Beastars is just the latest of anime to fall victim to Netflix rights mishaps. The series finally debuted on the streaming service on March 13th and I can safely say it is not just R-rated Zootopia.
Based on the manga by Paru Itagaki, Beastars follows Legoshi, a 17-year-old anthropomorphic gray wolf who is a second-year student at Cherryton Academy. He is conflicted with his role as a carnivore, attempting to suppress his instincts around his herbivore friends. One night, while at the Academy late rehearsing a scene for a play, Legoshi has a fateful encounter with a dwarf white rabbit named Haru, which he slowly develops complex feelings for.
The show uses its animal classes as symbolism for diversity, similar to Zootopia. However, the nature of the comparisons is much darker. The Beastar is recognized as the uniter of the herbivores and carnivores. In everyday life, it appears that the two classes get along with each other, but at night, the Black Market allows for carnivores to get meat they would be unable to get otherwise. This is not enough for some carnivores though, as some devour other animals in the middle of the street.
Beastars does not shy away from sexuality either. Haru, being a white dwarf rabbit, believes she will be devoured sooner rather than later. Because of this, she assumes she will never experience real attraction. This leads her to have relations with a good amount of her classmates. However, when she meets Legoshi, she finds him to be the first person to treat her normally.
The 3D animation, done by the animation studio Orange, was really good and never took me out of the story, a problem some 3D anime have had in the past. The animation of Legoshi was particularly great. The fight scenes felt fluid, while still allowing the hits to have weight despite their momentum. The best example of this is the fight between Legoshi and Bill the Bengal tiger.
Netflix has been nailing the English dubs lately, and Beastars is no exception.
Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR) directors Bob and Megan Bucholz did a fantastic job, both in their direction and in the script writing. Jonah Scott was the perfect choice for Legoshi. He was able to portray both Legoshi’s shy and dangerous sides. Lara Jill Miller was surprisingly great as Haru. Being an ensemble cast, the dub would not work unless all the pieces fit. Whether it be Benjamin Diskin as Jack, Griffin Puatu as Louis, Billy Kametz as Durham, Erika Harlacher as Els, Kaiji Tang as Bill, Lauren Landa as Juno, Daman Mills as Kai, or Keith Silverstein as Gouhin, everyone was great.
Beastars is more than just a “furry anime.” The characters feel real, even if their situations are morphed by their unique environment. While violent and sexual at times, Beastars is a wonderful story about accepting who you are despite the world around you. I am excited to see where the second season goes.