Beast Master is a short two-volume shōjo manga series written by Kyousuke Motomi. It was originally released in Japan in 2007, and then released in the USA by Viz Media in 2009. In this romantic comedy, Yuiko is an animal lover who has one little problem: she gets so excited around animals that she smothers them with affection and terrifies them, even her own pet. This is how she meets Leo, a new boy in town who rescues her frightened cat from a tree. Of course, as one might expect he also happens to be a new transfer student into her class.
Leo fierce look, particularly his wild-looking eyes, terrifies everybody around him keeping him isolated from their classmates. Worse, if he or someone he cares about is threatened, he goes into berserk-like state attacking anyone around him much like a wildcat would. In a way, Yuiko finally found one animal that isn’t scared of her and he just happens to be in the form of a somewhat cute and naïve boy.
Being a romantic comedy where you have a boy who seems to be half-wild animal, you’re gonna get some silly situations as well as a smattering of tense and dramatic ones. On the whole, the story is fairly predictable, and with the short length things move very quickly. By the end of the first chapter, you’ll probably figure out most of the major plot points, but the execution still makes it fun.
I think the story could have benefited from having a third volume, to expand on a subplot that happens near the end of the first volume. Still we can get the complete story of Yuiko and Leo which is of course the focus of series. Motomi does do a great job drawing some while facial expressions on her characters, especially Leo in berserk mode, and all of the characters are fairly distinct and easy to identify.
Both volumes include bonus short stories, space which again could have been used to expand the main story. The side stories are cute and interesting tales, particularly the one in the second volume which has a fun supernatural twist to it. With only two volumes, picking the series up is not going to cost a lot of money and I found it entertaining enough to justify having picked them up at Half-Price Books.
I probably would not have paid full price for them, but they are light, quick, and enjoyable enough reads.
Beast Master is available in paperback and eBook formats.