Zootopia: The Yiffening
Beastars is not just for the furries. Yeah, everyone was thinking it was, but it's really not. You may be slightly more comfortable with some of the themes if you're a furry, but that's about it, and no matter who you are, there's a good chance the show will effect you in the same way. Such is the power of a well thought-out story and relatable characters.
Story - it isn't the most complex story in anime or anything, but that's not what we're going to be focusing on. Long synopsis short, it's about a wolf boy who falls in love with a rabbit girl and has a rough go of it figuring out his emotions, and also there's a deer guy who's the class president and wants to be the Beastar, the representitive of the school. But that's all there is to the basic plot.
What makes this anime good isn't even its plot technically, it's something that doesn't have a category here, which I'll be talking about much more in-depth instead; its Themes, and how it explores those themes. Now, to be clear this is a bit theoretical, because the parallels one can make between Beastars and the Real World are obviously intended to be up to interpretation, but it's how the show presents its themes within the context of its own setting that makes this work best of all.
The boys about to represent carnivores everywhere
In this world of anthropomorphic animals, there is a class system and hierarchy and inter-species relations just as we have similar structures in our society, and carnivores have significantly strained relations with herbivores due to the animalistic instincts that carnivores have remaining intact in their DNA, sometimes being hard to manage and causing violent breakouts, causing an intrinsic tension in the day-to-day life of the characters and inhabitants of the world.
Not to mention, there is some detail to how each of the different species lives, they're all given accomadations according to their habitat and genetics. Which poses some questions about how funds are spent in schools and other institutions, but I digress. It's just such an interesting world to talk about, really.
The themes presented are largely, how do carnivores think and function, and how does it relate to their feelings of love, lust, and instincts. In this world, they can get high off the scent of blood alone and unleash their sort of primal urges to devour prey, but still in their normal state, these kinds of instincts are represented more as protectiveness or lust in some.
There's also whole parts to this world which highlight these dark thematic elements, like a black market where carnivores are encouraged to partake in taboo. And it's all just super interesting and there's a lot of depth to it. It goes really far to show how society works in this world in all facets, crime, drugs, everything has a place and a function and some part to play.
Now the Characters, who play a huge part in the themes.
First, we have Legosi. He's one of the strongest protagonists I've seen in a shounen, mostly because his conciousness and the way his brain works is fully explored, as it's told through his inner monologues mostly. We get to fully explore the nuances of how he sees every situation, and let me tell you, it's shockingly, brutally relatable to see how he thinks about things. Probably one of the most relatable anime characters I've encountered. They did a great job with him, and like, I am notoriously hard to impress with shounen protagonists. For what it's worth. Legosi is the lens through which we see all these carnivore themes, and it's very interesting to see it all unfold through this charming yet flawed wolf boy.
Then, Louis, IMO the second best character who is half of the narrative, taking the herbivore perspective of the world. Extremely flawed character with the visage of a magestic stag that he has to uphold, making him outwardly stoic but inwardly turbulent, with a troubled past and motives, with an opposite spectrum dynamic with legosi.
And lastly Haru for the main three. Her mind is delved into a lot as well as the subject of interest for the other two leads, turning legosi's world upside down. She's one of the more interesting female characters I've seen, and is the subject of the show's more sexual themes, but don't let that turn you off to the show, because they're rather maturely handled.
There are plenty of other good characters, those being the top ones.
Now, by far the most expansive segment this review will have. Animation. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, a CGI anime can't be good. Well Studio Orange has had it up to here, with people thinking CGI in anime is just a cheap skate move! LETS BREAK IT DOWN.
There are plenty of examples. But a few I've kept close at hand are these:
Not usually do CGI anime utilize this much emotional and personality-filled expression in their characters, but Beastars has this concept nailed. Just look at how well they implement squash-and-stretch, and they use the rigidity of the movements for comedic actions. There's so much expression here, even more than in most 2D anime. Instantly you can tell just from this picture what's happening even without context and how the characters feel, so much attention to detail. You gotta respect it.
Another note, texturing. This anime is all cell-shaded of course, because it's um an anime, but it still makes great use of texture. Look at Legosi's fur here:
Its jagged edges, indeed look like the texture of animated fur, and all the accent marks on the texture of his model really sell the feeling they're going for, using cell shading for some of the finer details, even going so far as to animate some of the fur itself for more expressive scenes like these.
