「灰色の警察犬とりあえず走ってる」 (Haiiro no keisatsu inu toriaezu hashitteru)
“The Grey Police Hound Runs”
Beastars, to me, seems to be a series forever existing in dualities. The conventional narrative runs alongside the allegorical side almost like parallel tracks, ones where the lines occasionally cross. The intellectual and emotional connections are quite distinct too, and with the first season it took quite a bit longer for the latter to spark with me than the former. That’s been true to me with the second as well to an extent, but the loop has started to close more quickly. And that process certainly accelerated this week.
There’s a growing sense that whatever the symbolism behind it, the world inside this story is rotten from the inside out, the idyll of Cherryton School a thin veneer which the ugliness sometimes breaks through in violent fashion. As little as we know about the beastar concept – and we now know that Cherryton hasn’t named one in five years, and that the principal dislikes the idea altogether – there’s no reason to think it too isn’t something foul and broken. And that may be a major reason why Louis is where he is now.
One such intrusion was the murder of Tem, the spectre of which broke the school’s sense of security in a way it’s clearly never recovered from. Legosi’s stalker reveals himself, and it’s a giant rattlesnake named Rokume (played with superb menace by Kujira). Rokume (the security guard – he has a hat to prove it) professes to be entranced by Legosi – his power, his perversity, his purity – and generally to be envious of limbed creatures. I’m not sure what Rokume is supposed to represent (those parallel tracks again) but he’s a fascinating enigma. Legosi, for his part, is completely unfazed by this bizarre apparition, even pausing their conversation to take his laundry out of the washing machine. Legosi is so exceptional and so normal at the same time, which is what makes him so fascinating.
Rokume’s endgame here is to get Legosi to investigate Tem’s murder, still unsolved after a year. I’m quite certain he has an ulterior motive, and the Occam’s Razor answer here may be what Beastars has been hinting at from the start – that it was Legosi himself who killed and devoured Tem. He takes the case, heading off to try and get some info from Tem’s best friend Carl (the angry llamas threaten to spit on him), and in the process of seeking information taking down the boxing kangaroo that’s been stealing girls’ gym clothes. The payoff to this thread – Rokume telling Legosi “the clue lies within you” – leaves no doubt as to how it wants to be interpreted.
My instinct is that this is too obvious to be anything but a misdirection, and I’ll be kind of disappointed if it turns out to be true. But I suspect it’s going to be a while before we find out, and in the meantime the camera shifts to Louis. The meaning behind the “forgive me” bouquet he left at the site of Tem’s murder could be interpreted several ways. Given the Louis has joined the lion gang and is now effectively a mobster, that could be the reason – either way, it’s a fascinating turn in the story.
Louis’ declaration that the real divide in the animal world isn’t between carnivores and herbivores but rather winners and losers strikes me as one he has to make to preserve his own self-image. A deer leading a gang of lions is an odd development to say the least, but it’s classic Louis. He’s a spiritual omnivore who sees the entire world as his banquet, and refuses to let a matter of biology get in his way. Will he turn out to be right, or will biology assert itself and cut him down in the end – and what will be the message Itagaki-sensei is trying to send, whichever it is?