Don’t worry, no hard spoilers here!
In a world where humans don’t exist and animals have adapted to communicate across species and create an institutionalized education system (and much, much more), BEASTARS tackles topics like discrimination and corrupt government in a way that we understand… yet we also don’t.
Paru Itagaki (Itaparu, for short), author and artist of the manga BEASTARS, has managed to create an incredibly engaging, incredibly mature psychological story that digs down to the core of what constitutes “animalistic” nature and explores it openly. More than just your basic metaphor of the struggles we as humans face every day, Itaparu peels back another layer of predators and prey and tackles what morality truly means for someone whose instinct is to hunt or to run.
Predators eat protein-filled meals that don’t consist of their peers’ family trees (young chickens can even sell their eggs for a quick buck!), and university hallways have special mini-passages so that smaller students can travel between classes without worrying about being stepped on. When you enter the world of Beastars, you think that they have this whole “coexisting” thing sorted out.. but of course, the conflict must arise somewhere.
With yakuza gangs, underground black markets, vigilantes and more, the usually inattentive main character Legosi must face his world’s complications head-on–and hopefully, try to change things for the better.
BEASTARS is hard to fit into one genre, but I would definitely put it under Psychological and a good amount of action, with a splash of some hardcore coming of age. The art isn’t particularly easy on the eyes at first, but Itaparu’s charm and wit come through in every stroke and layer of screentone.
For the anime, animation studio Orange chose a 3D model-based animation, which does an impeccable job at bringing these characters to life. Some of my favorite scenes were brought out full force in the way a character’s ears twitch or eyes hesitate, and the voice acting also shines. Also, it has a really epic stop-motion opening sequence with a killer song.
Interested? Tune in to Netflix both subbed and dubbed on March 13th (North American Netflix for sure, not sure about other regions right now) to experience it yourself! The trailer is out now if you put “BEASTARS” into your search bar. If you’d like to read the manga, it’s currently being published by Viz Media and can likely be found on your local bookstore’s shelves or online.