Netflix Anime Mini-Review – Beastars: Zootopia, but For Adults

Ah, high school, with the drama, the murders, the random eating of classmates…

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

It’s a world of anthropomorphic animals who have evolved enough to create legal systems and pocket watches, but not enough for the carnivores not to instinctively desire to prey on herbivores. Legoshi (Chikahiro Kobayashi/Jonah Scott) is a gray wolf who attends the Cherryton Academy. Generally quiet, he tries to suppress his carnivore instincts to bond with herbivore classmates, who he works with in the theater club. One night, an herbivore associate of his, Tem the alpaca (Takeo Otsuka/Kyle McCarley), is brutally murdered, leading to a wave of distrust between carnivores and herbivores throughout the school. One night, Legoshi’s instincts overtake him and he finds himself attacking a white dwarf rabbit. He stops himself, but when he later encounters the rabbit, named Haru (Sayaka Senbongi/Lara Jill Miller), he finds himself attracted to her. Unfortunately, his quiet personality and her promiscuous nature are as opposed as their natural roles. Additionally, Haru is in love with the red deer Louis (Yuki Ono/Griffin Puatu), the Star Performer at the academy. Human relationships, it seems, are even more complicated when mixed with animal ones.

Seating alone is a challenge.

END SUMMARY

I admit to watching this show because Netflix recommended it and I’m slightly concerned about what the hell I watched to create that algorithm. I’m guessing it was Zootopia and Sex Education, because that’s kind of the vibe I get from this show, but with a lot more drama than comedy. It’s like this show is insisting that you take this premise completely seriously, from the dialogue to the animation, and not consider that it’s kind of inherently ridiculous. Unlike some shows like Aggretsuko, these animals are not just surrogates for people, meaning that you’re trying to show how a high school would work with half of the class wanting to eat the rest of them (non-sexually… or maybe sexually too). 

Metaphors ahoy.

Honestly, I got into this show as it went on. A lot of what kept my interest is that the world here is so inherently different than most others. We find out that there are huge issues in balancing a society where everyone is sentient, but also still bound by their instincts. Outside of the academy, most of society is fairly segregated because of the constant fear that predators will eat their neighbors. While there are work-arounds in place for how predators get their meat, that doesn’t seem to sate everyone, particularly criminals. While interspecies relationships don’t appear to be too forbidden, there appears to be a taboo in predator/prey couples. The worldbuilding is naturally interesting, because no human society can really be compared to this one, even if there are similarities.

The Lions club here is WAY different than the US.

The main characters are pretty interesting, too. Legoshi lives in fear of his own instincts, to the point where he worries that he might be a killer and not even realize it. This leads him to keep people at a distance. I also like that he’s on the stage crew of the theater, because that allows him to watch the drama play out without having to be the focus of it, something that speaks to his character. Haru, on the other hand, is ostracized due to her brazen sexuality. Many women hate her because their boyfriends either slept with her or want to, but she never apologizes for it. Since she is naturally smaller than almost anyone else, due to being a dwarf rabbit, she feels a constant state of vulnerability that she fights through her promiscuity. It’s an interesting way to give a character a trait associated with rabbits but also tie it in with human psychology.

Louis is a stereotypical lead actor, probably to compensate for being prey.

Overall, I enjoyed the series, honestly. It’s slow, but if you’re an anime fan it’s probably worth a try. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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