Anime, Foreign, Netflix, New Season, Show

“Beastars” continues to be one of the best anime.

(Spoiler Warning!)

I’ve been waiting a while for Beastars to return to Netflix, and I’m happy to say that the anime is still excellent. While the first season had a lot of backstory and set-up, which was very well-done by the way…the second season focuses on the fallout. Legoshi is on the hunt for the student who killed Tem while still trying to figure out his relationship with Haru while Louis has joined the Shishi-gumi, the lion mafia, as their leader.

The show has turned from a dark version of Zootopia to an even darker version of Zootopia. Isolated Legoshi is forced to learn more about how meat, is essentially a drug for carnivores and has to deal with his own temptation. Louis has to deal with his past as a previous product of the Black Market.

It’s very psychologically intense. Even though I’ve read the manga…I could only consume the anime an episode or two at a time…If you’ve read the manga, there are no surprises. A few events get added or expanded on, but they don’t change the overall plot. But the animation and voice acting really bring the same scenes to life.

One thing I find interesting about Beastars is how there really isn’t a single oppressed group – it seems like carnivores in a lot of ways are definitely subjugated to more rules and face more discrimination – and the manga reveals that reptiles have it particularly bad.

“Six-Eyes,” the rattlesnake security guard doesn’t make herself known to the public because she’s ashamed that she has no limbs. So she lets herself become a rumor. She’s also the one who tells Legoshi to find the killer.

In this season, we get to see more of how carnivores are seen by society as monsters. Excluding the fact that many carnivores are dangerous – because they eat meat (which is considered literally the worst thing a beast could do) – sometimes they’re targeted for now reason.

The possibility of a carnivore Beastar – is seen as a way to elevate carnivores’ status in society. Juno gets celebrated by her fellow wolves when she wants to fight against the status quo.

Things are complicated though because herbivores are often seen as weak – and while they certainly have control of things…they are in legitimate danger, as Haru says. And I realized something.

Unlike Zootopia which IS supposed to be an allegory for racial injustice – Beastars isn’t. I mean, as it turns out meat-eating isn’t exclusive to carnivores, in away. It’s an exploration of how society places people (or in this case beasts) into boxes, and how those biases shape how we view ourselves as well as how others view us.

Basically, it’s an exploration of how identity is formed.

You can’t look for privileged groups – you need to look at how everything in this world is based upon how other species view each other, as well as how they view themselves. Is biology the be-all, end-all? 

Things have changed a lot since Season 1;  Legoshi ends up shaving off his fur, Louis is the head of the shishigumi and has dropped out of school, also changing the shishigumi to help protect the weaker members of the Black Market.

The world is turning on its head and all of the characters are hiding something or putting on a mask. Because it’s what they need to do to survive this crazy world that they live in and because they have to present one image of themselves to others, the one that they get saddled with and be their true selves in private.

Everyone in this series is trying to figure out their identity, who they are, and how to overcome being just what society sees them as. There are a lot of little moments that explore the greater carnivore/herbivore dynamic as well that I really enjoyed.

For example, we get introduced to Cosmo, a female okapi, who performs as a stripper in the Black Market. She feels relatively powerless as an herbivore but feels in control when she strips down in front of her carnivore admirers.

But now, it seems like she also feels she’s trapped there. She has no way out.

Female herbivores are seen as particularly weak – they face a lot of sexism along with the discrimination they face for being herbivores. It’s interesting to see how she deals with being seen as a piece of meat to her customers.

I really appreciate how this anime (and the manga) take sexism seriously and understands the role it plays in people’s lives. 

Legoshi definitely has this issue, particularly with Haru – who he desperately wants to protect. And Haru doesn’t want that.

The same intersectionality of species and sexism affects female carnivores as well, who appear to be seen as less feminine and elegant than their herbivore counterparts.

Carnivore males are feared but their gender doesn’t affect them as much. But like I said, carnivores face a lot of discrimination due to their strength and size. 

Like Tem’s murderer: Riz.

Riz, a brown bear, has to take strength-diminishing pills so he doesn’t hurt anyone (which make him feel sick). Well, the one day he didn’t take them, he ate and devoured Tem because he couldn’t control himself.

It’s horrifying. He never apologized. Never turned himself in. And even actively worked to prevent Legoshi from outing him…which means he doesn’t feel bad about what he’s done. It’s a miracle he hadn’t attacked anyone else.

And the only way Legoshi can defeat Riz is by eating meat – and just eating live bugs isn’t going to be enough. The larvae he eats at one point in his training is only enough for him to hallucinate – but to get physical strength, he has to break his morals.

For those who haven’t read the manga, I won’t spoil this part. It’s something that needs to be experienced. After all, the moral dilemma that he’s facing is at the crux of the series.

Since I’ve already read the manga, nothing here came as surprise, aside from a few minor changes to make the story flow better – and I really enjoyed it. It was a faithful adaptation and my biggest issue is still how the subtitles spell Haru and Louis’ names wrong.

It’s distracting.

Surely Netflix can get somebody to fix it. Cause I know they understand what their names actually are. 

Even though the murder is solved – there is still a lot more manga to cover, so I really hope that we get more seasons.

And that’s the scoop.

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GRADE: A-

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Manga by: Paru Itagaki

Director:  Shinichi Matsumi

Producers: Shunsuke Hosoi, Yoshinori Takeeda 

Anime Writer: Nanami Higuchi

Voice Actors (Japan): Chikahiro Kobayashi, Sayaka Senbongi, Yūki Ono,  Atsumi Tanezaki,  Akio Ōtsuka, Junya Enoki, Takaaki Torashima

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