Comics / Manga

Beastars: Volume 1 manga review

By Leroy Douresseaux
July 15, 2019 - 10:10

Beastars Graphic Novel Volume 1 cover image

Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”

Beastars is a manga from creator Paru Itagaki.  It is set in a world of anthropomorphic animals, divided into the carnivores and herbivores.  In this world, eating meat is a felony.  The “Beastar” is a hero who begins as a school leader.  He or she transcends all the mistrust and discrimination that runs life in this world, and then, graduates to become some kind of great public figure who is a world leader.

Beastars, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 7) opens one night at Cherryton Academy, a boarding school for carnivores and herbivores.  Tem, an alpaca and herbivore student, is brutally murdered.  In a school literally divided into predator and prey, a carnivore is assumed to be the perpetrator.  Some eyes direct their gaze at Legoshi, a gray wolf and carnivore student who was Tem's best pal.

Meanwhile, Louis, a red deer from a wealthy and elite family, has ambitions to become a Beastar.  He has the lead in a school production of the play, “Adler,” and hopes that the play, especially his performance, will bring the school closer together.  As friendships maintain a fragile peace, Legoshi begins to mistrust his own feelings and instincts.  Will a fellow student, Haru the dwarf rabbit, be the thing that drives him to let the beast in his soul free?

[This volume includes bonus comics and illustrated text pieces about the design and world of Beastars and about the creative team.]

THE LOWDOWN:  The Beastars manga manages to surprise me.  I had never heard of it, and did not know what to expect.  Now, it looks like Beastars could be a memorable anthropomorphic comic.

Beastars Graphic Novel Volume 1 introduces an intriguing world.  Creator Paru Itagaki finds ways to insert information about this world of talking animals without overwhelming the narrative with factoids and the readers with too much data.  She is slowly revealing the characters personalities, with the exception of Legoshi, Louis, and Haru.  For those three character, Itagaki dives deeply into them, as much of the narrative, at least at this point, revolves around them.

I could take the easy route and say that this is a high school drama that is an allegory about teenagers trying to fit into high school before they have to learn their place in the world.  It is, but only partly.  Actually, I think Beastars is also a timely tale that examines the dynamics of racial and ethnic strife and conflict, both between different groups and within each group's sub-groups.  There is even the hint of class conflict.

So, the first seven chapters of Beastars set an ambitious table for the series.  If upcoming volumes can be as intriguing as this first one, Beastars will be a beast of a graphic novel series.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:   Readers looking for exceptional anthropomorphic comics and manga will definitely want to try the VIZ Signature title, Beastars.

8 out of 10

Rating: 8 /10

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Last Updated: September 2, 2019 - 16:05

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