BEASTARS episode 4 draws the Drama Club arc to a fantastic close as Louis leaves the role of Adler to the fiendish tiger Bill after his symbolic fall from grace in last week’s episode. This time around, it is Legosi who must step up to the plate in a violent clash to ensure both the success of the performance and the sanctity of his ideals – capping off a transformative character arc.
BEASTARS Episode 4: Structure and Adaptation
Out of all of the episodes we’ve seen so far, BEASTARS episode 4 is probably the most faithful to the original manga in terms of structure. It follows Paru Itagaki’s story pretty much beat by beat from the beginning of chapter 13 to the middle of chapter 16, encapsulating the entire ‘Adler’ day two performance.
That doesn’t mean, however, that Studio Orange have stopped themselves from changing some aspects of the original story and adding in new scenes when necessary as part of the process of adaptation. But these changes are, more often than not, made in the name of clarity rather than the type of creative flair that we saw in episodes 1 and 2.
Given the week-long gap between BEASTARS episode 4 and episode 3, the studio has opted to insert two anime original scenes that better set up the context of this episode – the second-day performance of Adler. These come in the form of a scene where the Newspaper Club mouse boss lambasts his team for failing to get a picture of Louis’ face yet again, as well as a scene where feline Louis admirers wonder aloud if he’ll appear on stage once more.
These changes better situate the viewer in the flow of the narrative, as we more clearly know the time and place that the events are occurring in. Consequently, the events are much more presented much more clearly then how they were presented in the original manga, where Itagaki’s narrative seems to lack a sense of clear time progression.
Some other anime-original scenes were also inserted into BEASTARS episode 4 to help the story make more logical sense in animated form. For example, when Legosi sniffs out the rabbit blood on Bill’s person, we get to see and hear him sniff – making the fact that his canine nature is to thank for his astuteness much more obvious. He’s also nervously reading his script in preparation when Bill makes his grand entrance.
Nevertheless, it’s quite clear that Studio Orange was happy to stick by the source material in terms of structure when they were adapting to episode 4. This even leads to moments where the peculiarities of the original manga’s story are replicated in the adaptation process, such as an untelegraphed flashback to tell us how and why Legosi was chosen to act in the play opposite Bill.
Heightened Emotion: The Drama Unfolds
It’s not hard to guess why Studio Orange decided to take this approach for BEASTARS episode 4. Instead of using up the resources and time available to them to reorganize and realign the original material in the name of focus, they’ve instead decided to put more effect into making the episode’s most dramatic scenes that much more effective.
This starts at the very beginning, where Legosi and Bill are practicing for their sword fight in the play, but things quickly turn violent. The camera swings wildly back and forth in tandem with the sword strikes as Chikahiro Kobayashi and Takaaki Torashima positively snarl in their respective roles, making for a scene that’s much, much more dramatic than in the original manga.
Studio Orange doesn’t relent when moving into the latter half of the episode, either, as Legosi’s confrontation with Bill in the washroom over his rabbit blood ‘doping’ is dressed in a literal red visage of rage, and Legosi’s lunges at Bill, fangs bared.
That tension ramps up even further when moving into the climax of BEASTARS episode 4 when Bill and Legosi confront each other atop the stage. Instead of the calm, determined character that appears in the manga, Legosi is positively ferocious in the anime – throwing his sword to the ground and gunning immediately for Bill, smacking him square in the jaw with a punch before pinning him on the ground and raining down a hail of blows.
We get no relief as we move into the denouement of this climax, as Bill cuts open Legosi’s back in an act of quiet tension that will leave Legosi (literally) scarred for the rest of his life. In the manga, this is more of a shocking momentary image, but Studio Orange chooses to drag this scene and it’s building tension much further out in BEASTARS episode 4, as the blood drips steadily down onto the stage.
BEASTARS Episode 4: A Clash of Ideals
While all of these changes are plenty effective on their own, what makes BEASTARS episode 4 particularly special is how keenly it sets up the ideological conflict with the that is about to unfold among the contradictory and chaotic social system that is Cherryton Academy once Louis is out of the picture with the fight between Legosi and Bill – carnivores vs. herbivores, predator vs. prey.
