If you know of light novel author Natsume Akatsuki, then you’re probably a fan of KonoSuba or Combatants Will Be Dispatched! However, not only is Akatsuki the man behind these popular titles but he also writes the story for a manga known as Kemono Michi: Rise Up. Today I’m here to check out the anime adaptation of this series to find out if it’s worth a watch.
The story follows Genzo Shibata, a pro wrestler about to take part in a match for the title of World Champion. If Genzo wins, he’s ready to retire and follow his dreams of opening a pet shop with his dog (and mascot), Hiroyuki.
However, in the middle of the fight, Genzo, together with Hiroyuki, is suddenly summoned to another world, where he’s confronted with the world’s princess, Altena Edgardo Ratis. Altena informs Genzo that he has been summoned as a hero who is tasked with defeating the Demon King and the evil beasts he controls.
Of course, being an animal lover, Genzo refuses to fight the monsters and suplexes the princess for even daring to ask such a thing. Afterwards, he runs off, hoping to open a pet shop in the new world and hopefully bring humans to see monsters as harmless companions.
What follows is a fairly episodic adventure series in which Genzo tames new creatures and tries to make a life for himself in the town. He makes a friend with a half-human beastman (called Shigure) who tries to keep his antics in check and, because he’s a pro wrestler, Genzo has more than enough power to protect himself. He’s so good at taming the monsters around the town that he becomes known as a “beast killer” by the townspeople, much to his disapproval.
Kemono Michi is a comedy in much the same vein as Akatsuki’s other series, although the humour is significantly less sexual most of the time. Genzo, Shigure and the other characters he surrounds himself with are likeable enough in personality and they play off each other well.
The author likes dysfunctional groups and that’s certainly true here as well. Genzo is happy to run off on his own to tame yet another monster with no real regard for the fact he is too broke to feed himself, never mind more pets. This only gets worse when he becomes friends with Hanako, a half-human half-dragon with a love for food and her useless maid Carmilla.
Working on the animation of the series is studio ENGI (Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!) and Kemono Michi is their first work. The show looks pretty good and the action scenes flow well, but even if I didn’t already know it was the studio’s first work, I’d probably have guessed as such, since the quality isn’t consistent. It’s not a problem per se since the series isn’t that demanding in terms of animation, but it certainly won’t be memorable for how it looks.
Music for the series has been handled by Shunsuke Takizawa (My Girlfriend is a Shobitch, 100% Pascal-sensei) and the compositions fit well with the show. I think Takizawa did well to create tracks that capture the gripping nature of Genzo’s wrestling experience and the music helps to elevate scenes where he’s fighting. Like the animation, it’s not hugely memorable but it certainly does the job.
The opening theme for the series is “Fight! Kemona Mask” performed by NoB and Katsuyuki Konishi (Genzo’s VA) while the ending theme was “Anecdote” by Momosumomosu. The songs are not particularly great tracks, but they do fit the show well enough.
Where voice actors are concerned in Kemono Michi, both the Japanese and English cast do a fine job. As usual, I am fonder of the Japanese cast since Genzo’s actor Katsuyuki Konishi (Shima Juzo in Blue Exorcist, Hachi in Darling in the Franxx) fits the character better, but I think you’d be well served by either language.
Kemono Michi comes to the UK thanks to Manga Entertainment and has been released on Blu-ray and DVD. Both sets include all 12 episodes with Japanese and English dub audio.
Overall, Kemono Michi offers a unique story about a pro wrestler with the desire to open a pet shop in a fantasy world. If you’re tired of the isekai genre then this certainly isn’t the show for you, but if you’re a fan of author Natsume Akatsuki and his stories, then you’ll want to give this a watch.