Many people are skeptical when I mention Netflix series ‘Beastars’ as one of my favorite shows of all time. Granted, their doubts are quite valid given that the premise is centered around anthropomorphic talking animals in a modern society.
However, I’ve seen my fair share of anime and I can safely the term cinematic masterpiece is not being used lightly.
‘Beastars’ is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Paru Itagaki which was adapted by Studio Orange then licensed by Netflix in 2019.
The plot follows the protagonist, a large shy gray-wolf named Legoshi, as he tries to navigate his carnivorous instincts that conflict with his own morals. He later meets Haru, a white dwarf rabbit with an intense longing to be seen for who she really is, not just a weak herbivore.
Although the characters are all teenagers attending the made-up Cherryton School, the show deals with a handful of mature themes and highlights the internal struggle of trying to become someone you aren’t.
Everything feels surreal, as the nuanced aspects of their daily lives are fleshed out and the world-building is done perfectly.
The lions and bears dine on other sources of protein — eggs and soy burgers — and many social taboos are set in order to maintain harmony between predator and prey. However, putting on a school uniform doesn’t magically dissolve the hunger for rabbit flesh.
Legoshi attempts to get closer to Haru, and ends up confusing his romantic attraction for a hunting instinct. He can’t decide which is the real version of himself, and he despises the part of him that would even consider harming her.
The best part about the whole show is the character development. There isn’t a single character that you will hate, because they’re all written to be so complex.
Each has their own backstory, motivations, ideologies about the world they live in, and they each struggle with their own demons. The growth experience on the journey to self-discovery is so profound, that you can’t help but root for them along the way.
Some would argue that there are no takeaways or life lessons because they live in a world so different from us.
On the contrary, there’s so much to understand when you take the time to delve into the message that the author was trying to convey.
At the heart of the show, it’s the question: “Where is the real you?” and “How much of ourselves do we truly know?” Besides hiding ourselves from others, it also addresses societal issues such as stereotypes, toxic masculinity, different types of attraction, race relations, and class and gender norms.
Netflix currently features a wide variety of popular anime titles such as “Haikyuu!!,” “Attack on Titan,” “Fullmetal Alchemist,” and “Fairytail.” They’ve recently started to explore licensing originals with “Violet Evergarden,” gaining immense popularity among the community in a short timespan.
If you’re still wondering whether the anime is worth your time, I suggest you just watch an episode and find out. There’s only so much I can describe and rave about, but I highly implore you give it a shot.
For me, it changed my perspective on our present-day community, and I think there’s something to enjoy for everyone.
I recommend watching with English Subtitles. From romance, to mystery, humor, and horror, you won’t be disappointed even if you aren’t a huge fan of animals.