BNA or Brand New Animal is an original twelve episode anime that was produced by Studio Trigger. The same studio behind Kill la Kill and the fantastic Promare. This was a show that I was excited to watch as a result of the studio that was behind its creation, however my excitement for the show was slightly dampened as a result of hearing that it would be released through Netflix worldwide. Which means that there is a good chance that one would have to wait at least half a year from the time the show is airing in order to actually see it if you are living outside of Japan, which is the case I found myself in.
The story takes place in a world where there is a certain section of the world’s population that is made up of beastmen, who are both beast and human, and can switch between the two at will. Our lead character is Michiru who is a Tanuki. She is a rarity in this world as she is one of the only people in the world that used to be human, and is now a beastman. Our secondary lead is Shirou, who is a beastman that is a wolf and the protector of Anima City.
In watching the show I found that there were more than a few themes that were related to the recently aired, and fantastic Beastars. Both scripts for the two shows were written by Higuchi Nanami. With the inclusion of humans in this narrative the issues that were brought up in Beastars are not only prevalent in BNA but are amplified to have a wider context, where we see not only the prejudice between beastmen and humans, but also beastmen and beastmen.
From a narrative perspective, the story progresses well, with information being continuously drip fed, allowing the world, politics and social standing of the various characters and communities to be expanded and explored. What is really interesting is the individual philosophies of the characters being brought out of them so that they could be explored in detail, by in turn pitting conflicting ideologies. This creates both drama between the characters and simultaneously an in depth discussion on race relations as a whole. This is what I feel the show handles really well. The race relations, showing a variety of extremes and in betweens. Some fighting against it, some profiting from it, and some orchestrating it. It shows the multiple facets that are involved when it comes to the race discussion rather than the superficial, and surface level discussions that one usually sees in the media. The fact that animals are used makes the exploration that much safer, and palatable to digest. This allows individuals of various ages to participate in the conversation, rather than a group of people above a certain age. To conclude this paragraph, the ideal that the show ends with is optimistic, and hopeful.
The characters are wonderfully written. They all have a depth to them that makes them easy to empathize with, and they all carry with them an ideal that is related to the central narrative. Despite this, I do think that the villain was incredibly obvious, even by Trigger standards. Though thankfully they do not linger on the twists for too long and simply gets on with the narrative. In addition I found at times that Michiru was behaving in a way that the narrative needed to make something happen rather than the character that was developed, growing a sense of frustration when she does something that anyone would be able to see is the obviously wrong thing to do. My two favourite characters were Shirou and the Mayor of Anima City. They were written as moderate and extreme, much like how Magneto and Professor X were, much like how they were based on Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. Only unlike in the X-Men franchise, the two are working together, to protect their kin in the way each knows best. From a purely entertainment perspective, I absolutely loved the baseball team. There were times they reminded me of the body improvement club from Mob Psycho 100, and as a result were incredible endearing in how earnest they were.
From a visual standpoint the show is a quintessential Trigger anime. A lot of bright colours, expressive characters, unique character designs, simple yet efficient backgrounds, and immaculate movement from characters that really pull you into the narrative. The music holds up just as well, and there are swells where all aspects of the narrative came together beautifully, the narrative, characters, visuals, and music, to conclude in incredibly emotional moments that bring tears to the eyes.
This is a show that I highly recommend you watch, and it is available to stream on Netflix. It is currently only available in Japan so if you do not want to wait for the worldwide release, a VPN would be advantageous.