Beastars Season 1 got me back into reading manga because, when it ended, I needed to know what happened next. This led me to regularly review the individual manga volumes by mangaka Paru Itagaki that the Netflix Original Anime is based on. Animated by Studio Orange, hot off their success with another Netflix hit, Godzilla: Singular Point, Beastars Season 2 keeps the characters in high school but thrusts them into violent and darker situations. Opening by contextualizing them as children, the season dives into the larger questions around the coexistence of herbivores with carnivores — using the series leads, Legoshi and Louis to make its point.
Last season ended with Louis going missing, Legoshi saving Haru from the Shishigumi and unsure of their confessions, and Tem’s murder still unsolved. Beastars Season 2 pushes forward and focuses on Lous and Legoshi traveling down very different paths that send them in different ways. For Louis’ part, he’s now the leader of the Shishigumi, an organized crime syndicate made entirely of lions. He eats meat, abandons his adoptive father, and frequents both the Black Market and a strip club. He’s pursuing a future that puts him on top of carnivores and keeps him from ever becoming prey again. This is not because he has the protection from carnivores, but because he has become one of them. Or, in some ways, better than them. Legoshi, on the other hand, is even more committed to becoming a protector of herbivores. He frequents the Black Market for other reasons, training with the panda Gohin, pushing his body to starvation, shedding his fur, and training to become someone who can stop all devourings. Louis is exposed to the world and accepts it. Legoshi remains naive but guided by a sense of justice.
Where Beastars Season 2 showcases training and the murky connections between herbivores and carnivores, it also settles into a new genre: noir. From the jump, the season begins with Legoshi tracking down Tem’s killer. Equipped with a jazz score, twists, and detective work, Legoshi easily embodies the obsession with noir detective stories in a soulful way. In fact, the sharp pivot in tone from Season 1 is both striking and a testament to the themes that the series is exploring. While this section of the manga is breathtaking, how studio Orange adapted it is even more so. To hear the phenomenal voice work of Jonah Scott and Griffin Puatu, as Legoshi and Louis respectively in the English dub, you can feel the somber atmosphere, the tension around their identities, and their internal conflict of being drawn both to each other and to other species that they shouldn’t.
To be honest, Beastars as an anime feels almost like you’re engaging in an entirely different property from the manga. This isn’t because of deviations from the source material, but because the art style is so drastically different than Itagaki’s pulpy artwork. The depth that animation allows the story to showcase is also on display, particularly in moments where senses like sight and smell come into play. The animation studio has found a balance of style that uses CGI animation for characters and 2D for backgrounds that feels unique and works for the story.
In moments where the narrative is pushed by sensory exploration, the anime adds a level of detail not possible in the static pages of the manga, making this series a must-watch for fans even if they already know how events will play out. Additionally, while there are slight pacing issues that keep Beastars Season 2 from being perfect, it makes up for that in visuals. But that’s not where it ends. Itagaki’s artwork in the fight sequences are dynamic, and studio Orange brings them faithfully to life while adding elements that make them even more outstanding.
Beastars Season 2 blends slice-of-life, action, fantasy, and mystery into a near-perfect story that doesn’t rely on the novelty of anthropomorphic animals. This is an anime about character growth, strife, and the push to become someone you’re not supposed to be, striving towards a goal you don’t know you’ll achieve. Legoshi pushes forward to become a guardian. Louis strives to be a predator. They both seek power in different ways that help the story run along two different but similar paths. While romance isn’t the center of this story (although I dare you to walk out of this not shipping Legoshi and Louis), and may throw some for a loop, Beastars Season 2 tops the first season in nearly every way. And as someone who has been reviewing the manga, Season 3 — if greenlit — stands to be even better.
Beastars Season 2 is available in the US exclusively on Netflix.
Beastars Season 2
- Rating - 9.5/109.5/10
Beatsars Season 2 blends slice-of-life, action, fantasy, and mystery into a near-perfect story that doesn’t rely on the novelty of anthropomorphic animals.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.