BNA: Brand New Animal is a 2020 anime produced by Studio Trigger, directed by Yoh Yoshinari (Little Witch Academia) and written by Kazuki Nakashima (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Kill la Kill, and Promare). This is the first time Yoshinari and Nakashima have helmed a work together, as Nakashima is best known for collaborating with Hiroyuki Imaishi on directorial duties. The series also drew attention pre-release for TRIGGER collaborating with Genice Chan and James Gilleard on visual development.
Ordinary high school student Michiru Kagemori's world turned upside down the day she turned into a tanuki. Searching for a cure to what she thinks is a disease, she travels to Animacity, the one place in the human world where the persecuted beastpeople can live freely. Despite Michiru's previous assumptions and the best efforts of the mayor, Animacity is dominated by organized crime and outside pressure from humans who resent its existence.
In her search for the truth, Michiru finds herself tangled up with the denizens of Animacity, the re-appearance of her old friend Nazuna Hiwatashi, and the seemingly immortal Shirou Ogami. Her attempts to fight back against injustice increasingly show she's just a little too powerful for a girl who only turned into a tanuki a year ago...
Netflix has picked up the series for worldwide streaming and released the first six episodes on Netflix Japan in March 2020 ahead of its April TV airing on Fuji TV's +Ultra block. For another grittier take on anthromorphic life that also was picked up by Netflix and aired on +Ultra, compare and contrast Beastars.
BNA: Brand New Animal provides examples of:
- Actor Allusion: This is not the first time we hear Yoshimasa Hosoya (Shirou) voicing characters related with wolves.
- Baseball Episode: Much like FLCL before it, BNA features an episode where Michiru gets to show off impressive baseball moves and we get to discover that sports in Animacity are performed less for the thrill of it and more for the sake of gambling and organized crime.
- Berserk Button: Shirou utterly despises any beastman co-operating with humans that have anti-beastman goals, having broken off the antlers of a deer beastman and the horn of a rhino beastman for their treachery against their own kind.
- Bland-Name Product: Several:
- Human society's Facebook equivalent is called "Facelook".
- Instead of Red Bull, the beast people drink "Fire Bull".
- Beast Man: The beastmen are treated as their own separate species, have animal based powers, and can shapeshift into a human. Less commonly expected, most of them (except for Michiru) default to their human form.
- Darker and Edgier: Not apparent at first, but once things begin to pick up, the tone of the show is significantly darker than the usual fare Trigger is known for, tackling themes not usually covered in their productions. To name a few: trafficking of beastmen (especially children), racial prejudice, terrorism, crime syndicates, attempted murder, unknowingly feeding on beastmen, cults... the list goes on.
- Fantastic Racism: Reactions from humans to beastpeople range from unintentionally insensitive public comments to intentionally insensitive comments made when they think beastpeople aren't in earshot, to attempted murder. Both the mayor and Shirou advise Michiru not to go around telling others in the city that she used to be human, since if word spread that humans can turn into beastmen (or something like them) it'd lead to serious panic.
- Flintstone Theming: Mixed with Bland-Name Product as many well-known real world businesses have beastpeople versions, like Burger Kitty for Burger King.
- Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal: As Animacity functions almost the same as a regular human city, most beastpeople aren't running around naked, especially since they can turn back into humans.
- Game Face: Socially, a beastperson staying in their animal form for extended periods of time is treated as a sign they're trying to be intimidating or looking for a fight. Unfortunately for Michiru, this means that her being stuck looking like a tanuki full time is seen as a childish faux pas at best and a sign of aggression on her part at worst.
- I Am Not Weasel: Very literally. Mary Itani gets very angry when people call her a weasel; she is a mink.
- Kitsune: One character with a base fox form has kitsune theming: Nazuna, Michiru's old friend, displays shapeshifting powers. Her deceit of the wolf god cult for her own gain falls in line with kitsunes being tricksters. Kitsune and tanuki are portrayed in Japanese folklore as being rivals.
- Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: Humans and beastpeople exist in the same world, but don't truly coexist due to prejudice.
- From Yoshinari's own Little Witch Academia, The Hero Akko can be seen from behind as a beastman, specifically her rabbit form from the Fountain Of Polaris episode. Her friend Lotte also appears as a beastman in one shot in the first episode. And like how Andrew was a non-magical human in the series, he can also be seen as a human arresting a beastman, although glasses obscure his eyes.
- In one episode, Michiru quickly changes hats, one of them being the witch hat from Little Witch Academia as well.
- The Little Mermaid: The resident Mafia Princess, a dolphin beastman is enamored with the human world and collects trinkets that end up ashore of her beach house.
- Tanuki: Michiru is a raccoon dog, which thematically matches up with her unusual shapeshifting abilities. Early on, she even tries to use a leaf to transform. This makes her the first shapeshifter of her kind seen in the series, with Nazuna, a fox, being the second.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Beastpeople are capable of shapeshifting themselves into human forms. Michiru takes this a step further by being able to completely alter her limbs, from stretching them out like a Rubber Man to changing her legs into those of a cheetah's to run faster. Ironically, even after realizing she can do this, she can't use it to go back to her human form at first. By the time she can, Michiru prefers the convenience her tanuki form over trying to maintain her human form full time. Nazuna possesses similar shapeshifting abilities with an even greater degree of control.
- Wolf Man: Shirou is one, of the "actual anthropomorphic wolf" variety. Like the other beastpeople, he can shapeshift voluntarily into a human being. On top of his natural beastman strength and less natural immortality, he has a supernatural sense of smell that helps him track criminals.