'Beastars' Season 1 - TV Review

"Beastars" is a Japanese Anime series licensed on this side of the Pacific by Netflix. The series sounds more than a little weird when put in writing, although perhaps it's more understandable if I say that it was a manga first. It's set at Cherryton High School, where anthropomorphic animals from almost all the species go to school together. Sounds like "Zootopia," right? Particularly when you find out that there's an occasional problem with carnivores attacking herbivores. But this is longer form, and they have the time and/or inclination to look at the underbelly of this society: we learn around half way through the season that there's a black market where carnivores can buy herbivore meat, complete with its own gonzo psychologist to deal with rage incidents.

The reason the series succeeds is that the characters are well drawn and complex. "Rouis" (as he was titled in the subs I saw, apparently "Louis" in most other interpretations) appears noble on the outside, but as you get to know him he's kind of a self-centred asshole putting on a show ... but when the chips are down, he's more likely to act nobly than not.

Our hero Legosi is a shy and quiet gray wolf struggling with his own nature as a carnivore, and with relationships (he's a teen). He has his moments of being unable to even speak to a female he's attracted to, but they don't overplay this as much as in most high school Anime. And when he can talk, he's an honest and quietly introspective guy that it's nice to spend time with (a good feature in your main character!). The animation styles vary considerably and look good too.

There are life lessons in there about tolerance of others, and controlling your impulses - but they're applied with a lighter hand than most teen series. Yes it's bizarre, and it's not meant for adults (or kids either with its relatively frank discussion of sex - this is aimed squarely at teens), but if you're in the right frame of mind it can be very enjoyable.