Episode 12 of BNA races to finish the anime on a high note, but ends up rushing too quickly into its conclusion that the plot threads that are played around with throughout the series are either neglected or ignored.
One surprise that’s introduced by the finale is that Alan is actually an ancient beastman who uses humans to eliminate hybrid beastmen. In this universe, beastmen are like bananas in that it’s hard to find a definitive banana because of how many varieties in the world and Alan just happens to be one of the last existing bananas who wants to use his power to make sure that no other banana varieties can exist in the world.
To boil it all down, Alan’s dream of racial purity within beastmen makes him disgusted that all existing beastmen have since become hybrids that don’t have the celestial godliness of those born centuries in the past. Because of this, he’s spent generations trying to further the racial tension between humans and beastmen until the latter is no more.
It’s a lot to process for the final episode to re-evaluate the hierarchy of beastmen knowing that, over the years, the definition of what a beastman is has changed dramatically, and no one really knows about any beastmen history before Ginrou. Not to mention the trump card of Alan being a beastman this whole time, albeit a super special one, is a twist that doesn’t factor in how long he’s been able to keep his identity completely secret while interacting with humans behind-the-scenes for centuries in his on-going pursuit to eradicate beastmen.
The fatal flaw about how much was focused on Sylvasta Pharmaceuticals is how much everything surrounding it is treated as an afterthought if it doesn’t directly resolve the fight with Alan. I already talked enough about the mafia, but even Nazuna ends up going with the flow. She becomes the idol she always wanted to be by the end, but all it took for her to change her mind about throwing Michiru under the bus constantly is realizing that her sudden decision not to out herself backfired at the behest of the cult leader.
And any hints of the cult leader being a creepy pervert also apparently never came to fruition until he suddenly started going the creepy fanboy route to avoid having her help calm down the enraged beastmen. Her image as a human impersonating a beloved deity this whole time was also immediately disregarded once an image of her helping a beastmen child became viral and got her a dream job. No need for self-reflection or anything when the solution comes to you handed in a silver platter.
As enthusiastic as I was to start the show given how much of a positive impression that Little Witch Academia left with me, Brand New Animal fails to follow through on a majority of the plot points that are introduced in the series. Characters that had pivotal roles in one episode end up blurring into the background later on, and if you aren’t integral to Alan’s side of the story, you can kiss your relevance goodbye.
One key issue the anime had was that it didn’t have the time to follow the same formula as Little Witch Academia by focusing on world-building for a large chunk of the series before creating adversity in the plot. LWA had time to do it because the first half was used to get Akko accustomed to trying to make it through her witchcraft lessons before they fleshed out Ursula’s troublesome past in the second half.
With only 12 episodes to boot, time is of the essence to get your world-building out of the way quickly if you want to tell a story about a secret police force that discovers a conspiracy to eradicate beastmen. Details were peppered about earlier episodes, but the focus is taken so far away from these moments that it never knows how to strike a better balance between the adversaries it does introduce.
It’s still a visually impressive anime with an important message on how societal systems create the conditions required to create inequality, but because much of this is rooted in the anime back when the mafia was considered a nefarious figure, this message is trampled all over once we find out that Alan envisioned himself as a puppet master for the total destruction of beastmen. What happens when Alan is gone? Is there really going to be a power vacuum when the mafia already had its stranglehold on the city long before he was relevant to the story? Isn’t Anima City still going to have human trafficking, recreational gambling, wanton murder, and rampant theft happening under both Shirou and the Mayor’s watch because they kept a very selective eye on which of the Don’s crimes should be investigated? Does he still want to instigate war and strife between humans and beastmen after all of this, or is the Don suddenly going to try keeping the peace for as long as he can?
It’s always disappointing when you leave a series knowing that it had the potential to be far more exciting than it turned out to be. The animation and music are spot-on and it already had a template with stories like Beastars and Zootopia that it draws inspiration from. It just ended up getting lost in its own ambition and by the time it came down to creating stakes for its characters to face, they go all-in on Alan’s role in creating the serum that turned Nazuna and Michiru into beastmen but also creating a serum to turn beastmen into humans. It’s a shame that this isn’t a more positive outcome for BNA, but the last quarter of the show deflated much of the enthusiasm I had to see it all come into fruition. Hopefully, Netflix will be able to give this anime a decent home and, at the very least, do Trigger more justice by improving from their lackluster approach to LWA.