Hulu just dropped a huge number of recent anime series. Most are about the same: a boy meets a girl who reveals that he is the Chosen One, and they fall in love while fighting evil. But Kemono Michi: Rise Up looked different: a muscular adult instead of a young boy, no girl to fall in love with, and the quest is to: open an alien pet shop.
Scene 1: A giant stadium. The main event: Animal Mask vs. his longtime rival, MAO, the Macedamian Ogre. In the locker room, Animal Mask ponders: if he wins tonight's match, he can begin the second chapter of his life. His sleazy-looking manager wants to know what that second chapter is: he'll spend his life surrounded by the animals that he loves.
Scene 2: The match begins. MAO is a very muscular, but Animal Mask is much beefier; surely they're in different weight classes?
Meanwhile, in a fairy-tale palace, a pair of boobs prays for "the strongest warrior from another world." And, in the midst of the match, Animal Mask vanishes!
He and his dog re-appear in the fairy-tale palace, in front of the boobs -- a princess -- and her courtiers. They wonder why he's wearing an animal costume. "Is he a pervert?" Hey, fetishes are no longer classified as perversions in the DSM!
Princess Boobarella explains: she has summoned a great warrior to kill all the demonic beasts that roam their land.
Animal Mask grabs her from behind: "Um...couldn't you wait until we are alone?" But he actually does a wrestling move, resulting in her on the ground with her panties showing -- in closeup. Why would you do that? You know you're not in the stadium anymore.
Scene 3: Princess Boobarella is still lying with her butt exposed. Animal Mask explains: "I'm an animal lover. I don't kill animals. Send me home!" The courtiers are naturally upset about their Princess lying unconscious on the floor, so they attack. Animal Mask runs away.
Not too bright -- it doesn't dawn on him that he's "not in Kansas anymore" until he's running through the fairytale city. The townsfolk think he's a "pervert," and don't make eye contact. He takes off the animal mask, but the "pervert" accusations don't subside. "I'm not a pervert! I'm a wrestler!" he exclaims. Gay people are called "perverts" quite often, so this is becoming uncomfortable.
Scene 4: While he is hiding in an alley, Animal Mask is accosted by slave traders, who believe that "the pervert's muscles" will bring a high price. "And his little dog, too." We flash to a shot of a female wrestler's boobs; then a girl with cat ears approaches him. What happened to the slave traders? He falls gleefully into her crotch, I guess in a fantasy.
She is accompanied by a humanoid wolf, who asks "Do you like my hairy chest and tail?" Animal Mask does -- too much! He rushes up, pins the Wolf, and starts humping him, while Cat-Ear Girl pulls at his jockstrap: "Get off my brother!"
Aninal Mask whispers "Don't worry -- you'll start to like it in a second. You like it when I rub you here, don't you?" "No!" Wolf yells. "Stop!" Hey, jerk, he said no! Back off!
Scene 5: Having finished "petting" the Wolf, Animal Mask turns toward the girl. "You're next!" He's interrupted by a slaver dragging off a girl with wolf ears and a tail, "I don't want to live at some noble's house, and get walks and naps and free snacks." The slave trade is about household pets? He is torn: "pet" the Cat-Ear Girl or rescue and then "pet" the Wolf-Ear Girl?
Cat-Ear Girl warns the Slaver: "He's dangerous. He's a super-high level pervert!"
"I am not a pervert!" Animal Mask protests. "I simply love all animals, regardless of gender!" He slams the Slaver to the ground.
Cat-Ear Girl, Wolf, and the Slaver, apparently all friends, rush away. Animal Ears chases them, intent on "petting," but he is stopped by Wolf-Ear Girl. "Thank you for saving me. I don't have any money. How can I pay you?" The answer is obvious: "With your body."
Scene 6: Back in their apartment, Wolf, feeling violated, takes a shower, and Cat-Ear Girl tends to Slaver's wounds. They discuss how to get revenge: by stealing Animal Mask's dog companion!
Meanwhile, Wolf-Ear Girl takes Animal Mask to the Hunter's Guild, where they can earn some money. What happened to their petting scene? Inside, he tells the Guild Master his qualifications: "I can love any animal, regardless of species or gender." Is there much call for bestiality technicians? The Guild Master is not impressed, but hires him anyway to track down a pack of cerberuses (the three-headed dogs from Greek myth) -- and kill them. "No, I'll tame them instead."
Scene 7: Animal Mask, Wolf-Ear Girl, and two hunters running through the woods. Animal Mask rejects an offer of a weapon; you don't stab animals, you "pet" them. They encounter the pack of cerberuses. "Three heads!" Animal Mask exclaims. "Three times the fun!" What does he expect them to do for him?
Since they're a pack of dog-like beings, all he has to do is tame the alpha. He grabs it, pins it with a wrestling move, and buries his face into its crotch. The dog does not have genitals -- he's just "sniffing." I guess.
The hunters are astonished. "He pinned it, like you would pin a lady that you wanted to rape. He's like a lady-killer, but with demonic beasts." It's "lady-killer" in the subtitles, but that term in English refers to a man who attracts women, not a man who rapes them.
Scene 8: They made enough money from the hunt to get a room at an inn, and some clothes for Animal Mask. He decides that "the four of us" will devote their lives to creating a world where humans, beast-people, and animals can live in harmony.
The four of them? Animal Mask, his dog companion, Wolf-Ear Girl...and a giant ant that suddenly appeared at their table. "Who are you?" Wolf-Ear Girl asks. The end.
Beefcake: Constant. Animal Mask wears only a bulging jockstrap in every scene.
Gay characters: Animal Mask is bisexual, to an extent. If you're an animal, or have animal parts, he wants to "pet" you. But when we move from symbolic sex to real sex, he seems to prefer women. His team later consists of three women and the giant ant.
Rape: He doesn't ask for your consent, and ignores your pleas to stop. The hunters also seem to believe that rape is licit.
Pervert: The term is used in the English subtitles when Animal Mask is dressed in animal-clothes (furry), when he is wearing a wrestling singlet (exhibitionist), and when he "pets" an anthropomorphic male wolf (rape or being gay).
My Grade: Rape, bestiality, and possible homophobia. D.