I recently went back and watched through the first season of Beastars in an evening and the following morning. It was a series I’d heard a lot about as it was airing, but it took me till just now to get around to it. Maybe it was because I binged through the whole show in such a short time, but it ended up making me think a little more deeply into the meaning behind the series that I have the energy do do these days.
Making me wonder what it was that Beastars was actually trying to say beyond what is was presenting at surface value.
I’m going to start this post by giving my conclusions on the first series of Beastars; that it was all one big allegory talking about how people need to battle against their shittier impulses. With the animals they are presented at being stylistic shorthand towards whatever aspect of themselves we would deem their worst. Legoshi has dark, sexually predatory instincts he constantly represses and Haru turning herself into some kind of prey to give herself some kind of sense of self worth.
Through meeting one another, the pair begin to work towards rebelling against their inherent natures and become better people as a result. It’s an admirable message about struggling to grow and become better people as a result. But when I look at the wider cast outside of our two leads, it seems we exist in a world of people who seem to revel in their baser instincts.
Based on the logic that drew my earlier conclusion, it makes the series seem like one in which people giving into their worst of their natures is not only the norm, but to be expected. As a metaphor for the real world, it seems to imply that racism is simply ingrained into us by nature, and something we need to endeavour to overcome.
It feels like something of a stark statement on where we are as people. That we’re racist as a default and need to endeavour to work forward from there. While it’s certainly true that we live in a time that is incredibly racially charged, I still believe that racism is something taught by our peers and society rather than being inherent to us from birth.
While the ending of Beastars’s first season really seems to imply that Legoshi and Haru are the strange ones for wanting to be together, to overcome their destructive natures for the sake of one another. Then again, it might be that I’m not reading deeply enough into things.
While the pair having feelings for one another being obvious by the end, the series itself seems to linger on the question as to whether their feeling are genuine love, or if Legoshi is simply misinterpreting his predatory instinct. Which I see as a metaphor for teenage lust.
So while my initial conclusions from the series drew feelings of melancholy about how lost and racist we all are, the more I thought about it, the more I realised I might have been overanalysing the wider world of the setting and not focusing on the main two characters enough and what is ostensibly a horny series about horny teenagers.
Because while the wider world of Beastars is fascinating to think about; a world where animals exist as metaphors for aspects of the human condition, the main thrust of the story is about the developing relationship between Legoshi and Haru and how they’re both dealing with the rush of teenage hormones within them.
Try not to be too shy to see it, but this is a horny show. The furry aspect of the show, coupled with the sexual nature of a lot of the actions characters take makes this a very adult story. The comments people initially made about this being a horny Zootopia make perfect sense to me now.
The main cast of Beastars are all teenagers, and through the content and target demographic of the manga, they’re constantly thinking and talking about either sex or violence. As kids in their late teens are prone to do. So while I initially found myself hung up on the themes of racism that are hard to avoid in a series in which half the cast are literally predators and the others are prey, I don’t actually think that’s the primary focus here.
It’s about sex and violence and the inherent power within controlling both. And in a world where half the population live in fear of being killed and consumed by the other half, suddenly the main focus becomes less of one about race and more of one about gender.
Or maybe its about all of these things. Using animals at shorthand metaphor for human nature has always been an interesting concept, one that many other movies and series have made use of before now. I just don’t think I’ve seen anything do it as starkly and as brutally as Beastars has.
There’s something about the series that makes it difficult to tear your eyes away from it. Maybe because it is so charged with sex and violence. It’s kind of ironic that the sort of base behaviour that the series is commenting on is also the very thing that draws us all towards it.
But then again; that’s just the media industry as a while isn’t it. I’m looking forward to seeing the second series of Beastars though when it gets out of Netflix jail in July. I totally get why it was filling my social media timeline a few years ago when it first popped up. But then again, that might just be a commentary on the kinds of people I follow on Twitter,