Slice of life is a genre that can give so much variety and beauty that it could be deemed one of anime’s best. However, we also ask ourselves which is the best of the best? Questions like these are hard to answer, but we can at least give an opinion. In a year punctuated with amazing titles throughout, 2019 was a year for anime in ways that felt really different from other years during the 2010s. It can’t be all that surprising that slice of life came to the fore in that regard, giving us titles like the reboot of the ever-praised Fruits Basket, the quirky Misdemeanours of Girls in High School, the adventurous Sora Yori Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than the Universe) or even the high-angst puberty rollercoaster that is Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo (O Maidens in Your Savage Season), among many other titles last year. That being said, last year’s standout Slice of Life anime has to be the the Fall season’s BEASTARS.
BEASTARS is an anime that has anthropomorphic characters cast in a setting where society thrives on the premise of peaceful relations between herbivores and carnivores. This is especially true of Cherryton Academy; however, this is but a mirage as Cherryton is rocked when Tem, an alpaca who was in the drama club. Legosi the grey wolf works in the stage crew for the drama club and battles with his carnivore identity. Using most of his energy to appear less threatening, Legosi appears to be a timid teenager; however, a serious of events and a fateful encounter with Haru, the white dwarf rabbit, leads Legosi into a path where his own feelings grow ever more complicated.
Why BEASTARS human setting is the perfect stage for an animal drama.
Like many other slice of life shows, BEASTARS is set in a point in the characters’ lives where they are still in high school. This period of angst and exploration of the self, and growing up in general create a scene that is great for a slice of life story. BEASTARS is unique because it features a society of animals, much like the animated movie “Zootopia”, the world of BEASTARS being defined largely by the categories “Herbivore” and “Carnivore”, which creates an interesting backdrop that the show props itself upon, while exploring budding romance between polar opposites.
Legosi is an interesting character as the anime has him fighting his very nature in a bid to understand the feelings he develops for Haru in the early stages of the show. BEASTARS brings in the complications of a love-triangle existing among Haru, Louis and Legosi, which adds conflict of ideals, conflict of personal histories and objective facts and the effect that instinct has in the actions of the characters. The world then allows for the construction of the characters beyond the simple fact that they are a particular animal. BEASTARS juxtaposes instinct, emotion and personality in a way that speaks to the fact that it is a romance slice of life, with plot elements that are nothing other than political.
BEASTARS was an interesting case because of the way in which the plot was centered on the characters of Legosi, Haru and Louis in the context of this civilized, anthropomorphic animal society. It explored themes of survival, instinct, fear, romance and friendship, and even destiny to some extent. BEASTARS had great characters and execution of an “animal high school”, which isn’t something we often see, especially in the way BEASTARS explored it. What was your favourite slice of life of 2019? Drop a comment below and tell us all about it!