Manga Review: Bestia

Bestia vol 1., original story by Makoto Sanda. Five out of five, this one’s a keeper.

For many reasons. Some people have compared this manga to “Natsume’s Book of Friends, but with more action and mystery”. I think this is not an unfair comparison. There is a Creature with a Grudge (Edgar the Black Dog), there is a young man who has a mysterious family history he’s just finding out about (Asuka Tsukasa), and there ends up being a reluctant partnership against various creatures that want Asuka dead.

I like unusual partnerships; it helps if they’re plausible. In this case Asuka and Edgar pairing up works – not just because of magical trinkets, but because he’s legitimately a Good Guy. Also a smart guy. So far he hasn’t done anything stupid. Sometimes he’s done things that turned out to be unwise – but who expects man-eating glass flying fish? Under a house in London, no less.

So, good guy, reasonably intelligent, and while he spends some time gaping (glass flying fish one time, Suddenly Nude Girl another – hey, he’s a teenage guy), Asuka has enough survival instincts that even when he hasn’t figured out all of a situation, he has a pretty good grasp of when Running Is A Good Idea. I like characters like that. They tend to be more interesting than characters in a world of “gain more power, smash!” The attitude that survival is more important than posturing is much easier for me to emphasize with – and much more plausible for a person who never knew he had supernatural powers before, so he’s always had to face danger without them.

The setting also shows that the writer did a fair amount of research into British cryptids and legendary monsters. The Ring of Andvari effect is a particularly sparkly bit of gruesome fate, meep. And there’s a nice element in Edgar’s character design. She’s fairly strong (S-rank in the manga), but she’s explicitly not the strongest creature out there. Her power is, in large part, about being fast and maneuverable, and she’s shown thinking her way through a fight with Bigger Things. “Strong, but not the strongest and knows it” is a good starting point for awesome!

Another element is that Edgar starts out wanting to kill Asuka, but he wins her over… in part by admitting she’s got every right to be mad that she was abandoned for years. And that he’s grateful she spoke out to defend his mother when someone else accused her. So, this Reluctant Friendship has a rational basis, not just “magical influence and because you were nice to me”. So they end up with the shared goal of, “find out what exactly happened years ago that left this mess we have to clean up”.

This volume in fact ends on, Edgar and Asuka have come up with an Unspoken Plan to take down something VERY big – all we know is that it’s going to be risky, and depend on Asuka being able to feel when the cryptid is about to unleash its power. (Which he’s shown he can.) Cliffhanger, executed!

*Clears throat* Pretty art doesn’t hurt, either.

All told, I’m looking forward to vol 2, and this is one manga I hope ends up with an anime. 🙂


14 thoughts on “Manga Review: Bestia

  1. Oooh! Sounds good! Also, sounds like what I thought I was getting into in a book recently. The characters were, in DND terms, a rogue and a paladin. The rogue was Neutral with Good tendencies. The paladin was Lawful Good. And within a few chapters of them teaming up, they end up separated. In character? Yes, I can see it. But why did the summary paint it as if they spend the book in tooth clenched partnership if they split before it even begins? I looked over the summaries of the rest of the books, they don’t appear to run into each other, ever. I felt cheated and now I don’t want to read the books because I can’t trust I’ll get what’s being promised.

    Glad you’ve gotten to read something fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, most straight guys are subject to the SIMP effect (Suddenly Involved Mammaries Syndrome) until we stop getting exercise and our not-strictly-necessary bodily systems began to wither in an attempt to preserve core survival functions.

    Boobies. Boobies that are breasting boobily, bobbing and bouncing for buoyant benefit. Proof that God loves us, wants us to be happy, and expects us to take care of ourselves in order to remain happy.


    Liked by 2 people

  3. “We’ve captured the beasts, solved the mystery, and found your mother. You know what I’m going to do with you now?”

    “I can guess.”

    “I eat you!”

    “…that wasn’t my guess.”

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, but nobody ever follows through on the threats!

        Authors keep taunting us with rhetorical questions like “Will they set aside their differences to work together or will they tear each other apart?” and they never go with option 2!

