Finally, I’m typing up a post that is about something other than weekly J-pop. I’ve wanted to do this for a couple weeks now since I finished the first season of Beastars a couple Fridays ago. So buckle up. I’ll try to keep this rather short.
For those that don’t know, Beastars is an anime featuring anthropomorphic high school called Cherryton where predators and prey are educated and live together in uneasy harmony. As you can guess, the main theme of the anime is the relationship between prey and predator and if this type of society is really sustainable. I mean, the very first episode opens up with a wolf cornering and killing a fellow alpaca student in the school’s auditorium.
The main characters we follow are: Legoshi, a wolf who despite his intimidating presence is really a cinnamon roll who ends up falling in love with a dwarf rabbit named Hal.
Hal (or Haru), the dwarf rabbit in question. She grapples with her identity being a weak pitied rabbit (and I’m not being condescending here, these are words spoken in the anime) while still trying to maintain a strong facade. She is ambivalent towards Legoshi for most of the first season. She also has a bad reputation at the school for being promiscuous. Hal also has a sort of friends with benefits relationship with Louis.
Louis (or Rui), a deer who has a bit of a prey complex. By that, I mean he appears to lament his prey status throughout the anime and grows frustrated when actual predators, like Legoshi, force themselves to appear weak and gentle while not embracing their instinctual predator tendencies. He is a pretty complex character, but very popular in the school. He dreams of being the next Beastar.
There are other characters that are recurring in the anime, but those are the three main characters I’ll focus on for this post. Though, there is a rather important character, Juno, another wolf, who enters the first season about midway through, who becomes smitten with Legoshi and thus becomes rivals with Hal. She also aims to become the next Beastar, so she also becomes rivals with Louis. She’s really making enemies out of everyone, huh?
But what is a Beastar? To be honest, I had to look this up since I didn’t really have a good solid definition.
According to the Beasters wiki: “…is a term that is awarded to the beasts that manage to stand out in society as leaders and unite carnivores and herbivores, despite the differences between their respective species.”
Furthermore…”A Beastar is chosen as a representative for his institute and is placed in a heroic status…After a Beastar graduates from high school, they will have high-level careers at their disposal…”
So yeah, it’s a pretty big deal. Yet, the first season really focuses on Hal and Legoshi’s budding relationship amongst their own personal issues with their identity as prey and predator respectively. I mentioned before that the first episode opens with one alpaca, Tem, being murdered by a shadowy figure of a wolf and that is over the heads of everyone throughout the first season though his murder is not solved by the end of the season. We, the audience, do not know who murdered him either besides the fact that it was most likely a wolf who did it, but what wolf? We don’t know.
I’m honestly surprised that I actually really enjoyed Beastars. I was real hesitant to start an anime about anthropomorphic animals with a wolf and rabbit romance plot line. BUT I found myself really interested from the first episode because I was just really curious how the cultural and societal dynamics of herbivores vs carnivores would play out. I also found the characters of Legoshi and Hal compelling in their own right especially Legoshi, of course, being a wolf that tries his best not to act like a wolf until a critical moment occurs in the anime where he must choose to continue to fake it or embrace it.
The anime succeeds in making these animals come across as human with their own emotions, fears, worries, etc. Honestly, I’m sure someone has made this analogy before, but Beastars is basically just a PG-18 version of Disney’s ‘Zootopia.’ If you liked that movie but wanted more adult themes, then Beastars is your anime.
I would give the first season of Beastars a 4 out of 5. I would recommend it if you don’t mind talking sentient animals who are going through adult issues while balancing high school life and worrying about rather or not they may be killed in science class (if you’re a prey, of course).
If you noticed, I put season one in the title because the second season is currently airing though I have yet to watch it. I don’t know if I will write up a second season thoughts, but if it’s compelling enough, then I will.
That’s it for this ‘review.’ If you haven’t read it already, I have another review out on another anime I watched that I thought was pretty good as well. Check it out if you want!