Beastars: AKA Adult Zootopia (no spoilers)

A while ago (like months) I wrote about Berserk and this blog was going to be about mainly manga and anime and well, primarily Berserk. Obviously that is not what has happened and for that I apologize, really I do. I don’t particularly watch anime but I do tend to read a fair bit of manga here and there. Other than Berserk I have read Hajime No Ippo which is a boxing manga (I sincerely recommend this one as well while I’m mentioning it,) as well as even One Piece which I put off watching a reading for a long time for stupid reasons really. I also have read the Pokemon Adventures manga partially which people consider to be a more mature telling of Pokemon. Maybe I’ll write about some of these in the future I’m not sure. There’s a lot I want to do and I have had people tell me to just “do them” which they’re right I should.

The reason I’m saying all of this is because I recently started reading a new manga and currently just got up to date with it. It’s called “Beastars” and is written by mangaka Paru Itagaki. I can’t seem to find out much about her other than she made her debut as a mangaka in 2016 by releasing a short story collection called “Beast Complex” before releasing Beastars.

So, what is Beastars and why is currently my new fiction obsession? Well a lot of people like to compare it to Disney’s Zootopia but more “mature” and honestly, that’s a pretty damn good description and was the first thing that came to my mind as well when I started reading it. The world is a place inhabited by Carnivores and Herbivores and the Carnivores have to keep themselves in check so that they don’t eat the Herbivores as that would obviously be bad. Kind of like how it’s mentioned in Zootopia. The animals are more animal than human but they are all bipedal and have human characteristics, again like the design of Zootopia. Okay, I know Zootopia isn’t some unique piece of media but I do feel like that kind of design for story telling is a little uncommon.

Anyway, the main focus of the story revolves around a grey wolf called Legosi who is very reserved. He prefers to be around Herbivores rather than Carnivores really and he really admires them. The story tends to focus around him coming to terms with his natural instincts of being a wolf and his innate desire to consume prey. There’s a lot going on with him and he’s constantly questioning his own motives as to why he wants to do the things he is doing. For example, a major plot point which is established pretty early is a love interest of his, a small dwarf rabbit called Haru. Throughout the story we can see that he genuinely does seem to care and love her and wants to protect her, but he is constantly arguing if he is doing this out of love or if his body and mind is tricking himself and her just so he can eat her which he keeps telling himself he doesn’t want to do. The topic of interspecies relations is big point in the series, there’s a lot of talk about Carnivores and Herbivores getting together and ending with the Carnivore eating the Herbivore, it’s even shown a couple of times and constantly has different characters from all different backgrounds exploring this concept. Throughout the series Legosi undergoes a lot trying to accept himself for who he is, this happens through physical fights he has as well as conversations he has with both Carnivores and Herbivores and later even Sea animals.

A secondary focus of the series revolves around a deer called Louis who is pretty charismatic and is shown to be a leader. Louis is a year or two older than Legosi and both of them are in the drama club at their school. Legosi is a stage hand while Louis is the lead actor and essentially the leader of it as it tends to give big speeches to them all before a big play or after some big event happens to keep everyone focused. However, this is all done for more selfish reasons than anything else. You see, Louis is trying to become the Beastar of the school. What this means is an animal who rises above the rest so to speak. An animal who once graduated from school basically has life set and tries to make an impact on the world for the better in a meaningful way however that may be. Above Beastars from certain schools of renown is a Sublime Beastar who is chosen from the group of Beastars from the schools.

Louis and Legosi are in a way complete opposites. Louis wants to be more powerful and on top like how the Carnivores make themselves appear, Legosi however wants to just fit it and not stand out at all and live a plain simple life. The pair of them go through many complications between each other and there is so much more I could write about this but I think for now I will stop as any further I would be spilling into a lot spoiler territory. If spoilers don’t matter to you then please keep an eye out as I’m going to be re-reading Beastars myself and once I do, it’ll most likely spark a fire in me to spoiler everything I love about it but I want those of you choose to read this to just experience it pure. As I said though there is a high chance I will come back after re-reading to just spoil it anything though I’ll make sure that’s obvious from the onset.

