Cover Image: Beast Complex, Vol. 1

Beast Complex, Vol. 1

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A collection of short stories showcasing the difficult dynamic between predators and prey.

A pre-cursor to Beastars introducing different relationships between Carnivores and Herbivores. The themes vary from friendship, stereotyping, romance, professional relationships, and economic challenges. Each story was very unique and focused on different animals. There are some familiar characters in the background from Beastars! The illustrations are realistic and capture the emotion and intensity in scenes. The dialogue and monologues are insightful and short. There is a lot of room for readers to "fill in the blank" for different situations and come to their own conclusions. Two of the stories had sexual undertones that were odd and bordering on fetish. The plots were generally standard "day in the life" of an animal with some drama. It's clear to see how these stories inspired Beastars. 

Readers who enjoyed Beastars will enjoy these short stories. However, I thought the stories were generally underwhelming and slow.
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Originally a prototype to what would be known as Beastars, this anthology of stories highlights the… well, complex relationships between herbivores and carnivores, as each chapter highlights a tale of an herbivore and carnivore pair. Whether it’s two friends who are growing up, blissfully unaware of their biological differences to a vitriolic duo of divas who need to work together to get a cooking show done, there’s a wealth of lore that complements the world of Beastars quite well. (There’s even a Legoshi cameo before he heads to Cherryton!)

Since this is a collection of chapters that weren’t continually serialized, there are a few shifts in the art here and there. While the later chapters were made while Beastars was being run, I quite liked the earlier chapters in this volume due to how expressive and distinct the art style was compared to the more uniform gritty look that the series was known for. That said, this is one of the better supplementary volumes I’ve read, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series (as well as more Beastars).


(Read this review and more on Gaming Trend! https://gamingtrend.com/feature/impressions/spinoffs-stitch-and-furries-galore-manga-minis-and-a-mini-book-review/)
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Beast Complex is a collection of six short stories that set the scene for the best-selling Beastars series. As Paru Itagaki’s first work before Beastars, Beast Complex offers up a look into the series that we haven’t seen yet. In the six stories, we get the chance to see different pairings of carnivores and herbivores as they grapple with conflicts.

Beast Complex is published in English by VIZ Media, translated by Tomo Kimura, with an English adaptation by Annette Roman, and features touch-up art & lettering by Susan Daigle-Leach.  The entirety of this volume is to showcase not only the differences between herbivores and carnivores but also how they find common ground. The relationships highlighted in Beast Complex span from antagonistic, loving, friendship, and everything in between.

By focusing on a new pair in each chapter (with a couple of familiar faces sprinkled in) we get the chance to explore the world of Beastars from a different perspective. While the world of the series is expanding with the main volume releases we still have only two perspectives, from Legoshi and Louis. While that’s good, and we get the herbivore/carnivore dynamic, neither of those characters are “normal.” Both of them transgress boundaries established by their society. With Beast Complex, however, we get to look at more “ordinary” characters. You know, the ones not imbued with some specific sense of duty like Legoshi. Instead, we get to see scary and tender moments that just happen in a world where carnivores and herbivores live together, and that includes a lot of devourings.

Some of the relationships consist of a tiger and a beaver, a camel and a wolf, a bat and a lion, a kangaroo and a black panther, a crocodile and a gazelle, and a fox and a chameleon. While all of these relationships bring forward elements that look at the way society is established in the world of Beastars we also get to see types of species that haven’t really come into play just yet in the main volumes (currently on volume 11).


 
For the tiger and the beaver, they have to defy peer pressure and fight for justice, oh and they do it as kids. Then there is the camel journalist who passed judgment on carnivores for years spends a life-changing night with a seductive wolf. And one of the weirdest with a crocodile and a gazelle who must find a way to work together as chef and assistant on a cooking show with flagging ratings. And another one of note serves as a deeper look into not just how we see others but how those assumptions show us as well when a fox and a chameleon wrestle with stereotypes about each other.

