BEASTARS episode 12 rounds out the end of the Meteor Festival arc, as well as the first season of Studio Orange’s anime adaptation as a whole. It picks up on the horrifying situation that marked the end of last week’s episode before moving things back to Cherryton Academy. But even back in the comparatively idyllic embrace of school life, things aren’t about to settle down just yet as Juno makes a big play for Legosi’s heart. Thank the heavens that season two is on the horizon, because Paru Itagaki’s story is just getting started…
In terms of adaptation, this episode is quite flagrant with the amount of material it cuts and the amount of changes it makes from Paru Itagaki’s original manga. These range from smaller segments that were considered either implied by the narrative or otherwise unnecessary for the overall advancement of the story, such as the scene where Legosi and Haru arrive back at the festival after their eventful night at the end of chapter 44, to bigger changes in the grand scheme of things, such as shifting the entire location of Juno’s final ‘victory’ against Haru from a stage suspended up in the air to a more traditional one that requires less leaps of the imagination.
For the most part, BEASTARS episode 12 is all the better for these changes. They mean that we get through more material more efficiently (a whopping four chapters), along with firming up the original story, which has always been a little lacking in focus and wandering in direction. But what does worry me is how many mentions of Louis are cut in this episode – sure, we get some throwaway lines and cursory images, such as of the school newspaper, but it’s hardly as obvious as it was in the original manga that Louis – the honor student of Cherryton – has seemingly disappeared into thin air. Given that this is a major plot thread heading into the next arc and into season two, there is the possibility that some viewers may become confused or disoriented since it comes because since this situation wasn’t overtly signalled by the anime adaptation.
BEASTARS Episode 12: Looking Back, Looking Forward
Nevertheless, that doesn’t take much away from what truly is a fantastic final episode. Anime-only viewers will no doubt rejoice at seeing Legosi and Haru finally admit their attraction to each other, recoil at Juno’s aggressive fightback, and scratch their heads at the tantalizing cliffhanger. While this may be the finale, the story is far from over.
But on a more series-wide level, proper credit must be given to Studio Orange for being able to stick the landing on an effective, poignant season finale. Not only does the episode reintroduces and recontextualize some previous lasting conflicts and plot threads, such as the battle for Legosi’s heart and the issue of cross-species relationships, but great effort has been taken to show us how far we’ve come since episode one. The sequence where Legosi chases Haru up a set of stairs, trying to confess to her, mirrors the more horrific, distinctively darker inciting incident of the entire series, and it’s hard to believe that the reclusive, socially awkward grey wolf that was our protagonist not three months ago is the same animal that looks back at Jack towards the end of BEASTARS episode 12, his gaze full of self-confidence and hope for the future.
Yet, if the scene at the very end of BEASTARS episode 12 is anything to go by, then the future is going to be anything but. I’ll refrain from explaining the significance of such a scene for fear of spoiling anime-only viewers, but I will say that it signals the next arc in the series that, in turn, addresses a very old plot thread that hasn’t been touched for a good while now.
However, what I can talk about is the fate of Louis, whose disappearance after the end of episode eleven will, quite obviously, be a major narrative element going forward. Again, I won’t say the specifics for fear of spoilers, but let’s just say that some of the anguish from his dark past is going to find an unexpected expression. BEASTARS episode 12 tries its best to signal this fact going into season two, but too many of its past adaptational choices hamper its ability to do so, plus the fact that so many Louis-citing instances from the original manga were cut from this episode – including a lengthy scene between Bill and Aoba in chapter 48 that can be glimpsed during the concluding montage. As stated, this has me worried about the pertinence of such a recurring narrative going forward.
A Tribute to Studio Orange
Although much of the uncertainty heading into season two may lie at the feet of Studio Orange, it’s hardly enough to besmirch their record on the series thus far. Aside from adaptation, their animation and cinematography work has always been excellent and, in this sense, BEASTARS episode 12 is no exception. The good stuff starts at the very beginning, where charcoal black title cards are used to dramatically signal Legosi’s internal thoughts about the impossibility of a relationship with Haru, and their choice of lighting in the scene where Juno calls Legosi to the stage makes the moment that much more dramatic and impactful.
The grueling nature of anime production can, however, be felt. While Legosi is being scolded in the school infirmary, the rough 2D animation of the nurse contrasts greatly with the more consistent 3D model used for Juno in the background. No doubt the use of more traditional animation during this scene sounded appealing as it would be better able to represent the diversity of emotion on the nurse’s face, but reality clearly had other ideas. Another element that stuck out on a production level is the Drama Club’s dance for the Meteor Festival, which not only looks a little stiff in motion but doesn’t make much sense; arms and legs seemingly raised at random with no sense of rhythm. As a result, this makes sympathizing with the approving murmurs of the audience a little hard for the viewer.
But all of that isn’t enough to take away from Orange’s record on the show and, indeed, elements of the production other than animation stand to pick up the slack during this episode – such as Satoru Kousaki’s excellent soundtrack (now available for streaming) which heightens the comedic nature of the scene where Juno corners Haru. Because just as no man is an island, anime production is a team effort, and almost everyone over at Orange has done their absolute best with the production of this series – directors, producers, animators, compositors, and riggers alike.
Seeing the studio go from a tertiary production company to a bonafide hit generator in recent years has been heartening to see – and not least because 3D animation is so vilified in some corners of the anime community. There’s a genuine feeling of passion for the medium and the artistry of 3D among the staff, which finds its reflection in the (mostly) excellent work on BEASTARS episode 12 and, indeed, the series as a whole.
You can watch BEASTARS episode 12 via Netflix (Japan only).