Based on the manga series by Paru Itagaki, Beastars opened its first season with the shocking murder and devouring of Tem, an alpaca student and drama club member at the prestigious Cherryton Academy. Season 2 reveals that Tem’s killer was Riz, a brown bear who is also part of the drama club and became close friends with Tem in the weeks leading up to his death. After identifying Riz as the murderer, Legoshi decides to protect his herbivore friends himself rather than calling the police, but his training with Gouhin to control his prey drive has left him weakened.
Meanwhile, Louis drops out of Cherryton Academy to embrace a new life as the boss of the Shishigumi, a gang of lions who operate out of the Black Market. Like Legoshi, Louis is fighting his innate instincts – trying to rid himself of his timid herbivore nature and going so far as to eat meat in order to maintain his status as leader of the carnivores. Beastars‘ season 2 finale brings Legoshi, Louis and Riz crashing together for a final showdown, in which all three of them experience major personal revelations.
Why Riz Killed & Devoured Tem
After Legoshi recognizes Riz as the killer, the truth about Tem’s death is revealed from Riz’s perspective. As a brown bear, Riz is required to take strength-suppressing medication that prevents accidental violent incidents (like poor Kibi the anteater getting his arm ripped off by Tao, a panther, during drama club). Though effective at taming him, Riz’s medication also has severe side effects that can only be quelled by eating honey, leaving the other students with an impression of him as a gentle giant who simply loves honey. When Tem and Riz grew close as friends, Riz was emboldened by Tem’s trust in him to stop taking his medication and show the world his true self. However, this was a decision that ended in tragedy.
On the night of the blood-red moon, Riz confessed to Tem that he was no longer taking his medication. Alarmed by this, Tem started to run, which in turn triggered Riz’s prey drive. He hunted Tem down to the auditorium and devoured him. As a psychological defense mechanism in response to the trauma of what he had done, Riz romanticized his memories of the encounter so that his devouring of Tem became ultimate expression of their bond as carnivore and herbivore. In his showdown with Legoshi at the end of Beastars season 2, Riz says that this version of events was false and that his killing of Tem was simply a mindless, cold-blooded murder. However, this is just another way of trying to make sense of what he has done, by drawing a sharp line between his basest carnivore instincts and his love for his friend.
Like Legoshi’s complex feelings for Haru, the truth about why Riz killed Tem probably lies somewhere between these two versions of events. In Beastars season 1, Legoshi and Haru’s attempt to have sex almost ended in violence when, in the heat of the moment, Haru’s natural instincts as a prey animal kicked in and she forced her arm into Legoshi’s mouth. In the world of Beastars, carnivores and herbivores’ positive emotions like love, lust and affection can easily become confused with the baser instincts to eat or be eaten. The more passionate things get, the more those drives can become confused. Though Legoshi and Haru were able to back down from their tense moment, Riz and Tem were not.
Why Legoshi Ate Louis’ Leg (& Why Louis Let Him)
Louis’ hostility towards Legoshi is entwined with his self-loathing at his own nature as a herbivore. In Beastars season 2, Louis leaves behind his future as Cherryton Academy’s star student and potential Beastar to pursue a life at the top of the food chain. Louis and Legoshi’s arcs in season 2 are mirrors of each other: Louis is fighting his herbivore nature and becomes thinner and weaker as a result of his attempts to stick to a carnivore’s diet; meanwhile, Legoshi’s training with Gouhin to get control over his predator instincts leaves his jaw strength weakened, his fur trimmed short, and his body growing thin from exhaustion. Alone, neither of them have what it takes to stop Riz. But once they begin to reconnect in the Black Market, they both help each other to overcome what’s been holding them back.
Through his training with Gouhin, Legoshi comes to realize that resisting his prey drive isn’t simply about abstinence and will power, but about coming to respect herbivores and recognize them as people. His first step towards this enlightenment is when he stops focusing on holding himself back from eating the slab of Black Market meat, and insists on giving the animal a proper burial. His second step is when he eats the moth larva, taking another creature’s life for his own benefit, and communing with the spirit of the moth that the larva will now never get a chance to become. His final step is eating Louis’ leg, freely offered to him, in order to obtain the strength he needs to stop Riz and protect the herbivores of Cherrytown Academy from further slaughter. Thanks to his lessons with Gouhin, Legoshi has the strength of will to take only what he needs, without completely devouring Louis.
In Louis’ case, his disgust towards his own herbivore nature and his attraction to carnivores stems from his childhood as a bait animal in a cage on the Black Market. His leadership of the Shishigumi was an attempt to ensure that he would never be so helpless again, by putting himself on the other side of the bars and trying to become a predator instead of prey. In Beastars‘ season 2 finale, however, Louis has realized that his attempts to be a carnivore were just another way of letting his childhood on the Black Market control him. This is why he invites Legoshi to eat the foot that has his Black Market brand on it: he considers the mark a curse that has been following him around his whole life, and since a carnivore put it there, only another carnivore can free him from it. By wilfully allowing a carnivore to eat a part of him, Louis is letting go of his fear and finding strength in his status as a herbivore, giving Legoshi what he needs to win the fight against Riz.
Why Riz & Legoshi Stopped Fighting
Surprisingly, Riz and Legoshi’s fight doesn’t end with one of them dead – though Louis sacrificing his leg is still the key to Riz surrendering and allowing the police to take him away. When Legoshi first returns with his full carnivore strength, juiced up from eating Louis’ flesh, Riz believes that Legoshi has succumbed to the same predator instincts that he did when he devoured Tem. When he realizes that Louis is still alive, however, it shakes his belief that the only way for a carnivore and a herbivore to forge a strong bond is through tragedy. He also realizes that what Louis and Legoshi share is stronger than his own total devouring of Tem, and for the first time allows himself to grieve for Tem rather than telling himself that Tem’s death was the inevitable final step of their bonding.
The Real Meaning of Beastars Season 2’s Ending
The overriding theme of Beastars season 2 is that no one is completely irredeemable. Though it’s easier to think that the world is divided into carnivores and herbivores, predator and prey, good people and bad people, doing the harder work of forgiveness (both forgiveness of others and forgiveness of the self) is ultimately more rewarding. The second season of the anime explored the complexities of both herbivore and carnivore nature, particularly through Louis’ relationship with senior Shishigumi member Ibuki, who revealed that he was once a product on the Black Market just like Louis was.
Meanwhile, Legoshi’s training with Gouhin was not about tracking down “bad” carnivores and killing them, but about rehabilitating them and giving them a second chance. In Beastars, the act of devouring is metaphorically conflated with the act of sex, and the many references to Legoshi’s virginity are connected to the idea that when a carnivore commits an act of violence against a herbivore, they lose something that they can never get back. This creates the self-fulfilling prophecy that drives Riz to double-down on his carnivorous instincts after killing Tem, and makes Legoshi think that if he gives in to his predator instincts even once, he’ll be lost forever. The sub-plot in which Tao accidentally rips off Kibi’s arm and Kibi not only forgives him, but trusts him enough to touch the arm once it’s reattached, illustrates how forgiveness is difficult but ultimately an important part of healing.
With that in mind, it was a necessary part of Legoshi’s character arc to choose to first eat the moth larva and then eat Louis’ leg. So long as he was completely abstaining, he wasn’t in a place to truly help Riz, and would only have been able to end the fight by killing him. By allowing himself to become tainted with these smaller acts of devouring, Legoshi went a little way down the dark path that Riz had already gone down, which in turn allowed him to lead Riz out of the darkness.
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