshi vending events in Japan emerged in the middle of the 1970s. In 1975, Comiket was held for the first time, and it developed through the upcoming decades to become the premier fan event in Japan. Until the 1980s, The main style of publication was "Joint-doujinshi (合同誌)", where various artists publish their works in a single book because self-publication demanded great expenses. Even after reducing the cost of publishing, and the increase of doujinshis by a single artist ("Kojinshi", 個人誌), in the kemono genre there are still many joint-doujinshis now (as of 2017).

Already in the late 1980s, there were fanzines equivalent to today's kemono doujinshi, like those on Sherlock Hound (1984), and Gene Diver (1994). However, doujinshis featuring anthropomorphic characters only seem to emerge in the first half of the 1990s.

Until "kemono-only" events (vending events featuring only kemono doujinshi)" began in 2011, Comiket was one of the primary places to sell kemono doujinshis. For years, kemono doujin circles sold their works mainly under the genre "original manga for boys" (創作少年, Sousaku Shounen), where original contents for all ages should be sold; though they also sell adult parody works to this day. Other than Comiket, Mimiket (launched in 2000) and Shotaket (launched in 1995) were also the place for selling kemono doujinshis.


The 1990s were the pioneer days for kemono doujinshi circles. Its outset is quite unknown, however some doujinshi circles appeared in this period.

In the early 1990s, a cub doujin-artist Nyantaro (にゃん太郎) launched his doujin circle Wan-Nyan Club (ワンニャン倶楽部), and published several joint-doujinshis on some animal characters in Japanese anime, like 3 Choume no Tama (3丁目のタマ, Tama in Land Lot 3) and Yo yo no Neko Tsumami (ヨーヨーの猫つまみ) etc., until its closure in 2000. Among his joint-doujinshis, "Gomen-ne!"(ゴメンネ! lit. "Sorry!"), published in 1993, might be the first one with sexual fetish contents, including homosexual. Nyantaro himself didn't use the term "Kemono", but "Animal Character (動物キャラ)"[6].

Meanwhile, in 1992 professional manga artist Yuusaku Toshima (豊島ゆーさく) published "Juukan Ou"(獣姦王, Zoophilian King) with some guest artists, including professional manga artist TRUMP, who later launched a series of his doujinshis Book of Beast (獣之書) featuring female kemono in 1994.[7] [8]

In the middle of the 1990s, anime and games featuring anthropomorphic characters emerged, like Eto Ranger, Gulkeeva, Klonoa (風のクロノア), and the most well known Pokémon and Digimon franchises, all of which make today's kemono genre flourish.

In 1998 KEMONERS was launched by amateur doujin manga artists Nyajira, Harimogu Dragon, and Mahyo Sendo. This shows that the term "kemoner" was already used for self-identification at that time.

Doujinshis featuring dragons had also appeared in this period. In 1999 Tatsuhiro Haneda (羽田龍彦) published his joint-doujinshi "DRAGONS ARK".[9]

In January 1999, the incident so-called "Pokémon Doujinshi Incident (ポケモン同人誌事件)" occurred. A doujin artist (not active in kemono genre) who sold a doujinshi on Pokémon that contained zoophilian content was arrested. This incident seriously influenced not only Pokémon doujin, but also the whole Japanese doujin culture.


Throughout the 2000s, kemono doujin continued to be magnified. The number of kemono doujinshi circles became greater and greater throughout the 2000s. In the middle of the 2000s, multiple anime series like Legendz, Onmyo Taisenki (陰陽大戦記), and Summer Wars lead to the publishing of numerous doujinshis.

In 2000, KEMONERS was reorganized into KEMONERS02 under Mahyo Sendo. It became one of the popular doujinshi circles, and published several joint-doujinshis like ZooCan and Syru-Dra, until its closure in 2003.

Meanwhile, some original works had great influence. In 2001, a doujin artist HIRO launched his doujinshi circle Project D Production Committee (プロジェクトD製作委員会, Project D seisaku iinnkai), later renaming it to Kemono Town Production Committee (けものタウン製作委員会, Kemono Town Seisaku Iinnkai). In 2003, HIRO started to publish the serial joint-doujinshi HOWL, all of which have over 100 pages, and numerous famous kemono artists made the debut there in the later days. HOWL was published until 2013, for 20 volumes. In 2004 the amateur doujin manga artist kitora launched his doujinshi VORWERTS, and also published some joint-doujinshis until 2015. Another remarkable artist is gamma-g, who, in 2007, published his doujinshi Bulit Tiger (超獣合金ビルドタイガー) at Comiket. The series lasted until 2014, with 14 volumes.

