Beastars is a manga full of metaphors. At first glance, it may look like a simple story about the life of anthropomorphic animals, like the ones from Disney. But if you take the time to actually delve deep into the story, then you'll find a heartwarming tale of coexistence and codependency within a highly diverse world filled with details and nuances similar to what we have in the real world.
But despite having such a great story and so many prestigious accolades, Beastars doesn't seem to have the amount of popularity that it deserves. Thankfully, near the end of its life, Beastars finally received an anime adaptation. And just like many manga before it, the anime managed to pull Beastars into the forefront of the shounen world.
Storywise, the anime is a rather faithful adaptation to the manga. That being said, there are little things that make the anime different from the original material. Here's Beastars: Anime vs Manga.
One of the most glaring differences between the anime and the manga is the artwork. Paru Itagaki-sensei has a very unique art style that makes her manga look rough and simplistic with a sketch-like quality to it. But one look into it and you'll notice that the artwork in the anime is much cleaner and crispier than the manga.
In a sense, Beastars received the same treatment as the anime adaptation of Attack on Titan. That's why if you only watch the anime, you might be surprised with the somewhat sloppy artwork in the manga. But if you only read the manga, then the anime will seem to lose some of its unique and charming characteristics.
Condensed and Rearranged Scenes
In a typical anime fashion, there are numerous scenes in the manga that are condensed and rearranged. Scenes that should take place in different settings are condensed into one, and scenes that are supposed to go in certain sequences are rearranged for much more compact storytelling.
One particular example is the scene where Legosi talks to Gohin for the first time. Both in the manga and in the anime, Gohin asks Legosi questions while he’s still chained up. But after that, in the manga, Gohin unchains Legosi and brings him to a separate room… a room full of photos of broken carnivores.
In the anime, on the other hand, after their brief exchange, Gohin doesn’t unchain Legosi or bring him to any other room. The pictures of the broken carnivores are shown to be in the same room as Legosi all along. And it's just a board full of pictures, instead of a room full of them like in the manga.
The intent of the scene might be the same, but the execution is vastly different. In the manga, there's an anticipation created by moving to a different room, and a big reveal of a room filled with pictures. The anime has none of those things, and that's why that scene is way more impactful in the manga.
Sometimes, the anime decides to stretch certain scenes in order to make them even more impactful, and there are also times when a scene from the manga is cut out of the anime altogether. Since the anime and the manga decided to emphasize different things from time to time, you get a somewhat different impact from reading the manga vs. watching the anime.
Both the manga and the anime have an overall gloomy atmosphere. After all, that's how the main character feels most of the time. But the addition of the soundtrack in the anime really enhances the atmosphere even further. All of those jazz tunes elevate the atmosphere of certain scenes to greater heights.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work. During certain scenes, the soundtrack somehow works against the intended atmosphere. The moment when you should be feeling the tension in the room is wrecked by a slightly upbeat tune. Whereas in the totally silent manga, you'll feel the harsh impact of the scenes deep in your bones.
The previous scene about Legosi and Gohin is a good example of this. You see, the moment Legosi realizes that he is chained up by a big buff panda in the black market is a very tense scene, and their subsequent exchange also touches on some very sensitive and philosophical topics.
And yet the anime decides to use upbeat jazzy tunes for this scene. This incredibly tense moment when Legosi is told that his feelings for Haru are not romantic, but rather just a carnivorous instinct and he might end up devouring her sooner or later is accompanied by upbeat tunes? Why?
The Special Effects
There are little to no special effects in the manga. It prefers to convey the thoughts and feelings of the characters either through expression alone or through metaphorical illustrations. But anime provides an opportunity that is not available to manga - moving special effects.
And for the most part, the anime uses special effects to enhance the scenes, just like the soundtrack. They provide clear visual guidance to what the characters feel and think. On the flip side, there are also times when they become a bit overbearing and overused.
An example of this is the scene when Legosi and his friends first stumble across the black market. Legosi is shocked and overwhelmed by the old man who sold his fingers to them, the hand of that man emitting such a strong dizzying smell of nearly rotten meat.
The anime uses a red gassy effect on the old man's hand to illustrate the stench. The impact of the scene is greatly enhanced by that menacing effect. But in the next scene, when Legosi runs through the market and gets assaulted by the same red gassy effect along with the collage of various meat... now that is too much and overbearing.
The anime adaptation of Beastars does a great job of not only highlighting the best points of the manga, but it is also responsible for bringing the series to countless audiences around the world through Netflix as its global distributor.
But even though the anime is an adaptation, it still has its own distinct creative choices that were made in order to elevate the overall quality of the story. In that case, some differences are bound to happen, but none of the ones listed above are a deal breaker that should make you avoid either the manga or the anime. It simply tells the same story in a slightly different manner.
So have you read the manga? Or maybe you’ve only watched the anime? Did reading this article make you want to try the other form of Beastars? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.