「ぶっ壊れてる扇風機」 (Bukkoware teru senpuuki)
As I’ve noted many times (if the shoe fits) Beastars is a genuinely deep series. It’s patently clear that Itakagi Paru is a remarkably smart writer, and that this series is the product of some serious thinking about existence. What’s also remarkable is how it combines cynicism and even misanthropy with genuine sentimentality. It reminds me of a Randy Newman album in that sense – two-thirds is the sardonic and coldly humorous dissection of life and the fools we share it with, and the rest is the childlike optimism of a hopeless romantic.
It’s been a very reliable pattern that the episodes spotlighting Haru tend to be the emotionally resonant ones for me, but this week was a notable exception. We’ve seen none of Haru for two episodes, or Louis either last week – though he plays a major role here. But it seems as if Beastars reached a kind of nadir on the pessimism scale with the Tao-Kibi incident, and it seemed as if Paru was increasingly going to take the story into darker and darker corners. But surprisingly the last two eps have been some of the most idealistic of the series where the carnivore-herbivore dynamic was concerned.
Legosi’s quest is, in a sense, a monument to his own idealism. Gouhin obviously senses this, and gently tries to steer his young charge through the rapids of a world too dark and misguided for him to handle alone. He urges Legosi to find allies, but Legosi can only think of one – and he seems very far out of reach. The acts Legosi commits in assisting Gouhin are a form of justice, but they seem more symbolic than truly impactful. The Black Market always goes forward, grinding the innocent in its gears all the while. And no matter how Louis tries to rationalize it, the Shishigumi are part of the problem (like their trade in elephant tusks, which I’m sure is not an accidental choice by Itagaki).
Meanwhile, Tao visiting Kibi in the hospital is one of the most moving scenes in the series so far. Tao has been suspended from school, and he’s obviously reluctant to go anywhere near Kibi’s hospital room, but he forces himself. There are a lot of questions being asked here, not least of which whether if Tao is genuinely contrite (which I think he clearly is) does it even matter after what he did? But the fact it, Kibi finds it in himself to forgive him. And I think the messaging here is that if he can do that after what he’s been through – and indeed have empathy for the person who put him through it – most of us should feel ashamed for clinging to our petty grievances.
The reunion between Legosi and Louis, long in coming, certainly starts out in rough fashion. Wrongly suspected of being the one stealing the gang’s illegal ivory, Legosi gets roughed up by the pride as Louis looks on, shocked but keeping his poker face. Legosi is smart enough not to blow Louis’ cover, but he can’t keep his tail from wagging even as he’s getting his ass kicked, he’s so thrilled to see Louis-sempai. Whether Louis is deserving of the adoration Legosi holds for him is debatable, but it’s so authentically Legosi. He’s an incredibly pure soul, utterly genuine, and that someone like him can exist in this series’ universe somehow gives you a sense of hope for its world as a whole.
Louis, however, has no wish to let Legosi drag him back into the light. He believes his role is to do the dirty work and die young, and Legosi is the one to keep his hands clean and become the hero. I’m glad the misunderstanding between these two wasn’t milked for unnecessary drama – Louis knows Legosi too well to really believe the things he initially thought about him. Legosi hugging Louis when they were finally alone was utterly in-character, and he’s willing to put everything on the line to let Louis know what’s at-stake back at Cherryton. But he really ought to have a little more faith in himself at this point.
Make no mistake, Riz is a big problem literally and figuratively, but Legosi seems to me to be the one to handle it. Riz openly baits Legosi in front of the others, and Legosi allows it to happen – it’s only an intervention by Pina of all people that defuses an incident that was making Legosi look very bad. But Riz’ facade is just that, a facade, and he doesn’t have the restraint to sit idly by knowing there are two students out there who have the power to ruin him if they figure out how. He’ll force a confrontation whether Legosi is ready for it or not, and – ominously – I could even see him going after Pina as a means of killing two
herbivores birds with one stone.