Talkin’ Nerdy: Furry Confusion

If you’ve been following the news for past few weeks, you’ve undoubtedly heard or read the declaration made by Japan’s Sanrio company that’s shaken up the nation:

Sanrio’s mascot, Hello Kitty is NOT  a cat!!

“So what happens if I get sick? Do I go to a doctor or a veterinarian?”

In the words of Phillip J. Fry, “I’m shocked! SHOCKED!…Well, not that shocked.
The president of Sanrio goes on to explain that Hello Kitty is not an actual cat, but rather, she’s the personification of a cat. Her actual name is Kitty White. She’s a little girl, but no more an actual cat than Mickey Mouse is an actual mouse. Hello Kitty wears clothes. She stands, walks and talks like a human. She even owns a pet cat named Charmy Kitty.
He almost had up until he said that Hello Kitty owns a pet cat, but more on that later…
So going by that logic, then that means that Gumball Watterson isn’t a cat either, which he isn’t.
Gumball is a human with cat like features. Gumball went “meow!” in one short and was seen hanging out with H-B characters Tom (of Tom & Jerry fame) and Top Cat in one of Cartoon Network’s 20th Anniversary spots, but those are the most cat-like things that Gumball has ever done.
For all intents and purposes, Gumball is an anthro, but definitely more human than animal.
Honestly, I think that fans outrage over this news is no more than a knee jerk reaction. After all, the practice of creating anthropomorphic animal characters who are essentially humans in animal guise is nothing new. Anybody remember this guy?

“Howdy, folks.”

Huckleberry Hound, despite his name and appearance, has done very few canine things in his long career. He was even employed as a dog catcher in one of his original shorts. He must’ve really needed the money.
Heck, among the most famous anthros of all time are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (granted, the Turtles were ordinary animals who were anthropomorphized through mutation, so they now can be thought of as at least part humanoid, although I’m still not feeling the idea of any of the Ninja Turtles dating human women.

“Humans datin’ anthros is sick! It’s an atrocimity!”

 Homophobia, perhaps? Or would the correct term be “bestophobia”? I honestly don’t know what to call sex between anthropomorphic animals and cartoon humans, let alone an irrational fear of such practices. It gets even stranger when you have anthro animals interacting with non-anthropomorphic animals, such as having anthros vising non-anthros at the zoo. Are zoos like insane asylums for cartoon animals? Or how about Mickey Mouse having a dog for a pet and also hanging out with Goofy, another dog?
 ******************************************
As previously stated, the likes of Mickey Mouse, Hello Kitty and Gumball Watterson are not real animals, nor are the generic toon animal sprites in the now defunct video game Toontown Online.

“Check us out! In your face, natural order of things!”

…But even those characters are preferable to THESE animated abominations!!

What has science wrought?!!? Someone think of the children!!

The characters on PBS’ Arthur aren’t animals; they’re mutant humans with animal heads! The females have full heads of hair. They’re fully clothed. They have completely human anatomies (including human fingers and toes). They don’t even have tails. Sorry, but when cartoon animals are anthropomorphiszed to the point where they have human feet, then it officially has crossed over from being cute to creepy! animal heads on human bodies may seem endearing in a cartoon or a video game, but in the real world, not so much.
If you saw these creatures in your neighborhood, they’d soon be chased out of town by angry villagers wielding pitchforks and torches. Talking animals are fine when not being human is part of their shtick, but keep it in Cartoon Country, please.
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5 Comments

  1. While I generally prefer humans and humanoids as animated protagonists overall, even I have to admit to finding a certain charming tooney mystique to the occasional employment of cartoon anthros, provided that they're done in moderation, their biological roots aren't completely forgotten and it never crosses over into creeptastic territory.

    Some examples of what I'm talking about are: the universes of Hero: 108 and Dragon Ball. In the former, humans and animals peacefully co-exist alongside of one another, (or at least they did at the start of the series) and the latter's population consists predominantly of humans but with the occasional anthro tossed in amongst the population, like Oolng (a pig), Puar (a cat) and Girran (a pterodactyl). Heck, on DBZ the king of the world is a dog, ironically named King Furry. In most of these cases, the characters are basically anthropomorphised, but not entirely: they talk and walk like humans, but they don't wear full compliments of clothing and they and everyone else are aware that these characters are animals and this fact is even joked about in-universe from time to time. For me, that's fine; it only gets strange when you start throwing in non-anthropomorphic animals like Majin Buu's pet Bee, a dog who acts like a real dog. I agree that as soon as you start depicting talking animals in the same continuity as non-talking animals, that's when it starts being weird, questionable and borderline uncomfortable.

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  2. Well I'm kind of the opposite really. I love cartoons about animals whether anthro or not. Though I'm biased being a huge animal lover and a furry. Though the whole animals owning an animal thing still annoys me to this day. So when an anthro dog owns a dog as a pet it's fine, but when I try to adopt a human as a pet, I'm stuck in prison for 3 years! GOSH!

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  3. Bump time!

    Recently, Linkara did an episode of his web series “Atop the Fourth Wall;” about a web comic strip that I previously wasn’t aware of titled “My Cage”, about a neurotic platypus, his bubbly dog girlfriend and his obnoxious co-workers, all of them anthropomorphic animals. It was explained that the “My Cage” universe is an alternate reality in which the human race had gone extinct and thus the animals became the new humans. One thing about this society that I liked was that here amoeba were kept as pets, which makes a lot more sense to me than animals owning other animals. The one time a non-anthro dog was shown, it was explained in a joke that this dog only acted that way because he was suffering from a disease. My general stance on anthropomorphic animals hasn’t changed, but I will say that if you’re going to do an “animals as humans” society, that would be the way to do it.

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  4. Another show that features animals as basically “humans with animal heads” is the Netflix show Bojack Horseman. They are completely animal in the head and completely human in the body down to having completely human hands and feet and not having a tail even if their species has one. Unlike Arthur, there are no Informed Species, animal characters that have a species name, but hardly or very vaguely look like the species that they are said to be (like Taz the Tasmainian devil in Looney Tunes, Crash Bandicoot, and Sonic the Hedgehog). Informed Species can also look like a completely generic of a given type of animal despite having a specific species name of that type of animal (like Baloo from the Disney animated The Jungle Book having the look of a generic bear despite being called a sloth bear). Interestingly, the animals show a fair number of Furry Reminders, behaviors that remind the audience of the species that the given characters are outside of their appearance. Also, the chickens at the chicken farm in one episode, including one named Becca, behaved like normal, nontalking chickens despite wearing clothes and being as anthropomorphic in body shape as all the other animal characters.

    Different Types of Not Being Obvious Specific Species

    1) Generic Animal Type: obvious animal type, but generic and little or no resemblance to any specific real world species; monkeys, songbirds, frogs and toads, snakes, lizards, and turtles often get this treatment
    2) Informed Species: very vague, little, or no resemblance to the specific species the character is said to be; whether it has an obvious generic animal type or not; fireflies, fleas, reindeer, and brine shrimp (sea monkeys) usually get this treatment
    3) Cartoon Creature: vague, little, or no resemblance to a specific real world species and no real world species name; can look vaguely like a generic animal type, but not go by the generic animal type’s name

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