The second season of BEASTARS brings us back to Cherryton Academy and hormones are as high as ever. What started as a murder-mystery in a school of animals expands beyond its original scope into a sex-fueled ride of self-discovery with a side of psychedelics and the mafia. There’s nothing else like it.
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Nicky, I’m glad I finally have the opportunity to talk about an anime on the right side of history.
Look, I’m never going to be able to talk about Pupa on here, so let me have this.
Putting aside that Serious Offense of stealing one of the best jokes from me just now (criminal, really), we’re skipping the appetizers and digging straight into the main course. Steve, I sure hope you’re hungry because I’m starving to sink my teeth on this second season of BEASTARS!
The first season was already one of the wildest anime I watched last year, and I’m pleased to confirm that this subsequent part is somehow even more bonkers. There were multiple instances where I had to pause the video and reflect on what I had just watched, and even then I often found it hard to believe that this is a real anime. But I guess this is what logically happens when your main characters are theater kids.
I’m already a big fan of the manga personally and the English editions of the volumes to actually go way beyond the scope of even just this season. I only bring this up though because I think this adaption is equally as enchanting as its page counterpart. With a story as rich and flavorful as BEASTARS, it’s a total privilege that we’re able to enjoy and experience it in multiple mediums.
Though, any experience is also gonna be totally gnarly. It’s awesome, but don’t say you weren’t warned.
Yeah, major and consistent props to Studio Orange for once again proving why they’re at the top of the CG anime mountain. The adaptation is still full of personality, and it still vibes impressively with the source material’s uncanny energy. It’s difficult for me to imagine a BEASTARS anime done any other way.
While there are times where I feel like the CG models are too clean compared to the more raw quality of Paru Itagaki‘s art, the anime definitely is still a total feast for the eyes. Like the first season, the second season is enriched with wonderful shot and color compositions and a blend of innovative choices. It’s spiced up in a way that’s meant to compliment the original flavor, not mask or take away.
And speaking of flavor, we’ve got a full smorgasbord of delightfully demented plots and subplots this season. Tem’s murder still needs solving. Louis is a mob boss now, somehow. Legoshi and Haru’s relationship is off to a rocky start. Legoshi becomes a meat monk. There’s a giant snake cop. Someone gets their entire arm ripped off. Horny boys beg Legoshi to tell them what sex is like. Adventures in animal Instagram. And I’ve barely scratched the surface.
There’s so much to unpack in this cornucopia of teen drama. It picks right up on a ton of threads from the last season. After making a daring escape with Haru from the claws of the black market’s literal lions’ den, it seems hard for Legoshi to re-integrate himself with the goings on of regular school. It’s been six months since the start of the series, and Tem’s murderer is still very much at large. Louis disappeared for a flat two months before reappearing and taking off again. The larger status quo hasn’t totally changed from the first season but its insides feel all mixed up now.
The mafia stuff was the one part of this season I already knew was coming, but I ended up surprised how organic it felt as an escalation. Like, yes, obviously Louis is a born leader, but contextually it fits as a cynical ploy from the remaining Shishi-gumi lions to rebrand themselves with an herbivore boss so they can wriggle into new parts of the Black Market underworld. It makes just enough sense.
Of course this is BEASTARS so it pairs this development with a scene where Louis, a deer, is forced to eat a buffalo steak. I have no words.
It’s also a total inverse of his role in the first season. He takes a step off of the stage and into the shadows. Instead of living in fear of carnivores, he’s put himself in charge of them. At first this seems like a bout of self-destruction that’ll blow up in his face, something everyone notes as he tries to cut ties with them. But, ploy or not, it’s surprising to see the positive influence this has on the Shishi-gumi, the black market, and himself. The black market is still not a pretty place, especially for an herbivore, but acting to change it is better than not. And what better actor than this boy?
And more specifically, his relationship with his “underling” Ibuki is one of the season’s highlights. Their game of pretend yakuza morphs into a genuine familial connection between the two of them—both castoffs of society sold for scraps as children, who nevertheless managed to claw their way back up the ladder, with the scars to show for it. But even better, they have one of the funniest interactions all season.
YOUR NEW DAD JUST WANTS YOU TO EAT YOUR VEGGIES, LOUIS. Ibuki “Lion Dad” is one of the sweetest bits of surprise sentimentality. Also fueling what might be my favorite ED of the year.
It foreshadows a lot! I was kinda taken aback when it first showed up as the ED, but by the end of the season, its bittersweet nostalgia feels very true to both of these characters.
With its wonderful watercolor art and the contemplative but wistful ballad by YOASOBI, it’s hard not to watch and shed a tear at such a wholesome relationship born from the darkness. Though, a lot of this also relates to Louis’ relationship with Legoshi. He wouldn’t have gotten this far without that annoying guy hounding him in the first place.
