ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Beastars,’ Volume 11

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Beastars Volume 11

Legoshi has been trying to solve and handle Tem’s murder since volume one of Beastars, and in volume 11, it all comes to a head with a battle in the moonlight. Written and illustrated by mangaka Paru Itagaki, Beastars Volume 11 is localized in English by VIZ Media’s Signature imprint, translated by Tomo Kimura, and features touch-up art and lettering by Susan Daigle-Leach.

In this climactic conclusion to Beastars’ main arc, Itagaki takes time to map out Riz, the brown bear’s motivations for the murder of his friend Tem, and how it’s had a lasting impact. Additionally, Legoshi prepares for his final showdown with Riz. Meanwhile, Louis has a revelation and threatens to abdicate his leadership of the Shishi-gumi lion gang. Leaving one make-shift family to support Legoshi the only way he can think.

Now, with Beastars Season 2 nearing its debut, I’m going to tread lightly around the spoilers in this volume. That being said, even without discussing the outcome of Riz and Legoshi’s fight, Itagaki has packed this volume with character development and world-building. Filled with action, Beastars Volume 11 is also focused on unpacking the motives and identities of predators. Itagaki holds Riz and Legoshi as two sides of the same coin—one obsessed with prey to protect and the other to consume.

While Itagaki’s deft hand brings to life the phenomenal fighting, the best part of this volume is the conversation that Riz and Legoshi have between blows. They map out the way predators think, using the same catalyst to arrive at different conclusions. Additionally, Louis and the Shishi-gumi offer another perspective. One of the reasons that this series works is because of the nuance Itagaki brings to her description of predator, prey, and predation itself. The series may have begun as a story of star-crossed lovers, but it has morphed into a murder-mystery action manga set in a world that continues to subvert expectations and expand on elements of difference that others in the anthropomorphic genre tend to skate past.

In fact, Beastars Volume 11 opens with a chapter that gets into Riz’s head. We see through Riz’s perspective how one moment shook his life. Itagaki has taken the time to map out each species’ routines in the series as the story allows. In the opening chapter of the volume, we’re given a look at the life of not just Riz but a bear in general. Because of their size, bears and all animals over a certain height have to take strength inhibitors. This allows them to function in society while minimizing risks for the herbivores they interact with. Additionally, as stated in previous volumes, they don’t eat meat, getting their protein from tofu and other substitutes.

The most compelling part of this volume is actually its opening because we get to see the way one bite of Tem has turned every piece of Riz’s life upside down. Initially, we see him as a soft bear who enjoys cooking for his dorm. It feels as if Itagaki will create a string of empathy between the reader and Riz, but she doesn’t. What begins as an “aw poor Riz” turns into an ominous explanation of obsession with eating herbivores, an intimate description of Tem’s murder, and how all the food after has lost its taste. This opening sets the tone for Beastars Volume 11 and showcases Itagaki’s strength as a character writer.

This volume also features spectacular art, particularly of Legoshi, back arched, using his sense of smell to muster all his strength. It’s a striking splash page, and the panels of the fighting are both beautiful and dynamic. Additionally, the emotion that Itagaki packs into the animal’s faces without making them look too human has to be commended, especially in a volume filled with heartbreak, struggle, and connection.

In the end, Beastars Volume 11 is the best of the series. As the end to one arc, the shocking events at the end set up a future that will leave our protagonists changed forever. If you’re not reading this series yet, you need to. Boy, do you need to.

Beastars Volume 11 is available wherever books are sold on March 16, 2021.

Beastars Volume 11
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TL;DR

In the end, Beastars Volume 11 is the best of the series. As the end to one arc, the shocking events at the end set up a future that will leave our protagonists changed forever. If you’re not reading this series yet, you need to. Boy, do you need to.