It was also the middle of the 2000s that the history of Japanese fursuit events began, later than the western countries.


The start of kemono only events already appeared in the late of the 2000s. Syota Scrath (ショタスクラッチ), the doujin book fair specialized to male human cub was founded in 2006 by a doujin artist and event promoter Naoki Matsumura (松村直紀). It is notable that some kemono doujin circles like 096 by Ransho Zero (also known as rankiti (ランキチ)) and Yuu Mutsumi (睦美勇) attended. They sold doujinshis on Kemoshota or teennager anthromorphic jujin and demanded the stable appearance in addition to Comiket, since the opening in 2006.[10] Since then even some gaysexual kemono circles also attended. [11]

Consequently in the end of the 2000s, a self-appointed "kemoshota only event (ケモショタオンリーイベント)" Fluffy (ふらっふぃ) was held inside Syota Scrath 13 in October 2009 by a professional manga artist Macop, and over 60 doujin circles attended. [12] It is remarkable that Fluffy invited not only kemono but kemonomimi doujin circles and the picture on the poster was apparently shota with kemonomimi.[13] At Fluffy 2 held in November 2010 in which 60 doujin circles attended understandably kemono doujin circles and kemonomimi doujin circles were mixed.[14]

This shows that kemono only events emerged in the context of Shota doujin, mixed with kemonomimi, although in the kemono only events in the next decade kemonomimi doujin circles are seldom seen, and especially after the trouble around Fur-st and the emergence of Kemoket, the influence of Naoki Matsumura and shota doujin itself was excluded from kemono doujin in the first half of the 2010s.


The 2010s for Japanese kemono offline community is the era of "kemono only events" (ケモノオンリーイベント), vending event featuring only kemono doujinshi.

In February 2011, Juujin Matsuri, the first book fair featuring only kemono, was held in Nagoya (despite the name, Fur-st was not the first; it was held in 20 March 2011 by Naoki Matsumura in Tokyo).

In 2012, Kemoket was held for the first time by doujin artist Gallone. However, Fur-st was the largest kemono book fair, until the trouble in 2013 at Fur-st 5, where Fur-st showed sample past publications by all attending circles without permission. It was critical to Fur-st to have lost its reputation, due to the lack of preparations for attendees in Fur-st 8 in 2014. The number of Fur-st attendees continues to decease until now (2017). On the other hand, the number of circles and attendees of Kemoket has grown for years. Kemoket recruited over 500 circles for Kemoket 7, to be held in 2017. In addition to starting Kemoket, Gallone launched the new kemono book fair "Ishu Love" in 2016, featuring love between kemono and human characters.

The number and scale of fursuit events also increased. Events such as Fullmoff, JMoF, and more were established during this decade.

Online Community[edit]

The beginning of the Japanese online community comparable to today's kemono fanzine is quite unknown, however it can be imagined that forums on animals, or on anime and manga etc., in which kemono character appeared, would have emerged with the development of the computer network from 1980's to 1990's. Apart from the commercial BBS system, in Japan the small private BBS system called "Kusanone-BBS (草の根BBS)" was prominent (maybe similar to FidoNet?). Gallone (がろーね), the future founder of Kemoket, was one of the users of BBS. [15]

Since the middle of the 1990's, individual websites had appeared featuring today's kemono fanzine, and in 1997, FANG (online community), the website hosting service specializing in kemono was launched.

Kemono online community also developed in anonymous online communities, like 2ch (anonymous BBS service since 1999) and Futaba Channel (the prominent image board service in the early 2000's). Moreover, since circa 2000, 2ch Juu (2ch獣), anonymous Oekaki BBS was launched, where kemono artists submitted pictures and communicate with each other. 2ch Juu was separated into various paint BBSes for each genre, for example male, female, dragon, kemoshota (cub), and non-kemono (獣にも属さない系), and they linked to each other. Such paint BBS declined after the emergence of Pixiv in 2007, the largest Japanese general online community for artists as of 2017.

Some individual websites were also prominent in the first half of the 2000's. For example, Eevee Studio was launched in 2003, and became the largest website of adult Pokémon pictures in the middle of the 2000s until its closure in December 2008; Kemono Server (けものサーバ), the new web hosting service for kemono fanzine, launched in 2004 to provide for members the server and domain ""; and Kemo-search (けもサーチ), the website search engine that was founded in the same year.

