BEASTARS episode 3 picks right back up in the middle of Legosi and Haru’s sexual encounter of miscommunication that rounded off last week’s episode, which doesn’t end up working out very well for either of them. That encounter, however, awakens something in Legosi as he ponders what the true nature of his feelings for Haru. Meanwhile, the Drama Club’s production of Adler celebrates its grand opening, but even a stellar performance from Louis isn’t enough to overshadow his prophetic collapse at the end – signaling a big change to come in the power dynamics of Cherryton Academy.
BEASTARS Episode 3: Rhythm and Realignment
The structure of this week’s BEASTARS episode 3 is particularly interesting. If previous weeks have been about trimming the fat to focus up the bloated source material, then this week is all about the realignment of key story beats in the name of focus.
One of our first examples of this comes at the very beginning of the episode. The reason why the anteater that accompanied Legosi to the Gardening Club ran away once he saw Haru was left out of last week’s episode, and I never thought that it would make a comeback. We already got a fairly good explanation of how notorious Haru is among the Cherryton students with an anime-original scene back in episode 1, after all.
Nevertheless, I understand why Studio Orange has chosen to bring this scene forward to episode 3. In much the same way as episode 2, it provides a hook for the viewer and reminds them of what happened last week in a subtle way, before giving way to the new developments in BEASTARS episode 3 – namely, the sexual encounter between Haru and Legosi.
In fact, if we look at the trio of scenes that open this episode, we can see that they are actually linked by their subject matter (ie. Haru’s sexual promiscuity) as well as their attitudes towards Legosi. In an excellent piece of narrative and thematic rhythm, both Haru and the anteater call Legosi a ‘strange one (hen na yatsu)’ – underscoring Legosi’s strangely placid nature as a powerful carnivore.
Our second example that realignment and careful shuffling of the original manga is the order of the day in BEASTARS episode 3 is the fact that Studio Orange moves the ‘habitat day’ scene, where Legosi joins his fellow wolves to bask in the moonlight, much further forward.
In the original manga, Legosi first goes to the habitat room with other members of his species and then attends the ceremony where Louis is given the Cherryton Award, is interrogated about why he’s in the Drama Club in the first place, and then ends up in a somewhat violent confrontation with the tortured Louis.
While the placement of the ‘habitat day’ scene in the original manga wasn’t particularly bad, it did always feel a little out of place given how little it seems to contribute to the overall narrative. It’s an interesting insight into how the world of BEASTARS works, but it’s hardly an efficient use of the reader’s time.
BEASTARS episode 3, however, uses this scene to its full potential as its placement after all of the Louis-focused scenes puts clearly into focus the fact that Legosi is changing rapidly due to his affection for Haru, which will become essential as the power dynamic of Cherryton Academy shifts when Louis is taken out of action due to his injury.
BEASTARS Episode 3: Movement and Expression
Speaking of Louis’ fall at the end of this episode, I was really impressed in BEASTARS episode 3 with how well Studio Orange has managed to capture the latent potential of Paru Itagaki’s art and transform it into animation in an impressive, yet faithful way.
The way we see Louis’ collapse at the end of the play from a point-of-view shot inside his Adler mask is slightly strange in the original manga, as we don’t get the same sense of movement that we do from an actual POV shot in cinematography.
In taking this shot and clearly transmitting Itagaki’s cinematic aim by way of direct adaptation, however, Studio Orange is able to realize the full creative potential of this visual device that allows us to experience first-hand the tragic hubris of Louis as a character.
Again, this moment in BEASTARS episode 3 is just another testament to how well Studio Orange has understood the appeal and essence of the original source material. In one moment, they’re able to identify better ways to stage the story of the original and end up diverting quite wildly as a result, but in other moments, they are able to identify the latent cinematic potential in Itagaki’s panels and do it justice in a more direct adaptation.
Another great example of this is the scene where the editor of the school newspaper is berating his team for not getting a picture of Louis for the front page that has his face in full view. As he puts it, the readers want to see those alluring big eyes that have seduced many young female animals over the years.
The mouse moves with a ferocity and agitation that perfectly matches his annoyed and exasperated dialogue, all of which is inferred from the still image of the mouse from the original manga.
If we return all the way back to the beginning of BEASTARS episode 3, we’ll also find another example of how well Studio Orange have communicated the latent movement and expression of the original manga in animated form in the scene where Legosi runs away from Haru, who just tried to come onto him because of his own lack of communication skills.
Legosi places a blanket around Haru’s shoulders in a kind gesture, before nervously scarpering out the door of the garden shed, slamming it shut on his tail in the process.
The way that Legosi jumps up in the air before landing and sinking even lower than before out of shame and embarrassment is hilarious, with such emotions only being captured thanks to the potential of 3D animation, but, again, it’s incredible to see that Orange have been able to infer this from the panel as it is in the original manga – showing just how engaged they are with Paru Itagaki’s inventive story.
Play Me that Sweet Furry Jazz
While we’re on the subject of production, BEASTARS episode 3 is also a testament to the excellent job that composer Satoru Kousaki is doing with both the original soundtrack and supervising insert songs.
In terms of the original soundtrack, we’ve already discussed how its antiquated, jazzy mood perfectly matches the aesthetic of the series, but it is during episode 3 that we get to see more of a melancholy side to the arrangements.
It’s during the scene where Legosi runs away from Haru and she is left alone in the shed with her probing thoughts that a more inquisitive track plays, utilizing short flute arrangements and a low tenor brass undertone that perfectly matches the confusing, yet slightly sad mood of the scene.
Later in the episode, we also get a full-blown insert song with some melancholy vocals as Legosi ponders his feelings for Haru in the moonlight of the habitat room. At first, I wasn’t sure if this song was really necessary – the scene isn’t particularly important in the original manga, after – but then I realized that Orange had changed the order, and thus the context of this scene to make it more instrumental in terms of showcasing Legosi’s character development. Kousaki’s decision is, therefore, totally valid and works pretty well.
The good news is that we won’t have to wait long until we can get our hands on that gorgeous soundtrack, either. It was announced just after the premiere of BEASTARS episode 3 that the original soundtrack will be going on sale this December, for just 2800 yen. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
But wait! We haven’t talked about the ending, yet. That’s right, BEASTARS episode 3 has a different ending from episode 2, changing from YURiKA’s ‘Le zoo’ to ‘Sleeping Instincts (Nemureru Honnou),’ also by YURiKA.
Regarding the different endings, YURiKA explained via Twitter that ‘Sleeping Instincts’ explores a different side of the world of BEASTARS, namely the more feral and violent side, and will be played alongside ‘Le zoo’ and other ending themes yet to come at different points in the story.
Changing ending themes isn’t exactly essential, but it’s a welcome move from Studio Orange and their musical collaborators that both underscores the duality of this animalistic world and their clear dedication to making the best adaptation of the source material possible. And don’t worry – that awesome opening isn’t going to change any time soon.
You can watch BEASTARS episode 3 via Netflix. Again, it’s Japan-only for the minute – Itagaki’s intervention doesn’t seem to have done much on that front – but I’m sure that it’ll be available in the west sometime soon.