「Anima-City」

Episode 12 of BNA races to finish the anime on a high note, but ends up rushing too quickly into its conclusion that the plot threads that are played around with throughout the series are either neglected or ignored.

One surprise that’s introduced by the finale is that Alan is actually an ancient beastman who uses humans to eliminate hybrid beastmen. In this universe, beastmen are like bananas in that it’s hard to find a definitive banana because of how many varieties in the world and Alan just happens to be one of the last existing bananas who wants to use his power to make sure that no other banana varieties can exist in the world.

To boil it all down, Alan’s dream of racial purity within beastmen makes him disgusted that all existing beastmen have since become hybrids that don’t have the celestial godliness of those born centuries in the past. Because of this, he’s spent generations trying to further the racial tension between humans and beastmen until the latter is no more.

It’s a lot to process for the final episode to re-evaluate the hierarchy of beastmen knowing that, over the years, the definition of what a beastman is has changed dramatically, and no one really knows about any beastmen history before Ginrou. Not to mention the trump card of Alan being a beastman this whole time, albeit a super special one, is a twist that doesn’t factor in how long he’s been able to keep his identity completely secret while interacting with humans behind-the-scenes for centuries in his on-going pursuit to eradicate beastmen.

The fatal flaw about how much was focused on Sylvasta Pharmaceuticals is how much everything surrounding it is treated as an afterthought if it doesn’t directly resolve the fight with Alan. I already talked enough about the mafia, but even Nazuna ends up going with the flow. She becomes the idol she always wanted to be by the end, but all it took for her to change her mind about throwing Michiru under the bus constantly is realizing that her sudden decision not to out herself backfired at the behest of the cult leader.

And any hints of the cult leader being a creepy pervert also apparently never came to fruition until he suddenly started going the creepy fanboy route to avoid having her help calm down the enraged beastmen. Her image as a human impersonating a beloved deity this whole time was also immediately disregarded once an image of her helping a beastmen child became viral and got her a dream job. No need for self-reflection or anything when the solution comes to you handed in a silver platter.

Final Impressions
As enthusiastic as I was to start the show given how much of a positive impression that Little Witch Academia left with me, Brand New Animal fails to follow through on a majority of the plot points that are introduced in the series. Characters that had pivotal roles in one episode end up blurring into the background later on, and if you aren’t integral to Alan’s side of the story, you can kiss your relevance goodbye.

One key issue the anime had was that it didn’t have the time to follow the same formula as Little Witch Academia by focusing on world-building for a large chunk of the series before creating adversity in the plot. LWA had time to do it because the first half was used to get Akko accustomed to trying to make it through her witchcraft lessons before they fleshed out Ursula’s troublesome past in the second half.

With only 12 episodes to boot, time is of the essence to get your world-building out of the way quickly if you want to tell a story about a secret police force that discovers a conspiracy to eradicate beastmen. Details were peppered about earlier episodes, but the focus is taken so far away from these moments that it never knows how to strike a better balance between the adversaries it does introduce.

It’s still a visually impressive anime with an important message on how societal systems create the conditions required to create inequality, but because much of this is rooted in the anime back when the mafia was considered a nefarious figure, this message is trampled all over once we find out that Alan envisioned himself as a puppet master for the total destruction of beastmen. What happens when Alan is gone? Is there really going to be a power vacuum when the mafia already had its stranglehold on the city long before he was relevant to the story? Isn’t Anima City still going to have human trafficking, recreational gambling, wanton murder, and rampant theft happening under both Shirou and the Mayor’s watch because they kept a very selective eye on which of the Don’s crimes should be investigated? Does he still want to instigate war and strife between humans and beastmen after all of this, or is the Don suddenly going to try keeping the peace for as long as he can?

It’s always disappointing when you leave a series knowing that it had the potential to be far more exciting than it turned out to be. The animation and music are spot-on and it already had a template with stories like Beastars and Zootopia that it draws inspiration from. It just ended up getting lost in its own ambition and by the time it came down to creating stakes for its characters to face, they go all-in on Alan’s role in creating the serum that turned Nazuna and Michiru into beastmen but also creating a serum to turn beastmen into humans. It’s a shame that this isn’t a more positive outcome for BNA, but the last quarter of the show deflated much of the enthusiasm I had to see it all come into fruition. Hopefully, Netflix will be able to give this anime a decent home and, at the very least, do Trigger more justice by improving from their lackluster approach to LWA.

6 Comments

  1. I’m very thankful that you do these summaries and analyses. I honestly just skip most shows, read the spoilers here, and feel all the better for it, haha. I’m glad you mentioned the music, though. That’s one thing I miss, and I’ll be sure to check out the BNA soundtrack.

    Now, to rewatch Ping Pong The Animation.

    Dude
  2. This series should have gotten more episodes. Why they felt 12 was enough is beyond me. I am really sick of 12 episode canines especially silly for original titles not based on manga or novels.

    Tayo
  3. Pingback: BNA – 12 (END) | Steamedworld News

  4. Pretty sure I didn’t watch the same show. The BNA I watched had impressively tight writing; the writers knew exactly what story they were telling and didn’t waste time in the telling.
    The story was Michiru’s story and everything we learned, we learned as we needed to understand her story. Everything else can either be inferred or dismissed.

