BNA: Brand New Animal [Anime Review]

Title: BNA: Brand New Animal
Anime Studio: Studio Trigger
Genre: Action, Fantasy
Throughout history, humans have been at odds with Beastmen—a species capable of changing shape due to their genetic “Beast Factor.” Because of this conflict, Beastmen have been forced into hiding. Anima City serves as a safe haven for these oppressed individuals to live free from human interference.
During a festival celebrating the town’s 10th anniversary, Michiru Kagemori, a human who suddenly turned into a tanuki, finds that Anima City is a far cry from paradise. After witnessing an explosion in the square, she is confronted by Shirou Ogami, a seemingly indestructible wolf and sworn protector of all Beastmen. As they pursue the criminals behind the bombing, the two discover that Michiru is anything but an ordinary Beastman, and look to investigate her mysterious past and uncanny abilities. Could she turn out to be the missing link between Humans and Beastmen? [Copied From MAL]

BNA is a series that I was aware of when it first aired – how could any anime-loving furry not be? – but I never got around to watching it. I like what I’ve seen of the studio’s output. Kiznaiver was fun, SSSS. Gridman had some plus points, and both parts of the UK release for Darling in the Franxx were great. But I had other stuff to review, so BNA just wasn’t a priority. It’s arrival on Netflix in the UK coincided with some downtime though, and I was able to binge-watch the show. Now that I have, I’m glad I did.

Visually, I really enjoyed the show. While shows like Seton Gakuen went with female kemonomimi looking more human and males looking more animal, BNA took the same approach as Beastars. What that means is that, when not in human form, the characters are more like Western anthros with an anime flair. The design work in that regard is really nice. The various main characters stand out from each other nicely in both forms, and the visual style of Studio Trigger fits well with this sort of fantasy set up. In much the same way, the way they animate the more over the top moments, such as Michiru’s transformations, feels fitting.

The characters themselves are pretty likeable on the whole too. Michiru and Shirou are wonderful lead protagonists, and their different personalities play off each other well. Once she’s introduced, Nazuna adds a new wrinkle to the group and does a good job of giving Michiru something to be emotionally torn over. By far my favourite character though was Marie Itami. She’s a mink beastman and, while an ally to Michiru, she’s very focussed on being so as a means to get favours from her. She was an absolute delight whenever she was on screen. Most of the other characters fill bit-part roles and don’t get as much time to shine, but it never really feels like a character’s appearance in the tale was pointless.

In general, I enjoyed the story too. The mystery of how Michiru became a beastman weaves itself effectively through the other single-episode stories, and it all builds up to a satisfactory villain reveal, complete with an overblown, high-stakes battle. The action scenes feel natural, and the main characters do gain some character development over the twelve episodes.

My only real complaint with the series is that it feels like it wastes a few plot points. For example, it’s mentioned that there’s a disparity between how male and female beastmen are treated, but we never do a deep dive on this. In fact, while women are supposedly viewed as lesser, the key roles (such as Mayor, online star, and deity) are mostly taken up by females. Michiru doesn’t seem to have any problem fitting in despite her gender either. I would have liked to see them spend a few episodes focussing on the difficulties. In the same way, while the public reveal of Nazanu’s true nature caused all the chaos others predict, there was a real sense of it all being brushed under the carpet in the end. It all creates a strangely disjointed story at times.

That all being said, those moments are not enough to make the series less fun. BNA is a little ball of furry fun, featuring likeable characters and plenty of excitement. I give it a solid 4 out of 5. Between BNA and Beastars, Netflix is certainly keeping my anime-loving, furry little heart warm!

 

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