Brand New Animal Ep. 2: It’s a dog-eat-dog world

What a turnaround from the first episode.

— Man, Shirou’s voice doesn’t match up with his baby-face at all. Baby-human-face, that is. Beastmen are beastmen in the literal sense of the word. They can be beasts or they can be men. We’ll find out later that only babies are incapable of changing their form. Well, if you think about it, Michiru is kind of like a baby beastman. Needless to say, she’s going to get weird looks on the street for walking around as a permanent tanuki.

— Oh, I forgot to mention this yesterday, but I also really like Trigger’s use of color. Obviously, this show pales in comparison to their cinematic efforts (i.e. Promare), but BNA still looks pretty damn nice. The exaggerated character expressions also help to breathe life into these characters. Like I said in the previous post, I rather enjoy Trigger’s aesthetic

These tests make sense, since beastmen can easily change into their human form and hide their identity. But for Michiru, it’s kinda silly, isn’t it? Well, I guess it’s a world-building sort of thing.

— Michiru can’t help it, but she ends up saying a few pretty insensitive things. First, she thought that all beastmen looked like animals 100% of the time. Maybe insensitive isn’t the right word. This seems more like ignorance. But later, when Shirou and the co-op director are skeptical of the girl’s claims to humanity, she insists that she must currently be afflicted with some sort of “beastman disease.” Sure, no one wants to wake up one day and find themselves turning into something that they’re not. But to refer to this new condition as a disease is kinda messed up. If I woke up and was magically no longer Asian, I wouldn’t say that I’m sick.

— We learn that some beastmen try to deny their beasthood to the extent that they think they’re human. Well, when you live in a racist world…

— I kept thinking to myself, “Hey, doesn’t she have a phone with pictures of herself on it? Can’t she use that as proof that she used to be human?” But she doesn’t have a phone. And even if she did, it probably would’ve been stolen along with her wallet.

— In any case, Michiru gets this tiny room full of boxes. It’s pretty much a storage room. I wonder if they only put her there because it’s right next to Shirou’s room.

— Shirou has a pet bird named Kuro.

— At City Hall the next day, Michiru quickly learns that it’s a dog-eat-dog kind of world in Anima City. It’s literally local custom to fight it out for every small advantage. These two meatheads are jockeying for nothing more than position in a queue. If might makes right in this city, doesn’t that put the weaker animals at a disadvantage? Exactly. This is also an inherently sexist society as well. As an aside, if you had watched Murenase Seton Gakuen from just last season, you would know that the weaker sex is not always female.

— Either way, you watch the first episode, and you can’t help but feel bad for the beastmen. But then you watch this episode, and you start to think, “Well, they’ve got some major issues…” Of course, this wouldn’t excuse any of the discrimination that they get from humans, but it’s one of those quandaries what we run into whenever we try and approach other cultures with an open mind. For example, some cultures (like Japan) practice a form of arranged marriages. Fine, it’s their custom. If everyone’s happy with it, who am I to say anything? But you gotta draw the line somewhere… like, say, bride kidnapping. We can’t just sit back and say, “Hey, y’know, it’s all relative, so we can’t judge a culture for allowing grown men to kidnap 12-year-old girls.” And while it’s nowhere near as bad as bride kidnapping, having a brawl at City Hall sounds pretty fucking stupid to me.

— Michiru was told earlier that she should probably give up hope on recovering her wallet, but she manages to bump right into that monkey from last night. What a small world.

— So of course, she gives chase again, but like she should’ve expected, the wallet is long gone. The monkey most likely sold it to someone else. That’s when Mary shows up outta nowhere to give Michiru a tip. Is she stalking our heroine? I think she is. Especially when we consider what happens later to Michiru. You’d think Mary would have better things to do, but maybe our heroine is just an easy target.

— At Mary’s suggestion, Michiru pays a visit to Rabbit Town, which is not as cuddly as one might expect. The territory is controlled by women. More specifically, female delinquents, a.k.a. sukeban. The leader of the pact is some fat rabbit by the name of Grandma Gran.