On a textual level, this clash is obvious. Bill is willing to drink rabbit blood and thus consume the flesh of another animal (something which is forbidden in the world of BEASTARS), whereas Legosi is disgusted by the prospect due to his timid nature and blossoming love for Haru.
Nevertheless, it’s through the visuals of this episode that Studio Orange has expertly crafted that we see the true depth of this conflict. Our first taste of this comes in another anime-original scene in BEASTARS episode 4, where we see Bill staring at the skull of the Adler costume for a brief second before the play begins in earnest.
This shows that, while Bill might put on a tough guy act, he actually respects Louis a lot and is struggling with the burden that playing his star role puts on his shoulders.
Bill’s burden is then further stressed when we see how nervous he is on stage while donning the costume of Adler – both because of his acting ability and the rising audible disappointment from the audience that comes when they realize that Louis will not be performing tonight.
Studio Orange extends this scene with Bill in BEASTARS episode 4 from just a handful of panels in the original manga to a full segment where the camera draws close to Bill to capture his nervous sweat, slips of the tongue and inner monologue while he acts out the beginning of the play.
What this tells us is that, while Bill might be physically stronger than Louis and the other herbivores, he’s got nothing on them or him in terms of mental fortitude and self-confidence. You could even say that the very fact that he’s resorting to doping with rabbit blood proves this, and just goes to show how fragile the line can be between herbivore and carnivore, predator and prey in the world of BEASTARS.
On the other hand, we have Legosi. Over the course of the series thus far, he’s been pushed from a status of self-isolation and away from a chronic lack of self-confidence towards a more outspoken, active protagonist as the circumstances in his life begin to change drastically – starting with the murder of his friend, Tem, and then, of course, his meeting with Haru.
BEASTARS episode 4 sees the encapsulation of that arc. Opposite Bill, Legosi appears as a ghostly figure, clad in bandages like as if he had just risen from the dead in the pursuit of an aim yet to be fulfilled in life, but one that carries itself with much more self-righteousness and justice that someone like Bill ever could hope to obtain.
Legosi’s emergence as a figure of justice, a carnivore fighting for the herbivores, a predator that seeks to emancipate the prey, is further solidified when Louis arrives to save the day at the end of the episode.
The trappings of the production of Adler, most notably the costumes and props, had firmly set up Louis as a sort of knight-like figure ever since the very beginning. But it is when he disarms Bill with his sword and offers a hand to Legosi that we begin to realize that the two animals are one of a kind – those striving to defy the circumstances of their birth and the species-centric ideology that figures such as Bill foolishly cling to.
Of course, this is also heavily choreographed at the very end of BEASTARS episode 4 when Louis says to Legosi that he is ‘right (tadashii)’. But all of this beautifully realized subtextual storytelling through visuals goes far beyond anything that was achieved in the original manga, and Studio Orange should get major credit for all of this.
Another Another Ending?
Before we go, we have to address the elephant in the room – yes, there is another ending for the BEASTARS anime. Why? I don’t quite know.
This one’s called ‘Marble’ and it’s by YURiKA yet again. I suppose that the visuals for this song do focus more on the developing comradeship between Louis and Legosi, so that could be why they decided to use for this episode especially. Nevertheless, YURiKA herself has confirmed that this song will be the last for the moment.
We’re also leaving behind the Drama Club arc as a whole with the end of BEASTARS episode 4. While there’s still a little bit more to go of chapter 16, I’d imagine that Studio Orange will now be trying their best to get on to the Meteor Festival arc as fast as possible. Not only is it a lot better than the first arc, but it’ll be a lot easier to adapt given that Itagaki was a lot more focused on her writing that time around. I’ll also be looking forward to seeing how their adaptation process changes over the coming weeks.
You can watch BEASTARS episode 4 via Netflix (Japan only).