After 2006, kemono online community has been developing within major Japanese general online communities like mixi, Pixiv and Twitter. On the other hand, individual websites and the neighboring services like Kemosearch, FANG, and Kemono Server declined (they still nominally continue to operate). It is characteristic that today (2015) in Japan, there have been no majestic online community like Fur Affinity or FurNation for 10 years.


"Kikaku" (企画, Project) occupies the significant position on kemono fanzine online. Kikaku is the artistic project between users mostly on pixiv and twitter, participants of which at first post their own character (if the kikaku is a fan fiction, their design is mostly based on its original) on the format called "Chara-shi (キャラシ, character sheet)" created by Kikakunushi (企画主, promoter of the Kikaku) who is usually also an user. And then they interactively post illustration and manga and communicate with other participants. Participants is determined to act under rules by Kikaku-nushi. [16] Kikaku-nushi's decision include the manner of enrollment and posting, whether the kikaku is NFSW or not, etc. The most well-known and major kikaku in gereral is the series of Pixiv Fantasia, the project of drawing fantastic works on pixiv, and within it kemono artists organize Gild, a small community featuring kemono characters.

The first kikaku featuring only kemono was Kabupa (株パ, Pandemium Co., Ltd.) by Himasora (ひまそら), held from 2009 to 2010 on pixiv.[17] Meanwhile, in the 2010s, kikaku became to be held also on twitter.

Kemono events[edit]

There are small scale, local furmeets and large-scale, regular conventions catering to kemono fans.

Kemono events can be generally categorized into two types: fursuit events, and doujin/fanzine vending events. (However, this is not absolute: Fullmoff (a fursuiting event) also has booths for creators, and Kemoket (a fanzine market) has spaces for fursuiting, so it is not possible to simply divide the two types.)

The latter type, kemono doujin events, originated from Japanese doujinshi fair like Comiket that began in the middle of the 1970s. Doujinshis featuring kemono had been published since the 1990s in Comiket etc., however it was not until 2011 that doujinshi fairs featuring only kemono (called "kemono-only events" ケモノオンリーイベント ) appeared.

Kemono in the media[edit]

Excerpt from Choju-Junbutsu Giga (The 12/13th Century)

In Japanese art, some anthromorphic characters appeared since ancient times. For example, in the most famous Emaki-mono (絵巻物, horizontal-illustrated narrative) art Choju Jinbutsu Giga (鳥獣人物戯画) drawn in the 12/13th Century, being sometimes regarded as the roots of the whole Japanese manga, the animal like rabbit and monkey is drawn as if they were human. Some people also point out some Ukiyo-e artists, especially Kuniyoshi Utagawa (歌川国芳, 1797-1861), having drawn some pictures including anthromorphic characters in the middle of the 19th century. But it is difficult to define the cultural roots of today's kemono art.

Norakuko by Suiho Tagawa (1930s)

Although it is as same as the works even in modern times, However, there is a fact that, Japanese animators and manga artists used to imitate American cartoons like Disney and its animal characters. For example, in "Norakuro (のらくろ)", one of the most famous manga in the pre-war Japan, almost all characters were anthromorphic dogs and the influence of Felix_the_Cat was clear. Meanwhile, in the post-war era Osamu Tezuka (手塚治虫), the greatest manga artist ever, being also the worshiper of Disney, launched his own animation company Mushi Production and in 1965 released the animation Kimba_the_White_Lion (the original title: Jungle Taitei, ジャングル大帝) in which main characters were zoomorphic.

Front cover of DVD of The Wonderful World of Puss 'n Boots (1969)
Apart from the influence of Disney and American cartoons, the art by an animator Yasuji Mori (森やすじ, 1925-1992) was remarkable in the terms of Japanese original "Kemono" art style. Just after the WWII, he decided to become an animator when he watched Mighty Mouse, [18] and became one of the greatest animator at Toei Animation (東映動画) then Nippon Animation (日本アニメーション), the major animation companies in the post-war Japan, there he was the master of the numerous famous animator like Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata etc. One of the major characteristics of Mori's style is that he loved to draw animal characters, and it lead to some anime works like The Wonderful World of Puss 'n Boots (長ぐつをはいた猫) in 1969, the protagonist of which is today's mascot of Toei Animation. He was of course under the influence of American animation, however there was an unique art style. A researcher in the later days suggests that in Mori's work animal characters are drawn as equal as human and they have their own world, i.e. he drew the world of kids (and overall human) throughout animal characters.[19] It means that his portraying of animal characters had the social satire. One of the reasons of Mori's influence is not only his influence on the whole Japanese animation but also the fact that he had worked relatively early and the period of his activities was relatively long, from the late of 1950s (こねこのらくがき, Koneko no rakugaki) to the beginning of the 1980s (シートン動物記 リスのバナー, Bannertail: The Story of Gray Squirrel etc).[20]