    Example: could Melissa and Jem’s story been shown? Don’t they have something interesting to tell in terms of how they got there and what they experienced among humans? Well, sure, but that would have taken the focus off of their happy, current lives in the city. Instead of dragging us into their painful past, we can infer their suffering from the story of the baseball coach and understand that everyone in the city who is over a certain age has similar stories.

    It’s also not at all weird that Ginrou just suddenly shows up 1000 years ago but nobody had heard of it before; that’s because Shirou = Ginrou. There is no deity granting Shirou power. The entire beastmen faith is rooted simply on witness accounts of Shirou doing his thing for the past 1000 years getting passed down and amplified throughout the centuries. That’s it. Their faith saying nothing about morality, creation, death, good living, ect. It only says “when beastmen are in trouble, the white wolf comes to save them” That’s just Shirou. We’re given the formula on how to make an immortal, powerful beastman capable of a full transformation, but, yeah, no answers on why that works. It’s DNA until it’s just magic.

    Humans and beastmen lived alongside each other at various times but the various Ginrou and historical tellings suggest that, at some point after Ginrou’s emergence, beastmen intentionally tried to hide themselves from humans until the modern day expansion made that impossible.

    I’ve gotten the sense that Nina was missed but I don’t know how she could re-enter the story. Girl’s grounded for life or at least until the finale. Flip certainly wouldn’t be ok with her hanging out with Michiru, either, so I really don’t know how Nina can reasonably be brought back within this series. If a sequel would be made, sure, but Nina’s purpose was brilliantly multi-faceted and brief: open the door back to human for Michiru, provide a different, younger person’s opinion on humans to contrast Shirou’s, and present a different perspective from Jackie (Nina: rich, secure, comfortable, lacking any freedom at all while Jackie: poor, insecure, miserably meager, total freedom to even commit petty crimes). In Nina we see the hope that the city’s younger generation is more curious inhey humans than resentful. The young hold hope for peaceful relations with humans.

    Youth like Nina are almost certainly why Nazuna gets to skate by as a city idol.
    This wasn’t Nazuna’s story but she had some good moments: such as having mocked Michiru in countless episodes for being simpleminded, direct, and naive yet who was the one who’d been flattered into the biggest, least-powerful puppet? The poor girl was defiantly emotionally abused and, yeah, Boris was creepy as hell from the first ep he appeared in. The guy mooned over the young girl he’d “saved” “trained” and bossed around. He was serious ick and his finale appearance shouldn’t have been a surprise.

    Also not a surprise, Shirou = Ginrou. Rewatching the show was fun just to see how many times the show told us this (I picked up on about half of them the 1st go round). Another not-surprise: Alan. All the talk about Alan smelling like a human was a flag.

    So the flaws of the show: since I mentioned him: Alan. WTF was his motivation? I didn’t get that he was “ancient” from the story. Another immortal wolf, yeah, but his behavior was much more young pup. Easy to put down once understood. If they had simply dropped in a line or two about Alan needing to achieve something big to justify his promotion to the head of the family (and assumed subsequent immortality), then I could back off this point.
    Flaw 2: easy, honest clues. Like, super easy this show spilled it’s surprises early so even though it was tough to see what direction the ride was going, the major turns were all within sight. There were no WOW surprises from the reveals.
    Flaw 3: clothes. How the F do clothes work? Alan’s outfit disintegrates but he’s got it back on moments later while Michiru has to take off her jacket if she wants to fly. Ok.
    Not a flaw: Michiru had some super cringey moments. Some of her rages were silly, but, she’s a teenage girl and nobody seemed to mind them. She also had the terrible habit of intentionally throwing herself into the hands of stronger, meaner enemies which is unfortunate but the show ultimately justified by the end of ep 11. If she hadn’t been as reckless and determined as she is, the show wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable; her being her is what gave the show energy. I also didn’t get the sense that she was flip flopping all over the place; she telegraphed hesitancy and skepticism in the correct directions but still chose to trust those she felt kindness for.
    Shirou also treated her pretty badly in the beginning; things didn’t turn around until the baseball episode, by which point she had gotten used to being on the defensive.
    But despite all that, I liked both characters.

    Ultimately, I agree that some of the story elements wrapped up in an overly convenient way but it was done in a way which tied it all together. The beginning is looped into the end and everything we saw had a purpose for being shown. Perhaps it feels too slick and tidy but it’s a very welcome contrast to the messiness of the other 2 shows I watched this season. I’d rate this one well above those and the is the only one I re-watched. The music was also quite good and I really like the more western visual and animation style with this story content.

    As for any feelings of things left open, BNA has gotten a light novel prequel and I understand a manga is in the works so it looks like the writers intend to give this a franchise treatment. This isn’t intended to be the only story in this world.

    Danny
    1. Yeah, totally forgot to mention how all of the beastman animals we see are real animals except for Michiru and Nazuna who are japanese myth beasts: tanuki and kitsune.
      Each girl and her role in the story neatly fits within their respective myth beasts.

      FWIW, nobody in-world comments on tanukis being anything but real.

      Danny

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