I first learned of Beastars after it won the prestigious Manga Taisho award in 2018. The Manga Taisho award is the highest award a new manga series can get in Japan. The titles it beat? The Promised Neverland and Made In Abyss; that’s some stiff competition. Now I’m finally able to read this high school thriller about anthropomorphic animals. Does it stack up? Boy, does it ever!
Beastars is set in a world where carnivores and herbivores co-exist in a modern society. Meat is outlawed, so carnivores eat veggie-burgers and the like instead. The story is set in Cherryton Academy, a boarding school for both plant and meat eaters. Sure, carnivores and herbivores live in separate dorms but everything's fine. It’s fine.
Until an herbivore student is murdered.
No one knows anything about the killer besides that they were a carnivore. Who did it and why? Could it be our protagonist, the wolf Legoshi?
If you’re expecting a mystery, there’s no detective work done in this volume. Instead, we get to learn the souls of the characters. With everyone on edge thanks to the murder, we get to see their true selves. This discovery is the true propeller for the compelling drama.
This volume is an emotional thrill-ride for readers. The authors says the series is, “An animal manga that is a human drama,” and that’s a very apt description. The drama is very real and parallels the real world with engrossing accuracy. Carnivores and herbivores are burdened with society’s stereotypes. They often deal with that burden by lashing out at each other. Kind and awkward Legoshi may look like a big bad, but he’s the kindest soul. There’s even a conflict where different rabbit breeds can’t date each other so that they can have “pure-bred couples.”
The writing cuts to the bone on the themes it explores, all with heightened suspense. You are constantly on edge, not knowing if the characters are going to give into their primal instincts. The story can only work if the characters are animals, which shows how well the author is using the concept.
The art style is a plus to me. People have a perception of what manga can look like, and Beastars shreds that away. No giant-pupils here (unless it makes sense, like rabbits). It being black and white is also a plus in that it often creates suspense with shadows. It’s a great book to give your manga-hating/curious friends.
Beastars is easily one of the best manga that has come out this year, and fighting with Emanon for my Manga of the Year. 5/5, must-read, whatever rating I have to give it so you will read this book.
At a high school where the students are literally divided into predators and prey, it’s personal relationships that maintain the fragile peace. Who among them is a Beastar—an academic and social role model destined to become a leader in a society naturally rife with mistrust? Last night at Cherryton Academy, an herbivore student was killed and eaten. Among the members of the drama club, the herbivores’ suspicions naturally turn to their carnivore classmates… The prime suspect? Legosi, a large wolf. But he wouldn’t hurt a fly—or would he? And will dwarf rabbit Haru bring out the beast in him? Or are his feelings for her…something else?Add to CartLearn More