In spite of the difficulty to prove the direct cultural relationship between Mori's art and today's kemono art, however, there is a remarkable fact that in 2012 Gallone, the founder of Kemoket published a joint-doujinshi "Mori-no-ko (もりのこ)", featuring Mori's art, to which contributed the well-known kemono artists like Takanon Ikuta (いくたたかのん) and gamma-g.[21]

Kuma-san no Shiki by Shinji Wada (1976)

Until the emergence of kemono artists in the end of the 20th century, it may be said that each anthromorphical manga and anime works were the isolated cases and there is a hypothesis that they had not only the author's own interest toward anthromorphism but also the certain influence of American cartoon or animation that Mori contributed to. For example, in 1973 Shinji Wada (和田慎二, 1950-2011) released a manga "Jugatsu no Kuma-san" (十月のクマさん, Bear-san in October) on a manga magazine for young girls and received the certain acclaim[22] then finally published "Kumasan-no-Shiki (Four Seasons of Bear-san)" in 1976. This work, depicting the hart-warm and sometimes harsh story at the Ural mountain, was the rare case in that it was a commercial anthromorphic manga at that time and under the influence of Mori.[23]. Akira Himekawa (姫川明, consists of two artists born in 1960s), a manga artist who also participate Kemono doujin event, lamenting his death in 2011, mentioned: "(Anthromorphic) Kemono manga, not zoomorphic, we saw for the first time." [24]

On Japanese Anime, an animator Syuichi Seki (関修一, born 1946) was the designer of some anime works in which various "Kemono" characters appeared like Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds (ワンワン三銃士), Uchusen Sagittarius (宇宙船サジタリウス) etc. He has been a freelance animator but worked for the numerous works on Nippon Animation for long time and it can be said that he was the pupil of Yasuji Mori.

Front cover of Vol.7 from Ginga Sengoku Gunyu-den Rai (銀河戦国群雄伝ライ) by Joji Manabe (1994)
Since the second half of the 1980s, Joji Manabe (真鍋譲治, born 1963) had drawn his manga in which did appeared some anthromorphic characters in the nearer style to today's kemono art. Altough Manabe didn't commit to Kemono fanzine, he had also published some doujinshi on Eto Ranger from 1998 to 2002.[25][26][27] and it is inevitable to say that he had the certain influence on today's kemono art. For example, Gammachaos, the designer of Horkeukamui from Tokyo Afterschool Summoners had listed up the name of Manabe at the top of the favorite authors.[28]

In the golden age of the Japanese video games in the 1980s and 90s, many anthromorphic character appeared in the well-known video games like Star Fox, Sonic that must have had the great influence on the Kemono fanzine later days.

As above, "Kemono" in today's had appeared in the numerous commercial manga and animations and video games. However, until the emergence of Kemono artists at the end of the 20th century, all works today regarded as "Kemono" was those motivated by the author's own interest toward anthromorphism, or the influence of the animation or manga by Mori and other professional artists. Almost no one author above was within the Kemono fanzine and the commercial work by the artists within it had for the first time in the late of the 1990s.

Since at least before 2000, kemono is easily encountered in Anime, Manga, and Video games. Below is a selected list of such works that include kemono/furry characters and were/are the most influential to kemono fanzine.

  • Others
    • Mamoru-kun (まもるクン, 2000~present?) – Mascot of the crime/disaster prevention campaign and mailing system in Fukuoka prefecture, with the assistance of the creators of Tail Concerto and Solatorobo
    • Juune Rou (獣音ロウ, 2010~ present) – Vocaloid featuring Kemono

See also[edit]


  6. "Yatte Mo-taa"(Tokyo: Wan-Nyan Club), p.106
  18. 森康二「森さんに聞く」『季刊ファントーシュ』第2巻、第1号、ファントーシュ編集室、1977年、15~18ページ。
  19. 横田正夫「森 康二:平和を祈念したアニメーター」 横田ら(編)、『アニメーションの事典』朝倉書店、2012年、296-298ページ。
  20. Of course, it is hasty to define all genesis of Japanese Kemono art style on just Mori's artwork and it is a pure hypothesis.
  22. 和田慎二「クマさんの四季」白泉社、1976年。
  23. It is well-known that Wada was a great fan of "Adventure of Horus (ホルスの大冒険)" by Toei animation.
  24. It should be noted that their definition of "Kemono" is unknwon.

External links[edit]

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