Brand New Animal Ep. 4: Facing forward

Our heroine comes to the melancholy realization that Anima City is now her home.

— Michiru sticks a leaf on her head and tries to turn herself back into a human. It’s a tanuki thing, I guess.

— She then gets news of her residency directly from the mayor. In the process, we get to learn all sorts of things about beastmen and their city. Yeah, it’s pretty much just exposition. Luckily, the delivery is not as dry and boring as in other shows.

— For some odd reason, beastmen are not allowed to connect to human websites. Seems racist, right? But it sounds like they are okay with this. The reasoning is that they’ve lived without humans for so long, so why should they start relying on them now? I think that’s dumb, though. It’s a classic example of cutting your nose off to spite your face. When has an exchange of ideas ever been a bad thing? Hell, the mayor is a former scientist. She should know better than this.

— Plus, did they build this city from scratch without any knowledge from humans? Really?

— We’re also told that cross-breeds absolutely do not exist among beastmen. An offspring of an interspecies marriage will only look like one of their parents. Which one? Shrug. Maybe it’s a coin flip.

— Finally, our heroine is a special case. She may look like a beastman, but she’s not exactly comprise of the same “stuff.”

— Anyways, when Michiru leaves City Hall, Mary immediately offers up a SIM card that can bypass the internet restriction. It’s a bit coincidental, don’t you think? How does the mink know just exactly what the tanuki is looking for? Does she have a source inside City Hall? Is she tapping the mayor’s office? Either way, Michiru quickly agrees to Mary’s tall prices. I guess I would too. Even if the mink can hardly be trusted, I can’t imagine living without the internet.

— Elsewhere, we see Giuliano kill one of his subordinates in cold blood. Shirou had wanted to question the guy, but it’s too late now. Still, how come he can’t just arrest the beluga whale for murder right here and now? Maybe Giuliano is too big to take down?

— With her fancy new SIM card, Michiru logs onto her Facelook account. Welp, it must be tough to spend your birthday away from your family and in a strange place. She quickly notices, however, someone in Anima City doing a livestream. When she tries to approach the girl, she is immediately knocked unconscious.

— Man, Anima City is a dump. Sure, all big cities are full of crime, but Michiru is literally assaulted and kidnapped in broad daylight. She was in a busy public place, too! In the Shin Megami Tensei games, if you ever pick the chaotic route, you usually get an ending where the world is one huge mess because might makes right is an inherently unstable philosophy. And it’s the same exact issue here. Obviously, discrimination is wrong, but these beastmen aren’t doing themselves any favor by running a crime-ridden city.

— When Michiru wakes up, she quickly learns that she had tried to approach Guiliano’s daughter Nina. Luckily, the two of them become fast friends because Nina is like a weeaboo for human culture, and… well, Michiru has actually lived in the human world.

— Nina briefly talks about her dad and why he hates humans so much. Hm, yeah, I guess some people still do eat dolphins. I’m not remotely interested in trying it.

— While talking to Nina, Michiru starts reminiscing about the times she used to spend with her best friend. Her best friend should be somewhere here in Anima City, right? Either way, our heroine uses her sadness as determination to suddenly transform into her human form. Hm, I guess it just comes down to willpower.

— Well, Nina was invited to a house party, so she decides to drag Michiru along. This sounds like a terrible idea, but teenagers are known for doing reckless things.

— Funnily enough, the theme of the party is to masquerade as beastmen.

— Apparently, beastmen don’t even know how to make macarons. See, this is why we need the internet! For frou frou French pastries!

— Nina is so ecstatic to attend her first human party that she accidentally reveals her beastman identity to all the party goers. These kids, however, don’t actually hate her… kinda. This is when the episode’s not-quite-subtle social commentary kicks in.

— The party host drags Nina onstage and starts talking about how her new “friend” must be struggling with anti-beastman discrimination. The dolphin, however, has lived her entire life in Anima City. She’s definitely been discriminated against, but she’s barely even conscious of it. Plus, it’s not like these human kids are actually doing anything substantive to help achieve equality. Instead of going out there and protesting, they’re throwing a party. So y’know, this is reminiscent of people co-opting minority issues in order to pat themselves on the back. It’s like saying you feel bad for Native Americans, so let’s wear headdresses. I could also make the blackface comparison… The point is that young people tend to turn social issues into fads.

— They then go and have Nina perform tricks like some sort of circus animal. The girl, however, is too blissfully feeding off of the attention to really care about the screwed up dynamic at hand.

— At one point, Michiru asks Nina if they could go home ’cause she’s just not feeling it, but the dolphin thinks that her new friend is jealous. Shirou, however, quickly tells Michiru that they need to get Nina back to Anima City before Giuliano starts a stupid war with humans.

— Michiru’s return has been more bitter than sweet. She comes to the realization that she can’t just plop back into the human world and feel at home anymore. Rather, she feels what most halfies feel: they don’t quite belong to one culture, but they don’t belong to the other culture either. Even if she ever does manage to cure her beastman “affliction,” it’s not like she can just go back to a culture that actively hates who she used to be. Even the kids at this party aren’t quite so tolerant. In the restroom, Michiru overhears a couple girls reveal their true colors. It’s all just lipservice.

— Elsewhere, we see Mary teasing Shirou for needing Michiru’s help. I guess there’s a growing trust between him and the tanuki. They’re kinda like the classic odd cop duo. As an aside, I wonder how well he and Mary know each other.

— When our heroine returns to the party, she finds Nina trapped in a water tank. Apparently, these kids are too dumb to know that dolphins are mammals. Hell, that’s like elementary school biology. But again, it’s unsubtle social commentary. They want to talk about discrimination — and one might even argue that their heart is in the right place (I wouldn’t) — but they don’t know a damn thing about the minorities whom they are referring to.

— So of course, Michiru has to go into beast mode in order to save her new friend. It’s like an acknowledgement that she can’t just deny one half of herself. She needs to embrace her beastman side if she wants to achieve anything in this world.

— In the end, Michiru takes Nina back home with Shirou’s help (and a little assistance from a certain mischievous mink). The dolphin, however, has no regrets. Having lived in a bubble all her life, she’s grateful for the new experience… uh, even though she nearly died. I dunno, things could’ve gone a lot worse. For instance, she could’ve run into actual haters. Had that been the case, she’d be singing a different tune.

— Rather, it’s Michiru who has come to an epiphany: unlike the ignorant teenagers at the party, she’s going to make an earnest effort to learn more about beastmen. Only then can she make an informed decision about what she should do next.

— Still, she was able to turn back into a human and maintain the form for quite a while. Is there any reason she isn’t using it now? It’s not like beastmen use their beast form all the time. When in Rome…

— Oh yeah, that evil-looking CEO is still headed for Anima City. In fact, he has taken quite an interest in our duo. His company probably had a hand in Michiru’s condition, huh? But Shirou’s immortality is unnatural as well. I certainly don’t know of any invincible wolves. Maybe he’s also been a test subject.

— Right before the credits roll, Michiru sees a happy birthday post from her mother. She considers tapping the Like button, but thinks better of it. I guess it wouldn’t be safe for her or her family if she potentially reveals herself? I doubt the girl is on a VPN, and even then, your IP isn’t exactly secure.

Please refrain from posting spoilers or using derogatory language. Basically, don't be an asshole.

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