If you are someone who prefers to watch rather than read then I can happily say that it has been announced an anime is being developed and is set to release in October 2019 so the year of writing this. For those of us in the west it will be exclusive streamable on Netflix.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this though I know it may seem to have become a little rambly near the end and for that I do apologise. I have only spent an hour on this and there really really is a lot more I would genuinely love to talk about but I know if I do, I would basically just get into telling the story.

Cheating in Games: Right or Wrong?

The short answer: no. If you wish to cut and clip this to laugh at others on social media, go ahead I suppose.

The real answer really is subjective. Personally I’m on the side that it kind of is but you can argue that exploits are in a way cheats and I do enjoy a good exploit in an RTS or Grand Strategy and sometimes the odd RPG like Morrowind… I think I’m getting a bit side tracked here. I feel exploits though are slightly different to cheating myself and the reason for that is these are mechanics that are in the game and tend to require time or effort where as a cheat you tend to get something with zero set up or risk and that opens a very different discussion which I won’t get into.

We’ve all heard by now that a game reviewer used a slow down mod to beat a boss in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and this is what spawned this debate. I do find it a little upsetting to be honest that someone who is supposed to give an unbiased opinion on something to help me decide if it is worth my time and money to spend on a product isn’t experiencing the product in the way I most likely will. After all, how are you going to fairly judge an action game by slowing down the action? Overall I feel this is what upset people. You have someone being paid for, what is to many, a hobby and telling people if the product of said hobby is good or not but yet they aren’t actually experiencing the hobby.

What is important to an action game? I would argue the animations and the ability to cancel them. Animation cancelling is a pretty big thing amongst people who play either fighting games or action games, you will often here them saying that one move is better than another because you use a button input for another move before the one you currently used is fully played out by just 2 or 3 frames. It’s a pretty difficult thing to do and requires a lot of practice, I love action games honestly like the Devil May Cry series or the Souls series as well as “Souls like” games such as Nioh but honestly I’m terrible at animation cancelling but I can still finish these games with perseverance and without using either cheats or 3rd party applications such as a slow down modification. I don’t think I could properly give an opinion or recommend the games if I didn’t play them in their original state. If I said to a friend “oh yeah DMC 3 is amazing, there’s a really cool fight with your brother and all these cool moves happen! You should get it!” Would be fair on them really.

Let’s say in this example that like me they aren’t particularly good at action games but do enjoy them but are more used to slow paced action like Dark Souls and haven’t played anything fast paced and they just jumped into it because I gave them a half assed opinion clouded by me using god mode. They would probably quit at Cerberus and not trust my opinion as much in the future. This is the situation a reviewer or critic is in. This is why I think people were upset. Especially since the person who put that article out saying that it was okay for them to cheat in that game also put out an article giving tips on playing the game. How are we supposed to trust their advice when they can’t play the game? I wouldn’t trust someone who knows nothing about electrical installation telling me how to replace my lights in my house and DIY is considered to some a hobby as well.

It’s upsetting really because when it comes to leisure people seem to think that those who want to know about the leisure product are seen to take it as “too serious” when really I think they want to know if it’s worth them spending their time and money on. A lot of people don’t have a lot of free time to spend playing games or watching TV or movies or reading etc etc so when they say to someone “what is the game like?” they don’t want to hear “it’s great with cheats or playing it in a way the game wasn’t intended.” they want to be told what it is like. “Yes the game is entertaining there is a variety or race tracks to unlock and cars with plenty of customisation and eras to choose form and it plays more arcade akin to Need for Speed Underground (I wish) compared to something more simulation like Gran Turismo.” That’s the sort of thing people want to hear in short. Not “You should do X Y and Z to make game easy” only to find out that those things are actually hard to accomplish and are late game things to do and you only managed to do them at the time you did because you was using a 3rd party application to make the rest of the game easier.

At the end of the day if you are just a consumer then no it does not matter if what you do to a game on your own device or home. However if you are being paid to tell people how something functions or to give advice on something it needs to be known if you are experiencing the product in the base version. I wouldn’t want someone who drives a suped up Ford Fiesta and hasn’t driven a base model to tell me how the base model drives, or someone who has exposed cables telling me that there’s nothing with my mains socket that sparks when I put my phone charger in.

