While 2021 was a pretty crappy year overall, for anthro gaming titles it was certainly a renaissance. It also did an excellent job curb stomping my 2018 statements that visual novels seem to be the genre of choice for anthro game developers. In 2021 we had a Metroid-vania mixed with a brawler in Ursa Nominated FIST. We had an isometric top-down combat adventure in Ursa Nominated Death’s Door. Now we have a game that is a narrative and art focused 2D grid exploration and creativity game in Chircoy: A Colorful Tale. Unfortunately this one didn’t get a nomination, because I would not have complained if it did.
This game is interestingly one I would recommend to furries who are artists more than gamers. While it doesn’t require being an artist by any means, and traditional gamers would be able to complete the story just fine, the narrative has more reflection on the power of being a creative type and the stress of societal expectations that comes with artistic pursuits. Imposter syndrome, having people demand things from you for exposure, and other such tropes in the artist world are addressed through your character’s trials.
There is a full world to explore and color to your heart’s content and it's more about the journey than the conflict. But there is no art without some struggle. While your character named after your favorite dish may have started their adventure wanting to wield the magic brush of this world, heavy is the hand who wields.
To avoid spoilers stop reading at Art within the Art
With a voice cast of personal favorites such as Sam Rockwell, Awkwafina and Craig Robinson? Full of anthropomorphic animal characters in a kid-friendly Tarantino take-off? And there's even a furry vixen in the mix? What, is it my birthday? (Actually, that's Saturday.) [Happy Birthday! --The editors]
After a television interview with the local governor, a vixen named Diane Foxington, Mr. Wolf is goaded into carrying out a ridiculously difficult heist. Which correspondingly goes ridiculously wrong. The gang are put in the care of Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade), a guinea pig who tries to teach them how to be good guys.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is that thing which, as a furry reviewer, I feel like I should run into more, but actually don’t. It is a perfectly acceptable kid’s movie. Which is a bit of a problem, because that makes it the worst type of movie to review. A movie that’s just okay. It’s fine. Alright, even.
I’m tempted to write more about how the Sonic the Hedgehog movies bookend the Covid-19 pandemic, which is just a coincidence, than this movie. I'll keep it short, but I want to make clear I’m a guy who reviews kid’s movies for adults, not a virologist, so while I may feel safe enough to go back to theaters, you do what you feel comfortable with.
It’s okay enough, and the Sonic franchise has a passionate enough fanbase, if you want to spend full price for a movie ticket, I won’t judge too much. But it’s not so good I don’t still recommend waiting until it hits streaming.
A letter coming out of Motor City Fur Con highlights a situation that furry conventions may need to be made aware of, and to take actions protecting against. This opinion piece will go over this situation, and why it's important that our community address this situation, and against possible weaponization of it.
Primarily, conventions are a big deal in the furry world. These organized efforts of staff and volunteers are an excellent opportunity for friends from great distances to come together and meet one another. Something that can seem quite simple on the surface creates great stress to those at the helm. Earlier this year we found a small group of furs overburdened and liquidating a company when they took on too much workload. The tragedy being there was probably no ill intention, but their small group taking on too much created vulnerability and eventually it all came tumbling down.
Leaders of conventions, and those that volunteer, sacrifice a lot in order to keep these essential functions for our fandom running. This sacrifice was emphasized through recent news out of Detroit’s Motor City Fur Con when the convention chair of FurSquared announced that in order to attend Motor City Fur Con, he lost his job. Now Alkali, a convention chair who has done an untold amount of hours for charity work and running panels at other various conventions, looks for subscription support in order to focus on creating content for the fandom he loves with his spouse Xanni. And in spite of this rock to his world, he is still running FurSquared this very weekend.
While Flayrah has been critical of leadership of conventions in the past, today the focus goes in the other direction, toward the attendees. Because the loss of employment of one of the volunteers of Motor City Fur Con was followed up by another troubling letter from the same convention about how other attendees chose to spend their time.
Though it’s the baby of Oscar categories, the Best Animated Feature Academy Award will turn 21 this Sunday, meaning it would be old enough to drink alcohol in America, if it could actually do that. Encanto, Flee, Luca, The Mitchells vs. the Machines and Raya and the Last Dragon will compete to become the next recipient of the award.
First introduced in 2001, Best Animated Feature is the only “new” category to be introduced this century so far. Like many new categories, a few animated features had earned "Special Achievement" Oscars, starting with the original American made animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with another going to 1997’s Toy Story, as well as one to the live action/animated hybrid Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Other movie awards followed the Oscars, adding their own animated categories, though the Annies, which are for animation, had obviously been awarding Best Feature for a few years.
Since 2001, 20 movies have won the award, which is a nice round number for doing a countdown, worst to best. The following ranking is based on my opinions, and my opinions only. But, even if you think my rankings are horrible, no good, absolutely wrong, well, I’ve also included a lot of factoids and trivia, so that might be worth reading. Also, not all of the winners have been particularly furry, but most have something of interest to furries going on in them.
