MANGA REVIEW | "Beast Complex" - Volume Two
BEASTARS may have finished its run, but the stories within this anthropomorphic world continue to be told. Beast Complex, the spinoff series from Paru Itagaki, gives readers the chance to see different perspectives of the worlds and carnivores and herbivores. In its second collection, Itagaki gives the residents of Beast Apartments an opportunity to shine. The end result is a fine mixture of narratives that know how to surprise its readers.
Like the main BEASTARS series, there’s equal comedy, drama, and heart on display in these tales. For laughs, “The Shiba Inu and the Shiba Inu” tells the tale of a cross-dressing dog whose cute looks won’t last long. When a Pomeranian comes in to steal his popularity, the Shiba Inu’s true nature comes out with a literal punch. Thankfully, it turns out there’s money in tough dogs too, leading towards a hopeful future for its character.
“The Chipmunk and the (Mountain Hare)” places a small rodent into the den of one of the world’s greatest writers. However, the writer’s true appearance makes the chipmunk nervous, as it’s the complete opposite of what their writing style is. There’s a lot of tension on display when half of a page is left to write, which results in the pen-wielder using some unethical tactics. But it’s all played for laughs, even if the chipmunk is still in a tizzy over the situation.
Readers get to revisit Legoshi and Haru in “The Wolf and the Rabbit”, where a Coming of Age ceremony is bookended by a wound purification one. It’s here where readers are reminded why Haru and Legoshi make such an endearing pair, thanks to the wolf’s nervousness and the rabbit’s filter-free attitude. However, Legoshi manages to have the upper hand in this chapter, with a gesture that brings Haru to the brink of blushing in public. One hopes that Itagaki allows readers to check in on these two, as their story still has moments left to shine in.
It’s when things are unexpectedly sweet where Beast Complex showcases its biggest chops. “The Pig and the Peacock” could have easily gone down a creepy path, with a swine taxidermist and a peacock police officer building a stranger friendship. When the officer asks the pig to kill and stuff him, the tone of the story goes down a very uncomfortable path. However, the end of the path brings about a genuinely touching moment between the two characters.
Love also builds in “The Crow and the Kangaroo”, with a male bird doing what he can to make a female marsupial comfortable in a safe zone. It leads the two to build a friendship, only to be whisked away into danger. That’s when the kangaroo shows her true strength, and why she might actually be the brawn of this impending relationship. Sadly, the same can’t be said about “The Steller’s Sea Eagle and the Mongolian Gerbil”, which plays off a relationship for convenience and dives into a fear-overcoming narrative that’s been played far too many times.
Volume Two of Beast Complex has plenty of great moments with its characters, despite one story leaving a subpar taste in one’s mouth. Although Itagaki is finished with BEASTARS as a whole, I’m glad that she still has enough stories to tell in this unique world. It took awhile for this second volume to come out, and one is glad to see it won’t be long for the third volume to arrive on our shores. For those who are still craving more tales into the world of BEASTARS, Beast Complex is shaping to be a fine continuation of sorts.
Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media.