With every new Netflix Original Anime, the streaming platform proves itself as being a big player in the anime space. Now, with BNA: Brand New Animal—just known as BNA—Netflix is expanding their line-up yet again with a hyper colored anime from the beloved Studio Trigger. The 12-episode series from director Yoh Yoshinari debuted first on Netflix Japan and recently made its way to the United States. Set in a world where humanoid animals known as beastkin exist, the series follows Michiru Kagemori, a normal human who one day suddenly turns into a tanuki beastkin.
This sudden change leads her to run away and seek refuge in Anima City, a place set up for beastmen to be able to live as themselves in a world that views beastkin as dangerous, and meets a wolf beastkin named Shirou Ogami. Together, they investigate why Michiru became a beastkin while becoming mixed up in even stranger events in the process. From confronting a dominant pharmaceutical company to busting gambling rings and solving the mystery of Michiru’s missing friend, each episode of BNA is able to pull off a monster-of-the-week feel while also connecting to a larger overreaching narrative.
Similar to Netflix’s other furry favorite anime Beastars, BNA uses its humanoid animals to tackle larger themes of intolerance, biomedical ethics, and religion. A human ailed with what she and those helping her begin to call beastmanitis, Michiru walks through the world with two identities. This allows her to be a protagonist that challenges both worlds she lives in and the issues in both. The series uses this dual identity to not only highlight the discrimination faced by beastkins from humans but also to present a path forward for their society. Additionally, as a new beastkin in Anima City, she has to learn about the new society she now fits into which works as a beautiful way weave in exposition and sets up the lore of a new world for viewers as well.
By situating the history of the beastkin within our real-world timeline, the show confronts the problematic history of science by recognizing WWII. This theme of biomedical ethics starts by revealing the beastkin history of being experimented on and follows up to the final act of the season which pits Michiru and Shirou in direct opposition to a pharmaceutical company looking to “cure” all beastkin, not just Michiru.
With all this said, these issues are handled in a way that is appropriate for nearly all ages. Given the cute animation style used for not only Michiru but the rest of the beastkin, this show would be easy for viewers of any age to watch, especially with the use of bright pinks and blues. That said, while this isn’t suitable for all viewers, the way BNA handles these large issues is both overt enough for adults to not feel talked down to while being subtle enough to open up conversations between younger viewers and their parents.
But perhaps the most important theme of BNA is being a teenage girl just trying to learn how to love herself and that makes this a good series for a teen/pre-teen demographic. This is a powerful message that is driven home by the switch Michiru experiences midway through the season.
At the start of BNA, Michiru isn’t comfortable in her new tanuki skin. Having left for Anima City to find a place to call home, she quickly realizes that her inability to morph back into her human form makes her stick out even in the place that is supposed to be her sanctuary. Because of this, she makes it her mission to return to her human self, to cure her difference. But, after she experiences the harm people cause to beastkin first hand, she realizes that it’s not only okay to accept who she is but that she can find strength and happiness in her new life. Her difference, as her story shows, is her power and it’s important to not only her individual story but the broader world around her.
Moving away from the narrative to keep from approaching large spoilers, the creativity and beauty of Studio Trigger’s animation has to be called out. From a cyberpunk color palette and a world to fit it, BNA offers both action-packed fight sequences and adorable moments of softness to balance the series. While some of the action sequences showcase some creative and massive monsters with dynamic violence that never hits gratuitous, the series is also filled with character designs that would make great plushies, especially for the smaller beastkin.
Overall, BNA: Brand New Animal is a wonderful, dramatic, fast, and powerful story all rolled into phenomenal animation. Truthfully, this series comes with the highest recommendation, and, at only 12 episodes with less than 30-minutes apiece, it’s an easy binge for your weekend.
BNA: Brand New Animal is available to stream exclusively on Netflix in the United States.
BNA: Brand New Animal
BNA: Brand New Animal is wonderful, dramatic, fast, and a powerful story all rolled into phenomenal animation.