BNA: Brand New Animal

BNA: Brand New Animal

BNA: Brand New Animal anime series cover art
BNA: Brand New Animal

Series Overview

BNA: Brand New Animal (BNA ビー・エヌ・エー) is the latest anime from the studio Trigger. And for anyone wondering, the actual title of this series is simply BNA. It stands for “Brand New Animal,” but that’s not actually part of the title in either English or Japanese.

The series takes place in a city by the name of Animacity — which is a city for beastmen. In this world, beastmen live “alongside” humans as another species. However, that doesn’t mean the two species get along, and that’s why Animacity was created to be a safe haven for beastmen of all kinds.

I’ll discuss the themes of the series more in-depth later on, but for now what you should know is that it focuses a lot on subjects of “the other,” such as racism. And I think it did a fairly decent job of exploring these subjects through the use of the protagonist, Michiru Kagemori.

Michiru is a tanuki beastman who claims she used to be a human. The first episode starts with her fleeing to Animacity while being chased by some shady people. And once in Animacity, the rest of the series basically focuses on Michiru learning that humans and beastmen aren’t all that different from one another.

It would be one thing if Michiru was simply a human thrown into Animacity. But since she’s actually a beastman with extensive knowledge of the world outside Animacity, she has a unique perspective compared to both the humans on the outside and the beastmen who have spent their entire lives inside the city.

And if you don’t care about any of that, then let me say that this series is still good. It has good characters, art, animation, music, everything. It’s also fairly fast-paced, which makes it perfect for binge-watching.

Characters

As already mentioned, Michiru Kagemori is a tanuki beastman who finds her way to Animacity in the first episode of the series. Her main priority is to figure out why she suddenly turned into a beastman, and hopefully how to be turned back into a human. Michiru also likes sports, specifically basketball.

Shirou Ogami is a private detective who works with the police and mayor of Animacity. He specializes in crimes involving outside forces aiming to destabilize Animacity from within — such as domestic terrorists who are funded by human organizations. If a crime has no human involvement, he generally isn’t interested.

Shirou also has a pet(?) crow named Kuro. Kuro is just a normal crow, not a beastman. However, he (or she) is smarter than your average crow. Kuro is more like a partner to Shirou than a pet.

Michiru, Shirou, and Kuro from the anime series BNA: Brand New Animal
Michiru, Shirou, and Kuro

Nazuna Hiwatashi is Michiru’s (human) friend from before she fled to Animacity. Her dream is to be an idol because she wants to have thousands of adoring fans.

The other main human character in the series is Alan Sylvasta, the president of Sylvasta Pharmaceuticals — the only human-run business that operates within Animacity. Obviously there are many in Animacity who don’t trust Alan because he’s a human, but his company does important research.

The main difference between humans and beastmen is that beastmen have a gene known as the “beast factor.” This gene is what allows them to transform into their beast forms. Sylvasta Pharmaceuticals does research on the beast factor both for medicinal purposes and to determine why humans and beastmen are different.

Legendary Beastmen

There will be spoilers for the series from here on out. You have been warned.

While most beastmen have beast forms that are regular animals, there are three who have “legendary” beast forms. These are Michiru, Shirou, and Nazuna.

Some of you reading this probably already understand what makes the beast forms of these characters different from the others — and I don’t mean plot-wise. But for those who don’t know, here’s a crash course in Japanese mythological creatures.

Japan does have “true” mythological creatures. When I say “true” mythological creatures, I mean things like dragons — creatures that aren’t real. A basic example of a Japanese “true” mythological creature is a kappa. I was actually surprised there was no kappa beastman in BNA.

However, there are also mythological creatures in Japan that are basically spiritual versions of real animals. Shirou Ogami’s beast form is an Ookami (wolf spirit). Nazuna’s beast form is a Kitsune (fox spirit). And Michiru’s beast form is a Tanuki (tanuki spirit).

Ookami, kitsune, and tanuki are literally just the Japanese words for these animals (wolf, fox, and tanuki respectively). But each is also significant in folklore, which is where these “spiritual” versions of the animals come from.

Ookami are basically protector spirits, which makes sense within the context of BNA because Shirou is the protector of beastmen. Kitsune are spirits able to shapeshift that frequently trick humans, which again makes sense with how Nazuna tricks the beastmen into believing she’s a protector god.

Tanuki are a bit different, though. Like kitsune, they have the ability to shapeshift, but they aren’t as deceptive as kitsune are. They’re basically just friendly magical creatures. Once you know that Tanuki and Kitsune can shapeshift, the morphing beast forms of both Michiru and Nazuna make sense — and both are “tricking” the beastmen in different ways.

Themes

BNA covers a lot of social topics. There’s racism, activism, fascism, anarchy, economic imbalance, eugenics, violence, terrorism (both domestic and foreign), national borders, cults, and more. The one thing it didn’t really touch on was climate change (and pollution), but as I mentioned in my review of Promare, that movie covered those topics.

Generally speaking, I think BNA did a pretty good job of covering all these various topics. But, the fact that so many different social topics were used as themes for the series meant that it couldn’t really focus on any one. Still, I don’t think the fact that it couldn’t cover these topics very in-depth hurt the series.

With all of that said, there’s one topic that I think the anime could have done a better job exploring, and unfortunately, it was the main theme of the series: Racism.

Michiru and the Bears baseball team from the anime series BNA: Brand New Animal
Michiru and the Bears baseball team

I would like to mention that I watched BNA and came to the conclusion that the topic of racism wasn’t covered very well before the current unrest that the world is experiencing in response to racial injustices. The social and political climate we’re currently experiencing did not influence what you’re about to read.

Despite being an anime with a clear anti-racism theme, the development of the plot is inherently racist. The beast factor that distinguishes beastmen from humans kind of excuses racism, and I don’t think that’s the message Trigger was going for.

The fact that beastmen are biologically different from humans and that their genetics make them prone to violence is extremely concerning. The whole series was about how beastmen and humans aren’t so different after all, but at the end we learn that they very much are.

You’d think that the final point of the series would be that both humans and beastmen are both good and bad. But no. The final point of the series is that beastmen are inherently more dangerous and less able to control themselves than humans. And the anime even went so far as to reveal all the historical violence was actually beastmen on beastmen violence.

Conclusion

Overall I think BNA: Brand New Animal is an 8/10 as far as anime go. It’s engaging, entertaining, and interesting. But the fact that an anti-racism anime ended up being racist itself is a bit puzzling. It may actually be a good thing that the other topics weren’t explored as much, because I have a feeling they would have ended up the same way.

On a less serious note, both the OP and ED for BNA are great. I prefer the OP “Brand New Animal,” bu the ED “Night Running” is a good song too. I think my one issue is that “Night Running” was also used as a frequent insert song — so it’s heard a bit too much.

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2 Replies to “BNA: Brand New Animal”

  1. If the series contradicts itself about racism then it is poorly done, it is a hypocritical show, what is worse.The fact that the protagonist returns to normal is another fatal mistake, basically she tells you that being different was a problem for her, but Well you can’t expect that in Japan they know how to take these topics.

    1. I don’t see Michiru returning to being a human as an issue. It’s not that being different was a problem for her, but just that it wasn’t who she is. I’d say that if she was originally anti-beastmen, then it would have meant more for her to remain a Beastman. But she wasn’t. She was a regular human who was changed against her will and knowledge. So her wanting to go back isn’t a slight against beastmen.

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