The character development is poop, the plotlines are messy. Characters are made and dropped like yesterday's news. It's a fun read if you don't take it seriously though.
SPOILERS AND RANTS
This manga is challenging to rate because it gets worse as it goes. The author, Itagaki Paru, can't even keep the motivations of the main character straight. It can't even decide what genre it wants to be. Honestly, it's like three different people wrote this manga, and none of them could agree on what the plot should be.
Plot: Mystery -> Romance -> Thriller -> Slice of life *rinse and repeat*
It starts with a thrilling murder. Cool, it's an excellent mystery, and the manga even makes you think that maybe it was our main character, Legosi, that did it for a second. But then emo Legosi tried to eat a cute little rabbit named Haru, but then realized that he didn't want to eat ger after all. He feels guilty for eating her and starts obsessing about her. Eventually, he meets her in a garden and falls in love with her, but before their romance can ever begin to blossom, she gets kidnapped, and then the genre changes from "slice of life, romance" to "action/shonen." It has this hilarious side story where Legosi hunts down the mob to get his girlfriend back, and then one of his classmates, Louis, becomes "king of the mob." Then it switches back to the romance genre after he gets her back. I thought we were finally going to see this relationship progress now that they're openly together. Nope, they completely drop her character because he made a vow to get stronger to protect her. But he completely forgets about her, and the manga completely switches to "mystery thriller" for like the following 50 chapters.
Louis goes from being a snob to a murderer and then to the leader of a gang. Lol. So the author tripped acid with their character's personalities. And Legosi completely ignores Haru, and the authors force him to become a criminal, a decision that doesn't make sense to the point that the author admits in the manga that this doesn't make sense! So finally, the showdown happens with the murderer from chapter one. We're on chapter 50, and the murder plotline hasn't even been investigated, but suddenly months later, Legosi cares about it. So what does he do? He analyzes it, he found out who it was, and then held onto that knowledge for at least three months and doesn't report it; instead, they forced Legosi to fight him because Tem (the victim) was a good friend? Anyways it ruined his life, and he became a criminal because he decided to eat Louis's (the current mob boss) leg to gain the power of eating meat. Here's the craziest part, Louis wanted Legosi to eat his leg. When did they become such good friends? Lol.
But now he's a predator and legally can't marry Haru, so any romantic reason you were reading this manga disappears forever. *cries*
After that, it goes back to a "slice of life," introduces many random characters by shoving the old cast to the side and making Legosi drop out of school and move to the ghetto. It's also around this time that Legosi's attitude and mindset completely change, to the point where he becomes very similar to a thug who is well-mannered at his part-time job. Lol.
Additionally, the author annoyed me when it used a moth to give Legosi more strength during the murder mystery showdown. It was stupid.
It's okay. Sometimes it's exceptionally well-drawn other times, it's sketchy and looks like the author did it in a rush.
The author is wishy-washy about what drives his characters forwards, self sabotages them, and all-around fucks up as many characters as they can to be "edgy." Many characters were introduced only never to appear again or are permanently put to the side even though they were significant characters that still have an ongoing plotline.
They should have kept it simple.
Legosi is a shy nerd boy in love with a rabbit and wants to protect her.
NOT Legoshi is a shy nerd boy in love with a rabbit and wants to protect her, but then forgets about her when he goes and works out with a panda for a week after promising he'd get stronger for her. Then he gets hired by the school security guard snake to find out who killed Tem, so he does, but then Legosi keeps it a secret for months so that he can secretly fight him for no other reason because he can. But during the fight, he's beaten so badly that he needs to eat his friend's leg to get enough energy to kill this murderer. But then, because he ate his friend's leg and admitted it to a cop, he becomes a criminal. Then drops school. Then moves into a ghetto neighborhood. Then he starts a crappy part-time job and forgets about old friends and Haru.
Haru is a whore, who should have realized her self-worth from her friend Legosi and as she worked to get over Louis fallen in love with Legosi.
NOT dropped as a character after they almost have the sex.
Louis is a preppy rich kid with a tragic back story but is grateful for his new life and aims to be the Beastar.
NOT a gang leader who even starts eating meat, smoking cigarettes, and actively helps the black market become more protected. He completely ignores Legosi until about 1 chapter before he lets Legosi eat his leg and then decides to go back to school and not become Beastar.
The author's writing doesn't make any sense, like introducing a snake security guard that wants to help him catch the bad guy who never shows up ever again.
This manga can't even get one genre right, let alone the 5ish it tries to push down your throat. The author tends to put new plot lines in the middle of old plot lines but then forget about the old plotline, like the murder from chapter one. The author is constantly changing the motivations and drives of their main characters. It isn't enjoyable to read.
Complicating characters and plot can be good if the author has the skills to keep their goals and their personality in check. But unfortunately, this author doesn't have this skill.
I'm only one chapter 130, but every chapter gets harder to read, but I'm so far along that I want to finish it. But as far as I can tell, everything that happens after chapter 50ish becomes less thought out and more erratic. Such a disappointment. *reads next volume*
I feel like it would have ended much better if Paru Itagaki hadn't chose the genre "Shounen" to go with. It tries to be a deep story, and it is, if you take the Shounen parts away from it. In the end, the publisher's need for Shounen parts destroyed the story, an in my opinion Paru should have chosen a Seinen Magazine to go with.
Vol. 1-6, equally Season 1 of the anime
My most favourite. It knew what it wanted to be, it did its job well, this is Beastars. I re-watched and re-read it so many times, and it's still brilliant, even if i just don't want to look at it anymore because I know all of it by memory of now.