Pixar's newest movie is a woman-directed, coming-of-age film where a red-headed daughter finds herself rebelling against an overbearing mother during the course of an adventure involving human-to-animal transformation of a bear-like nature; that worked out so well for all involved last time.
Let's see: they replaced Brenda Chapman half-way through production, and her career still hasn't recovered; the movie was the first non-Cars Pixar movie to not reach a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes; and, most importantly, readers didn't like my review of it very much. Seriously, the best thing to come out of Brave was the line "She's from the other studio." in Ralph Breaks the Internet, which unfortunately was the best thing to come out of Ralph Breaks the Internet.
The OPB reports that Benjamin Smith, known in the fandom under his fursona name “Polybun”, faces murder and attempted murder charges after he confronted protesters before opening fire into the crowd. Four were injured and one, Brandy Knightly, a sixty year old woman, lost her life in the attack.
Connections to the fandom were fished out by the local Portland community furries as images of the attacker made the rounds. One of the first to report on this to social media was Triss Winters, a furry left-wing activist out of Portland who recalled when Polybun was removed from one of his house parties a decade ago due to him brandishing a knife and threatening to stab someone who took a photo of him at the event.
When some Western furries hear about anthropomorphic content from China they may typically think of web pages that sell knock off fursuits, but F.I.S.T. is here and gives that stereotype a good solid punch in the face. This original property developed by the Eastern developer of Bilibili for the PlayStation (4 & 5) and PC pounds in the action and exploration of any player willing to fight on behalf of the furtizens being oppressed by the Legion’s mechanical beings.
Furtizens, by the way is not my word, but the game’s own neologism describing the furry citizens. It is such a simple word, and it amazes me that of all things a game would be the etymology of it and not from popularization from furry fans (visa vi: fursona). The story’s main conflict is on two rabbit characters: Ray and Cicero.
It is one of three furry games I played released in 2021, and is certainly going on my list of nominations for this year’s Ursa Major. It is a game of two main elements that have been blended together quite well. Combat is intimate and has the feel of a brawler game of old like a more polished Double Dragon, but it takes place in an open and explorable world where your weapons can double as traversal items, putting it in the Metroid space. So it’s part brawler and part metroidvania and it blends these two elements seamlessly.
Streaming services such as Disney+, HBO Max and Netflix were important for movie fans in 2021 due to the still ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. My review of Raya and the Last Dragon began with a lengthy digression involving the pros and cons of streaming before going into whether it was worth watching (more on that in a bit!). Sing 2 was the only movie I reviewed last year that I actually watched in a theater – the non-theatrical Rock Dog 2 was the only other movie I didn't stream to review, but instead watched on a rented DVD. It feels like 2022 could go either way; I might get to watch movies in theaters more often, or I might not. But that's the future. Right now, we're talking about 2021.
This is a year-end top ten list. If you're at all unclear on what I'm counting or not counting as a "2021 movie", I used to spell it out, but in recent years, I've just linked back to the older lists. One thing to note: though obviously you're on a furry site, this is not specifically a furry list. However, I traditionally name a best furry movie in addition to a best movie, period; for 2021, it was Raya and the Last Dragon. Each title links to IMDB or a Flayrah review, with better descriptions of movies you're unfamiliar with than I can give in this format.
With temperatures down, and entertainment options becoming more and more—homegrown, let's say—it's a good time to catch up on that new-to-you material that aligns with your interests. Here are two of those lesser-known but deserving properties, marketed toward youth. For those of you who were sold on The Secret of NIMH, Redwall, and everything in between, at first view.
The Mistmantle Chronicles by M.I. McAllister has jacket flaps that compare it to The Wind In The Willows and Watership Down, although as you can see from the first installment's cover, there's much more of a Redwall yen in this series. As they say, though, DON'T judge a book by its cover, as the experiences of brave squirrel Urchin on the titular island carry their own identity. This flies in the face of origins that speak to many favorite role-playing games, as he evolves from his discovery on an empty beach to his eventual destiny in foiling a royal coup.
Camaraderie and species characteristics also run heavy in this, as in Redwall, however there is a noticeable amount of personification of reactive emotion and atmosphere as well, where dread and evil are given concrete outlines. Given my frequent mention of the property in the paragraph, you can gather the audience to which Mistmantle speaks. Dig on into this if you're part of that audience, since Miramax has purchased movie rights [albeit in 2004], and some sort of photo-play is probably not far off.
It is well known to many Flayrah readers that there is at least one of our contributors that has a habit surrounding a game by the name of Fortnite. They usually write reviews for movies and not games, so this is no big deal. That third person battle royale shooter was a spin off of its inspiration PUBG: Battlegrounds. Given its more stylized graphics and quirky building mechanics, Fortnite became a powerhouse and caught on in the consumer markets much to the chagrin of those who like the more realistic and rough stylings of PUBG.
