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‘Brand New Animal’ offers fun time, albeit uninspiring one

‘Brand New Animal’ offers fun time, albeit uninspiring one

‘Brand New Animal’ offers fun time, albeit uninspiring one
July 09
12:00 2020

The trend of Netflix-original anime continues with the release of “Brand New Animal” by Studio Trigger, the creators of “Kill la Kill” and “Little Witch Academia.”

“BNA” is Trigger’s newest project since their feature length film “Promare” released back in May of last year. While “BNA” is definitely not their best work, or most memorable, it’s super entertaining thanks to Trigger’s stellar animation and colorful cast of characters.

“BNA” takes place in an alternate version of Earth where humans and anthropomorphic animals known as “beastkin” have been around for thousands of years, sometimes coexisting peacefully, but sometimes not so much. The story follows Michiru Kagemori (Sumire Morohoshi), a human who one day mysteriously became a tanuki beastwoman without the ability to turn into a human form like other beastkin, effectively making her a prime target for discrimination and violence by the fearful human population. Seeking freedom, and to find a cure for her disease, Michiru travels to the beastkin haven of Anima-City where she meets wolf beastman Shirou Ogami (Yoshimasa Hosoya) who fights to protect the beastkin population from internal and external threats.

When I heard about this show my first thought brought to mind a Netflix-licensed anime released back in late 2019 called “Beastars” which also holds a cast of anthropomorphic animals, but for the most part the similarities end there due to each show’s presentation and animation style.

“BNA” is a constantly moving ride that’s paced very well to boot, and at no point was I ever bored thanks in part to the short 12 episodes that last 30 minutes each. The energetic and expressive animation also really helps move things along while simultaneously fitting perfectly with the easy-to-look-at character designs.

The plot is pretty bare-bones, and even though “BNA” threw a few curve-balls, it was either extremely obvious or left me casually thinking to myself, “Oh, I didn’t see that coming.” The plot became uninteresting during the halfway point, but thankfully that was only for a short time and was helped by the pacing and characters. The themes of discrimination and being comfortable with yourself are genuine while not being overbearing, but it’s still something you’ve seen done better hundreds of times before.

Like many other aspects of the show, there’s not much to analyze in respect to the characters, but man were they entertaining. Michiru was a likeable and cute main character and I’m really pleased that the tendency of anime to sexualize characters like her was absent throughout this show. The superhero-like Shirou serves as a welcome break from the more upbeat cast, and mink beastwoman Marie Itami (Michiyo Murase) is so smug and underhanded but you can’t help but love her. Unfortunately, a lot of the less important cast is underutilized, which is really felt because of the already small cast of characters, and too much focus is given to a character who was annoying for their first couple of episodes.

In regards to the soundtrack, one song in particular is played consistently throughout the show. Hearing it once was enough, but after hearing it multiple times I grew to really dislike it since it’s presented as if it’s supposed to make me feel something other than annoyance. The rest of the soundtrack is adequate enough, with a notable hit in the form of the opening “Ready To,” performed by Michiru’s voice actress, and one that I plan on listening to casually.

Easily the biggest issue I have with the show is the untapped potential. It doesn’t spend enough time delving into the culture of Anima-City, and I’m afraid subsequent seasons won’t spend time developing this either. The greater world of the beastkin isn’t focused on enough either, with occasional references to a war that gained beastkin equal rights barely being extrapolated upon, despite it seeming instrumental to the world. It also occasionally falls into the old anime trap of exposition dumps rather than letting the viewer find things out on their own, which attributed to certain plot reveals and world-building elements remaining underdeveloped.

“BNA” is a visually appealing show with tons to admire and a lot of opportunity to improve. With the exception of an f-bomb in the Japanese version and some blood, I’d even recommend this to a younger audience, although non-anime fans may end up disliking it.

Final rating: 3.5/5

Featured image: Courtesy Netflix

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Connor Elliott

Connor Elliott

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