Story & Art by Paru Itagaki
English Adaptation by Annette Roman
Touch-Up Art & Lettering by Susan Daigle-Leach
Cover & Interior Design by Yukiko Whitley
Edited by Annette Roman
BEASTARS is action-packed in Volumes 5 and 6! Haru has been kidnapped by the dangerous Shishigumi organization. With no one coming to her aid, Legoshi teams up with Gohin to save Haru before she is devoured by the carnivore threat.
At first glance, this rescue storyline feels unexpected for the series. While BEASTARS has had physical conflicts, it’s by no mean an action series. That said, the events fit thematically in the larger narrative and address a crucial struggle: Legoshi’s fight against his carnivore instincts. Legoshi wants to face the Shishigumi, but he’s hesitant to tap into the power that will allow him to do so. Legoshi continually questions his role as a carnivore and his position in the world, repressing his natural instincts. Through rescuing Haru, Legoshi realizes what his power represents and how he can choose to use it. Legoshi fears that carnivores and herbivores can’t understand each other, but if he can use his power as a carnivore to protect his loved ones, he can live with purpose. Legoshi’s struggle helps him find a newfound resolve that will drive him towards a better future.
Haru is unfortunately left in a damsel position for the majority of Volume 5, but she is still given some standout moments. Following Haru’s capture, it’s revealed that the leader of the Shishigumi wishes to eat Haru in her most pristine condition. Despite her ostracization from her peers, Haru has generally exuded confidence and pride, but she is now forced into a position of vulnerability. Haru must question whether she will accept a quick death or try to fight back. It places Haru in a new kind of conflict that we haven’t seen before, revealing her fears and worries. Like Legoshi, Haru is facing her own battle against the Shishigumi, one where her will is put to the test.
In the aftermath, there is some surprising development in Haru and Legoshi’s relationship. A lot of the tension between the two fades, leaving behind a deeper sense of trust. Legoshi’s confession about his first encounter with Haru also lifts the shadow prevailing over their relationship. It’s interesting to see these events happen relatively early into the manga’s run, but this also allows for new conflicts to emerge. Despite Haru and Legoshi’s deepened relationship, Haru’s instincts prevent them from having sex. While this is depicted humorously, the scene ponders whether carnivores and herbivores are capable of being more than predator and prey. Haru and Legoshi may be able to look past their differences, but can they fight against nature itself?
Louis’ journey through these two volumes is shocking to say the least. While he is initially adamant on saving Haru from the Shishigumi, Louis is blackmailed by the mayor to keep the incident quiet. Louis had aspired to high status to show his strength as a herbivore, but he’s come to realize the corruption within that world. This serves as a crucial turning point for Louis, abandoning his social obligations and going on a sacrificial assault against the Shishigumi. While Louis has accepted his own death, a new road is opened up to him: becoming the leader of the Shishigumi. Louis can now control the carnivores he envied and use their power for his own agenda. Louis is walking down a dangerous path, one from which he may not return.
Paru Itagaki’s artwork continues to be beautiful. Since these volumes had a heavier focus on action, it allowed Itagaki to showcase some of her less apparent strengths. Itagaki is particularly skilled during fight scenes, utilizing the unique anatomy of each animal to depict the violent combat. It helps convey the savage nature of the violence, aligning with the carnivorous instincts of the combattants themselves. That said, Itagaki’s usual subtleties still remain. Legoshi and Louis are consistently depicted to be in conflict with their own morals, and this is fully evident in their expressions and mannerisms. BEASTARS is a captivating manga, and Itagaki makes it feel like a unique experience.
BEASTARS continues to be a fantastic series, actively developing its cast while breaking from the norms of its premise. Itagaki has creatively pushed the boundaries of her cast, and the series is headed in a fascinating direction. I’m already craving more!