BEASTARS episode 2 sees Legosi struggling with the repercussions of his actions in episode 1, as he becomes aware of the terrifying potential of his repressed primal, predatory instincts. Louis the red deer, on the other hand, is set on a painful path as he tries to keep up appearances as the leader of the Drama Club and the star of Cherryton Academy whilst struggling with a painful leg injury. Haru then unknowingly comes face to face with her assailant, Legosi, in an encounter that quickly turns out to be something more than meets the eye…
Puppets Galore on the ‘Wild Side’
But before we dive into all that, we need to talk about that gorgeous OP.
Studio Orange crammed so much material into episode 1 that they didn’t have enough time to air the OP last week, but that only made the surprise even sweeter once we saw the sequence in this week’s BEASTARS episode 2.
The OP has been gorgeously hand-crafted through the use of puppets, which gives the sequence a unique, antiquated feeling that beautifully matches the jazzy soundscape of ‘Wild Side’ by ALI. The characters’ furry nature also matches the fuzzy texture of the puppets perfectly.
As if using puppets wasn’t enough, Studio Orange also went the extra mile in ensuring that the OP cram in a bunch of poignant symbolism to foreshadow what’s to come. Obviously, Legosi’s transformation over the course of the OP from pursuing predator to happy dance partner, then back to gory carnivore right at the end represents his own inner struggle that’s already quite obvious, but there’s also an interesting visual featuring Louis that will become significant in later episodes. I won’t spoil anything, I promise.
We also get to see the ending sequence for BEASTARS for the first time in episode 2, and while it’s also pretty good, it’s hardly as exciting as the OP. I enjoy the visuals and laid-back tone of ‘Le zoo’ by YURiKA, however.
BEASTARS Episode 2: Structure
Returning to the episode itself, Studio Orange continues with their smart adaptational choices that were evident in the structure of episode 1. The changes for episode 2 are certainly less drastic, but no less effective.
The episode starts off with the beginning of chapter 6, where Legosi doesn’t want to get out of bed, before jumping back to chapter 5 to recount the rest of Haru and Legosi’s first fateful meeting.
This small change proves effective as it provides a hook for the viewer to stay interested throughout BEASTARS episode 2, as we wonder why Legosi is so depressed and then what might come of the emotions aroused by the rest of his meeting with Haru.
Episode 2 then continues on adapting the rest of chapter 6, chapter 7 and chapter 8 rather faithfully, only cutting out a short explanation as to why the anteater who accompanied Legosi to the Gardening Club ran away because this was already explained back in episode 1 with an anime-original scene.
Speaking of anime-original content, there was one scene in BEASTARS episode 2 that stood out to me in particular in terms of demonstrating how engaged the team over at Studio Orange are with the original source material.
About halfway through the episode, Louis is struggling with his leg injury backstage during a break in rehearsals, attempting to hide the fact from the rest of the club. The Drama Club leader then calls everybody to go once more from the top and Louis stands, shifting from pain to pride in a beautiful piece of character animation that only 3D animation could allow for.
His powerful silhouette then fades into Legosi’s silhouette, mirroring the connection between the two characters that will become more significant later on. It’s a great piece of animation and cinematography that really takes the flawed nature of the source material to new heights.
Another impressive scene comes at the end of BEASTARS episode 2, where Legosi is spending time with Haru in the Gardening Club. While Orange’s direction here does take many cues from the original manga, they’ve adapted the mechanics of Legosi’s inner monologue to be more visually stimulating by having the scene literally play out inside Legosi’s head, accompanied by his nervous rambling.
This monologue also shows off the sheer talent of Kobayashi Chikahiro, who is voicing Legosi and was one of the first to hint that BEASTARS’ OP might be a little something special.
Finally, just a quick word on availability. BEASTARS is currently streaming on Netflix, but none of the episodes, including episode 2, are available outside of Japan right now.
Just the other day, original author Paru Itagaki expressed her surprise that the series was Japan-only and that she would ‘do her best’ to ensure that the series would be available overseas someday. Let’s hope that the intervention of Itagaki can get Netflix to abandon its destructive binge-watching model for weekly airing anime so that everyone can get a slice of the BEASTARS pie.