Some humans can transform into animals and some animals can transform into humans. These individuals are called "Panthers" and they're ostracized by other humans. If a human-born Panther doesn't conform as they're expected, they're deemed a danger and are killed. Huntresses and Hunters are specially trained to find and assassinate any Panthers they can find.
While out on a mission, Weiss Schnee comes across a group of Panthers that make her double-think what she knows about them.
Pawprints provides examples of:
- Adapted Out: Faunus and Grimm are removed and replaced with Panthers.
- Ambiguously Human: Most "Panthers" are born from human parents but it's unclear if they're a Human Subspecies or whether it's a genetic quirk.
- Animorphism: Panthers are either humans who can transform into animals or animals that can transform into humans.
- Death of a Child: Panther cubs aren't exempt from the slaughter. Yang offhandedly mentions killing multiple and Weiss has been forced to kill a few herself.
- Disabled in the Adaptation: Yang's sister Ruby was left wheelchair bound by a Panther that attacked her.
- Little Bit Beastly: Panthers can change their looks to be near-completely human or not. Blake is rebellious and keeps her feline ears even in human form.
- Love at First Sight: Weiss and Blake are drawn to one another from their first meeting, but they don't initially understand the attraction. Most Panthers and humans don't date due to the huge amount of Fantastic Racism between them.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The driving force behind the story is where Panthers stand. Human-born Panthers are ostracized and forced to behave like normal humans, while animal-born Panthers are culled because they're seen as dangerous animals. If a human-born Panther rebels and runs away, they're killed by Hunters.