In a world of anthropomorphic animals where herbivores and carnivores go to school together, there are bound to be issues. While everyone in this land is supposed to be a vegetarian (the carnivores eat things like beans and eggs for protein), the Beastars manga opens with a carnivore seemingly killing and eating an alpaca student at Cherryton Academy.
No one knows who did the killing, and the students are nervous and wary. Herbivores look at carnivores suspiciously, and the carnivores don’t like being presumed guilty. They’re still trying to put on a play that the murdered alpaca wanted to be a part of, and the play is about the Grim Reaper. The students are also all aware of the honor of receiving the status of a Beastar. A Beastar is their “hero, a school leader who transcends all the mistrust and discrimination that runs rife in this world. After graduating, Beastars become world leaders as professional athletes, artists, politicians and more.”
Legosi, a gray wolf named in honor of Bela Lugosi, is one of the carnivores under suspicion, even though he’s not the right personality for this crime. Partway through the book he makes acquaintance with Haru, a dwarf rabbit who was bullied by other students. They should be enemies, but there’s something going on between them . . .
The Beastars manga debuted in 2017 and has done successfully enough that an anime adaptation will be released in Japan later this year. The manga has won the Manga Taisho Award, the New Creator Prize in the 22nd Annual Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize, and Best Shonen Manga at Kodansha’s 42nd annual Manga Awards. It’s different and offbeat, with some very dark feelings and emotions juxtaposed against cute animal characters. The first volume is just setting things up, and because this manga is already a little unusual, it opens itself to many possible directions.
Story & Art: Paru Itagaki
Publisher: VIZ Media
Danica Davidson, along with Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya, is the author of Manga Art for Intermediates. In addition to showing how to draw manga character types in detail, the book describes how professional Japanese manga creators work, including common techniques and what drawing utensils they use.