MANGA REVIEW | "BEASTARS" - Vols. 16 & 17
Calling the world of BEASTARS complex is an understatement. But then again, the real world is complex too, which is what author Paru Itagaki is conveying here. Even in the animal world, creatures deal with anxieties, worries, and physical and mental anguish. No one knows these pains better than Legoshi, who lost his mother to suicide at the age of 12. Volume Sixteen begins with the conclusion of his chat with her, as he teeters between the realm of life and death.
The conversation between Legoshi and Leanno is deep, as the two talk about the mother’s final days on Earth. They’re drenched in emotion, pain, and deep sorrow. But Legoshi understood what was going on in Leanno’s head, as he feels guilty for not being able to stop her from ending her life. That’s when Leanno offers him the advice that she wish she gave herself: “I want you to live, Legoshi.”
This kickstarts Legoshi’s quest to find the leopard/gazelle hybrid Melon, even though Beastar Yahya “removed him” from the mission. But with the mask of the killer in his possession, Legoshi sniffs out his location, leading him towards the ocean. However, someone is already waiting for him, and he’s brought plenty of friends…
BEASTARS knows how to deliver tension, be it with a face-off between Legoshi and Melon or through Gosha protecting a school from an unexpected attacker. Said tension is elevated due to the mixed species situation, especially when it comes to the villainous Melon. Internally, he’s two separate entities that are constantly in battle, with no way to pull one side off of the other. He wants to kills all of the herbivores, but he also wants to cower from all of the carnivores.
It’s an element to Itagaki’s storytelling that’s at its strongest when there’s a dramatic and comedic balance. On one hand, it’s funny seeing Melon forcibly eat fast food of both herbivores and carnivores, even if both taste like sand to him. However, there’s a sad side to Melon’s internal/external battle, one that pushes him to neither side of the herbivore/carnivore demographic. Even if he looks like he’s laughing when Legoshi has pity on him, there’s a sadness in his eyes that shows otherwise.
Fortunately, there’s a break from the drama that’s found here, as wolf girl Juno is having love issues. She’s fallen for Louis (who also has feelings, but refuses to reveal them), which sends her towards Legoshi for advice. Reluctantly, Legoshi reveals his secret for how he deals with his love for Haru, as their discussions lead the two to fully understand how each feels about their desires. It also leads to a television-broadcasted confession that will easily make any reader laugh their head off!
Volume Sixteen of BEASTARS shows the lengths Legoshi will go to find out the whereabouts and weaknesses of his target. It also demonstrates the complicated feelings many of these characters have when it comes to love, friendship, and even the sense of belonging. Itagaki packs this volume of BEASTARS with plenty of drama, comedy, and even a few surprises. Here’s hoping Legoshi’s not too surprised next time when he comes face-to-face with a certain purebred gang leader!
VOL. 16 RATING:
VOL. 17 REVIEW
Oh how small the world can truly be. It seems like the greatest heroes and villains often find themselves in the others’ turf more often than not. Sometimes it’s by design; other times it’s merely a coincidence. It’s the latter where things tend to get more interesting, and in the case of Legoshi and Melon, the presence of a small white rabbit in both lives where BEASTARS is taking for a very peculiar turn.
But before all of that happens, a plan to take down Melon is needed. Legoshi and the Shishi-gumi decide to team up, but they need a great leader to take the charge. Only Louis fits the bill, and his detective skills bring everyone to a musk cat mob boss. After a very embarrassing demand, everyone finds out where Melon might be, thanks to the hybrid’s college degree.
Unfortunately, that once again leads Haru into danger. Melon winds up teaching at her school, and a kind discussion between the two escalates into another element of danger for the hare. The moment makes Haru yearn to see Legoshi, and after a night filled with passion (not that kind) and laughter, the wolf sets out to take down Melon once and for all. And all of it is captured in a rather funny way.
I honestly can’t remember the last time where BEASTARS had a mostly comedic attitude with its narrative. The way Louis introduces his lion brethren, the act of picking coffee beans out of a musk cat’s dirty business, and even the night Legoshi and Haru have is showcased with a giggle-inducing flare. It all comes to a head with a funny chase sequence in the volume’s final chapter, with author Paru Itagaki recommending a well-appropriate song in its title to play while reading it.
Of course, there’s some tension to be had, especially when it comes to Haru and Melon’s chat together. There’s always a sense a dread whenever Haru finds herself in the company of a dangerous carnivore. What makes Melon all the more dangerous is his mixed breed exterior. Cover his mouth, and he looks like a harmless gazelle. It’s this trait that has helped Melon escape from the police. But Haru’s knows better, as she can sense danger miles away thanks to her unfortunate experience.
Nothing more should be spoiled about BEASTARS’s seventeenth volume. It delivers some big laughs, memorable one-liners, and the right amount of tension. But it also demonstrates just how easy a villain can enter a hero’s world, even if it’s unintentional. Small world as it is, BEASTARS shows that even when the events seem more comedic, the real drama is just around the corner, waiting to bite the reader’s face clean off!
VOL. 17 RATING:
Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media