Original Run: October 10, 2019 - December 26, 2019 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Drama, Slice of Life Based on the Series Created By: Paru Itagaki
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Beastars. Reader discretion is advised.***
This is a story set in a world where herbivores and carnivores live side by side in a bustling society. Although the days of the jungle are long since passed, thousands of years of animal instincts don’t just die. Even with stringent rules in place, the occasional attack of a carnivore on an herbivore occurs. As a result, there remains much distrust between the two groups.
Trying to stay out of the bitterness of it all is Legoshi (voiced by Chikahiro Kobayashi), a fierce-looking but timid grey wolf. However, even this gentle giant can’t always control the beast within him.
In a moment of weakness, Legoshi succumbs to his inner meat-eater and attacks one of his fellow students. Fortunately, Legoshi manages to control his emotions and does not make his first kill. Then, as fate would have it, Legoshi meets the student again, a small dwarf rabbit named Haru (voiced by Sayaka Senbongi).
Under these new circumstances, the unthinkable happens: Legoshi falls for Haru. However, Legoshi is unsure if he sees this tiny rabbit as a romantic interest or prey.
Holy s@#$. Beastars was good. Like, it was really, really good. I’m talking one of the best anime of 2019 kind of good.
This was one of those series I had heard quite a bit about before watching. Nothing major about the plot, mind you; I still had little to no idea what this show was going to do. What had caught my attention was how much praise Beastars was getting. Naturally, my interest was piqued, and thus, I was looking forward to this series more than I might otherwise have been.
And the first thing I noticed was the CGI. That bubbly, unnaturally smooth, instantly noticeable CGI that I have blasted other shows for having. Along with that, this series was quick to establish its unique artistic style. Immediately I feared this show’s high marks were being attributed to its animation instead of its story or characters. Frankly, I was preparing myself to be disappointed.
But I was wrong. I was so very, very wrong. In fact, I don’t think I was ever more wrong about any other show from 2019 than I was with Beastars. This was a phenomenal series, so much so that the CGI got better as the story went on. You become so focused on everything else – the narrative, the characters, the dialogue – that it was hard to notice anything as secondary as animation. That said, there were still plenty of stylistic choices (when paired with what was going on in the story) that were downright disturbing.
This was not a comedy. This was a slice-of-life tale that wasn’t afraid to go dark. After all, the opening scene was of someone being devoured, and that event was not forgotten. This set the entire tone for the rest of the series. I thought to myself, “Oh, hell, we’re going to be dealing with some stuff, aren’t we?”
Beastars was great at keeping so many different complications in balance.
On the one hand, there were the difficulties that arose with everyone being animals. These weren’t humans who happened to look like wolves, rabbits, and so on. These were wolves, these were rabbits, and they all had the instincts and attributes associated with their respective species.
On the other hand, this was a story set in high school, and there were cases of bullying and ostracization. Romantic relationships, feelings of attraction, sex, they were all prevalent throughout this series.
The biggest challenge Beastars had with this balancing act was not to turn the resulting story into a fantastical wet dream for a niche fanbase. How this series managed to pull that off was by doing nearly the same thing a certain Disney film did.
(Fun fact, both the Beastars manga and Zootopia released in 2016).
Beastars didn’t even hint at the idea that everyone got along. On the contrary, this series was exceedingly blunt in the opposite direction. There was no sugarcoating the inherent distrust herbivores and carnivores had towards one another. Herbivores assumed all carnivores were one second away from succumbing to their animalistic nature and would, therefore, go on an uncontrollable feeding frenzy. Conversely, carnivores had to deal with the prejudices of herbivores who saw them as simple and mindless killers.
Additionally, carnivores faced an uphill battle because they did have to continually suppress their instinctual urge to attack and consume prey animals. This series treated this desire like it was a dangerous addiction that simply couldn’t be kicked. Most carnivores didn’t want to hunt and kill because that would have meant going after their friends and classmates. This series then got extremely tense whenever that urge became unbearable.
I won’t give away any details, but when Legoshi accidentally found himself at the dark market (a place where genuine, highly illegal animal meat was sold), that was an incredibly disturbing scene. And that was just one of several.
Speaking of Legoshi, he was a thing that happened. If Beastars is proving to be one of the best anime of 2019, then as I see it, Legoshi is shaping up to be the best character from 2019. Everything about him was fantastic. If you’ve ever wanted to know what the most sympathetic, caring, likable, nicest, and all-around good-guy character looks like, well apparently, it’s an anthropomorphic grey wolf.
I’m not sure what the clearest, most precise way it would be for me to describe how great Legoshi was. He was an intimidating looking wolf who was really only a socially awkward introvert and didn’t like to be in the center of the action. He was always there to lend a hand to a friend when they needed one, and he was someone others could rely on when work needed to get done. But when push came to shove, he could show precisely how terrifying a wolf could be.
Plus, Mr. Chikahiro Kobayashi gave a truly outstanding performance as Legoshi
Also, please keep this in mind. Legoshi and Mr. Kobayahsi were the best character/actor duo in a show that was filled with other magnificent characters who each had incredible talent voicing them. This included a muscle-bound panda voiced by Mr. Akio Ootsuka (Batou from Ghost in the Shell), and he was awesome.
To end this section, what got me the most about Beastars was how invested I became in the story. It felt like I flew through this series in little under an hour, but it turned out I had been glued to my screen for four. I couldn’t or wouldn’t put this show down. The word “enthralled” would be the most accurate way to describe what I was feeling.
And to my relief, the final episode came with a proclamation of a season two. Sign me the f@#$ up.
There, I said it.
I enjoyed Beastars immensely, but I simply cannot NOT bring this up. I mean, A-plus for this series for never once resorting to cheap attempts at fanservice and for it being as strong a show as it was. These two points allowed me to look past this one aspect. However, to flat-out ignore it, I don’t know if a story, any story, can be that good.
If you don’t want to watch this show because you see it as a (gasp) furry anime, then you would be making a massive mistake.
Now, I wish this was the only “negative” point I could bring up for Beastars, but it isn’t.
Before I say anymore, as I mentioned, a second season was teased at the end of this series. Other than wanting to watch more Beastars, this is good to know because there were still a few lingering questions. I’ll leave it to the continuation to handle how those questions play out, so I won’t spend any more energy discussing them here.
Unfortunately, there was a segment during this series that didn’t make much sense.
I can accept that Lagoshi, even with his quiet, non-confrontational personality, could hold his own in a fight. After all, he was a big strong wolf with a keen sense of smell and razor-sharp fangs. Going up against his fellow predators at his school, yeah, I can see him being quite formidable.
Nevertheless, Lagoshi was still only a high school student, and, wolf or not, I find it hard to believe he could, with only his bare hands, successfully take on a pack of fully-grown male lions who carried guns.
The scene I am referring to felt so out of place with the rest of the series. Although it was cool to see Lagoshi kick-ass, it didn’t fit, and it was this show’s lowest point.
Still, when a story’s lowest remains leagues higher than the best others can muster, said story is doing pretty damn well.
Wow, this was good.
I think I had only gone three episodes into this show when I realized I was going to be singing its praises. Therefore, I was waiting for something to come along and knock this series off its hill.
That something never came.
A gripping story. Amazing characters. An outstanding main character. Excellent dialogue, dark subject matter, edge-of-your-seat tension. There was just so much to this one; it’s almost hard to believe.
Without question, or hesitation, Beastars has earned a glowing recommendation.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Beastars? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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