Of Rabbits and Wolves

Of Rabbits and Wolves

When I started BEASTARS, my first question
was—why animals? It seemed like an otherwise normal school
setting. I mean, we don’t follow a wolf hunting with
its pack, prey in their natural habitat, or really anything animals actually do. Instead they’re mostly… putting on a play? Worrying about tests and school gossip? I came into the show expecting all of the
animal stuff to be window dressing, some minor thing for one-off jokes—or maybe a simple
attempt to separate itself from the pack. It didn’t take long to realize just how
wrong I was. Truthfully, the animal cast is paramount to
the appeal of the show, and is a powerful heuristic in delivering its themes. And I think the best way to show this is through
a book you probably had to read for Introductory English. Of Mice and Men was written by John Steinbeck,
and at a measly one hundred and eight pages it’s a quick read. It stars George Milton and Lennie Small, two
displaced migrant ranch workers looking for jobs during the Great Depression. Now, what the heck does a book written in
the 1930s have to do with BEASTARS? Glad you asked. You didn’t? Well I’ll tell you anyway! Maybe I’m just strange, but Legosi couldn’t
stop reminding me of Lennie. They’re both kind of the embodiment of a
mismatch between demeanor and stature—someone armed with tools for which they have no need. All Lennie wants to do is pet soft things. It’s just unfortunate that his “petting”
often leads to uh, certain death. He’s too strong for his own good, and not
smart enough to make up for it. Likewise, Legosi probably wishes he was anything
but a wolf. A lot of BEASTARS is him feeling ashamed for
something he can’t help—being a carnivore. Just like Lennie, there’s a delicate balance
between how he composes himself mentally versus how his physical traits manifest. And also like Lennie, there are moments where
his primal instinct rears its ugly head. I actually love how the show starts by focusing
on theatre, seeing as acting is inherently about donning a nature that is not your own—something
Legosi struggles with as we progress through the show. However, due to the themes it wishes to present,
Of Mice and Men ends up being sort of contrived. And now, there’s nothing wrong with contrived,
I’m not about to try and take down a seminal piece of literature. But for Lennie to be an effective character,
Steinbeck exaggerates his innocence and defenselessness in order to recruit the reader onto his side
in the short amount of time that he allots. However, Legosi is able to establish the central
theme right off the bat just by simply existing. The very first words spoken are, “That day,
I had a sudden encounter. With a small rabbit, and my own instincts.” Boom, instantly we get it, it’s a story
about Man vs. Self, or rather, Wolf vs. Self. In these quick two sentences, we can imagine
a battle between ones morals and ones inherent nature, much more quickly and effectively
due to the anthropomorphization. Another major theme in Of Mice and Men is
that of weakness—the unfortunate reality that in society—oppression often comes at
the hands of the weak as much as it does from the powerful. In Of Mice and Men, with its silly human characters,
this is shown through the other workers at the ranch. Crooks mercilessly rips apart Lennie’s dream
of owning a farm with George, going as far as sadistically suggesting that George doesn’t
truly care about him. However, we come to understand that this lashing
out is a result of his own crippling loneliness. Soon after, we begin to see all of the people
at the ranch act similarly for similar reasons, moments of cruelty juxtaposed against moments
of vulnerability. Notice how much set up is required for an
arguably simple theme of “the weak tend to prey on the weak.” You need to have at least some knowledge of
race relations, the status of the economy at the time, the dynamic between the workers… BEASTARS handles the same theme, once again,
in the first episode. Let’s take a look. In a
world where herbivores are being literally eaten by carnivores, prey are preying on each
other. Once again, the fact that they’re animals
eliminates the need for elaborate set-up for the pay-off, and instead, more time can be
spent on individual characterization—the theme is inherent within the premise! As a final example of how BEASTARS takes advantage
of its extra time, we can take a look at Louis. He’s almost the perfect foil to Legosi,
someone who wishes to cast aside his nature as prey and instead—refute the notion that
carnivores are intrinsically superior by becoming the Beastar. His raw self-assuredness contrasts against
Legosi’s reluctance to adopt his nature, who considers it a curse more than a blessing. However, over time Legosi becomes more and
more empowered to embrace his nature—balancing it against his goals in order to become a
better version of himself. Meanwhile, Louis is confronted with a moral
dilemma. Haru has been kidnapped, and he’s been asked
to keep quiet about it. Despite doing his best the entire show to
show strength, in his blind desire to erase his past he abandons Haru. As Legosi comes up to him, frantically saying
that they need to do something, he tells a lie to himself. “There’s nothing we can do for her now.” He understands at some level that after all
this time, he is still weak. And it is here that Legosi finally shows that
balance of nature and nurture, showing Louis the inner sense of justice that Legosi has
and he lacks. This dichotomy between balancing your inner
instincts with mental acuity is something that BEASTARS is able to accomplish fantastically
due to its unique choice of cast. There is a baked-in tenseness between predator
and prey that might’ve required elaborate set-up and context with a more traditional
set of characters. Instead we just sort of understand the other
students’ feelings towards Legosi at the beginning of the show, moreso when considering
the tragic incident that starts us off. It accomplishes some of the basic themes in
Of Mice and Men, but in a way that allows it to ambitiously attempt to go further beyond. Thanks for watching, and be sure to like and
subscribe for more content. And there will be more content I promise,
I know I kind of disappeared for a bit. Needless to say, I had to deal with some personal
things, but I’m hopefully back, at least for a while. I apologize for going off the radar out of
nowhere, and promise to be more communicative in the future. I want to also apologize to my patreon supporters. You deserve better than to be held in a state
of ambiguous perpetuity. Thank you to TayrunBG, Georgie Pottay, Lake
Tamer, GreenGreenRedemption, Ahn’im’es’stuck, and Romilloroy for their support. Keep a look out for updates to the reward
tiers. And of course, if anything I said was wrong,
I’m sorry. I must’ve stuttered.

15 thoughts on “Of Rabbits and Wolves

  1. Hey everyone! Sorry I've been gone for so long, I was dealing with some personal things but that's no excuse for complete silence. Bear with me as I settle back into creating content, these first few videos may be rough as I start to remember what everything entails.

  2. I've been holding out on watching it cause the animals make me uncomfortable, but now even you've made a video on it… Might have to watch it now

  3. It is really interesting because in a lot of ways Beastars feels like a story of human drama and human problems acted out by animals. But at the same time, this exact story could not take place in any world but the one it does. Them being animals and the world built through that are integral.

  4. Welcome back! Coming back with a Beastars video is something I heavily appreciate as someone who loves this anime and manga to death.

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