[Review] BNA on Netflix: when animals rhyme (very well) with animation


Since June 30, a new Japanese animated series has made its thunderous debut on Netflix, “BNA: Brand New Animal”, between the colorful optimism of “Zootopia” and the thematic maturity of “Beastars”.

On June 30, a new Japanese animated series landed on Netflix’s extensive catalog. BNA: Brand New Animal, a co-production broadcast by Netflix and Japanese channel Fuji TV, comes from My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission young studio Trigger, behind series like Kill la Kill. Kazuki Nakashima, popularized by the series that revolutionized the mecha genre, Gurren Lagann, is the showrunner. The arrival of this new saga of anthropomorphic animals comes in particular after the success of the excellent adaptation of the manga Beastars , which is available on the SVOD platform since March 2020 internationally. At BNA, however, there is no question of sexuality or school life.

The series follows the adventures of Michiru Kagemori, a young girl who turns into a raccoon-human, after taking refuge in the animal sanctuary (or animhomme) Anima-Ville, built on Last Night in Soho an island off the coast of Japan. In this world, humans had lived together for thousands of years with animhommes but now finally rejected them. Created by humans, Anima-Ville is a place where these anthropomorphic animals can live together, outside of human society. Relieved to have found shelter in Anima-Ville, Michiru will encounter the dark animal wolf, Shiro Ogami. Together, they will discover the grim secret of this so-called utopian city…

… Against a backdrop of political intrigue and genocide. Michiru and Shiro will eventually understand that Anima-Ville is not a haven of peace for the animhomme, but rather a ghetto where Antlers they were parked before being exterminated, with each other despite their will. Alan Sylvasta, at the head of the biotechnology company Sylvasta and a major philanthropist of the city, was the instigator. By sparking collective hysteria, he will try to turn the animhomme into cannibalistic monsters in order to put an end to a species he deems impure.

A world that lives like animation
In classic 2D animation, BNA brightens the eye of the viewer with its intense color palette and staging energy. The action is fast, powerful, and ruthless. The contrast between the night scene – in which the utopian and optimistic veil of the city and its people is lifted – makes things all the more The Addams Family 2 dramatic. Likewise, anything that doesn’t belong to the “perfect society” Anima-Ville claims, such as a slum or the gruesome transformation of its inhabitants by Nirvasyl syndrome, remains dark and violent. All of this further reinforces the feeling of contrast between the apparent (shallow) candor of Anima-Ville and the muddy reality that underlies it. Even the ears of the beholder are delighted in front of BNA, thanks to the incredible work done to the musical themes associated with each character (especially Alan Sylvasta).

What’s more, the BNA universe – and in particular, Anima-Ville – benefits from the real work of “world building” that gives the city animhommes a rich and complex identity. So much so that we can imagine ourselves immersing ourselves in an open world video game format. Over the course of the series’ The French Dispatch twelve episodes, the many dimensions and social layers of the Anima-Ville microcosm are developed. The series stops at the existence of a social pyramid where “feather” and naive animhommes inhabit the slums, forced to filter the surrounding wastewater in order to survive, while the echelons The top of the community (town hall or Sylvasta Medical Center) is housed in a large, immaculate skyscraper in the center of the city.

Aspects of community, and particularly religious or even sectarian, are also frequently present in the series through the Order of the Silver Wolf: this one manipulates the masses Sausage Party with false idols but creates a genuine and unifying faith in animhommes and brings food to slum dwellers.More or less all layers of Anima-Ville are attached, near or far, to the underworld of the Mafia (led by a beluga animhomme named Flip): illegal immigration (where the heroine Michiru goes, to survive the anti-animhomme ambush) for child trafficking orphaned by the Bunny Town girl gang.

This complexity and richness really makes it possible to think of Anima-Ville as a character all its own. As a result, the threat of its destruction has become a legitimate and intriguing issue. The universe’s only weakness: lack of insight into the outside world. Anima-Ville is an animhomme sanctuary attached to the Krasue-Siam Japanese government. The existence of animhomme outside the archipelago is still confirmed, especially through the character of Pinga, the elan animalg nomadic sea. This shortcoming, however, does not end up being a regret: on the one hand, with the level of work “building the world” is already more than satisfactory, and on the other hand, for the field of possibilities that is thus offered. .series for the second season.

