Brand New Animal or just Fluffy X-Men? BNA Review

Hello Island Guests! My four day mini break is over! And I decided to shake my schedule up a bit…mostly because I had this prepped as my next post and are not that far ahead but I TOTALLY did it intentionally to have some fun as well… TOTALLY! For Pinkie’s Saturday Anime Adventure I watched through and fairly recently finished BNA! As I only did episode reviews in Saturday Anime Adventure I feel like I have to end this one up with a series review! A series can be stronger or weaker than the sum of its parts after all! So how do I feel about BNA two weeks after finishing the last episode?! Let’s find out.

Info

Brand New Animal is a 12 episode Anime by studio Trigger that was licensed by Netflix. The series was written (as anime) by Kazuki Nakashima and features the vocal talents of Sumire Morohoshi. Yoshimasa Hosoya and Takehito Koyasu, It follows the tales of Michiru the Tanuki Beast-Man or so we think! She takes on the role of a young girl that falls into a group of Beast-man who are almost like a mutation of humanity. She falls in with a grizzled grumpy old man who can uses his claws to defeat his opponents, though rarely does. He becomes her protector of sorts. They are led by this wise older bald person who can’t walk that well and needs a cane. She is a mayor and wants to build a city where beast-man can learn and utelise their abilities and proving to the world that these mutants like creatures are nothing to be feared. Also when the young girl uses her powers she sparkles a lot.

I’m with Storm here! I really need to think where I saw this story before!

This review will mostly be spoiler free! For detailed reviews of each episode you can Pinkie’s Saturday Anime Adventures Episode 1 trough 12.

Hopping Like A Bunny

BNA sketches a world divided by the rise of an alternate species called beastmen. These are humans more in touch with their inner animal and as a result can access and prefer their beast forms. Their true selves. However humans fear beastman and their improved ability and hunt them regularly. Thus with permission of the Japanese government a  city for beastman has been build called Anima city. Here beastman live together in harmony! Or at least that is what Michiru our protagonist thinks when she goes there. She claims to be a human that got turned into a beastmen for some reason. This should not be possible because you are a beastman from birth..so she moves to Anima city to find answers. Only to find a whole lot more trouble than she bargained for.

As the series moves on we see her team up with a mysterious man named Shirou who fights hard for beastmen rights and thinks very low of humans. As terrorists begin to strike at Anima City and in particular the pharmaceutical Sylvastra corp, a larger scheme is revealed that puts humans and beastmen against each other and much much more. Anima city and beastman ‘s future is threatened by a whole lot of lies and intrigue. It almost feels as a plot from a Cyberpunk movie taking some clear inspirations from Blade Runner where beastmen and Replicants are in a sort of similar position.This little dash of cyberpunk story telling mixed with some politics manages to create an intriguing enough story that builds an amazing world in the first four episodes, yet then starts to falter a bit but climbs back up and falters again.. and so repeats this until the show is ended at episode 12. Besides Blade Runner there is another analogy on the tip of my tongue! There is this point where robots hunt down beastmen send down by people who hate them.. oh well! I can’t remember! I guess I will refer to that other show as X for now.

Let me get this point out of the way because everyone has spoken up about it.. 12 episodes is to short for this show! Yet I do not find the ending atrociously bad.. and it certainly reaches the finish..it kind of feels like a Mario Kart pro-speed run Rainbow Road on N64. Sure it was enjoyable and colorful and a sight to behold.. but we didn’t see all that much of the track* . So as well is the biggest pitfall for Brand New Animal. It asks you to see injustice in a world.. but we don’t see the world all that much. Again the first four episodes do a great job in fleshing out a world but after that, there is a lot of one location episodes and to make up for it they need to pick up slack with a LOT of exposure episodes. When three episodes of the twelve solely exist for exposition that is a lot! As a result this is one of the most awkward paced anime I have seen. It still tells an enjoyable tale but it’s as if it 1 to 12 instead of a count is more like one of those hopskotch drawings. Instead of flowing we hop!

