The Mole Rat Speaks
A Beastly Feast
Released earlier this year as part of the Spring 2020 line-up of Anime, BNA is a fascinating Japanese series that explores racism and class divisions under the neon-lit lights of Anima City. With a mystery running throughout the episodes and some likable characters fronting the cast, BNA is a decent anime but doesn’t quite do enough to capitalize on the potential it brings forth.
Some of those problems lie with the way the narrative progresses, interspersing stand-alone episodes with a more streamlined overarching story, while teasing a lot of supernatural elements but never quite pushing into that realm completely. Instead, BNA leans much heavier into slice of life territory. Aesthetically, the show looks great and there’s a lot of gorgeous scenes and use of colour but ultimately the characters never quite step out the archetypal shadows they find themselves adopting for large portions of this show.
The story revolves around a fictitious world where human and beast-man live with big tensions and big racial divides. Anima City holds the vast population of beast-men and as they celebrate 10 years of existence, an attack leaves the city reeling. Arriving on the eve of all this taking place is spunky, naive Michiru Kagori who happens to be a human who was experimented on in the past to become a beast.
Inside the city she becomes entangled in the affairs of no-nonsense wolf Shirou who remains wary and untrusting of humans. Between trying to find a cure to what’s happened to her and shadowy political scheming with Mayor Rose and President Alan, the story plays out in a pretty formulaic manner with several episodes early on used as stand-alone segments to get accustomed to this world. Toward the end however, the show focuses much more heavily on Michiru’s storyline which leads into a dramatic finale to round things out.
Aesthetically, BNA looks fantastic. When Shirou uses his senses the screen changes to sharp black and white, the neon-lit colours are beautifully drawn and the hand-drawn character models exude personality at every turn. This is backed up by a surprisingly catchy and really vibrant soundtrack, boasting an engaging opening credit screen.
Where the show slips up though is with its characters. There’s nothing particularly outstanding or memorable with a lot of the players here and most of the different animals and humans we meet adopt the usual stereotypes with little deviation. President Alan is suitably shady and untrusting, much like many other CEOs or Presidents we’ve seen over the years in this medium, while Shirou’s untrusting nature isn’t dissimilar from other characters we’ve seen in multiple animes.
Thankfully, there’s enough likability within the cast to keep you watching and surprisingly the dub isn’t actually that bad either (although the original Japanese is obviously the more preferred way to watch this.)
Overall though, BNA is a perfectly enjoyable anime with a gorgeous aesthetic and an interesting world design to keep you watching. While the characters and story don’t quite do enough to match that same level of excellence the aesthetic boasts, there’s enough enjoyment to be had with this one nonetheless.