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Anthropomorphic Fantasy

What is Anthropomorphic Fantasy?

Animals! Animals! Animals everywhere! To be boring, anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics, languages, behaviors, and motivations to an entity other than human. This something may be an inanimate object (Brave little toaster anyone?), natural phenomenon (Frosty the snowman for the win), or (and this is most often the case) animals.

The anthropomorphism of animals (or other entities) spans a spectrum. Humans may have a significant role to play, or they may be in the background, or they may not exist at all. Animals may move on two legs, have language, live within societal structures, engage in philosophical or scientific inquiry, wear clothes, use tools, wield swords or magic, or any combination of these behaviors. Sometimes the hero is an animal and sometimes the hero is a human who has animal companions.

Anthropomorphic Fantasy Characteristics

  • Level of Magic

    Variable. Sometimes the magic of an Anthropomorphic Fantasy is that animals can talk. And sometimes talking turtles are also powerful wizards.

  • Level of Grand Ideas and Social Implications

    Moderate-High. Transcribing human characteristics onto another entity is itself a thought exercise. It makes readers examine humanity's relationship with the entity by encouraging them to examine the entity in a new way. Anthropomorphism simplifies complicated ideas or entities. For example, in both mythology and religion human characteristics are often used to describe and understand deities. Anthropomorphizing an entity allows writers to more easily choose which aspects of the human condition writers want to explore. Ideas may be intimate, like friendship, or they may be grand like the cost of building a civilization.

  • Level of Characterization

    High. Even though most, if not all, of the characters will be something other than human readers will still develop a relationship and understanding of the characters. The characters, despite maybe their furry faces, will have complex relationships and rich internal lives. They will face dilemmas and embark on quests that will test their limits and allow them to better understand not only themselves but those around them.

  • Level of Plot Complexity

    Variable. How an Anthropomorphic Fantasy story unfolds is wholly up to the author. A plot may be simple and straight forward for an audience of children. A plot may be complex and weave together many threads. While there is no defining plot structure for Anthropomorphic Fantasy, quests and journeys are often a driving force for the story.

  • Level of Violence

    Variable. Violence is not a defining characteristic of Anthropomorphic Fantasy. Violence, however, is part of human existence; when human characteristics are transcribed onto animals or other objects violence can also become a part of an anthropomorphized world. Even peace loving Ents will go to war when their fellow trees are threatened.

Related Fantasy Subgenres




    Juvenile Fantasy. Creating animal characters to connect with children is a common tactic in Children's literature.

  • Quest Fantasy. Many Anthropomorphic Fantasy tales take the form of quest.

  • Portal Fantasy. A world filled with talking animals or moving trees exists separate from our world and some unsuspecting hero finds its door.

Anthropomorphic Fantasy Isn’t For You If...

If you're an unyielding carnivore. Because really, if you can only think about how tasty Bambi would taste you're really not going to enjoy the story. Also, if you're a wildlife biologist (or similar) who believes that anthropomorphizing animals is detrimental to their existence in the wild. Like, for example, when children wanted little Dorys and Nemos in their fish tanks after Disney-Pixar's blockbuster hit Finding Nemo and the demand affected wild fish populations. For other readers, Anthropomorphic Fantasy is fun and completely enjoyable.

Popular Anthropomorphic Fantasy Books