Innocent high-school girl; check. Potentially dangerous misunderstood youth; check. The two forming an odd but close relationship; check. Yup, stage is set for another Shoujo manga so what separates, or not, Beast Master volume 1 from Viz from the other manga with the same formula. Let’s take a look.
Yuiko Kubozuka is an interesting girl. She loves animals but they run from her for their lives. This love gets her in trouble a few times and soon she is rescued by classmate Leo Aoi, who is himself also very … unique. Leo has a look that just screams crazy guy and it keeps many away from him, a fact he does not seem to mind. Leo keeps to himself and has a very unique connection with animals, they love him. Yuiko notices this and decides to get closer to Leo forming a friendship and showing others he’s not crazy. Well not all the time. See when Leo sees blood he goes crazy attacking anything in sight. This is due to his being raised in the wilds of Africa (something his handler tells Yuiko) but in a twist of fate she is the only one who can calm down Leo. As the two learn more about each other the boundaries of normal and crazy begin to blur. Will Leo be able to conquer his blood seeing induced craziness and will animals ever go near Yuiko? Time will tell in Beast Master.
So what sets Beast Master apart from other shoujo manga? It’s not the art as the character design and action is very shoujo. It reflects the genre perfectly and I would say is middle-ground in the genre. Not top level, not horrible but gets the job done. The backgrounds and non-character design, well guess there would need to be more to comment so I just won’t. Ok, so no to the art but how about the story? The odd girl and strange guy connecting with each other is not so new but Leo’s origins are. A boy raised in the wild introduced into society; good concept and similar to tales such as Tarzan and even Jungle Book. So there it is, not the art, not the relationship but the background for Leo, that makes Beast Master worth a read.
It’s not the best, not the most original but there is enough mystery about Leo and his budding relationship with Yuiko to make Beast Master a worthy purchase by shoujo fans.