Anime Spotlight: BEASTARS

BEASTARS is based on a manga by Paru Itagaki. The anime series was directed by Shinichi Matsumi and was produced by Orange. The 12 episodes of the anime series aired in Japan from October 8, 2019-December 26, 2019. As of this writing, Netflix holds the North American distribution rights for BEASTARS.

BEASTARS is set at Cherryton School (known as Cherryton Academy in the manga), a high school in a world occupied by anthropomorphic animals. At the school, there is a divide between the carnivores and the herbivores.

The series opens with the murder of an alpaca student named Tem, who is eaten by a carnivore. This event makes the herbivores distrust the carnivores even more than they had prior to the murder. The main character of the series is a large, timid gray wolf named Legoshi. He was friends with Tem, but with how awkward he acts after Tem’s death, some of the members of the drama club suspect that Legoshi was Tem’s killer. But by the end of the first episode, Legoshi takes actions that make it clear that he’s someone the herbivores don’t need to fear.

Another important character is Rouis (known as Louis in the manga), who leads the drama club. He’s the main star of the upcoming production and he carries a lot of clout within the club. But Rouis is depicted as being full of himself and doing things in order to make himself look good in front of his peers. Rouis’ goal is to become a Beastar, someone who is respected by both carnivores and herbivores.

During an assignment for Rouis, Legoshi has a fateful encounter with Haru, a female third-year rabbit. Up to this point, Legoshi tries to suppress his instincts as a carnivore when he’s around herbivores, but this encounter with Haru puts his ability to repress those instincts to the test. When Legoshi has to go to the Garden Club for flowers for the upcoming play, he comes face-to-face with Haru. At first, things are awkward, but after he gets to know her, Legoshi realizes he’s developing romantic feelings for her. But unknown to him for a lot of the series, Haru has a relationship with Rouis.

During the series, a first-year female gray wolf student is introduced. Her name is Juno, and she also joins the drama club. She develops an interest in Legoshi.

This basically sets up most of the drama that takes place in BEASTARS. But there are also conflicts between Legoshi and Bill (a Bengal tiger in the drama club). Bill seems to personify the attitudes of the carnivores, and he’s willing to admit and embrace his desires to be a carnivore. This makes him the perfect rival for Legoshi, since the two have such diametrically opposed viewpoints.

During the series, Rouis gets character development that shows that there’s more to him than the audience’s initial impression of him. While he has a tragic backstory which helps the audience to better understand why he acts the way he does, he’s still a jerk.

Even though this anime features anthropomorphic animals, it’s not a series aimed at younger viewers. Netflix has given the series a rating of TV-MA, and that’s due to the nudity and violence. As a side note, the reasons Netflix gives on the screen for the rating are nudity and… smoking. Not the violence, but the smoking. Really?

Haru has a reputation as a promiscuous rabbit, which is where the nudity comes into play. It’s only right near the end of the twelve episodes that the audience learns why Haru started acting this way and developing this reputation.

With the way episode 12 ends, it’s obvious that there’s still more story to tell. Even if there wasn’t text at the end saying that a second season is forthcoming, it was obvious that the story wasn’t over. There were some interesting developments near the end, and it’ll be interesting to see where the story goes once a second season is released and aired.

The animation for BEASTARS was rather impressive. The animators did a great job with characters’ expressions, and it felt like they were aiming for realism. There may have been the occasional shot where characters’ expressions were exaggerated when they were shocked, but these added some needed comic relief and didn’t feel out of place with the rest of the animation.

I think that this anime adaptation did a great job of portraying the manga. And in some respects, the anime improved some of the scenes (such as fight sequences, chase sequences, and dance sequences), since the manga really can’t capture the motion for these events.

BEASTARS is an interesting series, although some of the content can potentially be a little uncomfortable for some viewers.

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