Beast Master Review
- Mangaka : Motomi, Kyousuke
- Publisher : VIZ
- Genres : Comedy, Romance, Shoujo
- Published : November 2009
Beast Master Introduction
Yuiko loves animals, though they’d rather attack her than cuddle up to her. Despite her lack of animal magnetism, she accidentally attracts the attention of Aoi Leo, a wild student with a dangerous aura. While everyone else in her class seems terrified of Leo, Yuiko admires him for his kinship with animals. Happy that for once in his life someone isn’t afraid of him, Leo glues himself to Yuiko is just happy to have another friend. Most of the time, Leo acts like a big puppy but, will Yuiko still like him when she sees his wild side?
Beast Master is a bit of a beauty and the beast story, unsurprisingly. You have your somewhat kooky girl with a scary guy who’s not so scary on the inside. A nice derivative from the usual dynamic, though, is that Yuiko and Leo like each other pretty instantly and both have other meaningful and important relationships. While they care a lot for each other and would do anything for each other, it’s very much in their natures to be this way.
It’s a little tropey and predictable with common gags like animals maiming someone trying to pet them lovingly and a sweet character with a scary face, but it’s still a funny and sweet story about acceptance and understanding even the ugly sides of people.
Once he saves Yuiko’s cat and enrolls in her class, Yuiko’s understanding and patient nature immediately win Leo over. Yuiko and Leo’s relationship is almost immediately very cute and loving and, surprisingly, natural. There’s not too much in the way of Yuiko blushing every time Leo holds her or gets close to her. Most of the time, she treats him like an overzealous puppy, which is super cute combined with his eagerness to please.
A lot of the manga is Yuiko trying to clear up misunderstandings caused by her classmates’ fears and Leo’s frightul face, but there are times when it gets a bit darker. Even in volume one, we’re shown several instances where Leo becomes extremely violent and uncontrollable. It’s not your generic ‘beat-you-up’ stuff either. He rips the throat out of leopard, he smashes peoples’ faces into concrete, even bites down savagely on Yuiko’s arm.
Desperation and understanding play a huge role in both humans and animals. Our two main characters are very good at separating the influence of fear from a person or animal’s true nature. Seemingly thoughtless or cruel acts often spring from feeling cornered or in hopes of protecting someone else. As Yuiko and Leo learn more about each other and their classmates, we learn more about human nature.
1. You Like Stories with Complicated Feelings
This is not a black-and-white story. Even characters that seem completely unlikable at first become more sympathetic. Even Leo, who seems to be either super loving or a murderous animal, can flit between these sides at times. While in his normal state he likes to avoid confrontation and violence, he knows that it can be necessary to stop greater harm from happening. Yuiko has to learn this when she naively tries to use kindness to calm a wild dog without recognizing its pain. It’s not always blind faith that saves the day.
1. It’s Not as Sexy as the Cover Implies
The cover has Leo with a chain around his neck, arms around Yuiko as she holds his leash. It looks like there’s a lot more sexual tension than there ever is, at least in volume one. The first page of Chapter 2 has Yuiko and Leo’s lips dangerously close and Chapter 4 has Leo pulling Yuiko’s sweater neck down exposing her chest some while biting her necklace. They have serious faces in both instances so you’d think there’d be some sexiness on the horizon, but you’d be wrong.
Beast Master volume 1 sets us up for many other possible interactions between humans and animals where a little empathy can greatly change their behavior. But having also seen times when only violence could solve their problems, we know we won’t be stuck with that formula. Leo feels like an open book, but there’s still mystery surrounding his origins. Yuiko’s refusal to let other people tell her how to feel about others and Leo’s sweet and protective nature make for a good story. With only 2 volumes to the series, it won’t take long to see where the future takes them!