Beastars Episode 1January 9, 2020
Welcome, one and all, to the first of a new run of weekly episodic anime reviews for me. Today, I’m looking at Beastars, and more specifically, the first episode, The Moon and the Beast. So, I know that I’m way behind with this one and am in fact a little late to the game. The thing is, it’s a series that has been on my radar for a little while now, I just haven’t had the time to dive into it.
I’ve avoided spoilers as far as possible and am going into the series with a fairly blank slate in terms of what I’m expecting. The main thing though is that the series is both an anime and clearly very furry friendly, so honestly? It’s a bit of me. Let’s see what I thought.
If you’ve kept up with my anime reviews – whether full seasons or episodic – you’ll know that I’m not a big fan of the CG animation you see in a lot of anime these days. Unless it’s a completely CG show, I tend to find it fairly jarring. The CG characters on a traditional background for example. Moments like that tends to feel like two different worlds colliding. CG characters move differently to traditional ones too, and that can create a disconnect when moving from one to the other.
What this means is that I was wary coming into it. I was, however, pleasantly surprised. Orange did a great job here. The whole thing appears to be CG, so there’s no tonal clash between the cast and scenery, for one. Most importantly though, the studio has clearly dedicated a lot of time to making sure that everything moves smoothly. And boy do they do that. Sure, there were a few moments that maybe felt a little mechanical, but on the whole, the characters are stunningly put together.
They each move differently too, with the key cast members instantly recognizable by there general posture. I mean, look at the differences between how Legosi, Louis and Haru hold themselves. It’s markedly different. The best thing about that, for me at least, is that they could have gotten away without doing it. The characters look so different that it’s easy to tell them apart. This little subtle touch makes them feel more like a complete package.
The subtle moments aren’t limited to that either. There was a moment that Legosi jumped in front of Kai to prevent him from hitting Louis. It was mentioned that he bared his fangs to avoid fighting, but because the camera is positioned behind him, you don’t really see it. Unless you look at the background. It only lasts a second, but in the mirror, you get a nice little reflection of Legosi showing some aggression. That was nicely done.
Colour also plays an important role in it. The opening scene, for example, makes good use of darker tones to not only show the time of night but also set the tone. Red eyes too pop up as being representative of carnivores showing their more aggressive side.
The voice cast is very good so far too, the aforementioned trio of Legosi, Haru and Louis all feeling like their VAs are really putting a lot into capturing the character’s general feel. I didn’t really notice the music, so I’m undecided on that so far. That I didn’t notice anything that felt out of place is a good thing, but it doesn’t feel stand out yet.
Public Expectation And Self Perception
This was my favourite part of the episode. Thematically, we started off with a very simple set up. Tem is devoured. The use of shadows was designed to hide the identity of the killer, and we initially are prodded towards suspecting Legosi. The shape gives away that it wasn’t him though and makes it look more like the tiger in the drama club. This is used though to kickstart a bigger idea: Els badmouths Legosi and is certain that he wants to eat her. When he does catch up to her on her own though, he is revealed to simply be wanting to give her Tem’s love letter is secret. When she says that she’ll put it right, Legosi tells her she doesn’t need to because he’s used to being feared and loathed.
This theme runs throughout the episode when it comes to the carnivores. Everyone knows that Tem was killed by a carnivore, and Legosi is rather large, so is naturally scary to the smaller characters, despite his gentle nature. He’s clearly capable of being scary, hence the scene with Kai, but he tries not to. And boy does he try hard. Towards the end, he picks up on Haru’s scent, and we get treated to a visual display showing a literal burning in his senses that results in him giving chase. Meanwhile, Louis makes an off-the-cuff remark, questioning whether all wolves are as rude as him (as well as insuating that all goats are only good for eating paper). Legosi knows what people think of him, and he’s trying his best not to be that, all the while being aware that it isn’t really working.
Which brings us to Haru. Being a tiny, cute dwarf rabbit, all the males see her and want to protect her. When they find out that she actually has some sass to her, they fool around a little then leave. That wording kinda feels like it’s playing into rabbits being used as a symbol for promiscuity. Which is aided by her confrontation with the harlequin rabbit whose boyfriend kissed Haru. This was an interesting scene because said harlequin made a comment that basically indicated that the boy in question was a harlequin too and that Haru was splitting up a purebred couple.
Now, this is partially a play on the idea that purely bred pets are worth more than mongrels, despite the health issues that can arise from it. At the same time though, when you couple it with Louis’ rudeness comment to Legosi, it does make it seem like there’s a racial undertone here. That doesn’t necessarily apply to all of it, the girls throwing Haru’s mattress out the window was just plain bullying for example, but there’s definitely something there.
The main takeaway though is that Haru feels like she has lived her life as prey for others. This has clearly knocked her too as when she flees Legosi, she thinks about wanting him to know that even a pathetic creature like her can feel terror. She has been beaten down emotionally and it’s really had a long term effect on her.
I enjoyed this a lot. It’s the sort of story that would work with human characters, but the way the animal traits of the characters have been placed into the story works really well. I think that, while there are racial undertones, the general story here is more focused on how public perception affects your internal perception. Maybe I’m wrong about that and it will change as it goes along, but right now, that’s the feel I’m getting.
So, those were my thoughts. But what about yourselves? Did you enjoy this episode? Do you agree or disagree with any of my observations? Let me know in the comments below.