TL;DR – Beastars season 2 delves into unveiling who murdered Tem the alpaca, and how Legoshi the wolf seeks to achieve justice while navigating his own identity as a carnivore and his feelings for Haru the rabbit. Life is complicated no matter where you are on the food chain.
Review (warning: spoilers)
The first season of Beastars began with the bloody murder of a student (Tem) at Cherryton Academy. This was largely then put aside for twelve episodes and focused more on the relationships between Legoshi (the wolf), Haru (the rabbit) and Louis (the red deer). It was very much an examination on what it would be like to live anthropomorphic lives as a herbivore or carnivore, and the constant battle of one’s own animalistic instincts as either predator or prey.
It’s tough enough going through those teenage years and puberty without also dealing with the urge to devour or be devoured by your classmates…
Season 2 focuses on revealing the murderer and Legoshi’s desire for justice, and I feel picks up the pace much better than the initial season. As with real life, the decisions the main characters make demonstrate that nothing is ever truly black or white.
Unlike season 1 where the relationship between Legoshi and Haru was explored in depth, this season sees the lens turn to Legoshi and Louis.
The events that unfold once the murderer is known leads to a collision course that I expected would end in blood and violence. I felt the impact of each episode wanting to know what fate lay in store for each character, and the anime ramps up the tension demanding I watch the next episode immediately. In this way, I found season 2 far more gripping.
However, while there was blood and violence, this did not lead to death. In this way, Beastars delves far deeper into what it means to be a carnivore or herbivore (or indeed how it reflects on being human) by showing how strength can come from sacrifice, and understanding can be achieved from forgiveness.
For many anime watchers who enjoy shows like Dragon Ball, My Hero Academia, and Naruto, they will likely find themselves puzzled by the events that unfold in the final episodes. There is a stop-start with the action scenes which some will find strange, but Beastars is not about powering up for the sake of defeating evil (even though Legoshi does indeed go through a power up phase). As I wrote above, nothing is ever truly black or white, nor is it clearly good or evil.
In the end the murderer does go to jail, but he is left with a sense of understanding of what he has done and hope that he can change his ways. Likewise Legoshi and Louis both come to their own understanding and acceptance of what it means to be carnivore and herbivore respectively.
Again, the adult characters are all on the periphery. The only adult characters of note are Gohin (a giant panda) that trains Legoshi and Ibuki (a lion) that acts as a sort of father figure to Louis. It still bothered me that the adults are otherwise nowhere to be seen and the students are left to figure out their own way.
Nevertheless, season 2 builds on the first season in admirable fashion. The animation is consistently stunning and the plot, while odd and at times perplexing, gets you thinking about the bigger questions of life, love and friendships.
7.5 out of 10.