Vol. 6-11, equally Season 2 of the anime
This is where it starts to go downhill, where the publisher so much wanted his Shounen parts that it was not "Beastars" but "Beawars". I hate this part the most, as it is all over the place, characters suddenly are not their selfs anymore but rather seem to suffer an identity disorder. All the wants and needs of the characters? Screw that! Haru? Who is that? Don't know her! If you want so very much to just throw Haru and Juno away because you've got now your favourite Wolf and Deer, then at least let them become a pair because honestly, at that point Legoshi is just hurting Haru and treating her weirdly, as if he doesn't know her at all.
The canon relationships are an absolute mess, don't fit at all, and overall everyone seems to love everyone. Fanservice Ecchi-like? Maybe. What happened with Juno? She's suddenly very different too, especially to Louis, like, she didn't like him, remember? They were absolute rivals. Who's decision was that kiss???
Vol. 12-?, apartment arc
Alright, now we're back to Beastars. Now we focus again at the lives of and between carnivores and herbivores like we did in the first six volumes. Again we're on a deeper level of story telling.
One huge con is that Legoshi is treated like the most important character of all universe. Behold, because with every arc you will dislike him more and more.
Vol ?, Melon Arc
First half was really interesting. The other half - absolute garbage.
The first half is about Melon, a hybrid, so another important part of Beastars and one of the most interesting topics if you think about it. Enjoy the first half like a delicious meal, because when you start entering the second half - that is where the whole, WHOLE series is going into the void and below.
I'm going to seperately rate the two parts, because there are worlds between them.
The first part is getting: 4/5, as at that point Legoshi is unsaveable as well as all the other characters.
The second part: ...
Let me think, that uninteresting sea character, Kyuu, the most random plots you can imagine when you take LSD, the most ridiculous battles in the history of manga, the most random characters that just appear for one chapter then don't seem to exist at all anymore - and I don't mean the one-chapter additional stories (what was Melons father at the end for wtf??), and what did you do to Melon at the end - seriously, the most garbage shounen thing you can do is try to redeem an absolute crazy villain in one chapter, but decide he's too bad and can't be redeemed.
Yea you know what, 1,5/5 leave me alone, the only thing that keeps getting better with every chapter is Paru's improving art.
You can't like a character because six volumes later the character suddenly seems to have been replaced by an impostor or just disappeared and never came back.
It's got sex, gore, and philosophy--the big three.
It's set in a society of anthropomorphic animals, at first focusing on the Cherryton School but then expanding to show more of the world at large. The main character is Legosi, a socially awkward gray wolf. The central theme is the difficulties with carnivores and herbivores coexisting, with the intersection of instinct and morality. Vigilante justice is prevalent, but at least it's recognized to be self-righteous and egotistical, which is more than I can say for many stories that just mindlessly glorify vigilantism. I appreciate the moral ambiguity it profers. There's also romance and childish idealism in the face of a cynical, "adult" world. And a healthy dose of humor throughout.
The art in the first few chapters is rough around the edges, but it quickly improves. The world is well developed and the characters are distinct and lovable.
[Originally reviewed at chapter 148]
[Updated upon completion]
Addendum: I find myself primarily enjoying the gorgeous artwork and just seeing these fascinating characters eating meals or whatnot. In other words, this manga has a similar appeal to Slice of Life stories. Though, of course, the action scenes are pretty cool and I appreciate its attempts to grapple with philosophical ideas, but I don't think those are of prime importance for me. There were some aspects of the lead-up to the final battle and the final battle itself which I liked--such as the training with Kyuu--but quite a bit of it I felt was badly put together. They were floundering around with how to make this confrontation between Legosi and Melon epic and climactic, and I think they failed. I didn't care for the way it was connecting the entirety of carnivore-herbivore relations into this singular moment. I didn't like the quiz show and I had mixed feelings about the sequential fights against different groups. Though that idea of sequential fights was also one of the things the story introduced but then just dropped--the others being the Imaginary Chimeras and whether any resolution happens with Kyuu. I also didn't enjoy the philosophical aspects nearly as much as in the beginning. I think part of that is that this dealt with societal collapse and how to build up communal coexistence (with shallow/nonexistent ideas) rather than with personal morals.
And maybe I'm just a perv, but I'm disappointed they didn't include a sex scene with Legosi and Haru. Or at least more gooey romantic moments between them (something sorely lacking in the second half of the story). But, overall, I still think it's probably deserving of a 10/10. The characters are still enticing, the artwork is still gorgeous, and the story is still largely acceptable (with the first half still deserving especial praise).
Story--10 > 8
this is a hard manga to rate because theres so many great and amazing parts but also some really bad and confusing parts. really strong in the first half, like genuinley amazing, it was addicting and well written, and of course the art was quirky and gorgeous. however this manga took a questionable direction around the last third, the melon arc for the first half was interesting, i was invested in this larger drama outside of a highschool murder... but then it got ... tedious? towards the end it just felt like it kept dragging on and we werent really get any information and i just felt like we were waiting for it to conclude. but i actually liked the ending, there's definitely things i wanted explored more, like beastars, the war and, the dogs. i feel like we didnt get much closure with the melon arc but the last two chapters were a nice insight, i like this sort of open ending with the characters personal lives. its not perfect but i think thats ok, it was a journey and i enjoyed it even when it wasnt great.
i would definately still recomend this manga as a whole, even if it isnt always the best.
I went into this manga without knowing anything other than that it is based on similar premise as Zootopia. I will say that I prefer Beastars over Zootopia now that I have read it, not because Zootopia isn't good, but because Beastars is more daring in the themes it tackles. On top of that I can't help but marvel at the way the author portrays their character and their mastering of the show dont tell concept of storytelling. It is a thrilling story with well written characters that are all complex in their own way, and the plot keeps thickining as the manga progress. I can highly recommend this one to anyone that is in for a good story.