Next note, artstyle. Usually CGI anime have pretty set artstyles and don't bother to change things up, but not so with Beastars. Their adaptation is comitted to bringing style and substance even through the computer generated imagery.
That's right, that's an entire scene symbolized as self-aware experience by being shown through an opaque model of the character's head to represent his perspective on the scene. This is only one such example of how well this show uses its artistic style in synergy with its CGI. But we're not done yet, because this show switches entire artstyles up just for style points.
Yup. That's how they did one scene. Entirely 2D. WITH WATERCOLORS.
I'm sorry, bad animation who? Bad animation when? Yeah, no. You don't even get to say it man. The time has come to respect good CGI anime, and BEASTARS is the frontrunner, baby!
AND IT DOESNT STOP THERE BECAUSE NOW WE GOTTA TALK ABOUT THE SOUND, SINCE THEY HAVE A STOP MOTION OPENING
WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT.
In short, Beastars is one of the best anime of the year, and definitely worth a look for anyone willing to step outside their 2D animated comfort zone for some darker themes and unique style.
AND THATS CALLED JAZZ.
The dark horse enters the scarlet stage, illuminated by the crimson moon. With mask in hand, he embraces the carmine spotlight. Tied down to two stigmas, he was limited in his audience, but his performance made him shine like few others. The drama, the passion, the presentation, all marvelously shown as he proudly rose beyond almost everything else this year.
This struggle and scenario somewhat mirrors that of Louis, one of Beastars’ greatest characters. He’s a prideful, somewhat prejudicial deer who has put the world on his back. He refuses to be seen as weaker than carnivores simply because he’s a herbivore, so he fights back against that stereotype with all his might and pride. The show explores the many layers behind all of this through the backdrops of performances, love triangles, and the social issues stemming from this civilization that mixes carnivores and herbivores. The setting itself helps drive many of the systemic, psychological issues regarding Louis as well as other characters, such as our main protagonist, Legosi. He’s a timid wolf, afraid of the beast within him as he deals with the perpetual dejectedness of being feared by everyone. The social stigma of carnivores being savage monsters that kill the weak and endangered herbivores is perpetuated by the school our main characters live in after one of their classmates is murdered in the first episode. There are other predators that serve as foils to Legoshi thanks to this stigma, but he's the one that gets the most focus. As an introspective character, he resorts to several monologues. Most of them inform us of his character or become amusing rather than distracting, which is not something that applies to all monologues in this show. They help further dramatize the conflict of him trying to suppress the beast inside, resulting in a majority of the biggest moments of the show. His relationship with Haru, the female love interest of the show and centerpiece of the love triangle between them and Louis, further complicates matters.
Haru herself is an interesting and flawed person, just like everyone else in the show. Like Louis, she’s someone who does not want to be seen as a victim. However, Louis stubbornly fights back with his pride and skill, becoming a respected student who’s admired by many. Haru, who feels misunderstood by everyone due to being a frail rabbit, finds herself reviled due to a certain act of hers that allows her to find herself in equal footing with her peers. This along with how she understands and embraces society’s prejudices on herbivores and carnivores keep Legosi at arm’s length as he falls deeper in love with her. There’s more to this from all three perspectives, of course, but I’ve said enough without resorting to massive spoilers. It’s enthralling to watch the show delve into the layers of these three characters and how this love triangle unfolds as it affects them. It’s electrifying watching their own societal struggles and where all of these factors take them as everything spirals towards the season’s final act. There are a few developments regarding Louis and Legoshi which felt like they needed more build-up, but it’s still exciting to watch these characters. Not every character is given anywhere near the level of thought and detail that these three and the three big supporting characters. Haru’s bullies are one-note bitches who exist solely to make her miserable and fulfill an archetype. However, the trio is more than enough before we even mention some of the supporting characters who show up later in the show.
