「光を浴びたらシルエットの違いを笑おう」 (Hikari o Abitara Shiruetto no Chigai o Waraō)
“Laughing at the Shadows We Cast”
Beastars is just different. It doesn’t fit with any template I can apply to it, which I think is the main reason I find it so hard to figure out (and occasionally to connect with). There are weirder anime, certainly. More surreal, more random, much sillier. But Beastars marches to its own drummer. The narrative bobs and weaves like vintage Muhammad Ali, resulting in a lack of flow I believe is very intentional. It’s groaning with big ideas, which often seem to be in conflict with each other even when you think you’ve figured them out. On every level, this series is close to singular.
I don’t know that I would even have been able to tell you who Sheila (or Shiira) was by name before this week, though we’ve seen her around the drama club plenty. Peach is a more familiar figure, a seemingly fearless and outgoing sheep who’s currently fully engaged in the trend of herbivore-carnivore selfies posted on “Beastbook”. This seems to have sprung up in defiance of the school’s upcoming segregationist policies, which – despite the tragedies that have occurred there – the drama club is especially opposed to. Sheila puts up the appearances of unity, but despises being a symbol. She decides to invite Peach on what turns out to be a very memorable shopping trip.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who flinched when Sheila grabbed Peach’s arm, but the worst that happens here is the awkwardness between the two girls in their mall-hopping. Sheila notes that evolution has made the herbivores more image-conscious (a very odd and interesting take), but the two start to bond when commiserating over their inherent limitations when it comes to clothing (patterns and spots are as anathema as polyester and wool). As is so often the case it’s fascinating to try and guess at just what sort of messaging Itagaki is playing at here.
Juno is a bit of an oddball in quite vehemently (though secretly) believing that segregation is a good thing. To what extent this comes down to her jealousy over Haru and Legosi is a matter of debate, but more broadly she feels that carnivores are “inferior” to herbivores. She rather ominously trails Haru to the gardening club, but (for now at least) their interaction is another exploration of female relationships in this mythology. Haru is eager for the opportunity to spend time with another girl, an extreme rarity for her, and Juno views her primarily in light of how she appears to Legosi.
Haru calling Louis (at Juno’s behest) is another fairly ominous development, even if he rejects the call with extreme prejudice. These two not being over each other is something which has significant implications for the larger story, and I think we can assume if Louis is dreaming about Haru he’s not over her. Despite Ibuki’s rather touching attempts to protect him Louis is quite sanguine about the world he now inhabits (we see – but mostly hear – a gruesome example of what sort of world it is). But his ties to his past are only frayed, not broken, that much is clear.
As for Legosi, his involvement in the episode consists of a passage where Gouhin continues to train him up in the ways of the post-carnivore. “Meat addiction” (again, fascinating to try and get inside Itagaki’s brain here) is a kind of a scared straight program, and Gouhin tells Legosi that the weakening of his jaws is a sign that he’s overcome his. The irony here, of course, is that pandas’ jaws evolved to become much stronger after they (mostly) switched from meat to vegetation, because bamboo requires serious chewing. Legosi seems to be narratively setting up to be a symbol of a new post-segregation beast world – but I suspect he still has some very serious challenges ahead of him in that regard (and have a few guesses as to what they are).