Also, we saw a glimpse of Louis’ real adoptive dad for the first time and boy was that A LOT.
The one consistent truth of BEASTARS is that there are no simple relationships, i.e. Louis’ dad only starts feeling affection for his adopted son once he’s on the other end of a gun barrel. Oh and these are his dear dad’s parting words.
I gotta give him props for calling Louis out on his BS though. No matter how hard he tries to put on a tough face, he’s still just posturing and he’s just as messy and vulnerable and in need of support as anyone else. Not that his dad ever gave him any! That’s why he needs a bunch of lion dad’s to give that to him.
And that’s not even the bulk of the season! But since Louis is basically the deuteragonist, it’s important to nail where he falls into the picture before we can talk about Legoshi, who also goes through a bit of a change.
Yeah, besides some noteworthy exceptions, the two of them spend the lion’s share of this arc separated and following their own paths towards their own ideals of justice. Whereas Louis dons the cloak of organized crime, Legoshi gets recruited by snek cop.
And I should reiterate, there is a giant snake security guard who lives in the walls of the school, and it barely registers on the scale of buckwild shit that happens.
But this is what spurs Legoshi to pick up Tem’s murder investigation again in earnest, and it turns out our furry Columbo has some tricks up his suspenders.
Six-Eyes (Rokume) is also kinda horny and has wicked eyelashes. I really like them. Though, they don’t have a clue who the murderer is and refuses to offer any hints. All we know is that Legoshi is the only man (wolf?) for the job.
Well, and the only one dumb enough to have no regard for his own safety. When the perp blindfolds and attacks him to send a message, Legoshi instead chooses to fight back the only way he knows how.
And by that I mean he French kisses the murderer so he can identify the flavor of their spit and file it away as evidence. Duh.
Legoshi is too shy to kiss the girl he loves but will totally waste his first kiss slobbering up the mouth of someone trying to kill him if it means protecting the school. That’s just how he rolls. Also the inverted darkness affect during scenes like this are super cool!
That’s why we love this lanky dummy! This attack also sends him back into the big bear arms of Gohin, who agrees to train Legoshi, but only under a very particular set of conditions.
I have the unique displeasure to introduce to you all: bald Legoshi.
That buzz-cut is definitely a look.
He spends half the season shorn and I don’t like it.
But it’s also representative of Legoshi’s dedication and the sacrifices he’s willing to take in order to bring about justice. The dark parts of his fur are shaved off as he forces himself to become an active player in protecting his friends rather than someone who slinks around in the shadows and simply watches.
Symbolism or no, he still looks too smooth. But I suppose it also fits his new ascetic lifestyle, which involves intense exposure therapy to rid himself of his meat hunger.
So we have Louis forcing himself to chomp steaks to keep up appearances as a cutthroat yazuka lord, while Legoshi tortures himself in front of a rack of meat all night in order to become a crime fighter. This is exactly why we can’t separate these two morons.
Though, I gotta say, I have mixed opinions on Legoshi’s exercise in abstinence, from both meat and his relationships with people. He shirks his best friend Jack at the beginning of the season and Haru is pissed that he’s avoiding her. Like Louis, it’s incredibly sad but that kind of insular focus is part of what he needs to grow.
In the end he kindles a new appreciation for life and his existing relationships.
Yeah, there’s some characters I wish we could get more time with, but I love the interstitial moments we’re offered. Including members of the drama club. Despite the danger of the society they live in, seeing the genuine goodwill between species always reminds me that there’s hope. The character’s cause for true equality is a worthy one. When one of the drama club member’s accidentally rips someone’s arm off it’s concluded with a moment of intimate understanding.
The way the female characters’ screen time is cut in favor of the plot definitely hurts though. I still super-love Juno, and Haru and Legoshi’s relationship is still as sweet and as awkward as ever.
Oh, Juno’s great, as always. I love how her conflicting feelings about carnivore-herbivore dynamics get shaken up by her transparently gay feelings for Haru.
Everyone in BEASTARS is such a bi-disaster, I love them. I can forgive Legoshi declaring himself a virgin forever when it’s counteracted by him being about three times as gay as the last season. Also, the new characters we do get focus on and are involved with the plot are really great. Did I mention I love Pina?
He is GARBAGE and also objectively the best addition this season.
Pina comes to fill some of the space that Louis left cuz someone has to keep being a drama-king around here. He’s also kinda callous, a flirt, and lives his life in a totally unattached selfish manner. It’s both frustrating and enviable to Legoshi in particular. One of the first things he does is ask Legoshi if he has a girlfriend and then taunt him into “eating” him.
To which Legoshi responds that he has never had (gay) horny thoughts ever, very convincingly.
Lmao keep telling yourself that, buddy. And if Louis is like the superhuman equivalent of a theater kid, then Pina is just the most theater kid a high school student can believably be. A vain bishonen sheep who waxes poetic about dying a beautiful death, only to be repeatedly called on his bluff. I love him so much.