The fact that Beast Complex gives us reptiles, a flying mammal, and a gigantic size difference, we get the chance to see more of just how everything works. While this is because of how well Itagaki writes her characters, it’s also because of how she brings them to life in illustrations. Anthropomorphizing each animal in a way that retains their distinct qualities, but bringing out enough humans to draw an empathetic thread between the reader and the character.

Overall, Beast Complex isn’t necessary reading, but it’s a damn good addition. As American fans of the series eagerly await season 2 of the anime and for volumes already released in Japan, Beast Complex offers a nice bit of reading to scratch the itch.
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Beast Complex is a compilation of short stories written before the popular manga and anime, Beastars. The nature of instinct mixed with emotion and personal motivation is explored in a high school setting for the latter. Beast Complex takes a gander at society outside of that box, answering lingering questions regarding how this world of mixed herbivores and carnivores can live in supposed harmony.

Each story is named after the two primary animals who serve as the main characters, a herbivore, and a carnivore pair. This gives each story a fairytale-like aura with a taste of Grimm, as the subjects are sometimes strange and terrifying.

The first story, The Lion and the Bat, reminded me of the primary elements of Beastars. Raul, who is the perfect student outwardly, faces the pressures of who he is supposed to be and is rewarded by going against his stereotypes as a lion. This story touches on the paradoxical nature of how a carnivore must be calm at all times, lest they be subject to the ever-watchful eyes of this mixed society. We also witness the pressure of their own species’ clique, whose pride rides upon how they can embody the virtues of their instincts.

The titular bat, Azmo, serves mainly as a mirror for Raul to express himself safely. While Raul comes to his own conclusions about how animals should really act, this story does not provide a clear conclusion to the problems that its society faces. However, that isn’t necessarily a poor decision, as these kinds of issues may not, in fact, have a solid solution.

Highlights of Beast Complex include The Camel and the Wolf and The Crocodile and the Gazelle. Similar to how modern romance manga has flirted with the idea of more adult settings, these stories seek to define the line between professional work between the two factions of animals and where both animals feel it is wrong to do something but decide to do so anyway. The uncomfortable atmosphere of a crocodile and gazelle working together on a cooking show provides the snappy dialogue and witty commentary on all factors of these societal pressures that a short story manga needs.

However, stories like The Tiger and the Beaver and The Fox and the Chameleon stay within the confines of growing up with these stereotypes. While the animal themes elevate these stories above mere literal retellings of childhood bullying, these kinds of tales do not offer much that hasn’t already been seen in Itagaki’s other work. While the schematics of raising young carnivores and herbivores together are interesting, the complexity of the narrative also suffers.

It is difficult to fit two characters’ worth of personality within the confines of ten pages. Still, the world-building that is the hallmark of Itagaki’s work fills in the need for elaborate backstories. Despite being a short series written before Beastars, having the context of that world will definitely increase your enjoyment and understanding of the forces that are pressuring the animals of Beast Complex. Present in an intriguing setting, the characters themselves become curious cases that decide to sate their emotional and physical needs, despite the mortal danger that their civilization presents.
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This was a weird collection of shorts.  It is a spin off of Beastars, which I have not read yet.  I think this might be better after reading at least one of those books.  These stories look at the differences between the Carnivores and the Herbivores, or the predators and the prey.  There seems to be no mention of the Omnivores, but maybe that is for later.  This feels very adult, and could make for interesting discussions.  My favorite story is this edition is the Happy Happy Cooking Show - where a Gator is teamed up with a Gazelle to host a good eats show.
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This is a great edition to the Beastars universe. It was nice seeing more on how carnivores and herbivores get along or not. Also there were stories with non students and that really added to the understanding of the world. Anyone that enjoys Beastars should read this as it really adds to the complexity of this world.
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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher, Viz, for sending me a digital copy for review.

Beast Complex Vol 1 is a collection of short stories from the world of runaway hit manga Beastars. Paru Itagaki takes us into the lives of other students and adult animals as they navigate life and death as predators and prey.