Politics, religion, immigration checked by BNA
Taking a well-constructed fictional world as a base, this season one of BNA manages to tackle a wide variety of social topics. The underground economy of illegal immigration, the obscurity X-MEN 8 between religious communities and sects and the political manipulation that animates city life all benefit from a shared interest in the overall plot of the series. Another equally mature but more modern theme was also mentioned by Kazuki Nakashima and the studio scriptwriter Trigger.

The character of Nina Flip, the animal dolphin daughter of a mafia godfather, embodies both the best and the worst that social media can do. Internet connection on the site does Inhuman Kiss not provide, for example, access to the official City Hall website). Nevertheless, his naivety, deceived by the certain superficiality of virtual relationships, prompts him to leave Anima-Ville for a night with Michiru and to join unsuspectingly on a night full of humans. The encounter was friendly but quickly soured when the humans foolishly thought that poor Nina was made to live in an aquarium. Through this series of narratives, this series deals with the many subtleties of bias that social networks can convey to the real reality of society.

In the same way, BNA perfectly handles the parallelism between “idols” (Japanese celebrities and singers) and religious idols, with the character Nazuna, Michiru’s friend also Titanic turning into an animhomme (or should we say animfemme?) into a fake Messiah in the Order of the Silver Wolf. Ditto on the subjects of ghettoization (Anima-Ville has a front door but no exit) and eugenics, through Alan Sylvasta’s true identity and intentions.

The anthology of themes raised by BNA really allows it to rise to the level of other works of the genre – or even more – like Zootopia and its fake anti-racist utopia or Beastars, albeit much more mature (especially in the extreme parallelism between carnivores and rape culture). The ease with which the series’ writing deals with these subjects is also felt in the game of perception.

Until the final twist, the alignment of certain characters on the spectrum of Good and Evil is never clear and is always subject to audience interpretation. For example, regarding Nirvasyl syndrome: this genetic dysfunction will cause the animhomme, in a situation of hysteria, to become terrible cannibal monsters and will lead to the destruction of the ancient animal city of Nirvasyl, from which Shiro Ogami came from.

The contradiction between the vague, two-thousand-year-old testimony and the conclusions of Sylvasta’s scientific research does not give viewers a single answer, but only possible hypotheses. Was it genetic dysfunction that made animhommes wild and cannibalistic or was it human violence that initially attacked them that caused their collective madness? In other words, the BNA shows two different hypotheses and points of view but never says which side is the correct answer or solution. the formula “show, don’t say” (or “show rather than say”), as English speakers put it, is fully respected.

Pop culture reference summary
Finally, BNA is also pleased with the pop culture references they squeeze as models for its characters and optional landmarks for viewers. Without trying to make a complete list here, the series borrows heavily from American superhero comic books such as from the world of Godzilla or from Studio Ghibli’s filmography. Shiro Ogami, the obsessive defender of animhommes and Anima-Ville (where he officially operates as a social worker), has had everything from the ruthless and uncompromising Batman to Frank Miller.

Dressed as film noir cop or Rick Deckard from Blade Runner, he teams up with the mayor and police commissioner (animal dog, no coincidence) but he’s fair when he judges that conventional methods are impossible or corrupt. Thus, his reluctant duet with Michiru, who is more optimistic and enthusiastic than him, certainly remembers the “dynamic duo” Batman & Robin. His mute crow, Kuro, also gave Shiro Ogami the domain of the god Odin whose two birds, Hugin and Munin, helped him see the world from the heights of Asgard. Plus, to stay on the superhero roster, the animhommes-human dichotomy certainly shows what’s against humans and mutants in the X-Men saga.

Regarding Michiru, her transformation capacity was clearly inspired byh Japanese folklore, and more precisely by the beliefs surrounding the tanuki. In this sense, he almost looks like the superheroic version of the tanuki featured by Isao Takahata in the movie Pompoko. Finally, Alan Sylvasta’s true tricephalic animal form is clearly inspired by one of the famous kaiju who fought Godzilla.

The golden Cerberus that Sylvasta embodies, against the Silver Wolf (Ogami), is simply a canine version of King Ghidorah, an enormous three-headed alien dragon, the antagonist of the “watch king”, especially in the last Godzilla: King of The Monster. Thankfully, all of his inspiration and references are just one more, cherry on the cake of aplot true to itself and thus truly one of a kind.