When you’re creating an animated show revolving around anthropomorphic animals, there are certainly a lot of creative liberties you can take.
Of all the cartoons that have ever involved human-like animals, few have been as unique in their approach to the subject as “BoJack Horseman.” The show chronicles a depressed former sitcom star (Will Arnett) who happens to be a talking horse. In BoJack’s world, humans and animals live amongst each other, and nobody bats an eye at it.
In order to maintain this unique and detailed world, the “BoJack Horseman” animators have to follow one small but essential rule: No tails.
Lisa Hanawalt, the show’s production designer and co-producer, has been drawing pictures of animals since she was a kid without tails. She has been friends with “BoJack” creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg since they first met at Gunn High School in Palo Alto, California.
Hanawalt says the absence of tails is just part of her “personal style” of drawing.
“It’s just sort of…not how I draw animals,”Hanawalt tells Business Insider. “I’ve drawn a couple animal people with tails in my personal work but it makes more sense to draw them without, and I’m not sure why.”
This decision isn’t always easy though. There are some animals that are truly defined by their tails. Hanawalt almost broke her own rule when designing the lemurs in season one.
“Even for the lemurs in the first season I was like, ‘Well should they have a tail?’ Because with lemurs, the tail is pretty important. And we tried a version with them and a version without, and we were like ‘Yeah, they just need to not have tails.'” Hanawalt said.
However, there are times when rules do need to be broken.
For Lenny Turtletaub (J.K. Simmons), the hot shot producer who happens to be a tortoise, Hanawalt decided he needed to keep his shell on.
At one point during season two, a scorpion will make an appearance, and a scorpion is nothing without its stinger.
“So he’s got his big tail thing but I rationalize it by saying its coming out of his upper back.” Hanawalt said.
This might be because there is a fine line to balance between bringing these anthropomorphic animals seem human while reminding us that they are human. While Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins) might not have a tail, he still chases the mail truck just like any dog would do.
“In some ways we’re making it up as we go along.” Hanawalt concluded.
The entire second season of “BoJack Horseman” premieres on Netflix on July 17.
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