I'll write more about it at some point, but I wanted to get this out quickly after the inspiration struck. The short of it is that I would like to begin presenting my fursona as a phils instead of a tiger, but phils are an obscure species from an obscure piece of media so I'm making this for reference. Tiger!Apex is still definitely going to be a thing, but will be more of a mascot/secondary sona. Figure it's cool, phils are pretty damn postfurry.
TL;DR Phils are a race of aliens from the French-Japanese anime Oban Star Racers. They are mute, telepathic shapeshifters.
There are a few distinct things about phils. The first is their alien body structure; their chest and upper torso is split into three parts by two gaps between the neck and shoulders. There is a third gap in-between their legs which runs up through their lower torso. These gaps can be expanded and allow a phils to contort their body which aids in shapeshifting. Since Spirit is the only phils who we see naked, it is unknown if all phils bodies are structured like this or if there are variations.
It has not been directly stated, but from what we’ve seen in canon, hair most likely plays a crucial role in shapeshifting. “Hair” is a relative term here. When Spirit shapeshifts, his hair expands and grows over the rest of his body to form wings and a tail (and then retracts when he shifts back). The three phils seen in canon all had spiky hair which stuck upwards; there could be great variation in phils hairstyles and hair types, however. This hair appears to be longest on the top of the head, but it is implied that a phils’ whole body is covered in it. They have no visible hairlines and other parts of Spirit’s face “fluff up” when he prepares a transformation. I personally view phils body hair as being short and velvety, with the potential to become sticky as Spirit is seen attaching himself to things and standing upside-down. Sounds that Spirit’s body makes as he transforms are also slimy and rubbery- this is definitely not ordinary fur!
Phils are described as being polymorphic but we only ever see Spirit shift from a humanoid form into an avian one (2) and back again. The range and specifics of their shapeshifting ability is unknown.
Another thing that makes phils appear very alien is the nucleus of their face, i.e. the white part. It’s usually fairly small compared to the rest of the head, although Spirit has demonstrated that its size can be changed. The nucleus contains a phils’ eyes along with their unique facial marking- the shape of the nucleus can also be different depending on the individual. Spirit’s is a teardrop shape whereas Siru’s is more circular. The nucleus can also be completely retracted into the head, making a phils appear to have no face at all. This may be considered creepy by other species.
Phils have no mouth (another thing people find unsettling) and are mute, but this does not mean they lack the ability to communicate. They are telepaths; however, like many things, the extent of this ability is unknown. Telepathy is only seen in the series when Spirit uses it to read and transfer memories. From this we can infer that phils have the ability to at least send images and sounds, which is enough of a basis for many complex telepathic languages. I headcanon that phils can also read/transfer emotion, tactile sensation, and chemosensory information (smell and taste, if they have the ability to parse it.) When Spirit uses his telepathy, he also touches the recipient and his hands release a pulsating glow; the significance of either of these things is unknown. Personally I like the idea that all phils telepathy requires touch. The bioluminescence is a fun detail.
That recounts much of what is known about phils… but it isn’t very substantial in the grand scheme of things. Aside from what I already mentioned, here is a list of what we don’t know:
- Their planet. Name, location within the Milky Way, rotation, atmosphere, biomes, nothing.
- Their biology beyond what I mentioned. We don’t know how they acquire nutrients, how long they live, etc.
- Their social structures or social behavior
- Their civilizations, languages, or technology (other than that they’re a space-faring race who are on "speaking" terms with humans)
- Their gender system, sexual characteristics, or reproduction and child-rearing… if any of that even applies to them. Spirit is referred to with he/him pronouns in canon. The creator of the series has said that there are female phils but this was a vague answer to a fan question over 10yrs ago so who knows.
- Their governing bodies. Siru is referred to as the First Son but the significance of the title is unknown (I also suspect it’s a pun, as “son” in French is “fils”)
Unfortunately that’s a lot of stuff! Apex doesn't even have a real “phils name” because I simply don’t know how they work. With many things, my approach is to go with my headcanon(s) and then make changes as new information comes out… if that ever happens. If I don’t have any ideas for something then I simply don’t include it.