Berserk for newbies

Happiness, Love, Anger, Hatred, Laughter, Sombreness, Companionship, Friendship. All of these are parts of life. Media tries its best to imitate life although sometimes it goes into specialising one part of it. A drama will focus on love or happiness perhaps, a comedy will focus on the laughter and happiness, horrors focus on hatred and anger sometimes. Obviously these genres can be a bit more broad than what I mentioned but the point of a genre is to focus on certain aspects of life. I personally enjoy media for these reasons however, I often find myself wishing they tried more to focus on everything. I prefer movies over television shows so that’s probably why I find myself wanting more from them but I just don’t have the attention span or patiences to wait for more episodes which is going to sound stupid because I enjoy reading serialised manga. A manga I’ve been reading for a while and am currently waiting to continue is one that’s been going on since the 80s. A manga which has made me feel multiple emotions and still does everytime I re-read it whilst waiting for a new chapter. A manga called Berserk.

Berserk is an interesting manga and despite how popular it is and how passionate it’s fan base is it is certainly a piece of media which is not for everyone. I would honestly go as far to say that Berserk is my favourite piece of written/drawn media and I certainly gush over it anytime I speak about it. I say this so you can keep that in mind as I won’t defend myself if I come across as bias during this write up as I very well could be and for that I do apologise but I wish to share my love for this work as many others like myself have.

The reason why I say I understand why Berserk isn’t for everyone is exactly the reason why I love it. It is very raw in it’s subject matter. It discusses things such as anger towards one self, emotional and physical trauma, hatred for those you love, even rape which certainly connects to the trauma mentioned I feel I need to state that as I understand how controversial the subject of sexual assault is. However, as mentioned it is because of these subject matters I love it. I feel the series treats these subjects with a lot of respect and nuance, the matter of sex is not always used for shock value or to show on the nose two characters loving each other. Sometimes it is, other times though it could be due to lust or for political gain. There is a lot more I could go into here and I’ll be honest with you reading this I haven’t really planned everything and I’m making this all up as I go along but that’s how I think best personally. I’m sure while writing this I’ll edit it anyway of course.

To begin, the main focus of Berserk is a character called Guts or Guttsu? I’m going to refer to him as Guts as everyone does but sometimes in translations it’s written as Guttsu but lets NOT get in to that. Guts as a character is not the hero of the story, he isn’t necessarily an anti-hero either. Guts is just a man trying to make the best of any situation he’s put in or puts himself in. The first introduction we have to him is of a very cold, self centred, uncaring person who is psychotic you could even say he appears to be… Berserk. I’m keeping that in. The first thing we see of him is walking into a bar and straight slaughtering about 4 people just because he knew they were working for a daemon then when a pixie asks for him to free him he just walks off. We later see him in a worse state, after the daemon he has been searching for crushes him and lifts him up he blows him away with a cannon which he has for an arm (this is explained much later in the story which I won’t spoil.) He then proceeds to slice the daemons stomach open spilling its intestines out and walks over to it covered in both his own and its blood with an evil smile on his face with his wounds still bleeding, steps on its head forcing it drink its own blood before saying “Don’t die on me yet,” then proceeds to fire multiple arrows from his automatic crossbow into its head causing it to scream in pain and saying in response “Didn’t you say it doesn’t matter how many bolts I shoot at you? Must be rough, being unkillable and all.” From this introduction it’s very easy to think of Guts as a horrible evil, sadistic, psychopathic man. After another section where he kills another daemon after Guts himself abuses an old wounded man he turns to the daemons daughter who’s a young girl that’s in shock of seeing what she knew as her father now a dead butchered otherworldly being crying and wanting to kill herself, Guts just throws her a dagger and literally says to her “Go ahead, kill yourself.” with a big smile on his face. This interaction ends up with the girl becoming in enraged and declaring she wants to kill Guts as he walks away from the scene to which his response, while laughing, is “Fine. I’m ready whenever you are” and again, this makes him seem like a completely unemotional, horrible, unredeemable person, and I’m sure this is exactly what Kentaro Miura the author of Berserk wanted to us to think initially of Guts, because the next page shows us guts crying with his face that of a broken man.

