Beastars

animals attend high school

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Lauren Cook

TV Series Review

Have you ever started to develop feelings for someone, then realized that what you’re feeling might just be predatory instincts?

No?

Well, Legoshi has. He’s a 17-year-old grey wolf at Cherryton School, an academy for anthropomorphic animals of various species, both carnivore and herbivore. He’s quiet and introverted, preferring to separate himself from his classmates and work behind the scenes in drama club rather than get involved with the intrigue of high school.

Like Legoshi, Haru, a female dwarf rabbit, is an outcast at Cherryton.

Normally, given their eating patterns, you’d think it unlikely for them to be friends. And indeed, they’re complete strangers at first, but a chance encounter one night changes that—and everything else about their lives.

High School Howls

If he had a choice, there’s no way Legoshi would be outside the school theater after dark. He’s a rule follower, through and through, and the idea of being caught out after hours makes him very nervous. But Louis, a red deer and the incredibly popular head of the drama club, pressures him into standing guard while he rehearses, and no one says “no” to Louis. While Legoshi is keeping watch outside the theater doors, Haru happens to walk by, and something very strange happens.

Haru’s scent causes a sort of reaction in Legoshi’s brain, and for the first time, his carnivorous instincts start taking over. Unable to control himself, he attacks her—and had she not been able to escape, he likely would have killed and eaten her.

Later, once his episode has passed, Legoshi is able to get to know Haru, and begins developing conflicting feelings for her. Is he actually falling in love, or is it just his predatory instincts disguised as romance?

It doesn’t help that tensions between the herbivores and carnivores on campus are even more heightened than usual after an alpaca was devoured by a mysterious predator. The herbivores are suspicious and frightened of the carnivores, the carnivores resent being judged, Legoshi likes Haru, Haru likes Louis, another wolf named Juno likes Legoshi, and pretty much everything is just a big mess.

So really not all that different from regular high school.

Beauty and the Beast

At its heart, Beastars is really just a classic high school series, full of drama, romantic intrigue…and problematic content.

Legoshi’s obsession with Haru, whether romantic or not, carries undeniably sexual undertones. Haru herself has a reputation for sleeping around the school, for which other students bully and shun her. Anthropomorphized animals, who have fairly humanized bodies and normally wear clothes, are shown in various stages of undress. There’s a suggestive tone that carries throughout the entire show.

But there are also deeper issues to be aware of here. Themes of naturalism and “humanism” (if you can call it that when all the characters are animals) are integral to the plot, as Legoshi and his classmates wrestle with whether or not to give into their animalistic instincts. In this world, the natural dichotomy of predator and prey is king, and the abilities of the characters are attributed directly to them rather than any sort of higher power. “Why won’t you take responsibility for your own strength?” Louis asks Legoshi at one point.

There are also some indications toward the theme of “being who you are” and “loving who you love,” as Legoshi tries to fight against social and natural barriers that tell him that Haru is prey, not a potential life partner. Sure, there are positive implications to that, but it can very quickly take a left turn into more dangerous territory. There are some boundaries that exist for our own safety, both physical and spiritual, though the anime might like you to believe otherwise.

Beastars presents an interesting world, one where its inhabitants are forced to choose between who they want to be and who nature dictates they should be—but it’s weighed down by sexual content between teenagers and questionable naturalistic themes.

Episode Reviews

Jan. 7, 2021: “A Teen’s Never Ending Alarm”

Legoshi returns to school after summer break unsure about his relationship with Haru, and rumors begin to fly about Louis’ disappearance. Legoshi’s roommate Jack tries to convince his friends that he saw a terrifying monster in the Cherryton hallways.

During the end credits, we briefly see Haru in bed with Louis, as well as flashbacks to her undressing Legoshi in a previous episode. Glimpses of a frightening six-eyed monster are seen in a darkened hallway; the students begin to believe that it’s the ghost of Tem, the student who was mysteriously devoured the year before. Haru dismisses this, claiming there are always rumors about various events like “students killing themselves.” We see a flashback of Legoshi punching Louis in the face, and Legoshi slams his fist into his bedroom wall in frustration, cracking the drywall.

The expression “d–n it” is used once.

Mar. 13, 2020: “The Moon and the Beast”

After a brutal murder takes place at Cherryton School, tensions between carnivores and herbivores reach an all time high. Legoshi is roped into helping Louis sneak into the school theater after dark, leading to a fateful encounter with Haru, a  young dwarf rabbit.

Several references are made to Haru’s promiscuity; one of her bullies confronts her about kissing her ex-boyfriend, and threatens to tell the whole school that Haru has been “fooling around with other guys” as revenge. “I’ve been living my life as a plaything for all types of guys,” Haru says sadly.

Tem, an alpaca student, is shown covered in blood and running from the predator hunting him. He’s eventually caught, and we see the carnivore bare his teeth and lunge at him. Later, the school learns that he was murdered and devoured by his unknown attacker. Louis chokes one of his classmates to intimidate him before letting him go. Another student, Kai, tries to punch Louis, but Legoshi defends him. We also see Legoshi, overcome by his predatory instincts, attack Haru and pin her to the ground.

Haru is bullied relentlessly by other female students; they crush the flowers in her garden with textbooks and throw her mattress out of a window. Later, other students push her off a curb and throw a bucket of water on her. Derogatory stereotypes are employed throughout the episode, emphasizing the animosity between carnivores and herbivores. An herbivore student claims that “carnivores are all monsters,” while Louis tells a goat that all he’s good for is “eating paper.”

The term “p-ssed off” is used once, and a student uses the word “sucks.”

(Note: This review covers the English-dubbed version of the series rather than the original Japanese. Some words, including profanity, may slightly differ in the English subtitles used for the original audio.)

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Lauren Cook Bio Pic
Lauren Cook

Lauren Cook is serving as a 2021 summer intern for the Parenting and Youth department at Focus on the Family. She is studying film and screenwriting at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. You can get her talking for hours about anything from Star Wars to her family to how Inception was the best movie of the 2010s. But more than anything, she’s passionate about showing how every form of art in some way reflects the Gospel. Coffee is a close second.

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