The sheer dramatization of the show helps sell these characters and their scenarios. It isn’t your typical anime melodrama filled with screaming, yelling, crying, and contrived circumstances. Instead, it’s the theatrical, Code Geass level of bombastic presentation that is as passionate as its characters are. Shinichi Matsumi shines as the director, selling brilliant scenes like Louis’ performances in the school play during the first arc, and the scenes of Legosi trying to resist the beast within. There are other stellar sequences such as the first two scenes of episode 1 or the first scene of episode 7. Studio Orange pushes the limits of CG anime at times with the kinds of imagery they can get away with. It’s almost enough to distract from how the CG models almost look rubbery and how they’re so jittery and choppy thanks to moving at a jarring number of frames per second. It really does become a bit of a hurdle at times, and the show also attempts bits of 2D integration, which do not work if you’re looking at the occasional 2D models. Thankfully, there is one way the 2D works: the backgrounds. While several 2D anime nowadays contain bland backgrounds or hideous CG hellscapes, Beastars is filled with lovingly hand-drawn backgrounds and environments that are brimming with gorgeous art direction. The blood-red moon, the indigo sky, these are only a few instances as to how the show’s environments can sometimes look ravishing. The show looks surprisingly decent, dare I say good despite the awkward, jittery CG models, which puts it far above your standard TV CG anime.
Another wonderfully dramatic aspect of the anime is its music. Satoru Kousaki’s OST is filled with several wonderful tracks such as the romantic accordion track “Juno In Love” or the many versions of the titular “BEASTARS” theme. The first one is just as whimsical and lovely as “Juno In Love” but without the hilarious deflation that track ends on, which mirrors one of the scenes featuring the namesake of the song, Juno. The second rendition (classical) is a beautiful, somber violin piece that desperately needs extending, as it complements the blood moon ambiance and intense tone of the show’s first scene which the track accompanies. The third (pf solo) is a magnificent piano piece following the same tender melody in a less intensely dramatic fashion, opting to be quieter and more emotionally potent. There are more renditions of the song, and more tracks that play off of it such as “Renewed Legosi” with its guitar, and “BEASTARS Wolf and Rabbit” which combines the instrumentals of the more somber renditions to deliver an emotional climax to this cavalcade of leitmotifs. I also enjoy the vocal track “Tale of the Moon” for its nice vocals and heartwarming tone. There is more to many of these tracks that this pretentious amateur pseudocritic is inadequate at describing, but that just speaks to how adept the composer for Haruhi Suzumiya’s OST and Fate/Extra: Last Encore’s OST is at his job. There are several other tracks, but these are the main ones that stand out to me. The anime does not always make its tracks apparent, but the ones that shine, shine brightly. Sadly, I neither care for the jazzy OP thanks to its vocals, and the EDs aren’t that interesting to me. It’s interesting that there are numerous ones for a 12 episode production that get shuffled across different episodes, and I personally somewhat enjoy the third ED “Marble” by YUKIRA. However, that’s as far as I will go.
Beastars is a tremendous psychological drama filled with powerful cliffhangers, rich character studies, and a fascinating exploration of the themes sprung from its setting. Its visual direction, powerful melodies, and glorious theatrics help bolster generally wonderful character writing while its art direction strengthens an already well-crafted world. The CG will definitely throw people off and some will turn their nose at an anime that even remotely reeks of “furry” but Beastars is one of the absolute standouts of 2019. Here’s to a second season.
I was not planning to watch this anime, but after I started seeing clips on youtube this series started to spark my interest. In short, it's like Disney's Zootopia, but then for adults with a hint of darkness. The fact that the characters were all animals took me an episode to get used to, but the personalities of each character is great and it all makes sense! The story so far is a little basic, but I've heard that the story is going to get a little crazy. I'm reading the manga now, so hopefully I will catch up soon. The weird 3D animation was also something I had to get used to. The fighting scenes are a little stiff sometimes, but that's maybe because there aren't a lot of animation effects like a 2D animation would have.
Still it is a very enjoyable anime (so far, EP.9). I would suggest it to anyone! It's something different and not too mainstream, which I really like. It gives me something else to watch instead of the standart genre's I usually watch.
So if you want something different and unique, watch this!
Very enjoyable, 8/10 for me.
I haven't written a review in ages, but found the motivation to do so only because I kept scrolling down to find a review I agreed with, but couldn't: it was just one extremely positive review after the other. So here are my two cents.
Beastars isn't a bad anime. It's just nothing special. I watched it to the end and to be honest I quite liked Legoshi, the main character. Animation is good as well as the sound, the OP is jazzy and catchy. It's clear that some effort went in the production values.
