BEASTARS is an ongoing series with 19 volumes (as of July 2020). There had been a lot of talk going around about this manga as it won multiple awards. In Fall 2019, Studio Orange produced the Beasters anime adaptation licensed by Netflix.
A world where carnivorous and herbivorous animals coexist. While meat is a felony, a “food killing case” occurs in which students are eaten down at the prestigious high school, Cherryton Gakuen, which has a boarding system. In the school where the anxiety swirls, Legoshi, a weird wolf in the drama club, was living quietly, contrary to his “big body” and “sharp fangs.” However, the encounter with Haru, a little rabbit girl student, shook Legoshi’s heart.
“Are you in love with her? Do you have an appetite?” What he met was his instinct…
What is BEASTARS about? The Plot
Picture Zootopia but as a manga and not as family-friendly as the Disney movie. The story is about anthropomorphic animals in a boarding school. Here they learn to coexist peacefully with each other. They also compete with one another for the ultimate rank of “Beastars,” which is only bestowed to an individual of great talent and service. This anime is set in a world where herbivores and carnivores live in harmony. The carnivores follow a vegetarian diet to suppress their natural predator urges for the safety of the herbivores.
Despite the pretty picture painted of this harmonious coexistence, there is still a power imbalance. This gets worse as there follows a string of unsolved herbivore murders in the city. In Cherryton Gakuen, the drama club is the only club where there is a mix of carnivores and herbivores. One night in the school, Tem (an alpaca and a member of this drama club) is brutally murdered (and eaten). This started creating an even larger divide between the carnivores and herbivores.
This anime has 3 main characters- Legoshi, Louis (Rui), and Haru, each with their complex personalities and issues. Legoshi is a tall 17-year-old grey wolf. He’s a junior and part of the drama club in the art department. Because of his stature and the fact that he’s a carnivore, most people assumed he was scary and, as a result, would keep their distance from him.
But the reality was that he was a timid-natured wolf who wished to keep his natural predator instincts suppressed so he could get along with his peers, especially the herbivores. As the show progresses, you see Legoshi’s internal struggle of fighting off his natural urges as well as emotional growth as his senior Haru, a white dwarf rabbit, enters his life (you know, the usual things teenagers go through when they’re in high school).
Next, we’ve got Haru, an 18-year-old white dwarf rabbit. She’s very vocal about her thoughts, very blunt, and can stand up for herself, and yet she is always treated like a fragile little herbivore. She’s bullied and shunned by her peers because of her sexual promiscuity. Because of this isolation, she finds herself alone in the Gardening Club. She wants the world to stop looking at her and treating her like a weakling. This is why she distances herself from anyone who tries to be close to her because, in her head, she feels like the relationships are fake/made out of pity.
Last up in our list of main characters, we have Louis/Rui, an 18-year-old red deer. A senior, the star student, who is loved by students and teachers alike, and easily the most popular boy in school. He is in the drama club. Rui has a complex personality as well. He’s a narcissist, very bossy, and manipulative. But that’s on the inside.
To the outside world, he puts up a façade of being a loving, caring, gentle student. He’s a model student and person – a top contender for the position of Beastar. He has a dark past, a deep-rooted hatred for weaklings. It’s almost like he’s overcompensating for being one of the weakest species of prey in the food chain.
Now for my thoughts on the show:
Things I liked:
– The mangaka has written the characters and the story in such a way that I could empathize with them despite them being animals. They had animal problems, but they were very relatable in a human context. It’s one of the things that kept me motivated to watch the show.
– The focus on character development was great. There was a storyline ongoing, but at the same time, the characters were all developed and thoroughly explored. What a great way to pave the way for what’s to come.
Things I didn’t like:
– An entire season made in 3D is a bit much. Although that’s where I will give it up to the mangaka for writing a gripping story, enough to keep me watching. Your eyes will have adjusted to the 3D by the third episode.
– I wasn’t too fond of the way they ended this season. But if I say any more I’ll risk spoiling the show for you so I’ll leave it at that.
Is it worth watching?
BEASTARS has its ups and downs. I went in thinking it was going to be a mystery anime but turned out to be more of a slice of life and drama anime, so I was a tad let down. It does live up to its psychological tag, however. If a furry teenage high school story shrouded in mystery, unrequited love, and self-growth sounds like something up your alley, I strongly recommend this anime. If you like 3D animation and are looking for a coming-of-age anime, this is something worth your time.
Season 1 is essentially introducing you to the characters and laying the brickwork for the second season. I do hope season 2 lives up to my expectations. I’m going to go on ahead and read the manga. For those of you who want to pick up where the anime left off, you should start in chapter 48.