Studio TRIGGER is a rare force in the animation world. Their productions always feature a grand effort from personalities so strong that their individual work is often immediately recognized by hardcore fans while still contributing to a complete product. It’s this element that has made them such a favorite among so many different people from animators to anime fans and beyond. Their latest work, BNA: Brand New Animal, is no different.
Now I may be reading too much into things, but one of the stand-out elements of BNA for me was how each of the core characters really had their own perspective on the world. From Michiru’s lack of understanding of beastmen at the start of the series to Ogami’s distrust of humanity to Mayor Rose’s trust but desire to protect beastman kind. Although Michiru is very much the main character, all of the perspectives come into contact with one another throughout different points of the series, sometimes in conflict and other times in ways that compliment. Ultimately this idea of different perspectives has a huge bearing on the latter half of the series and creates a very satisfying ending narrative (I won’t spoil it for you, suffice to say that the last few episodes are a rollercoaster).
This idea of the character’s perspectives meeting throughout the series got me thinking about the development of the show itself. In the different interviews we’ve conducted during our feature month for the series a recurring theme was how everyone worked together in creating the final product, and how much everyone ultimately influenced each other in making the show in different ways. Combined with that the fact that series concept artist Genice Chan is from Canada and this is her first time working with TRIGGER, you immediately understand that sense of different styles & viewpoints coming together. I think this sense of collaboration and trust is what truly makes BNA pay off in the end.
A lot of very interesting and brilliantly executed design choices play out in the course of the series. The use of color, the designs of the different characters, and the scope & depth of Anima City as a location. All of these things were touched by multiple people with Genice’s original concepts influenced by the original imageboard & Yoh Yoshinari’s feedback, and characters being drawn by Genice and Yoshinari, with final polish from Yusuke Yoshigaki. From an animation standpoint there are different scenes throughout the series where you can feel the influence of past TRIGGER anime, something that doesn’t seem too surprising when you realize that Studio TRIGGER mainstays Hiroyuki Imaishi & Sushio both contributed at different points of the series. All of these elements create a perfect storm of design & execution, resulting in a true feast for the eyes.
The writing as well was touched by multiple people, which no doubt creates the natural feeling conversations and progression delivered throughout. Series writer Kazuki Nakashima mentioned specifically receiving input from Naoko Tsutsumi, Nanami Higuchi and Kimiko Ueno to develop the story, which gave a lot of Michiru & Nazuna’s interactions an authentic feeling. Having three women contribute their voices also gave the series a sincere feeling of female empowerment on top of the overlying theme of prejudice & understanding. The end result is a story developed over 12 episodes that feels jam-packed, but not in the kind of way that would overwhelm the viewer or have a negative impact as a whole. The conflicts feel like they have real weight, and character relationships have a dynamic to them that will have you wanting to see how they play out. None of the core characters really feel one dimensional, despite having clear defining traits that inform their interactions (at least from the beginning).
Considering all of the different elements that came together for BNA, the only thing where I feel disappointed in any way is that the series ends in 12 episodes. It’s not that the series needs more exposition because they do a wonderful job of using the first half to really make you care about all of the different beastmen & the world of Anima City. On the contrary, I wish they would have made it longer because the world and the characters feel so alive and I just want to watch them interact more. The last half of the series moves rather quickly to build to its conclusion, and this results in fewer scenes of the world just existing in the way that things did in the first half. They make up for this by delivering a gripping plot, complete with a few unexpected developments.
Ultimately, I don’t think this series could have turned out the way it did under any other circumstances. Having so many different creative minds working in harmony and contributing to this world delivered a fully realized product that I think anyone would be hard-pressed to not enjoy.