Orange’s next anime adaptation, 2019’s “Beastars,” built on the accomplishments of “Land of the Lustrous.” Nao Otsu, who had handled sub-character design on “Lustrous,” was promoted to character designer to ensure the source comic’s expressive faces were done justice in 3D CG. Voice acting was (once again) pre-recorded to serve as a guide for the animators — in fact, it was even more important this time since “Beastars” is an unabashed theatrical drama. The crew at Orange used facial motion capture to build a library of believably human facial expressions and then mapped them to the faces of the show’s animal characters. They also made careful use of lighting and shaders to ensure each character’s fur looked good from every angle. Like with “Land of the Lustrous,” Orange could not hope to literally replicate the appeal of “Beastars.” But they could at least make something that captured its essence.
“Beastars” also benefited from Orange’s willingness to think outside the box of traditional anime techniques. The first season’s opening credits, a lovely stop-motion dance sequence made by Dwarf Animation Studio, was the best possible advertisement for the show’s priorities. The seventh episode features an incredible dream sequence drawn by Yoko Kuno, an award-winning animator and manga artist. Kuno was previously involved with “Land of the Lustrous,” where she contributed episode direction as well as a memorable 2D ending sequence. As “Trigun Stampede” producer Yoshihiro Watanabe said in an interview with Crunchyroll, “we don’t try to limit ourselves … to producing one medium.” Any style that might lend itself to the goals of the production is fair game, as long as it’s deployed in the right context.