ICYMI, ‘Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story’ is now out on Netflix. This is a pretty big deal since the title is the very first Filipino Netflix Original Animated Film. The studio behind it, Rocketsheep Studio, is also well-known within the animation industry, having produced 2016’s Saving Sally.
You might remember the film for that one year when the Metro Manila Film Festival decided to mostly field decent movies for a change.
But going back to ‘Hayop Ka’, is it any good? Is it worth spending an hour and 15 mins of your day to check it out? Long story short: Yes. It’s visually stunning, the animation is well done, Angelica Panganiban as the lead is just perfection, and the plot is just… okay.
I dunno if you’ve seen a lot of local mainstream TV and movies lately, but our industry isn’t exactly revered when it comes to anything related to ‘special effects’. There’s a dude on YouTube who literally garnered a following by roasting the likes of Victor Magtanggol.
Furry Manila (or at least that’s how I call it) is gorgeously well-detailed. Nimfa’s rollercoaster journey is conveyed through scenes with various inspirations, such as childhood animes, old-school video games, and even works of art.
Hayop Ka! serves as proof that if our animators are given the right budget, platform, and time (the film took 3 years to make), they deserve a spot among the genre’s best.
As for the plot, it certainly isn’t Hayop Ka!’s strength. I would argue that the story wasn’t even the focal point during its creation. It was just… meh. It’s your usual mistress, love triangle storyline that’s been a staple of Filipino cinema since the dawn of time.
It was also hard to feel for Nimfa, whose aspirations for a better life, while understandable, is mired with one questionable decision after the other. As a character pointed out in the climax, she isn’t exactly the best person out there.
Now, movie protagonists do not always have to be morally ‘good’ to be likeable. But they do need to have redeeming qualities, or at least one sympathetic trait that overrules most of their less-than-stellar actions.
Nimfa doesn’t have any of these. Her biggest gripe is that her life is ‘sakto lang’, as she puts it. Her entire motivation for initiating the dilemma between her bf (Robin Padilla) and a rich businessman (Sam Milby) is because she wasn’t okay with just being okay.
And while she does get her just desserts in the end, by then my empathy was nowhere to be found.
The story serves more as a vehicle for Rocketsheep Studio to flex their wide range of skills from one scene to the other. Normally, lackluster storytelling can derail a film, but then I realized, the plot is not what I came to watch ‘Hayop Ka!‘ for.
Nobody watches Pacific Rim for its Oscar-winning plot. People just want to see giant robots beating the crap out of giant monsters. I watched Hayop Ka! to see Filipino animation in its full glory, to celebrate local animators getting their due, and that is what I got.
Maybe that’s just me. Angelica Panganiban is hilarious though. Empoy Marquez too. So there’s that.
Overall, go watch Hayop Ka!. Whether it’s in support of our local animators, your hidden fetish for furries, or just out of pure curiosity, go see it. It’s worth a look, we promise.