Beastars has been an interesting ride so far, and one that seems to be improving. The first volume, while good, has some structural and setup issues, not to mention some eyebrow-raising moments. The second volume is where the series dives further into the characters’ psychosis and personal struggles, showing that there is a lot going on beneath the hood for them. Where will the third volume take us today? Is it good?
According to the official description from Viz Media:
It’s time for the Meteor Festival, which honors the world’s dinosaur ancestors. While helping to decorate the town, gray wolf Legoshi runs into dwarf rabbit Haru and finds he is still inexorably drawn to her. Is it a crush or bloodlust? Is it her or any small animal? Relationships are complicated for carnivores—their bird classmates lay the eggs they eat, and some desperate herbivores even sell their body parts on the black market. Then, when Bengal tiger Bill is tempted to buy a piece of forbidden meat, he tries to convince Legoshi to join him…
Beastars Vol. 3 is where, in my view, the series really expands. The first two volumes are tighter, focused on the buildup towards the drama club’s big show, and the inner conflicts that are swelling up within Leogshi. The performance is now over, but our wolf’s problems are still not done. And beyond him, the world and its characters are opening up further.
This manga opens up by providing some new points of view and by diving further into its own world beyond the school grounds. With new angles and looks at the series, we get a bit more insight into how different animals feel or react to one another. Herbivores have their own base instincts, like carnivores. With them, it is more about fleeing and getting away from others. With carnivores, we dive further into the mindsets of some with their instincts to eat meat and what it means to them. How some view it as a natural thing, a sign of growing up, or how it can consume and slowly wreck them, destroying their bodies and minds.
Then there is opening up the world and the characters within it. We have plenty of new characters being introduced, or old ones finally getting a proper introduction, expanding the overall cast. The story sees us look past the school grounds and to the city outside and its own issues going on there, like the Black Market and how adult carnivores may deal with their own problems. It really helps open the reader’s eyes more with how the world operates and why the concept of Beastars is a bigger deal in a way. All these elements really feels like we are about to, for the first time, really scratch the surface of this universe.
But beyond the interesting ideas and places the series will go over the coming volumes, the most important aspect of Beastars has been its characters. The third volume continues it very interesting growth for Legoshi. Reading all three volumes back to back, it really feels like he is slowly opening up more and more as a character. Someone who was so reserved, easily pulled around by others, and just openly hating who he was an animal and individual, he does feel more put together. He is better at expressing his feelings, putting his stance on the line and willing to venture out of his comfort zone to explore new possibilities, not knowing if they are really good or bad. With Haru, he really wants to spend more time with her and get to know he, but he can’t tell what that really means to him. Is it instinct? Is it love? Obsession? Is it something else? The stuff between them is just so fascinating to see unfold.
This volume spends a little more time with Haru as she and Legoshi try spending more time together. It doesn’t really explore her too much, but it does seem like the start of her character growth. She’s always felt down or worthless about herself with people constantly mocking her or just using her for their own “needs.” Legoshi is the first person to ever turn her down and just see her as herself, and that seems to have struck a chord with her. She wants to know him a little bit more now as well, despite every fiber of her herbivore being telling her not to get near him. I’m definitely fascinated to see how this connection blooms, though I do think she could use some more standalone chapters focused solely on her thoughts and life.
Most of the supporting cast is put to the side, as the focus here is mostly on Legoshi. Louis dishes out some advice to Legoshi on life and how to feel about himself, while Bill mostly just stays the same jerk, having not learned a single thing about how Legoshi feels about meat and blood. There is a little attention given to a side character named Aoba, an Eagle member of the Drama Club, but it is mostly try to draw some similarities with Legoshi with someone also trying to control their base instincts. It does help to show that Legoshi is not alone in his feelings and mindset, even if that person does have more confidence and belief in who they are.
This volume does introduce us to two brand new characters, Juno the Gray Wolf and Gouhin the Giant Panda. Juno doesn’t make too much of impression, mostly just crushing on our lead after he saves her. Gouhin, on the other hand, makes a bigger impact. A back-alley doctor and psychiatrist, Gouhin takes it upon himself to help carnivores struggling with their predatory instincts. He looks to rehabilitate and free them of it, but he makes no qualms about believing it could be futile and that all carnivores are the same underneath the hood. However, he wants to help regardless, no matter how ugly and hopeless it can be. He is a forceful, intense personality, but he does care about his patients and wants to help if he can. His presence and impact does open the door to truly expanding this world and providing a guiding influence on Legoshi.
There is one bit of the story that I rather liked and hope to see again in the future. For one single chapter, the story switches to a completely new character, a chicken called Legom. It’s all about her side job as an egg layer, making profit from it, and priding herself on producing high quality eggs for people to enjoy. I really enjoyed the chapter, not just because of the character writing was strong and the humor was on point, but because of how it shows life for these animals outside of the carnivore scene. It just helps flesh out this world and gets a bit more into its little details. I really hope the creator does a few more chapters like this in the future.
The artwork for the manga is really coming together now as well. Compared to the start, the art is much cleaner and a bit more refined. The character expressions are better, allowing more subtle emotional ticks in their faces and body language. The shading no longer feels like there are odd smudges, and line work and body proportions are much more consistent. The layouts are still good and easy to follow most of the time, with some great scenes and moments in how things are framed, like Gouhin’s photo room or the entire lunch scene between Legoshi and Haru. It all just comes together very well, making for easily the most unique looking manga on the market.
Is It Good?
Beastars Vol. 3 is opening the door to a wider world for both its characters and the audience. Its characterization is improving as the universe feels more fascinating and deeper than ever. Between its strong writing and great art, Beastars is easily one of the best new series I’ve read this year. If you haven’t tried it, now is the perfect time to jump into this animal kingdom.
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