Kemono Michi: Rise Up – Episode 1

By: Vrai Kaiser October 2, 20190 Comments
Genzo petting a blissed-out wolf man. subtitle: See? Feels good, right? Good boy...

What’s it about? During the final match of his career, pro wrestler Shibata Genzo is summoned to another world and asked to wipe out the monsters there. Enraged, he suplexes the princess and dedicates himself instead to improving the relationship between beastpeople and humans.

This episode has one joke. Allow me to show it to you.

Genzo entering the ring surrounded by fog machines. subtitle: the man who loves animals a little too much!

Okay, now translate that to a world where there are humanoid animals…

…And you have The Adventures of Horny Bisexual Wrestler Furry, emphasis on the horny. This episode is at least half cheesecake shots and gets uncomfortable mileage out of the fact that Genzo’s overwhelming desire to pet fuzzy things becomes assault once those critters are able to grasp and voice consent. It should not work, but damned if I wasn’t kind of spellbound by it.

Maybe it’s the wrestling fan in me. Rise Up’s plot logic exists in the same bizarre, tryhard, and yet somewhat endearing corner of kayfabe that brought the world Isaac Yankem DDS, cult leader Bray Wyatt, and Scary Queer Villain Goldust (who eventually inspired the more authentically magnificent Sterling).

The show is playing out the pretense that wrestlers are living their gimmicks in real life and having non-predetermined matches, and the wrestling sequences that open and close the episode look good. The way the action flows around character logic gives it a kinetic appeal, even when it’s leading up to another joke. Hats off to them for using wrestling as a sensibility throughout rather than just as an excuse to put their main character in underwear.

Genzo happily hugging a suplexed cerberus

The cast chemistry has promise, too. Wolf-girl Shigure seems like a lot of fun. And, despite Genzo having a line about how she can pay for him rescuing her “with her body” (i.e., let him pet her ears), that scene never actually happens and she’s pretty non-sexualized after the initial cheesecake shot.

Her slightly scheming personality makes a good counterpoint to Genzo’s bullish earnestness, and there are hints dropped about her past failures as a business owner that could make for interesting, even sincere material. I’m not overflowing with confidence that this show could handle a metaphor for how marginalized businesses are copied by larger, more privileged ones and then pushed out of the market, but I’d be interested to watch them try.

No, it’s hardly the nuanced storytelling of The Golden Lovers, working to craft a story that only its chosen medium could tell. A lot of my tentative enthusiasm hinges on the hope that subsequent episodes will drop the unsavory stuff and just be horny and weird in a nice, positive way.

Gendo clenching his fist. subtitle: I simply love all animals regardless of gender!

Certainly the show seems to be playing Genzo’s equal appreciation for curvy animal-eared ladies and buff wolf men as “haha, what a weirdo.” But it kind of fades in with the rest of his supposed weirdo characteristics. If the show can ditch the tasteless assault “jokes,” I’m willing to pretend I’m being pandered to.

Viewers will want to proceed with caution, but I’m going to see if Rise Up can get to its feet before I give it the three-count.

Editor’s Note: This article was edited after publication to clarify wording

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