In the wild, the food chain dictates that carnivores are at the top. No matter what the herbivores do, they cannot match up to the strength of these creatures meant to feast upon them.
However, if there was a civilized world for animals, would carnivores and herbivores be able to live peacefully? Would a carnivore be able to resist its natural instincts and the temptation of tasting the flesh of others, especially that of a herbivore while being in the same room? Does a lion or a wolf let a deer or a zebra go without tearing it apart?
Well, in the world of Beastars, this happens. To an extent. We’re thrown into the story with the murder of an alpaca named Tem in Cherryton Academy. This gives rise to a level of tension between herbivores and carnivores, and of course, because it’s a developed society with certain “laws”, the carnivores are at the receiving end. The herbivores don’t say it but doubts begin to surface. And then, we have our main character, Legosi, a gray wolf, who’s a very gentle and calm carnivore otherwise suddenly awaken to his carnivorous instincts on a creepy night and almost eat a drawf white rabbit.
Beastars successfully manages to take animals and turn them into characters that we can relate to. This is one of the highlights of the show as we see more and more of the characters’ inner sides. They’re given the human aspect of having emotions, feelings and the ability to think while retaining their feral instincts. What if animals had a society? What if they lived in cities and town, having mayors and presidents? What if all of the different kinds of animals and birds, from lions to deer, wolves to rabbit and mice, all went to one school and studied in the same classroom? Wouldn’t that make an interesting story?
Beastars is a story that shows how these different creatures fight for love, social status and above all, their own beastly natures. The innocuous first few episodes portray some high school drama between these animals while giving us a glimpse of the dark side that exist outside. However, we’re truly thrown into the open in the second half of the season and that is when I feel the main story begins.
Not only does Beastars manage to create an interesting world that makes you want to know more about it, it also generates tension as more and more of the world is revealed to us along with the characters. Most of the main and supporting cast consists of Cherryton Academy students, and we learn the dark mysteries of this apparently peaceful society through their eyes.
The portrayal of Legosi and the inner fight with his bestial nature is the central theme of the show. For some reason, he’s made himself believe that the best thing for him and others around him is that he acts like a quiet, weak being. However, his involvement with the world outside his school and certain experiences reveal the dark secrets. His confusion regarding his feelings for Haru – true love or just lust for her carnivorous flesh – is what drives his initial development. He does things that he’d never done before, fights beasts bigger than himself in order to protect the girl he thinks he loves. But does he truly love her? Does he? Neither him nor us have an answer for that.
Haru is a third-year rabbit who sleeps with just about anyone. She’s got a bad reputation for it, and you’d think she would be a scheming little bitch, or bunny, from these actions of hers. But, she’s just a nice and helpful rabbit to characters who are friendly to her. Out of the three main characters in the show, I thought she was the least fleshed out of anyone of the main cast or even in comparison to some important supporting characters. The author tried to enact sympathy for her from the viewers but I feel that this attempt fell on its face because there was nothing I could sympathize with her for. Why should I feel bad about her when she's sleeping with guys just to make herself feel better? Yes, the animals who bully her are in the wrong, but I can somewhat relate to them, more than I could with Haru. She's easily the worst written character in the show for me, and I hope that'll improve, especially if she is to remain one of the central figures in the story. The only thing we learned was some of her backstory and the reason for why she used to do what she used to do later in the show.
Rounding out the main cast, we have Louis, the third year and the model student, destined to become a Beastar. He is the total opposite of Legosi in many ways, and the two have superb character dynamic. They both drive each other to extremes, one knowingly and another unknowingly. They aren’t rivals in the conventional way, but as Legosi starts to come out of his shell, they develop a rivalry which is intriguing to watch.
I’ll first start off by pointing out that the use of CGI during fights and more fervent characters movements was obvious and that’s never a great thing. And CGI hasn’t yet been mastered by most anime studios so the output was obviously disappointing. On the other hand, though, the art was very unique and the visual representation of these beasts was superbly executed. Another commendable aspect in the art department was the distinctive features of the various animals. The opening actually took me by surprise, both visually and audibly. In this scenario, I felt that the CGI worked well and it created a nice tone for the show.
Beastars is a show that isn’t afraid of doing things that most other shounen would rather not do, simply to please the fans. That, in itself, is a plus point and makes Beastars worth a shot for anyone wondering if they should watch this or not. It has a very unique premise, and for once, the portrayal of animals in a human-like society isn’t simply for the purpose of comedy. It takes risks and manages to come out on top. I will admit though, that in the last 3 episodes, it did lean towards the more typical shounen tropes, which is probably one of the only negatives I can point out. Overall, Beastars was a solid seasonal anime which I’ll definitely continue and recommend.