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Netflix's Beastars: the anime I never knew I needed in my life

Netflix has been busting out anime originals for a while now, with total busts and utter wins like Knights of Sidonia and Carole & Tuesday (this anime's soundtrack is GOLD I tell ya). The latest is Beastars, which didn't pique my interest at first actually! I only watched it because I heard from a Japanese friend that they'd heard the manga is REALLY good. Hearsay hearsay. Well, I heard this say for sure. If you're into Badass Terminator Panda counsellors, chickens that sell their eggs and pride themselves on the quality, Bunny Playboy Bunnies (is this a pleonasm?), a pride of lion Yakuza, and inter-species relationships probably based on hunger idunno, then you're in for a ride!

Be warned: **SPOILERS** because, well, review and all.

Beastars is set in a world where animals live together and are supposedly all vegetarian. We follow the (overly protected) life of high school students at Cherryton Academy. The first few minutes of this anime starts with the murder of Tem, an alpaca who is a 'herbivore'. He is hunted by a 'carnivore' and killed for its flesh (is what we and Tem assume). This murder introduces a world in which herbivores and carnivores live together in 'peace', with incidents like this happening from time to time causing tension between the groups. Are all herbivores victims? Are all carnivores murderous beasts? 

Tem was part of the theater group, the only group which consists out of both herbivores and carnivores. This hints to the fact that the two groups are usually quite separated. The next few episodes don't focus on the murder or Tem, and just show us an unusual slice-of-life type of high school life of these furries. This is where the show started to lose me a little bit, but the whodunnit pulled me through till the end. Like, who murdered Tem? What's going on with this anime, it seems all light and fluffy (pun intended) but I got a feeling it has gotten a very, very dark side to it.
We follow the story through Legoshi, a grey wolf who is struggling with being a carnivore and trying to keep a low profile. This causes some interesting internal conflicts, as he is a carnivore with strong instincts on the one hand, but on the other hand just a harmless sweet cub. He is part of the theatre club that Tem belonged to. In this club, we also see Louis, a handsome and immensely popular red deer with a dark past. And we are also introduced to Hal, a bunny who has always lived life to the fullest but is actually just really promiscuous ok no shaming here move along, as it can end any minute because of her very weak position as a small, defenceless rabbit. Legoshi meets Hal and falls in love with her (not because she immediately upon meeting him offered to have intercourse, nope, probably not, is it?). Little does he know, she is already in a relationship with Louis. But we still have a murderer carnivore running around eating herbivores. What's love got to do with it? Well, everything, apparently, because Legoshi is a carnivore and Hal a (physically very weak but mentally quite strong must I add) herbivore. Also, Legoshi actually tried to EAT HER the first time he smelled saw her. The whole is-it-love-or-lust or just an empty stomach is something that runs like a red thread through this story.
Next to this, we have Louis, who also has a relationship with Hal but has a fiancee that's arranged by his family already. He's aiming to become the next Beastar, which is a hero of some sort, actually it wasn't that clear to me and during season 1 they don't go into it too much. It might be important to future seasons. *Shrugs*. The story is interesting enough without this, but it does add an interesting political angle to the story. 

Legoshi and Louis have a complicated sort of frenemy relationship. Legoshi is always trying to keep a low profile and not hurt/offend anyone, while Louis is out there, and doesn't hide his hate for carnivores. I kind of like these characters, as they are still drawn to each other even though they are supposed to be mortal enemies. The very humanistic portrayal of these animals draws interesting parallels between this world and ours.
While we do the whole will they or won't they with Hal and Legoshi, the theatre group is getting ready for an important festival called Festival of the Meteor during which they honour their 'ancestors'' mass extinction. I wonder if they pray to the T-Rex. Because of recent events of herbivores getting eaten attacked, only a group of carnivores are allowed to leave Cherryton academy for a meeting at city hall. Louis warns them not to go to the black market, where meat is sold and can easily be attained by herbivores. This of course, seems like a very bad thing, because someone had to die in order for this meat to be sold. Was it obtained legally? Illegally? How does this all work in a world where animals are all equal unlike the world we live in
One might argue, peace is kept because the carnivores don't have to fight their instincts and can still eat meat. Try putting a dog or a lion on a vegetarian diet, not sure if that works. When the theatre group sets foot outside the academy, where do they end up "accidentally"? Of course, the black market. 
Fresh fingers! Fresh fingers! Got em all here! Left hand right hand pick and choose! Ring finger pinky finger thumb, pick, lick and chomp!
After meeting Mr. Finger(less), they realize they have come to the Black Market. It kinda looks cozy and fun though.. I won't mind trying that Kalbi don on the right. One portion please! Take away, because of COVID-19 and all.

