What a freaking, fracked up, screwed up ride! (only I didn’t say freaking or fracked).
I picked this as the Cityscape block as you see the dirty city behind the camel and wolf on the cover. And the stories are set in this same city and in a boarding school within that city. The cover story is the reason I give this book a 3 and not 4 as I was planning after the first few stories. That story made me want to see happy, cute images of kitties, bunnies, funny meme jokes RIGHT away.
Beast Complex Volume One is, to say the least, not for everyone. It is sexual (cue sexy school fox girl for starters), grotesque (devouring is not just a sexual metaphor anymore), violent (several carnivores do more than show fangs, teeth, and claws), awkward (a beaver and tiger BFFs anyone?), and odd (why have a cooking show if meat is banned?). This book is a companion series to Paru Itagaki’s BeastStars. You even see the main character from there (though I did not realize it until the afterwards) almost hidden in a panel early in the first story.
There are six short stories that focuses on at least one herbivore and at least one carnivore and how they either coexist pleasantly or not so pleasantly. And even when the story is pleasant, it’s not all that pleasant! We see a camel and a wolf have a one-night stand (and one coming home with something more than their virginity missing). We see a young black panther and a kangaroo trying to survive a city that has a not-so-secret black market herbivore meat trade. There is a lion and a bat who has a real dislike of lions. We have cooking shows, friendships, bullies, and a couple clueless teachers. The world of school, the real world and some interesting ideas come to life.
The afterward information is a good bonus for the fan of Itagaki, but it was a blessing for me, allowing me a bit more of a look into their mindset and to see their process and more. While the author might not be a fan of the comparison, this book is if Zootopia was on drugs. It is dark and not always a nice read. However, the entire package was well written, interestingly drawn and an experience I am glad I had. Still, I probably will not go on to read others in this series or BeastStars.