'BNA: Brand New Animal' illustrates how religion is used to calm and control the disenfranchised
The use of religion on the series illustrates just how existing power structures use faith against its people in manipulative ways
Spoilers for 'BNA: Brand New Animal' Season 1
'BNA: Brand New Animal' is set in Anima City - a place where people who can transform into animal-like humanoids, known as beastmen, can live in peace. However, these beasment are also subject to the little known "Nirvasyl Syndrome" - something that turns them into dangerous, feral beasts when their stress levels, or "mental entropy," rise too high. To this end, Sylvasta Pharmaceutics manipulates events to keep the populace calm - at least, for a while - and one of the strongest tools in their box is religion.
As a 1,000 year old protector of the beastmen, Shirou Ogami (Yoshimasa Hosoya) has left a lot of legends in his wake. Over the course of a millenia, these legends have coalesced into a religion, of sorts. The beastmen believe in the Silver Wolf, who protects them from humans in times of great crisis. Alan Sylvasta (Kaito Ishikawa) takes full advantage of this religion to turn the people towards his purposes.
It's no coincidence that when the Silver Wolf cult comes to the shores of Anima City, their first appearance is in the city's slums. Alan Sylvasta's plan hinges on being able to manipulate the disenfranchised of the city - to give them something to pin their hopes on so they feel all the more stress when it's taken away. Even before Sylvasta's master plan is revealed, the show has a cynical approach to religion. The cult's figurehead, Nazuna Hiwatashi (Maria Naganawa), is revealed to be a hoax right from the start - a hoax that, as stated by Nazuna herself, is meant to be a balm to people's spirits.
These kinds of balms are used in two ways - first to keep the populace from rebelling against existing power structures by calming their rage. Then, once their faith has been firmly rooted in this new religion, to manipulate that populace for their own ends. The people of Anima City have a lot to be angry about, and while the show portrays that as a dangerous thing, using a fake religion to deny them that anger is perhaps Slyvasta Phramaceutics greatest sin.
All episodes of 'BNA: Brand New Animal' are available to view on Netflix.