cover image Beast Complex, Vol. 1

Beast Complex, Vol. 1

Paru Itagaki, trans. from the Japanese by Tomo Kimura. Viz, $12.99 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-974721-21-4

Itagaki collects six provocative short stories navigating the prejudices that arise when herbivories and carnivores must live together, set in the same fantastical, allegorical world of his Eisner-nominated series Beastars. In “The Tiger and the Beaver,” two childhood best friends, a young Siberian tiger and a beaver, grapple with judgement about their strong ties by their same-species peers (“stop pretending to be nice,” the tiger is admonished, “let your true nature show through”). A salt-water crocodile becomes the chef on a cooking show, while the sous-chef gazelle must put aside her biases against carnivores and bite her tongue on “Carn-assment (carnivore harassment)” quips to create an unconventional dish in “The Crocodile and the Gazelle.” Throughout, the cleverly played manga probes underlying discrimination and questionable social structures that parallel humanity’s. The pieces also showcase Itagaki’s maturation in storytelling and artistic style, which features as elastic facial expressions and thoughtful shading. This collection will get readers thinking. (Mar.)