I really enjoyed getting to know other characters in the world, and especially the relationship between a chameleon and a fox in a high school setting, and the fast banter between a crocodile and gazelle. The latter are forced to work together on a TV set, and gazelle Luna's prejudices about Benny - the new chef - threaten to boil over. 

Mangaka Itagaki gives readers a peek into their work process, and notes about the creation of the hit manga, which were very cool to see.

The one story that I didn't enjoy was The Camel and The Wolf. Was she a killer in the end? What did that all mean?! I found the ending so open as to be confusing.

3/5 stars - for fans of the manga and TV show
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There were 6 stories in this manga volume which means each story was so incredibly short...and yet I cried with 2 of the stories still! I actually loved every single story in this volume. If you are a fan of Beastars the manga or the anime, this is definitely something you need to get your hands on and read. 

Every single pair I was like "oh man I wonder how this relationship is going to work out" and it ended to well. Every story was about a carnivore and a herbivore pair and how they interact with eachother through friendships, relationships, and prejudices and stereotypes. My favorite was the Lion and the Bat. I really did start tearing up by the end of that story. Second favorite was the Tiger and the Beaver. Highly highly recommend even if I wished the stories were a bit longer and fleshed out.

Thank you NetGalley for providing the advanced copy I read.
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In a world filled with anthropomorphic animals, the peace between herbivores and carnivores is constantly being threatened. Despite consistent efforts by animals in power, animal instincts sometimes come out in a very violent burst, which mostly ends up with the carcass of a herbivore. That’s actually how the Beastars manga has started. Legosi’s friend has been devoured by a carnivore, and Legosi, a herbivore lover, is out to find the culprit. A big carnivore adoring herbivore is obviously quite weird. Even Legosi admits to it.
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Beast Complex is a compilation of six short stories set in the world of BEASTARS, and four of the stories were drawn before BEASTARS began. The compilation is considered Paru Itagaki’s debut work.

Beast Complex
Written by: Paru Itagaki
Publisher: Akita Shoten
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 16, 2021

The first story in the collection is titled, “The Lion and the Bat.” This story is set at a school with the same rules as Cherryton Academy in BEASTARS. Even though the school is never mentioned by name, I assume that this story is ultimately taking place at Cherryton. I’m guessing Itagaki didn’t give a name to the school until she started developing BEASTARS. In this story, a lion named Raul serves as the student council president and is given the task of convincing his classmate, a bat, to return to school. Azmo, the bat, isn’t keen on having Raul visit him, and their first meeting ends with an argument and Raul baring his teeth. Later, Raul goes back to apologize, and offers to share his notes to help Azmo catch up. Raul learns why Azmo quit coming to school, and the two gain an understanding of each other. I appreciated the message that Itagaki was trying to portray with this story with a carnivore and an herbivore trying to understand one another.

The next story, “The Tiger and the Beaver,” is also set at the school. Unlike the previous story, though, these characters are at the younger end. Instead of being teenagers, they’re around 10 or so. The tiger, Gon, has been friends with Mogu, the beaver, since they were born. In this chapter, it’s established that at the school, the herbivores and carnivores are separated from each other at school when they’re 10 years old. These two are young enough that they don’t understand why this policy exists, especially since they’re still good friends with each other. When they secretly meet one night, they witness older carnivores at the school bullying an herbivore. Unfortunately, the two are discovered when they try to take a picture as evidence, and a chase ensues. I appreciated getting a story with a younger herbivore and carnivore at the school and learning how the school rules work when they’re at this age, since what I’ve read of BEASTARS at the time of this writing hasn’t addressed this at all. It’s a nice little piece of background knowledge that helps to flesh out the school and its policies. And it was also sweet to see these two younger and innocent characters interacting together in the world that readers would get to know better in BEASTARS.