*For those who don’t know that is a 7 minute track you need to do three laps on..unless you skip the track right at the beginning by jumping to that last corner

Strong Like an Ox

Despite this Brand New Animal is still quite an enjoyable show that does a lot of things right. Studio Trigger once again manages to create a visually appealing show whose colour use and artwork really appeal to me. There are lots of colours, the design of characters is unique and now has the added layer of having two designs (or more) per character. As each beastmen has a human and beast form and the forms mirror each other a bit. It works nicely and all characters are immediately recognisable in both forms. The buildings in the series also have this slight futuristic look, but not quite, which really sells the “newly built” city vibe and  it allows us to suspend our disbelief well enough for all the weird tech introduced later on in the series.Aided by a good music score including some synthwave tracks, it really sells itself as a near future show. A setting that is always tricky to flesh out but BNA does this very well.  It really helps the worldbuilding. Soundtrack wise I also like how they use the ending song as an in world song.. it gives it meaning.. it is overused but it is a fun little gimmick and saves out on some money! So clever as well.

As for the worldbuilding itself, I think this show does an excellent job at building it’s own words with not one but two asterixis behind it which will come up in the next session. I personally really think in terms of worldbuilding they have thought a lot of elements trough. For example beastmen are much more hot tempered than humans much more in line with their instincts. Anima city is a much more dog eat dog environment than any human cities. Much more in touch with their instinct Anima city relies much more on the survival of the fittest concept.  This bleeds into their sports as well! Even something as simple as baseball often has deadly results.

People do not seem to mind all that much because this is the normal way things would go in such an environment I really like that concept. I loved the idea that to commit a crime in Anima city you have to consider your scent as a factor as well because there are beastmen with a great sense of smell. Awesome! Yes they totally would need to do that!  was even more impressed when they established that Bird-beastmen would have to get a permit for flying trough nation controlled airspace. The government would like to know who is flying in their terrain, since they can go anywhere they want they have to keep some way to track of them. Clever that they think on how the world would change like that..when we add in the writing of the actual characters though things go a bit wonky but more on that in a bit.

Finally I would like to shout out how the action is done quite nicely. There are a fair few fights and encounters and each has a bit of a different solution. Sure Shirou who is the main muscle will usually beat up the bad guy in a particular way.. but that means his fighting has a way he works.. he has a strategy.. this is consistent throughout every episode I really have a feeling he has a fighting style. A lot of anime characters finish their enemies of with whatever is coolest or switch techniques on the fly. Take Naruto for example who while using some stable techniques goes from throwing ninja stars, to kicking and from wielding a Kunai to  digging underground. Up to a point where he even is a sage and a summoner. Now of course Naruto spans over many more episodes  but still Shirou fights like he has fought before! He knows what he does and his fighting style is consistent right until the moment it’s not.. but even then there is a good reason. Michiru’s fighting style is more flexible but her entire character is build around this. She has certain abilities that allow her to shine as the versatile combatant making her actually useful throughout instead of your usual liability.. even if she fills that trope as well.

A Lamb to the Slaughter

With a solid story, nice visuals, great world building and nice action you’d think that this is a pretty good show right?! You are correct! Unfortunately though .. pretty good is where it stops for me. The biggest reason that it can not ascent from there is because it is way to ambitious. This show bites of way more than it can chew.  The show tries to force in a message that in my eyes should have been left out completely. Or the worldbuilding should have been adapted to fit it. (Which is one of these world building asterixis)  Brand New Animals wants to tell us that we humans are racists and small minded bigots and that these people deserve to live in the lifestyle of their choice. On top of that they also weigh it down even more by putting a lot of religion talk but rather than adding a new religion to the mix, they add in a cult that follows the same religion as every beastman out there, which makes it all a bit convoluted.

 The example they make this the clearest with is an Albatross. He entered Japanese airspace and is chased by two fighter jet who kindly but urgently ask him to lend visit a post or police office so the birdman can get a permit to fly in Japanese airspace.. so they know he is there.  He feels his rights are being limited because he is an Albatross they roam. Apparently all Albatross people have been refusing these types of request and have been shot down for invading airspace… which then is portrayed as a horrible crime. Meanwhile I look at this as … “That rule makes a lot of sense”. The series already established terrorism is a heavy and ongoing topic, this makes spying super easy and you can literally go anywhere. He also just has to fill in a form saying he is there!  Two minutes later an actually flying terrorist shows up using the airspace to get to the city undetected proving that that rule is needed. That is not a good idea of humans being bigots. Instead of giving the good bird albatross the W, and justifying his heart we see the church meddle in. Thus the albatross stays a guy who wanted to rob the mayor..and justifying once more the human reaction. Weird

