In Episode 04 of BNA, we find out Mafia boss Giuliano Flip has a daughter named Nina who ends up endearing herself to Michiru as they are two young girls who want to experience ordinary life as humans. In the process though, what’s uncovered is the origin of beastmen, the symbiotic relationship between crime-fighters and criminals, and how societal progress is still at its very early stages with humanity’s tolerance of other species.
This episode marks a special point in the series as the origins of beastmen were revealed in clear detail for the first time. Their exposure to humanity has been fairly recent as they’ve spent time in hiding up until this point when there had been enough societal strife between humanity and beastmen to warrant Anima City to be created.
But in a move similar to the world of X-Men, there are different factions that clash with one another to embolden the idea that humans and beastmen could never co-exist. Giuliano’s prominence behind-the-scenes is palpable as he continues to operate out in the open. His untouchable nature empowers him to make a number of power moves such as letting Shirou in on his plan of triggering a war between humans and beastmen through organized crime and having one of his men get tied up and dragged into a moving propellor, a la Another to set an example. And because Shirou had already told Michiru that he only waits until it’s the right time to make an arrest, he’s been cooperative in making sure that Giuliano does as he pleases for the time being and agrees to his request to retrieve his daughter Nina.
Speaking of Nina, this episode focuses mainly on her perspective as a dolphin fashion blogger aspiring to integrate into the human world. She acts as a great foil to Michiru as she actively uses outside social media blocked by Anima City to pass herself off as a human social influencer. She wants to break from the walls enclosed on her much like Michiru, but her upbringing as the daughter of a ruthless mafia boss ends up giving her more of a complex towards seeking out some sense of normalcy through how people act. Nina shares the same dilemma as The Little Mermaid’s Ariel in her intense jealousy for how humans and people outside of her family have been able to move freely as they please.
But one thing that Ariel doesn’t encounter as much by forming legs is the racial divide that keeps humans and beastmen at odds with one another. When her enthusiasm shifts her back into her dolphin form, she unearths Pandora’s box by having her human friends try to process her true identity. Unlike the humans that committed hate crimes under the guidance of the mafia or through societal pressure from other prejudiced influences, the human girls at the party opt to go for the route of treating Nina like their new exotic friend. It’s hard not to get uncomfortable vibes from how they only celebrate her to make themselves look noble in front of a larger crowd while being weirded out by Nina’s heritage in private.
The performative tolerance on their becomes all the more toxic when they put her in a saltwater fish tank without oxygen. Out of a general assumption that she’ll just be like any other fish, they cause Michiru to transform back into a beastman to save her from drowning and take her out. The main girl behind the party looks regretful of how it all turned out since her intention was never to haze her, but it would take some reflection on her part to understand how the way the party unfolded would cause them to jump to ignorant and harmful conclusions about beastmen by drawing extreme degrees of attention to the exotic and foreign nature of their friend’s race.
While the episode shines a light on differing degrees of human interaction with beastmen, Michiru’s side of the story is centered around how her access to a jail-broken phone tempts her the forbidden fruit of human social media. The episode ends with her settling into Anima City amicably, but her exposure to beastmen hasn’t tempered her attachment to her previous life as a human. The social media sites she encounters gives her a glimpse of the life she had to leave behind, complete with pictures of all of her old friends and classmates.
The last scene has the most impact on Michiru though as she finds out that, among the birthday wishes she’s received, she finds that her parents still have a cake that they made for her with hopes of her seeing it while she’s gone. There is uncertainty as to whether she responds to the message or if she leaves it be in favor of her new life, but one thing that’s interesting about her side of the story in BNA is how it proposes the complications that come from leaving home when you still have attachments left behind. Is there anything that’s really left behind from your transition from one stage to another or are we able to take anything from the past with us and return to how it used to be at any point in time? Hopefully, the show continues to play with this theme as it starts to investigate the ongoing conflicts between humans and beastmen.