The third is titled, “The Camel and the Wolf.” This is a story set in the town and features adult characters. Garom, the camel referenced in the title, is a journalist who is telling some of his friends about an encounter he had with a snow white wolf named Abby. He encounters her at a coffee shop as he’s writing what he believes will be his final article before submitting his resignation. After a rocky start, they end up in a one night stand for Abby to “devour” him. To be honest, of the six stories presented here, this one was my least favorite. While I appreciated seeing a story focusing on adult characters in the world of BEASTARS, there was just something about this one that just didn’t sit right with me.

Next is “The Kangaroo and the Black Panther.” The kangaroo is the manager of a hotel that has seen a noticeable decline in guests in recent times, and the black panther is a young woman who comes to stay in one of the rooms. It turns out the black panther is harboring a secret that’s connected to the criminal gang that has moved its headquarters nearby recently. When the kangaroo figures out the truth, he’s left with the dilemma of letting her go or killing her. I applaud the decision that the kangaroo ultimately makes, but it’s an ethical question that makes the reader think as they read this story.

This is followed by “The Crocodile and the Gazelle.” Luna, the gazelle in the title, is a sous chef on a cooking show. She has only been on the show for five out of its 20 years, but the ratings are slipping. Her co-chef on the show (another herbivore) is quitting. A crocodile named Benny is brought in to be the new chef, much to her chagrin. She doesn’t trust him, since he’s a carnivore. During their first live broadcast, Benny starts saying some things, such as making the “fake meat” they’re cooking taste like the real thing, which upsets Luna. The director just lets this go on, especially since they’re seeing the ratings going up. They just continue to go up as Luna begins arguing with Benny. But even though they’re arguing, they’re still cooking the dish. This was the most unique story in this compilation, although you really have to wonder what the producers and the director were thinking. Yes, they were trying to shake up the show to try to increase the ratings but pairing up a carnivore and an herbivore kind of feels like it was a little much.

The final story in this compilation is “The Fox and the Chameleon.” We return to a school setting for this final story, and it tells the story of a female fox and a male chameleon. The chameleon seems to have a crush on the fox and tends to camouflage himself with his surroundings when they’re alone together. One day, after the fox is bullied by some other foxes at school, she asks him why he doesn’t stick up for her. His ability to camouflage becomes important the next time the fox is bullied, although he has to do something he normally doesn’t do in order to become invisible. This one was a lot closer to a typical “school” story than the other stories in this compilation that were set at the school.

Overall, Itagaki writes about compelling stories involving a carnivore and an herbivore, with the main exception being “The Camel and the Wolf.” But even with that story, she told six unique stories that are set in this world, and none of them feel like a carbon copy of any of the other stories. This ended up providing some great “world building” for her BEASTARS series, and as a reader, I appreciated getting to see where the manga series ultimately got its start. And it was also interesting to see how much Itagaki’s art style evolves over the course of the six stories in this compilation.

If you’re a fan of the BEASTARS manga, I would recommend reading Beast Complex. It allows the reader to gain insight into BEASTARS’ beginnings, and it also provides readers more stories and characters that are set in the same world. In a lot of ways, I see Beast Complex compilation serving as a companion volume for BEASTARS.
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I adore the Beastars world; it captures discrimination and racism very well in a fictional animal world. I would for sure recommend the manga or anime anytime. 

This is a small collection of short manga stories within the world, showcasing all the lives, problems, successes and failures within that fictional world. It was delightful to read, and my favourites were definitely the crocodile & Gazelle and the Tiger & Beaver.
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This seems to be the prelude to the Beastars series. The artwork is a little rough, but the stories were solid. I'm kind of surprised that I enjoyed this as much as I did. Even though we were introduced to lots of characters and the stories were short, there was a surprising amount of character development, plot, and world building packed in there. I would recommend this even if you aren't someone who usually enjoys manga.
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Para Itagaki's Beast complex Volume 1, was given to me for free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I want to start out by saying that I have never read any of the Breast ar manga. I do like the concept of predators and prey living in harmony.  is a very strange theme of nature vs. nurture. Each individual was deep and thought provoking. The black and white drawings made the stories feel like,an old noir film.