But if it’s anything that the battle royale genre teaches you, it is that just because you’re the first to hit the ground, doesn’t mean you’ll be the last one standing.
Regardless, if there is one thing for sure most of this site’s target audience can agree on is that neither of those games is really “furry”. Sure there are skins in Fortnite that let you dress up and you can write an article listing them out for the fur-curious gamers playing it, if you really want to. But it is very certain that the characters fighting it out in the battle in these games are very much homosapiens. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Luckily for furs in 2021, a new battle royale game was released officially that may appeal more toward the anthro enthusiast. Super Animal Royale is a game of genetically modified animal folks fighting it out in a dilapidated Disney-esque amusement park called Super Animal World to try and be the best of up to 64 contestants thrown into this battle of the death by being the last animal standing.
Sing 2 opens with the cast and crew of Moon’s Theater putting on a pop-musical stage adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Alice is played by the elephant Meena (voiced by Tori Kelly), the Mad Hatter is played by the gorilla Johnny (voiced by Taron Egerton), and the Cheshire Cat is played by a pig named Rosita (voiced by Reese Witherspoon), which seems like a bit of miscasting to me. This performance is particularly important, because in the audience is a talent scout, a saluki dog named Suki (voiced by Chelsea Peretti) who could get them an audition to perform at even bigger venues.
Anyway, she leaves about halfway through the first act.
The theater’s owner and director, the koala Mr. Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey), tries to stop her, asking her what she thought of the show. She replies that it’s fine, really good local children’s theater production, but just not what they’re looking for. When Moon implores her to tell him, really honestly, what she thinks, Suki sighs and asks him if he really wants to know.
Because the honest truth, she says, is they’re just not good enough.
Editor's Note: This article was also published in DogPatchPress and was dual submitted by the original author. In discussion with DogPatch, it was decided to follow the author's wish to post this piece to both sites, but editing credits go to Patch from DogPatchPress. If you read it there, it is the same here, minus these respective editor notes. Furry opinions are, apparently, quite fungible.
Cryptocurrency isn’t a new thing to a lot of people. Most safely assume that it’s a common matter to discuss by now. From one trend to another, it seems like the over-publicized success stories, scam emails, and ads that badger you to invest or download this or that app never stop coming. Yet while furries are notoriously well versed in technology, for most of us, it’s just background noise. Spam, business con tactics, and maybe hearsay from the friend of a friend who invested; it all sounds almost good enough to break through our skepticism… but not quite.
However, early in 2021, things suddenly changed. A digital work from Mike Winkelmann (AKA Beeple), entitled ‘Everydays: The First 5000 Days’, sold for $69.3 million USD. It was entirely unexpected for most of the online community, and the term NFT exploded like crypto did before it.
Death’s Door is a game where you play as a crow who has been tasked with reaping a soul. However, things become complicated as someone rips one of your assigned souls from your grasp. This leaves you on a quest to hunt down some monstrous beings who are doing everything they can to stall their egress from the world of the living.
Gameplay-wise it has the exploration and dungeon crawling elements of a Zelda game. However, the large boss fights are punishing and far more difficult than the Nintendo faire. They seem closer to Dark Souls boss fights in terms scale— but not quite as brutal, a nice moderate difficulty.
I honestly hope this one wins the Ursa Major award for gaming in 2021.
Usually, I don’t have a horse in these races, as most of the games I get an opportunity to play are in a backlog from prior years. Luckily, as a furry, I don’t ever feel compelled to keep up with the Joneses of the world and consume the latest titles. Instead I play anthro games as my audience votes on which one they would like to see me play. So it is rare that I get to play a game in the year it came out.
This treat of a game was published in July of this year, developed by Acid Nerve and published by Devolver Digital. It is available on PC and XBox consoles. And this October the voters decided this would be a good game to play. You know, death is spooky. However, the game is not of the horror genre.
I don't feel the need to justify bringing up David "Bunny" Garnett's 1922 short novel Lady into Fox in a furry context. As the title suggests, the story involves a lady who turns into a fox. Technically, it is not a story about an anthropomorphic animal, and is in fact about the direct opposite of that, a zoomorphic human. Of course, this is a nitpick. I doubt anyone cares.
On the point of genre, however, there is one area where I would like to make a rather more controversial "take" on the subject matter. Though the novel was a bit unclassifiable when it was first introduced, with H.G. Wells (an author known for his use of anthropomorphic animals) praising it as "a new creation, a new sort of animal, let us say, suddenly running about in the world," a phrase that I imagine had him enthusiastically punching the air at his own cleverness.
More modern takes tend to classify it as a "contemporary fantasy". However, I find it to be entirely different: it seems nothing more (or less) than a tale of the supernatural; a ghost story whose 'ghost' merely requires a few scare quotes - or, put another way, a horror story.