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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Tone of series is quite dark, but messages of self-control and empathy shine through as we're made to understand motivations of both carnivores and herbivores, and as the carnivores publicly deny themselves meat (yet some privately indulge).
Positive Role Models
Iffiest relationship is between Haru and Legoshi, which contains elements of sex and violence and may send negative messages to viewers, especially teens. Legoshi does his level best to be kind and nonviolent, even as he struggles with his carnivorous urges. Haru is a complicated character who is despised by others, uses sex to get male characters to at least pay attention to her and give her affection. Louis is arrogant and pushy, but also has empathy for Legoshi and other carnivores. Some sexist messages: Carnivores are almost entirely big, strong male characters, herbivores are small, weak, usually female. Bullies mock Haru, while male characters say unflattering things about her sexuality behind her back, like that she's "more dangerous" than carnivorous animals.
Violence & Scariness
Relationship between two characters contains elements of sex and violence that carries with it echoes of rape, sexual assault, domestic violence. Vibe of show is dark and noirish, with shadows, moody music, visuals that may scare young kids, like predatory animals who stalk others and show their sharp teeth. As show opens, a murder occurs in which an alpaca begs for his life as a classmate stalks and ultimately kills him; we see carnivore's mouth with teeth opening but don't see herbivore getting bitten. A wolf scratches another animal's arms and we see blood as words "I'll eat you, I'll eat you" repeat in the wolf's mind. Meat-eating is forbidden in this society, but some do it surreptitiously.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexual content is surprisingly strong, exemplified by a scene in which Haru thinks Legoshi wants sex and removes her school uniform; she's seen at length in bra and panties (she has what appears to be human breasts). She sinks to her knees asking him "how far down" his cream-colored fur stretches, and starts to remove his pants, saying "You can be rough with me, I can handle it." Male classmates discuss Haru derisively, saying she's "more dangerous than any carnivorous beast," and agreeing that each of them has had sex with her. Haru also says she was a "plaything for all kinds of boys."
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Language is infrequent, but expect to hear "dammit" and "bastard," as well as "sucks," and "pissed off."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Beastars is a Japanese anime series based on the manga of the same name. The original is Japanese-language, but the show is also dubbed into English. The overall tone of the show is dark and mature, with sexual and violent content that's not suitable for young viewers. One iffy plotline involves a relationship between a wolf and a rabbit with an attraction that oscillates between violent and sexual; the rabbit seems to find this dangerous combination compelling, and the wolf is barely keeping himself from killing and devouring her, an uncomfortable, to say the least, message to imagine teens absorbing (though Twilight was more or less built on the same premise). In one scene, the wolf pounces on the rabbit and holds her for long moments while "I'll eat you" runs repeatedly through his mind, and he scratches her arm until it bleeds. A murder opens the series, though the viewer doesn't see the animal being attacked, just blood and the sharp teeth of the predator attacking. A female character takes off her school dress and is seen at length in a bra and panties, telling a male character "You can be rough with me, I can handle it." She also sinks to her knees and begins taking off his pants. Male characters discuss a female classmate's sexuality, implying they're all having sex with her and that she's lesser-than because of it. Almost all of the carnivores are physically large and male, while the vast majority of the herbivore characters are small and female. Messages of self-control and empathy do shine through as we understand (and relate to) the dilemma characters are in with their dietary preferences.
Is It Any Good?
Luminous and enchanting, this series takes anime world-building to new, noirish heights -- and it's definitely not for kids, revolving as it does around barely leashed lusts both sexual and sensory. When we meet him, Legoshi is just about at the end of his rope, control-wise: "Hated and feared, that's the story of my life," he says. As we learn in a voice-over, he's spent his whole life trying to deny his appetites, keeping his head down and going along to get along. Even in Cherryton's drama club, he sticks to backstage work and spends his energy supporting Louis (Griffin Puatu), the red deer rich-kid who gets all the best roles and the admiration of the girls at school. But when he has a fateful encounter with Haru, his long-quashed hunger for blood and flesh comes roaring to the surface in a beautiful sequence that visualizes his carnivorous impulses as a spark that lights up his neural pathways like a wick of a stick of dynamite.
Even scarier for Haru and Cherryton's other herbivorous students, Legoshi's craving for meat is echoed in their world's society. Eating meat is a serious affront to morality -- and yet a Black Market exists outside the school, where carnivores can surreptitiously buy meat sourced from hospitals and funeral parlors. Meanwhile, Haru is drawn to this dangerous boy, whose interest sparks her own, though she interprets his fascination with her as sexual, like most of the other male classmates who notice her. It's a dark, creepy, and yet compelling direction, but the heavy vibe is lightened up with glowing visuals in the sophisticated color palette of a Wes Anderson movie, and cliffhanger endings in each episode that practically beg for a binge. Just don't watch with young or sensitive viewers who see talking animals and think they're in for something sweet and light, because Beastars' complicated messages about sex and violence require a decidedly mature sensibility.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.