Shoujo – Romance, comedy, drama
2 Volumes (complete)
Animals hate Yuiko so much that a stranger has to rescue her own cat. The boy, Leo, ends up in Yuiko’s class, but there’s a rumor he’s the one responsible for beating up local thugs. Yuiko still decides to befriend Leo, but Leo may have brought his wild life–and his wild side–to Japan.
Beast Master is a nice short series for shoujo fans not looking to invest in a long manga.
Before I go into what kind of manga Beast Master is, I’ll briefly go over what kind of manga it isn’t or what it doesn’t feature:
- Male lead who spends much of his time being a tsundere.
- Female lead who can barely add 2+2.
- A long, heartbreaking tale about trying to get the love interest to notice the protagonist.
I enjoy all these tropes, but some can get tiring or just be plain irritating after a while. This series features a likable heroine who tends to adore animals just a little too much, causing them to run away or attack her. I doubt many people in real life have this problem, but it’s nice to have a schoolgirl protagonist with a goal other than “finding the love of my life”. Of course, Beast Master being a romance, love falls into her lap, but at least Yuiko doesn’t spend her days whining about not having a boyfriend. Once she gets closer to Leo, she doesn’t keep fighting against her feelings in a tsundere way. Despite the manga’s craziness and the unrealistic odds of meeting your destined one in high school or being the heir to a fortune, Beast Master feels like I’m reading a realistic love story. The romance feels natural, not forced.
Many romance stories (manga and otherwise) feature the main male love interest as a physically strong bad boy that changes because of the female protagonist’s love. Leo here may be strong, but he neither justifies his actions nor rebuke’s Yuiko’s attempts to stop him. In fact, Leo is afraid of his darker self and is quite friendly to Yuiko (and tries to be to others) in his normal state. Again, I found it refreshing to have a lead without a chip on his shoulder as well as a stick up his rear.
The first volume is much of the setup and establishment while the second is the progress and wrap-up. The romance is good, but the comedy isn’t as sharp (or as repetitive) as Motomi’s later work Dengeki Daisy. I did crack up at some of Yuiko’s imagining of Leo’s life though. The series concludes with an epilogue that provides some insight into the main couple’s current relationship status. However, I would have liked to know about how their future turns out. Motomi mentions someday Leo would control his outrages, and I wish I could have seen him take a step toward it in the bonus chapter.
Like many short manga, Beast Master includes a couple of bonus stories. Two are unrelated one-shots, one quite lengthy at about 80 pages. There’s also an epilogue chapter to the main story. The shorter one is quite weak both in art and story, and the author admits this herself in a note. The other is cute, but I wish the main story had filled the space in the volumes rather than a girl deciding her future or spirits in a cactus.
The art is a little rougher than Motomi’s later series, but that’s to be expected. This shows all of her usual conventions including the duck-faced chibi characters and mustached classmate. She tends to have very detailed, dark colored eyes for her characters, and it’s a style that is uniquely hers. Her chibi figures also have rectangular-ish blank eyes with long mouths, and you’ll see plenty of them here. I do like Motomi’s art as she has her own personal art; it’s not a copycat of the generic shoujo style. As least one minor character looks he was reused in Dengeki Daisy, but I felt like the main couple were their own persons rather than carbon copies of her other works.
No honorifics are used. Overall, it’s a standard Shojo Beat release with their usual conventions, and I didn’t notice any mistakes, so I don’t have much to say.
If you’re looking for a quick shoujo pick-me-up, Beast Master will fit the bill. The two leads are what really makes Beast Master adorable.
Motomi is better known for Dengeki Daisy as well as QQ Sweeper. Both are available from Viz Media.
I named the Boss character Barrett because of the Final Fantasy VII Remake. Seriously, I hope Barrett (game) takes off his sunglasses…