Genre: Drama, slice of life, psychological, romance
Available on: Netflix
Beastars is set in a world where predators and prey live together in harmony, or at least they try to live that way. In this anthropomorphic world animals considered to fall into the category of prey are protected by laws whilst those who are predators must abide by those laws which abolish their primal instincts. At Cherryton Academy, a quiet and kind-hearted grey wolf named Legosi tries to live out his life as peaceful and unproblematic as possible. He pushes away his wolf instincts, tries to fit in at his schools drama club and tries, but ultimately fails, to act as nonthreatening as possible towards his herbivore peers. However, as Legosi begins to meet and interact with more of his herbivore peers things begin to change for him especially when he encounters a small, white dwarf rabbit named Haru who sets off something ravenous within his very being.
Well, it’s official, I’m a furry. In all seriousness though, Beastars is an incredible anime which is far more than furry jokes. While I was already rather excited to check out this series back towards the beginning of this year, I didn’t realise how much I would truly enjoy it and get so attached to a large grey wolf.
When thinking about where to begin with reviewing Beastars I’d like to address the CGI elephant in the room. When the trailer and promotional images for this anime originally dropped I was more than sceptical at the idea of a 3D CGI anime series. In the past when seeing CGI heavy anime, I am left with a sour taste in my mouth. I expect it to be clunky, jarring and ugly looking. Beastars is none of those things and proved me wrong that high quality CGI anime can be excellently executed (Dorohedoro further proved me wrong). While it takes a little adjustment to get into the animation at first, once an episode or two has gone by, the CGI isn’t a distraction. Whilst the anime looks slightly different to its manga source material, the series benefits tremendously from the use of 3D characters. The CGI helps enhance the characters appearances. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it probably works best in 3D as I cannot imagine Beastars in a traditional 2D anime style. Characters feel more fleshed out in the CGI designs and the animators did an amazing job of mixing animalistic characteristics with the human-like bodies.
The use of stop motion animation for the opening credits was also an excellent touch for the series and is something which I never thought could be utilised so well within an anime. The darker predatory visuals transforming into a sweet romantic dance and then back again are fabulous to watch and express the main elements of the story so well. The accompanying song Wild Side by ALI is a perfect choice as its fun, jazzy and sinister tones mirror the visuals making the opening credits simply unskippable.
Another topic which must be covered when discussing Beastars is the underlying tones of discrimination and prejudice throughout the series. Whilst comparing the idea of herbivores and carnivores cannot directly translate into a human understanding of discrimination, it works as an excellent storytelling device to explore the topic. The anime displays the fact that discrimination can happen in any world and the predator and prey dynamic helps to emphasise these issues. It is a very real, very important topic of conversation and Beastars utilises these topics well for its character development and story progression. Characters often feel very human holding a range of traits and flaws which many will likely identify with in some way. For example, Legosi perceived as being frightening and to be feared but is quiet, reserved and kind in nature reflecting that of a gentle giant whilst Louis is often perceived as a weak deer in need of assistance but his nature is strong, confident and often arrogant. They aren’t walking stereotypes of what a specific kind of animal should be which makes them much more complex.
Overall Beastars exceeded my expectations by miles. Its story and complex characters make for a great watch and if 3D CGI anime isn’t your thing or if you want to write it off as some weird furry anime, I recommend putting assumptions aside and giving it a shot as it might surprise you. I’m very excited for season two in 2021!
Overall rating: 9/10
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you have a wonderful day!