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Society, Equality, Love & Murder: A Review of Beastars by Paru Itagaki

Beastars At A Glance

Beastars by Paru Itagaki

Beastars has all the marks of a great shounen manga. Great story progression, great action sequences, and a dash of romance on top. But its stellar character development and worldbuilding is what ultimately makes Beastars stand above its peers.

Harry Nugraha

Beastars review titlecard mangadigest
Story
Art

Synopsis

Beastars is a story about a lot of different things. It’s about the daily life of anthropomorphic animals. It is a coming of age story of a teenage gray wolf. It is a story about a promiscuous dwarf rabbit who tries to stand up for herself. It is a story about the romance between a gray wolf and a dwarf rabbit. It is a story about the strenuous relationship between carnivores and herbivores. It is a story about society, equality, love, and murder.

4.5

An In depth Look At Beastars

The Story of Beastars

  • Premise. The premise of Beastars is actually not that interesting. I mean, a story about the dynamic relationship between anthropomorphic animals? What is this? Disney? No, the reason I read Beastars is not because of the premise, but because of how the story and the characters are masterfully developed. 
  • Character development. Beastars is, without a doubt, one of the best character-driven manga that ever grace the medium. The first arc alone shows the development of so many characters. Each of them, even some of the supporting cast, are growing and changing throughout the story in a very natural and satisfying way. 
  • World building. Worldbuilding is another fantastic aspect of Beastars. The story takes place in a world similar to our real world but with some tweaking to suit the nature of its occupants. There are so many unique places in the manga and every single one of them is there for a reason. It reveals new things about the world and about the people who live in it. 
  • Pacing. Beastars never settle on any single pace. There are times when it moves blindingly fast and there are also other times when it slows down considerably. The pace here is really used to enhance the storytelling, not simply to move the readers from one particular scene to the next. Everything moves slower when Legosi lives his daily life and it’ll pick up the pace the minute he gets into any sorts of troubles. 
  • Story progression. Beastars has one of the best story progression in any shounen manga. The progression feels organic because everything always happens for a reason. The decision that a character made in the first arc will influence his decision in the last arc. That being said, the transition between the fourth and the fifth story arcs is a bit abrupt, but it’s quite a smooth sailing from that point forward. 

The Art of Beastars

Beastars art sample manga digest
  • Landscape & building. The art of Beastars, especially the first arc, is quite lackluster to say the least. When I first saw it, I thought that it was either due to the unique art style or simply the lack of skill in rendering the background. But it seems like it was the latter, because the art of the landscape and the building are massively improved as the story goes on.
  • Expression & movement. This one, on the other hand, is always constantly amazing since the very first page of the series. Itagaki-sensei perfectly nailed the anatomy, movements, and the expression of every single character in this series, down to the unique features and habits of each different species. Simply superb.
  • Vehicles & items. Since this is a story about a high schooler, there’s not much interaction to be had with vehicles. The ones that often appear are trains and cars, and both of them are quite nicely done. As for the items, the characters do regularly change their clothes. Sure, they use the same school uniform for most of the first part of the story, but after that, we’ll get to enjoy lots of casual style. 
  • Panel flow & usage. The panel works here are great and the story flows nicely from one panel to the next. Readers won’t lose their way while reading Beastars. But there’s one thing that I believe needs more attention, which is the transition panels. Itagaki-sensei uses a lot of those here and I really appreciate a little touch of details like that. New manga rarely use those even though it is one of the best ways to imply that a transition in time or place has actually happened. 
  • Art style & originality. The style of Itagaki-sensei shines bright through her character designs. Reimagining different kinds of animals into a bipedal and human-like creature without it being awkward and still maintaining the unique quality of every species is very hard to do. And yet she managed to do it flawlessly. From the way Legosi licks his fur to how Haru instinctively moves her ear, those are the kinds of details that makes me believe that Itagaki-sensei is one of the best artists when it comes to anthropomorphic animals.

Where to Buy Beastars

As usual, you can get Beastars through Amazon and Rightstufanime. Sure, they’re not the only place that sells them, but I believe those two are some of the most reliable ones when it comes to selling and shipping manga. 

But when it comes to different publication versions, well, there’s no such thing for Beastars at the moment. You’ll only get the original individual volumes. But I believe there will at least be a box set in the future. I’ll make sure to add the link to that if it does arrive.

RightStufAnime
Amazon

By the way, if you’re interested in getting a copy, please consider using those links. If you do, I’d get a small commission from Amazon and Rightstufanime, which in turn will help this site grow. Thanks!

Afterthought

The one thing that left the biggest impression on me after reading Beastars is how good and complex their society is. It actually mimics human society in more ways than one, but everything is turned up to eleven. 

We all have different races, nationalities, ethnicities, physical differences, and so on and so forth. Those variables add a very nuanced level of complexity to our interaction. 

Now imagine if you have to interact with people that come from different species than you. Not only that, they also have different needs than you, look extremely different than you, have massive differences in sizes to you, and some of them are genetically coded to hunt and eat you. That kind of day-to-day interaction is already beyond complex, it is honestly dizzying. 

Can you imagine what an interaction between a typical middle aged female mouse and a teenage male eagle would look like? Well, such interaction actually happens in Beastars and they actually have quite a functional, mutually beneficial, and very friendly relationship. 

The same thing happens to the main characters, the shy gray wolf named Legosi who falls in love with the promiscuous white dwarf rabbit named Haru. There are certainly lots of complications that need to be solved and both characters have to make their own compromises for their relationship, but hey, it works somehow. They are genuine lovebirds. Or lovewolfs? Loverabbits? Lovemix?

Reading Beastars gave me hope that we as human beings, who have less physical differences and tendencies as they are, could definitely make our messy and complicated relationship with each other work.

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