I can’t believe how obsessed with this I am.
Everyone who reads regularly has certain preferences. Things that they like, things that they don’t, and things that would render a book unreadable regardless of how well reviewed it is. For me, talking animals is one of the latter. Usually any book that contains talking animals is an immediate deal breaker, but as this series has been talked about nonstop lately and the anime is gaining more and more popularity, I decided to go against my usual provoclations and give it a shot. Man, I’m glad I did.
Beastars takes place in a world where all life is made of anthropomorphic animals. In this high school, students are divided into herbivores and carnivores and forced to go to school together, though most stick with their own kind. Volume 1 begins with the murder of a herbivore student and the lingering mystery of who killed him? Was it a student? Someone else? The murder mystery takes a backseat to the incredible character building that centers around our protagonist, Legoshi. He’s a wolf, the biggest and strongest kind, but he is better described as a socially awkward and anxious teen, fully aware of his capabilities and yearns to constantly keep them hidden; to not give in to his animalistic side and to instead coast by and do his best while keeping his head down.
All the students aim to be one thing: a Beastar. Beastars are considered the elite of students, someone who can be a role model to both predator and prey and is guaranteed to be successful in the real world, able to untite people. The closest to a Beastar so far in the school is Louis, the red deer and president of the school drama club. He takes a keen interest in Legoshi and he is admired by everyone in the school, yet like most students, contains a dark secret. As one of Legoshi’s friends explains, kids in the drama club are chosen by the teachers and all of them are hiding a trauma. Haru, the dwarf rabbit, is another student, popular with the boys because of her open sexuality and unpopular with her own kind for the same reason. Haru believes her only strength, the only reason why people want her around, is because they can sleep with her, and she accepts and owns that. She comes onto Legoshi when he comes inquiring with her club about providing flowers for the Drama production and promptly freaks him out, and both end up with an interest in one another.
I don’t exactly know why this series is so compelling, but god it is. It’s almost like Zootopia for adults only better. The art is so dark and striking and bold it adds so much to the intense situations within the series. Legoshi is fighting his true nature, Louis is obsessed with being the next big thing and never showing weakness despite working himself to the bone, and Bill, a tiger, wants to show the world who he is; an carnivore. It’s teenagers dealing with teenage problems through the lense of animal behaviornad it’s captivating. There’s crushes, bullying, social climbing, acceptance, forced friendship and the unsureness of who you really are all coming into play here as they would in any teen novel worth it’s salt. It’s a fascinating read, and Louis is by and far my favorite character so far. So beautifully morally grey and seemingly confident yet only a inch away from breaking and crumbling. The way he’s drawn makes him look sinister but also beautiful. Regal and classic, but dark and mysterious. I’m desperate to find out more about him, but I don’t want to jump into the anime until I’ve read as much of the manga as I can.
This is such a unique and original story, and I can’t stop wanting a new volume. The minute I finished Vol 2 I picked up 3-6. Check it out asap, especially if you’re not a huge manga fan. It’s a great series to get fiction readers into graphics and manga!
Title: Beastars Volumes 1 & 2
Author: Paru Itagaki
ISBN: 9781974707980// 9781974707997
Three Descriptors: Creative, Orginal, Riveting