Luke Hinton takes a look at Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko’, as part of FilmHounds’ ongoing Fantasia Festival coverage.

There truly aren’t many other animated films out there quite like Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story. This Filipino romantic comedy flits between animal-based slapstick and sexual innuendo with ease, and tells a story that’s engaging, nostalgic, and faithful to the culture it derives from. The film follows the eponymous Nimfa (Angelica Panganiban), a perfume saleswoman in a loving, but unambitious relationship with the store’s janitor, Roger (Robin Padilla). Through a chance encounter she meets Iñigo, a suave and affluent dog voiced by Sam Milby. He shows Nimfa the finer things in life; from seaside apartments to private helicopters. It places Nimfa in the middle of a deep moral dilemma: does she stay with the loveable but safe Roger, or try something new with Iñigo?

It’s this inner conflict that forms the basis of Hayop Ka!‘s story. Nimfa has two compelling sides to each case: she knows Roger truly loves her, but he can’t sustain the sort of luxury that Iñigo provides with ease. There’s even some interesting social commentary in here, too. It’s not hard to see Roger as one of the countless victims of a capitalist system that people like Iñigo thrive from — the workers whose labour sustains his affluent lifestyle. There’s also plenty of tongue-in-cheek references to the real world, including an Elon Musk gag that’s sure to arise a smile.

Still Courtesy – Rocketsheep Studio

The easiest property to compare the film to is BoJack Horseman — the other animal-driven pseudo-comedy that formed one of Netflix’s first original commissions. Interestingly, Hayop Ka! is owned by Netflix too; but that’s really where the similarities end. Director Avid Liongoren isn’t able use the film’s animalistic cast of characters as effectively compared with the work of Raphael Bob-Waksberg, and that’s a disappointment. For a film as adult and out there as this, there was a lack of a justification for its anthropomorphic storytelling. Aside from a few effective sight gags, the film drops the ball in this respect.

One thing that’ll completely take you by surprise is just how raunchy the film is. Pixar this is most certainly not, and Hayop Ka! isn’t the kind of comedy you want to sit down to watch with your parents. From the opening scene, there’s porn mags being sold in shop windows to constant innuendos throughout — and it all helps Hayop Ka! distinguish itself from other animated comedies. Nimfa herself constantly has lust on her mind—it’s part of her motivation to hook up with Iñigo—and it’s refreshing to see a film decidedly not cowering away from more risqué subject matter. One particular highlight is a scene of passion between Nimfa and Iñigo, where the vibrant art style completely shifts to a glossy, almost 3D design. That’s just one example of the creative flair at the core of Hayop Ka!

If you compare Hayop Ka! to the artistic likings of BoJack Horseman, it’ll inevitably lose that battle of creative license. But the unique perspectives in this film makes it a worthwhile watch for adult animation fans. Even though it doesn’t quite use its concept to the fullest possible extent, Hayop Ka! is overall a fun 70 minute NSFW animated trip!

Still Courtesy – Rocketsheep Studio
Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story screened at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival, as part of the Axis section.  The film’s international distribution is currently handled by Netflix.

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