Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Kemono 獣, ケモノ

If you watch enough anime, it's possible you've heard the word kemono 獣 before. If you hang around in anime communities too much, it's also possible you've heard the word kemono before, but with a different meaning. In this post I'll explain the two meanings of the word kemono.

Kemono Beast

Literally, a kemono 獣 is a "beast." An animal, I mean, an animal that is not people. It's just a simple noun and has nothing of important to it. Should not be confused with kimono 着物, which is a thing you wear.

Also, the word kedamono 獣, written with the same kanji, is normally used in a bad way to refer to people who are like "animals," that is, savages, scum.

Kemono Character

In anime and manga, a kemono character is an anthropomorphic character, that is, a half-beast character. That can be a character that looks like a cat and has cat ears and cat tail and fur, etc. or like a dog, or like a lizard, or like anything, really.

In this case, the word kemono is normally written with katakana instead of with kanji, so kemono ケモノ.

Note that, for some people, a character is only a kemono if they feature muzzle, tail and fur (or scales, feathers, etc.). Characters that only feature "beast ears" are normally associated with the term kemonomimi 獣耳 instead. (ironically, Kemono Friends isn't about kemono characters according to this definition, as they have human faces and not muzzles)

A Kemono ケモノ furry character from the anime Flying Witch

Kemo ケモ

In Japanese, the word kemono as used toward drawings is sometimes abbreviated to just kemo ケモ.

For example, the anime "Kemono Friends," or kemono furenzu けものフレンズ, is normally abbreviated to just kemofure けもフレ. (note: kemono was written with hiragana in the title of this anime probably because of aesthetics.)

Some derived terms include:

Kemono Art

In English, kemono is often used to refer to artwork which features kemono characters. In this case it's essentially synonymous with "furry art."

In Japanese, someone who likes kemono characters and art, that is, a furry, is called a kemonaa ケモナー, something like a kemono-er, kemoner.

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