A Special Thanks Goes to NetGalley and Viz Media for the opportunity to review this title.
It has been a year since I reviewed the first volume of Beast Complex, and now we’re heading back into the world of BEASTARS with Beast Complex II.
Manga Creator Paru Itagaki is back once again with six new tales that feature our favorite Grey Wolf named Legoshi, and his neighbors from the Beast Apartments! The first tale features a Yorkshire Pig named Euguene, who meets a Peacock Police Officer with a strange death wish. Meanwhile, a Shiba Inu Calendar Model named Mugi struggles with the inevitability of aging out of his cuteness. Stellar’s Sea Eagle named Lecia is afraid of losing his sugar mama and having to strike out on his own. Our favorite couple Legoshi and his dwarf rabbit girlfriend Haru, attend a restorative justice ceremony.
If you’re a fan of Itagaki’s work, then you’re familiar with her use of metaphors and social commentary in her work. And like her other work, it is a collection of characters that makes the story stand out above the rest, that includes character designs and their backgrounds.
I would also like to point out that while it does take in the BEASTARS world, most of these stories take place after the final volume of the main series has ended, while there is one that serves as a prequel. This isn’t a bad thing if you have read BEASTARS, but if you haven’t yet, it is recommended that you check it out and the first volume of Beast Complex first. Please keep in mind that there will be brief spoilers in each chapter’s description.
- The Pig and The Peacock– It’s a story that has an unexpectant twist. It was something you would expect to have a very dark premise due to a pig named Euguene being a Taxidermist who preserves deceased loved ones and a handsome Peacock Officer named Gerbera uncovering the Taxidermist’s shady business practice. It ends up having a wholesome ending, it was very clever and ended up being a favorite of mine.
- The Shiba-Inu and The Shiba-Inu– The story focuses on a middle-aged male Shiba-Inu, who poses as a woman for a yearly calendar. Even though he makes good money from his popular female persona, Mugi is pressured by the company and his manager to take action, to keep looking younger. It was a good story but not one of the strongest stories in the collection.
- The Crow and The Kangaroo– According to the Author’s note, this was the prequel leading up to the Main Story. It mentions a place called District Zero, where the creatures who are pure white can live. But there’s a catch, their pure white fur makes them very valuable. While the focus is Ebisu (A Pure White Crow), a female kangaroo (A White Kangaroo who has developed spots in an area that can be easily hidden but had to sleep with anyone to stay in the district) was another potentially darker story that had another unexpected twist.
- The Stellar’s Eagle and The Mongolian Gerbil– Next, we meet a Stellar’s Eagle who wants to avoid working in any way, shape, or form and a Female Mongolian Gerbil who is not only his Sugar Mama, but he is immediately thrown off by the announcement that she is getting married. Most readers would quickly write off Stellar’s Eagle as either lazy or entitled, but it was clear to see him suffering from not only a fear of thunderstorms but suffering from Ergophobia, fear of working, and the features of work. Even though he spends most of the time trying to stop her from getting married, at least it was a nice touch to see him get help in overcoming fear.
- The Chipmunk and The (Mountain Hare)– A Popular Writer named Ichijiku faces the risk of missing the deadline for the next chapter of their next story in a literary magazine. The story is written from the viewpoint of a female herbivore, so a new editor is sent out to talk to the writer, who is in for a very big surprise. It continues the trend of being possibly dark but with another twist.
- The Wolf and The Rabbit– Our final chapter in this collection brings back our favorite couple, Legoshi and Haru. While I can’t say much about this story due to the fact of risking spoiling it for those who haven’t finished reading BEASTARS, I will say it was a touching ceremony with a balance of good humor, well-designed outfits, and wholesome moments.
Beast Complex II is available now where books are sold, it may have its shortcomings in certain parts, but Paru Itagaki continues to keep readers guessing and wanting more. Stay tuned for the review of Beast Complex III, which will be available on June 20th, 2023.
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