        Just once I’d like to see a story end:

        “Wow, we actually won!”
        “Yeah, great isn’t it?”
        “You know, we got off on the wrong foot, but after all we’ve been through, I do have one thing to say.”
        “I really hate you.”
        “Ha! Yeah, I ‘hate’ you too buddy.”
        “No. Seriously. When we first met, I just thought you were annoying. But now I’ve seen how you really are, and I despise you. ”
        “Well… you know… I’m not that bad, right? Like, we have mutual respect, right?”
        “Oh, I respect your abilities. I just hate you. I can’t imagine allowing a person like you to roam the world. So I’ll be killing you now.”

        In Bestia, I would at least like to see a fight where Edgar has to bite/swallow Asuka, possibly to pull him from danger, and he makes a snarky comment.
        “Well, you did say you were going to eat me…”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Re: mutual respect but dislike and total disagreement on goals —

        The same guy who wrote the Lensmen wrote the Skylark series first. Blackie Duquesne is a villain and a tyrant, no apologies or regrets. But he’s a fine scientist and talented leader, as well as a stalwart fighting man. So at times in the series, the Skylark crew has to team up with Duquesne, but he never repents and they never get won over to his way of thinking. The best that happens is that in the end, he finds something non-hostile to do that is far away from everyone else in the series… but he’s still a villain and a tyrant.

        It’s nice when villains See the Light or Get Theirs, but having really smart and powerful villains See the Odds or See the Waste of Energy is probably more realistic.

        It still burns me up that Sulla lived out his days in Rome like anybody else. But the Romans apparently didn’t think it was smart to back him into a corner.

        Amusingly, Sulla is one of those villains who actually did let the hero live (ie, Julius Caesar, who actually had an attack of principles back then), and there was a purehearted girl involved too. Possibly Sulla was also smart enough not to back certain people into corners….

        Liked by 1 person

      3. No, Caesar was also a villain.

        The republic was dead by the time of Sulla and Marius, and a lot of the men who thereafter obtained prominence were villains. The republic was dead, because they had too much of a habit of backing each other into corners, and punishing the side that lost the political fight. Stakes were too high not to go all the way to civil war, instead of taking the loss.

        Maybe the bit with Sulla was the start of Caesar’s villain arc, but he definitely wasn’t a hero. Okay, yes in the sense of ‘vir’, but not in the literary sense. Sulla didn’t like that the marriage was an alliance across political factions, and his demand was from expedience, but Caesar’s refusal was from the same personality traits that later motivated him to evil. It was his version of Saddam’s holding on to the back of the truck longer than the other children.

        I think Cicero’s orations against Cataline are awesome, I read from a selection of one when I practice oration, and Cataline was definitely a bad man. That doesn’t mean that Cicero wasn’t wicked, or that he could have successfully preserved the Republic.

        As Americans, the correct way for us to understand the proper goal of the men of that era is the preservation of the Roman Republic. They can satisfy the criteria for a literary hero if they were willing to spend everything for the sake of preserving the Republic, even if it was impossible. But not if they compromise that goal for more minor personal reasons. Compromising the goal for the sake of adhering to Jesus Christ would acceptable, many years later. After the Republic is definitely dead, it would be acceptable to seek merely to preserve Rome. But at that time, in the politics of Rome, there could be no more perfect objective than the preservation of the Roman Republic. Just as now, if a man sacrifices the future of the American Republic merely to preserve lives of nominal Americans, he is definitely a villain. Christ alone is more important, human lives only have priority only in service of Christ, or in service of the true implementation of the Republic. This I witness.

        We now know that the culture had changed to prevent Rome’s republic from being salvageable, but they did not know that for certain then. But Patrician power politics was part of that culture, part of what made the Republic dead. We can learn from the Roman’s, seek to preserve our own republic, to make our culture compatible with our own republic having a future. The Romans were blinded by their culture, and failed to realize that Patrician power politics had helped poison the republic, or that they body was only twitching. We cannot just demand that a literary hero have the wisdom of hindsight or of a culture not their own. Many literary heroes lack that wisdom. But when their choices are Patrician power politics, partly for the sake of self aggrandizement, that is a a villainous trait. They can be an anti-hero, but not an unambiguous hero. Perhaps I should judge Cicero more harshly than I do. Caesar was an evil man, and from how carefully he later presented his evil acts as virtuous, I am not inclined to credit him as virtuous in his youth.

        However, the pirates did have it coming to them.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s