Legoshi gets upset and runs away from the group, realizing that in order to keep some semblance of peace, there's a darker side to the society they live in that's silently being accepted. Welcome to adulting, babes. While he's contemplating on life, he gets knocked out by a panda called Gouhin, who basically forces counselling on carnivores that come to the Black Market. Mistaking Legoshi for one of those, but then learning about his feelings for Hal, we get the most interesting exchange of this anime. It reminds me of interracial dating or relationships transcending social class. There are many people with different opinions on this, and the same happens in this anime. In this anime, there are even different hotels - carnivore or herbivore only, even though mixed ones exist, there is still a clear boundaries between the two. Are Hal and Legoshi basically Romeo and Juliet in a furry setting?

BSDM basement vibes much? 

Are you really into that bunny or just want to eat her? Here, the latest of Wild Kick, find out if you're a "wet wet bunny" loving pervert or just hungry.

And then there's Juno, another love interest for Legoshi. A young grey wolf that is seemingly perfect for Legoshi. It would make everything so much easier for him if he went for her. No one would question their relationship, no one would give Legoshi an adult magazine with wolves to see if he's REALLY into his own kind or not. 
From here on out this anime becomes really interesting. During preparations for Festival of the Meteor, Hal gets kidnapped by the Shishi-gumi, basically lion Yakuza, only to be offered as a snack to the boss. This raises interesting political questions as Louis confronts the lion mayor who then doesn't do anything about it to not ruin his image. He even had plastic surgery done to look friendlier. If the public found out about the lion mafia, the city may fall into chaos and order will crumble. Louis is also told not to do anything about it, even though he is in a relationship with Hal. Is it worth sacrificing one life just to keep a very delicate peace? Your loved one has been taken and the city and your own ambitions to become this hero, this Beastar, depend on you doing nothing. What would you do? 
Yeah, still creepy though.

Legoshi gets help from Gouhin and rescues Hal. Louis shows up after they leave, and his own troubled past makes it seem like he has lost it. He guns down the boss, and he's never to be seen again, at least not in season 1. Hal and Legoshi stay at a hotel that allows herbivores and carnivores together, and we assume things will start getting heated. But then the most ridiculous thing ever happens.
I get that he feels this desire, this instinct to hunt and eat this small animal. But I doubt that bunnies in the wild throw themselves in the mouths of wolves or try to have sex with them for that matter. Nothing happens, and they go home. At the Festival Juno tries to draw Legoshi's attention, but Legoshi only has eyes for Hal. We end the first season there. 

This anime is brilliant at sucking you in and leaving you hungry for more. We are left with so many questions, what happened to Louis and Gouhin after the altercation with the Shishi-gumi? Who killed Tem? What will happen to Hal and Legoshi, will they ever be accepted? Will this society be even to hold up under these circumstances? Will there be an internal strife? I am getting very invested in this show, and I definitely can't wait for season 2 to come out. An honourable mention for my gal Legom, the hen. She keeps fit just to lay the best eggs, which then are used in the sandwiches that Legoshi eat. He can even taste the difference between her eggs and others, she has the best ones! This episode was hilarious and ridiculous and had me in stitches.
Sitting next to Legom, he never knew... but she did...

 That the sandwiches he loves so much.. are actually eggs coming out of HER, his classmate right next to him.

 YESS Legom, yes!! Lay those eggs girl!

 Check those eggs.
 Sleep early.
Even exercise. All for those perfect eggs!

All in all, I would give this anime a 4/5, I only deduct one point because it started out slow. Also, the female characters could be fleshed out more (no pun intended). I feel like Juno and Hal are only there to make the male characters feel all these inner conflicts. They fall a bit flat next to the complex Legoshi and Louis. Anime wise, it's exceptional. The art is amazing, the fluidity is excellent, and I love how the world is a mix of Europe, the U.S.A, with Asian style "yatai" and who knows what. It kind of felt like a dark Ghibli story, which I am all for. This anime is not over the top crazy, but crazy enough to keep me hooked on its mysterious world and I can't wait to explore it more.

~Written by Devi~

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