As for the story and the world it's set in, they don't make much sense. Or rather, the world building is pretentious and the plot is pretty average. It's a world where carnivores and herbivores co-exist because the carnivores repress their "animal" instincts. A restless society where herbivores are constantly in fear of being eaten and carnivores feel guilty if they show their superior strength. But it's also an animal highschool romance anime, the clichèd story of the star-crossed lovers who may be able to overcome the odds against them.
It's set in a highschool attended by herbivores and carnivores alike. The character designs are a bit creepy at first: antropomorphic animals with furry human limbs and bodies is disturbing, but then you get used to it.
The anime mostly explores the relationship between a wolf and a rabbit. The wolf's instinct to see the rabbit as prey and kill it, the rabbit's instinct to flee from those fangs and claws - or throw herself straignt into the wolf's mouth (one might wonder how that is natural instinct...?). The message at the end is that if you want to see the "person" behind their stereotypical animal image, you need to repress your own animal instincts and then you might even fall in love with the person behind and beyond the stereotypes.
There's a few more characters, the proud red deer, the bad yakuza lions, the deceiving mayor, the love rival, the bad-ass therapist panda and the other students at the school.... The main trio of characters does have some depth, even though they portray the same internal conflict, just from different aspects. Legoshi is the gray wolf who is torn between his animal istincts and his feelings of love, between being attracted to Haru the dwarf rabbit as a prey and a love interest. And you can transpose his dilemma on the wider community, making him an example of the successful attempt of carnivores to overcome their "bad" animal instincts. Haru in my opinion is maybe the most interesting character. She's a rabbit, but wants "people" to see her for herself, not as a defenseless and pathetic little bunny and tries to find ways to overcome this perception of herself even at the cost of coming across as a “slut”. So there is an element of self-discovery in this tale, of finding your place in the world. Another character with some depth is Louis the red deer, yet another example of a herbivore who does not want to be seen as weak and manipulates others into perceiving him exactly as he wants to be seen – he’s an actor, after all. While Legoshi is hell-bent on acting as awkward, clumsy and harmless in denial of the predator nature of which he is ashamed. It's kind of repetitive, in this respect.
There are multiple contradictions as to how the world is built, and the ending also is contradictory with Legoshi (after taking down a whole bunch of lions) proclaiming that he wants to become even stronger (?) - but hey, hang on a sec, wasn't the issue in the first place that Legoshi is a stong predator?? Why would he now want to become even stronger and why would this validate his union with Haru??? Or does “stronger” in this case mean that he wants to further deny and repress his wolf nature?
In conclusion, it's a pretentious social commentary that lacks depth. The message behind this portrayal of the strained relationship between herbivores and carnivores seems to be that to break free from stereotypes you need to repress or overcome your natural instincts. It’s a half-baked metaphor of the injustice and prejudices of human society through the animal kingdom. Sorry, I don't call that thought-provoking. I think too little thought went into it.
At first I started watching this show ironically since I thought it was going to be some furry shit but I got hooked up with the series from the first episode.
The "worst" thing I can say about this show is the animation, since it's 3D and that bothered me a bit at the beginning but then you get used to it and eventually you end up liking it. What still annoys me is the lion design which is much prettier in the manga but apart from that, the animations are very enjoyable and nice.
Now the story is amazing. It is like a Zootopia, but at the same time it has nothing to do with it. You also have reptiles and birds, but it's not PC like Disney and you get a good taste of reality. I'd say that this is what makes Beastars such a great series. The main conflict and all the drama are so well executed and you could easily associate them with real life important issues. There are scenes which are uncomfortable, "cringy", even disturbing considering that this is about anthropomorphised animals, but they are there for the purpose of making you feel that way and it is part of the theme, so it's very well done.
As regards sound, all I could think of was the intro which is spectacular. You probably have seen it so there's not much to say about this one.
The characters are also very intriguing, well done and even relatable, you may think that this is the typical cliché series of a wolf chasing a rabbit (which it kinda is), but the humanized part of it is very creative and something I've never seen before, maybe because I've never been interested in furry-like content. Also, I like how some things are explained like what do carnivores eat in this world, how the school is organized, etc.
Overall, I give this anime a 9.5/10, if not a ten out of ten. I really liked the first season and I can't wait to see more of it.