Humans are reluctant to accept beasts among their ranks, which I can understand can be and should be viewed as racist as long as both are sentient and follow the same morale standards. Except.. this show shows they do not. If anything humans and beastman share criminal tendensies , gambling, mobs, scamming etc. However when it comes to we belief what is right and wrong..or what is normal we are off by a fair bit.  Beastmen kill each other during baseball. they can toss their feathers as weapons and possess superhuman abilities. Since they are prone to follow the principle of survival of the fittest and all beastmen are basically humans with a mode that upgrades some of their strengths I can see why humans would not really like that mentality among their ranks. If a bear man can just rip of your head because you cut in line..and te bear is stronger.. yeah that would pretty much suck. Beastmen are more likely to think it’s okay, so I would feel a genuine treat to my citizens if I allowed them to give into this beastmen nature. So I can see humans be wary of that idea very easily. That isn’t racist that is common sense. 

Of course we do not follow the beastman who rip each others heads off..but they are out there. We follow a kind hearted girl that wants everyone to be happy and a private investigator/merc who works for the good of beastman kind. The fact that we follow two who don’t do those shenanigans doesn’t change the fact that it happens and the mayor is like “Sure you can Kill each other during baseball but you can’t gamble on it’ Racism is bad is a great message but you need to have sides that are actually equal and share more or less the same moral compass. There isn’t equality here. Compare it to X-men.. they aren’t equal either but if mutants were like but they share values.  They do not fight to use their power even when it endangers people! At least not the good guys ..so we can relate to them. In Brand New Animal that same vibe is sorely missing. Now at times for me it felt more like the message was “racism can sometimes be justified if the threat is high enough’ and I do believe that is a message would need to steer far away from just among humans.

The second asterix from that world building comes .. part from the poor pacing and part from the way the story is told. The story does really work and there is some logic  in their science. There is a lot of space for exposition and as such it is easy to tune out to information that isn’t brought in such bombastic manner. For example in a fairly generic conversation it is told that when a chicken-woman loves a whale man very much and they whoohoo a bit their child either will either be a chicken or a whale but never a whicken or a chale. As a beastman can only have one beast to transform into.. if it would have more they would be unable to transform. Nor can you crossbreed species. This comes back later in the show.. but if you missed it.. this feels like something completely out of the blue and forced. It wasn’t but unlike most some things near the endgame are very poorly telegraphed. It is still there but this is a show you definitely want to binge AND keep your attention to it. The thing is that is is really in your face about “hey this important hey! Hey Listen” then on some things it really isn’t. 

The show also  does this in reverse. It sets up characters to be really important later on but than they simply becomes means to an end. Like ..”Look this guy is super important”.. Later he offers Shirou a Ride and gives him some supplies…it didn’t even have to be that guys.They do this on numerous occasions as well such as a gag with a water purifier.. I was like.. “that’s going to be a thing at some point” .. but no it was just a crack at the poor. You will need to remember just about everything and that will both reward and disappoint you.
On the one hand I love them for including very subtle references ..but you can’t make your show seem this handholdy and then go like… but if you noticed THAT you would have realised.It’s kind of like playing Clue but when you solve the puzzle someone tells you! Bonus points if you can tell me the motive!?  I wasn’t looking for that! Murder Murder Weapon and Location right?! Then everyone says sure but you missed something really important!

My final gripe is wit the shows ending. While it isn’t exactly terrible, the plot twist feels more like a retcon to fix the message. As if the makers realised ‘our message about racism didn’t really land! We now need a way to make everything cool and make people learn a lesson still!  how about we make people realise they are closer and add in an extra party?’ It came out of nowhere and wasn’t needed at all. Sure it allows for a bigger and more impressive battle but there were tools to make that battle different. Michiru rode in a giant robot depiction of god.. that was just made as a cosplay thing. You could have just made a big robot weapon as a final enemy. There were even ways to tie in Michiru’s “disease”  in this but no…. out of the blue we get something super powerful that needs to be taken down… then it gets taken down within five minutes of it’s introduction. Breaking the lore that was introduced for it..within those five minutes as well. It served no point other than to make up  for it’s own writing failures and wrap the series in a pretty ribbon. That said I do like how it wraps up after that.  Michiru’s personal journey has been very strong throughout the show and they ended like that as well. Her road made sense for each episode… it’s just that blasted analogy that is in the way of her world feeling the same.