4 out 5 star
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Thank you NetGalley for the ARC!

Beast Complex is a collection of short stories set in BEASTARS universe. We get a glimpse of how other citizens interact with one another and how the society norms affect their relationships.  To my understanding, these are stories written before BEASTARS and in a way you can see how it was inspired.

#BeastComplexVol1 #NetGalley#BEASTARS
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Beast Complex is a nice way to expand on the universe established in Itagaki's Beastars title, without the limits of being set in the Cherryton school. I think it showcases Itagaki's ability to illustrate more species of animals with brief character/behavioral studies in these stories, but it falls short of the level of charm the main show and its protagonist. There were many interesting characters in Beastars that could've been explored more, but didn't contribute to the main storyline, and I just wish this title provided another outlet for those characters to shine.
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Received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

These are all short stories set within the Beastars universe, if you haven't read those, go check it out! I think this is still somewhat easy to follow, but it's still better to read the Beastars manga, or the first couple of volumes in order to better understand the conflicts within the world. 

Overall, I really enjoyed the stories and Paru's artwork! I hope we get more like this, I love the Beastars world and its complex machinations. I also like how Paru, despite having similar creatures like a tiger and a wolf from Beastars appear in Beast Complex, they're still unique enough to be their own characters instead of carbon copies of the Beastars cast. 

The Lion & The Bat: A lion with high aspirations and great long-term goals is shaken to the core thanks to the words of a small bat. Very sweet story

The Tiger & The Beaver: A story focusing on two children who are determined to stay friends despite their differences. Oh man, this one was so bittersweet. Great, but bittersweet.

The Camel & The Wolf: A camel is about to write a scathing article on predators until a beautiful wolf sweeps him off his feet. The art style with the camel was fantastic, he truly looked like a nervous, broken down newspaper reporter. Definitely an odd story, but the camel's style was awesome. 

The Kangaroo & The Black Panther: A kangaroo owns an inn and a young panther buys a room. The kangaroo's deadpan snark was hilarious. Can't believe he literally told his friend to buy him at the black market if he ever ends up in there, wow. A tragic story, but still interesting.

The Crocodile & The Gazelle: A gazelle is an assistant chef on a cooking show...she's not happy about the new chef because he's a predator. A lighthearted romp that was pretty entertaining, great banter between the two. 

The Fox & The Chameleon: A fox deals with bullies and is frustrated by the stereotypes while a chameleon learns what it means to not blend in. A sweet story, the fox's frustrations with the bullies was relatable.
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So Beastars has finished its run, but there is still content to be enjoyed. Many people, including myself, are waiting for the second season of Beastars to come out on Netflix, but there is also this anthology to enjoy as well.

This is a collection of short stories, with different characters, but set in the Beastars world. It was interesting to learn that some of these stories were written before Itagaki wrote Beastars, and you can tell. This definitely feels like the foundation of a bigger story waiting to be developed, and I think that’s why I enjoyed it more. I loved seeing where the world building began, how Beastars was created from this collection of stories, and how certain character arcs came to be. You can even see Legoshi in one of the panels. It was fascinating to see Itagaki’s process, knowing her little drabble’s would spawn into a larger and fascinating story.

However, on their own, the stories needed more time and development  because the world is too interesting to not develop further. I had a few I really liked, such as the story with the the Fox and the Chameleon, the Lion and the Bat, and the Camel and the Wolf. The problem is that Beastars is a much more superior version, so these short stories aren’t enough to stand on their own, but as a companion piece it’s a nice addition to your Beastars collection. I definitely recommend this to any Beastars fan who aren’t ready to let the story go.
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I really enjoyed this short story collection in the world that Beastars takes place. It truly was interesting to see other slice of life kind of stories. I will take as many volumes of this that the mangaka wants to write for sure.
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This world is best described as Disney's Zootopia movie, but for adults. This book includes several stories set in this world. Carnivores are sometimes misunderstood, while herbivores sometimes have prejudices against them.
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