Animal tales are often considered the purview of kids and fun fantasy. However, sometimes you’ll get one like Orwell’s Animal Farm, which is more a commentary about human society. Beastars also falls into that category, and you can read on for my review of Volume 3. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)
Back Cover Blurb
It’s time for the Meteor Festival, which honors the world’s dinosaur ancestors. While helping to decorate the town, gray wolf Legoshi runs into dwarf rabbit Haru and finds he is still inexorably drawn to her. Is it a crush or bloodlust? Is it her or any small animal? Relationships are complicated for carnivores—their bird classmates lay the eggs they eat, and some desperate herbivores even sell their body parts on the black market. Then, when Bengal tiger Bill is tempted to buy a piece of forbidden meat, he tries to convince Legoshi to join him…
Legoshi’s first time on stage turns into a bloodied brawl with Bill the Tiger, but Louis manages to put a positive spin on the unscripted carnivore fight. His smooth talking defuses what could’ve been a PR nightmare for the Drama Club, but Legoshi’s left to ponder why he snapped in the first place. Haru is at the center of his confounding emotions, so he seeks her out.
Unlike their previous encounters, this one is simply hilarious. First because it’s timed as Haru’s fending off a mean girl attack. There’s something immensely satisfying about a victim telling off her bullies while they’re unable to retaliate. Second is the contrast between Haru’s and Legoshi’s outward behavior at the cafeteria and the frantic thoughts bubbling in their brains. It’s similar to shy teens struggling to manage a conversation with the opposite sex but with an additional level of agitation due to their herbivore/carnivore differences.
The story then breaks from the main arc for a single-chapter interlude about a hen student. An approved source of protein for carnivore students is eggs, and Legom shows us how the system works. I’d wondered how birds felt about providing eggs for consumption, and Legom gives her personal perspective about her part-time job.
Then it’s back to Legoshi as he chances upon some first-year herbivores picking on the young female wolf Juno. Turns out he’s not the only gray wolf struggling at Cherrystone. After Legoshi drives the bullies off, the two wolves commiserate on how difficult the school social order is. By the end of the chapter, Juno clearly has a crush on Legoshi.
A romance between the two wolves would be adorable, but love quickly gets shoved aside in favor of bloodlust. Legoshi goes with several carnivore club members to take care of an errand in town, and the students unwittingly stumble upon the black market.
This is our first glimpse of the world beyond the school grounds. The creator modeled it after Ginza, Shibuya, and New York, and it very much looks like a bustling modern city. On the surface, adult herbivores and carnivores live in harmony, but the back alleys tell an uglier story. Bean burgers don’t cut it for all carnivores, and according to Bill, the goods of the black market are what keeps carnivore urges at bay.
We’ve seen Bill with his rabbit blood before, so the existence of the market isn’t a shock. What is a shock is the appearance of the “Guardian of the Black Market” and his immediate presumption that Legoshi MUST have killed herbivores. His questionable actions give him a sketchy aura, so when he claims to be a doctor, a psychotherapist, I’m skeptical, especially when he claims to use small-animal porn to evaluate patients. At any rate, it’s clear that this society is a lot more broken than it appears on the surface, and Legoshi is by no means the only one struggling with the instincts in his blood.
Extras include story thus far, cast of characters, character design notes, bonus comics, and the creator’s afterword.
Legoshi and Haru meet again, and this time they manage to start something resembling a relationship. It’s a lot like teenagers trying to interact with the opposite sex for the first time with the added complication of the whole carnivore/herbivore dynamic. Then that dynamic intensifies for Legoshi when he encounters the goods of the black market. It is an unsettling portrait of what happens when carnivores go bad, and makes you wonder how things between Legoshi and Haru will end up.
First published at The Fandom Post.