Goldfish

Brand New Animal is a fine show to watch that unfortunately suffers a lot squandered potential syndrome. Where a decent show is experienced as worse as it is because it simply could have been more.  If you added 12 more episode to this series it could have been one of the greater once but because of its short run it is forced to live into mediocrity.  “I would have loved to see more about that Mob Boss”  ‘I wish I saw more of Mary the Mink’.  ‘I really wish they explored Shirou’s past more’ ‘I wish I could have seen more about Michiru’s mysterious accident and what happend after’. These are ponderings I had after the show. I liked it enough to want to see more because they really do create an interesting world

. However it is not a world we can dive into.. it is shallow! Kinda like a bowl for your goldfish!
The water is still refreshing (to splash in your face not to drink)  the goldish in the bowl is quite amusing to go around and round and nestle in it’s little castle.. but you can not help to wish there was more out there. Had it not squandered time with it’s really forced “lesson”  I might have wholeheartedly called it good. Do note that I do not mean you should not speak against racism but that what the show wants us to see as racism isn’t racism it’s self preservation and while I do think those can intersect trough ignorance.. that is not a tale you can tell with a series like this. It’s not a goldmine of life lessons.. it really is just a goldfish in a bowl.

I like goldfish but I would not say it’s a great pet! It’s still something that can bring you lots of joy! Yet sometimes you just want to pet something or put something on your lap and then you realise.. I have a fish!  As much as you love it.. it will never be all that great.. it’s fine!
It’s just fine…

Did you see BNA?! What are your feelings about it?! I really liked the intro by the way! I am not sure if I said that! It’s catchy! Speaking of liking! If you like this blog why not consider supporting my blog on KoFi! You can become a coconut and get nominated for all my blog tags and will have a cute flavour text written about you! Or if you don’t have money to burn why not subscribe to the blog, leave a like or write something to get in touch!

7 thoughts

  1. I was going to try and say something witty and insightful but I haven’t been sleeping well and my brain is not there today. So I just wanna say I loved reading your review 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww thanks! I hope the read was at least a bit in a good way! I forgot to add that the mayor also was a professor in genetics and that the grumpy grizzeld claw guy had this rapid healing factor!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Haven’t seen this one, but thanks once again for this very thorough review. While some shows might be too long, it seems this one was too short and suffered because of it. Shame, as I think some of the things you describe here are pretty interesting. Might still give it a go if I can find some time for it 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can still say go for it! It’s probably not something you should put high on your priority list. Just as a casual watch it is fine. It’s one Netflix (maybe with the help of a VPN) and in the time of a Marvel Movie you pretty much seen a cuter x-men story. Fun just not amazing! Perfect for a free afternoon.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well…who knows, I might give it a go. My vacation is almost here, and I will most certainly watch some anime. And with only 12 episodes this is perfect to watch in a single day 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I really liked the show , it is funny your brought up X Men as I had just finished watching the 90’s X men animated series before starting BNA . I do love Trigger’s art style and fluid animation.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “It asks you to see injustice in a world.. but we don’t see the world all that much.”

    Thank you for summing up that vague feeling of dissatisfaction I had when I finished BNA. I mean, I started it because of your Saturday Anime, got hooked and made it my binge and then when it was done… felt vaguely dissatisfied. I was actively peeved at some things in it, but overall I just felt like… someone made me a chocolate cake, but didn’t put any icing on it. Um…thank you? However, I couldn’t quite pinpoint my issue, other than it seemed awfully short and the way they tied all in a bow at the end made it feel trite. I expected more. It could have been so much more. It really needed a couple more seasons. But you have teased out the true problems – and there were several – that caused that vague feeling of dissatisfaction.

    This is why I don’t try to review anime much – I’m not all that good at it! LOL. Great review.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s