— So what’s with this sukeban? Well, in a world where might makes right, I guess it makes sense that women are even more disadvantaged. It’s bad enough in the human world, but female beastmen seem to have it even worse. Their mayor, however, is a female Sphynx cat, though. Surely, Barbaray is trying to do something about this problem, right? For now, I don’t really know. Maybe we’ll get to this later.

— Our heroine runs into trouble, because beastmen are only in their beast form when they’re looking for a fight. And obviously, no one’s gonna believe that she can’t control what she looks like. Nevertheless, Grandma Gran does happen to have Michiru’s wallet, and she’s willing to hand it over if our heroine does a job for them.

— So what does Michiru have to do? She has to try and teach these wayward kids how to read and write. Awww, doesn’t that sound wholesome? Boy, it looks like these women are protecting these kids! Sigh, if only that was true…

— Our heroine is really good at dealing with kids. She still is a kid herself, I suppose… but some teenagers don’t really have any patience for young children. I know I didn’t.

— In any case, Michiru’s time with the kiddos also teaches her (and us) a thing or two about Ginrou. Apparently, this magical wolf will one day save beastmen from their troubles or something like that. Michiru can’t help but think of what she saw last night.

— Shirou just happens to be nearby, because the mayor has him looking into a certain problem. His presence alone implies that something isn’t quite right here. That’s when another gang shows up and starts demanding money from the women.

— It’s just funny to see one of the yakuza lackies transform into a hyena, because male hyenas are always below female hyenas on the totem pole.

— Man, I wonder what animal that big oaf is supposed to be. Whatever he is, he’s not a very nice guy.

— Desperate for money, Grandma Gran reveals her true colors. Her gang never intended to protect these children. Instead, she is a beastman trafficker, and the kids are nothing more than precious cargo. For who, though? That’s what I’m curious about. Who’s buying up all these beastman children? Either way, people who betray their own kind gets a special place in hell, though. There’s a reason why treachery is the ninth circle of hell.

Michiru is being sold along with the children, so Mary screwed her over again. The mink had to have known that something like this would happen, right? So she’s a kind of a major dirtbag right about now…

— The bad guys try to haul the shipment of children away, but that’s when Michiru activates her special powers. At first, she poofs up her tail to try and rock the container, but when that doesn’t work, she literally stretches her arms out like Mr. Fantastic. Just exactly how many powers does this tanuki have under her belt? And normally, when you have characters like Michiru, they don’t really know what they’re capable of nor can they control their powers. But our heroine’s been stuck like this for a year, so maybe she’s had a lot of practice. Michiru knows exactly what to do and she does it well. When she manages to get the container to come crashing down on the ground, she puffs her tail back up to cushion all of the children (as well as the crane operator).

— Despite the subject matter, the show can be pretty funny at times.

— Having said all of that, I then find it weird that she can still be overpowered so easily. Why can’t she use her tail to fight back now?

— Well, we know why. In the end, we know that Shirou has to come and save the day. So wolfie jumps in and starts kicking beastwoman ass left and right. Oh, he believes in equal rights… as well as equal lefts.

It’s funny how the leader never bothers to get their hands (paws?) dirty.

— In the aftermath, Michiru tries to confront Grandma Gran, but the fat rabbit states that this is the only way a woman can survive on her own in Anima City. To keep all of these predators off of their backs, these women have resorted to preying on weak, defenseless children — children who have lost their parents. Still, this is nothing new. Humans do the same to their own kind. The only way to solve this mess is to attack the problem at its roots. Even saviors like Shirou will display a chauvinistic attitude, and until the whole “might makes right” philosophy goes out the window, Anima City will never make much progress. You can protect people all you want, but what they really need is empowerment and the ability to control their own destiny.

— Plus, having Michiru walk a mile in beastman’s shoes isn’t exactly working out so well. At the end of the first episode, she claimed that she was a human who didn’t hate beastmen. But after all of the traumatic stuff she’s been through today, her tune appears to have changed. Clearly, she’s speaking out of anger. She’s probably physically and emotionally exhausted. You can’t excuse hate, but I think it’s worth revisiting her mindset in the morning once she’s gotten some rest.

— But hey, at least she got her wallet and student ID back!

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