And really, he has only himself to blame for meddling with Legoshi’s murder investigation, which by the way, resolves itself in an amazingly deadpan way. Zero fanfare, just a flat accusation and confirmation. As expected of BEASTARS.
Halfway through the season no less.
And for good reason! Because it turns out the question isn’t just who ate Tem, but who ate Tem. And there’s a lot going on in Riz’s big bear brain.
The opening scene of the series would lead most to assume that Tem’s murder was simply a hate crime or some sort of frenzy, but there’s so much more to it! It’s great that we get to see this other perspective on events and sniff out what exactly drives someone to become a murderer in this world. Riz, as a killer, is also not dumb and not what you’d suspect. In fact, most of the conversations we have with Riz about the murder just happen in broad daylight.
Like a lot of stuff in BEASTARS, it also adds a lot of new and interesting wrinkles to the worldbuilding. Big carnivores like Riz have to take special muscle suppressants to keep themselves from becoming strong enough to inadvertently hurt others. But they also have side effects that can be quite…unbearable.
And god, just, what an incredible scene. It’s like all those decades of jokes about a grimdark version of Winnie the Pooh as an addict, but played completely straight.
I think bears are also excellent for this since they’re a carnivore that can flux between being seemingly cute to terrifying. I mentioned Riz is a smart killer and that’s because he uses his big teddy-like persona and beady eyes to his advantage. He appears docile to the other members of the drama club but suffers from alienation because he knows others would fear the “real him”. He manages to open up to Tem but this only enhances the tragedy of the incident.
This scene reminds me a lot of the first season’s OP. Riz isn’t too different from Legoshi and Legoshi knows that. Just like how bears are similar to wolves but are also natural competitors due to their often shared territory.
Yeah, Riz is much closer to a tortured quasi-Shakespearean figure than a mustache-twirling villain. His fascinating interiority lets the murder evolve from a mystery into a compelling tragedy. It’s very smart writing.
Legoshi even admits that everything would be a lot easier if Riz were a rotten guy, but he’s not. He’s just an overly-sincere person who made a grave mistake and keeps choosing to deal with it in a way that keeps hurting everyone involved, living and dead.
It’s also extremely queer because it implies that the reason he did it is that he couldn’t imagine having a healthy reciprocated relationship with someone in the context of their judgmental and this restrictive society. The predation metaphor within the series has always been extra loaded, and these symbols don’t always apply the same way, but sometimes for me it just boils down to plain intimacy. What does it mean to ethically love someone else if great love also leads to great pain or sorrow? What Riz did is unforgivable but also a natural product of a society that abstains from its problems.
Congrats on completing your spiritual journey, Legoshi. Please learn to be normal.
Love to have a casual heart-to-heart in the middle of trying to kill each other.
But thankfully there’s one man even less normal than Legoshi who can save the day.
Legoshi taking a break to lose his virginity is actually maybe the most normal thing he’s done all season, I’d argue. Even if it has an extreme foot-focus. All that talking about abstinence fails in the face of real consent.
Also the music was so intense during this part! The improvised-style instrumentals can sometimes sell the more moody brooding moments but whenever Louis and Legoshi are together the sound blows into a full tango.
It’s the perfect note for this season to end on. Sex, violence, and food swirled together into a big happy gay mess. Equal parts tasty and tasteless. This is what BEASTARS does best.
It makes no bones about how real the love is between Legoshi and Louis and it all consummates with being able to put an end to Riz’s argument that a healthy carnal love is impossible. Louis leaves the Shishi-gumi to offer Legoshi the full support that he needs. He calls himself a lone wolf but he was never truly alone. There’s a lot of consequences that can happen from Legoshi uhh EATING AN ENTIRE FOOT, but what matters is that feeling of unity. At least until the cops come and ruin everything. (Thanks, Pina)
And that’s BEASTARS season two! It’s a goddamn fever dream and I can’t wait for my next injection of the furry agenda.
The world of BEASTARS is SO MUCH. Even after talking about it that much there’s still more I can’t even hope to talk about in a reasonable amount of space. I could write a dissertation about the themes, presentation, and characterization. But I think my overall favorite quality is how it maintains its slice-of-life aspects. Even with the other elements like training arcs, the mafia, or the never-ending amount of theater kid monologues. It never forgets that the animals in this world trying to survive, and that life isn’t supposed to be defined by being suffering.
In fact, BEASTARS posits we should continue to live life with other people (and animals) because we’re all different from each other. Our differences don’t have to be a point of conflict, they can also be a source of strength, support, and love.
That’s all well and good. But me? I’m going to take a cue from best boy Pina and go lie down in filth where I belong.
Okay, but only if you post it on social media. That’s obviously the most important part of this whole “living” process. Wishing everyone a good night and many likes!
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