After the introduction the manga actually goes back and shows us Guts from birth. He was born from a dying mother and had no known father, adopted by a passing mercenary band purely because the leaders wife wanted a child after her own miscarriage. Unfortunately for Guts things don’t stay on the up and up. He is forced to fight for a living as a child from as young as 8 years old. He knows nothing about interacting with people who live normal lives and knows nothing more beyond killing for money. His adoptive mother dies from plague and his adoptive father doesn’t care for him and just sees him as another solider. Clearly his personal development is stunted by these events and situations. He is then betrayed by those who has cared about for reasons he doesn’t comprehend as a child and is forced to live alone for a while drifting from mercenary band to mercenary band killing again and again training every day to kill more and become more efficient in killing. His entire childhood revolves around living by a sword and seeing people die by a sword and this shows in his personality. Guts is just a broken man which is what makes him so interesting because you can root for him in his endeavours despite how he goes about achieving his goals, because even though what he does can be horrible he isn’t always wrong with what he wants to achieve of course this comes down to a “the ends justify the means” argument which is something I like though because it can lead to discussions about how Guts could have done things differently or how he would be if certain things in his life went differently. We do see him grow as a character though, he starts off as a naive happy kid, to a mopey loner teen, to a love struck confused young adult, and then a rage induced hateful man who mellows out and just becomes tired which is where is now but I’m excited to see where he goes from now and how he will continue to grow as a character, he’s a very emotionally driven character hurting himself at times due to his emotions clouding his mind and sometimes even others because of this. I think this is why I love Guts as a character so much, like him I’d consider myself as a very emotional person deep down. I try to be rational and considerate of my actions and what I say to people but really I’m very emotionally driven in what I do.

Berserk also has a large supporting cast which I can go into with as much detail as I have with Guts and I gave a very compressed bit with Guts. I suppose really you could boil it down though with a bit of a… I’ll say love triangle. Griffith is the leader of a group called the Band of the Hawk which Guts joins, they have another note worthy soldier, a woman in fact, called Casca. Essentially, Casca wants Giffith who wants Guts (in a non romantic way mind you) who wants Casca. This kind of changes? Casca gains emotions for Guts but clearly still has emotions for Griffith and this makes things very confusing for her and it’s confusing for Guts because he’s never loved anyone before and starts off hating her. Griffith from the onset adores Guts due to his strength and loyalty and in a way sees him as a lap dog I would argue, not as a friend, and this is actually what causes them to drift apart at a point. Casca has a history with Griffith and is romantically interested in him although I wouldn’t say she loves him for who he is but rather what she perceives him as which she does come to realise but still struggles to pull her emotions towards him away which puts a strain on Guts who doesn’t know how to handle his own feelings towards Casca who be begins to love and care for. This probably seems like a lot of nonsense and babble to those who haven’t read it before.

I never really thought about how difficult it is to explain Berserk without actually TALKING about it. There is so much which happens in it that hits you hard emotionally as it doesn’t hold back. Characters die and people move on because they have to, sure they may remember them in memory now and then but like in reality they just move on and it just happens the deaths aren’t glorified and drawn out they just happen they are mortal and you as the reader need to accept that when it does happen no matter who to. If anything, please just read it. I’m most likely going to write more about Berserk in the future as there is just so much to talk about and discuss that what I have here but this is probably the best I can do to compactly explain what it is in a brief manner with out spoiling anything of importance because next to everything is important.

Either way, at the least I hope you found this interesting although looking back at it I somehow doubt you did so perhaps I should apologise for the time waste? For those of you who have read Berserk I’d be curious how you explain to those who haven’t without spoiling it for them. If you’re interested in discussing anything with me you can find me on Twitter @GlockItJacket you don’t have to follow me, it’s just if you’re interested in discussing Berserk or really anything. Manga, movies, video games etc. My DMs are open to all. Thank you for reading if you did.