The King’s Beast is a title I have been waiting for since it was announced for English publication from VIZ Media. Coming from mangaka Rei Toma, this new series is one of romance and revenge set in the world of Dawn of the Arcana. Published by VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat imprint, The King’s Beast Volume 1 is translated/adapted into English by JN Productions and features touch-up art and lettering from Monaliza De Asis. Marketed as a story of romance and revenge, this first volume is all revenge and world-building.
The King’s Beast is centered on an Ajin named Rangetsu and his owner Prince Tenyou. In the series, Ajin are superior to humans in every way. Part fox, some have special abilities and use them to serve at the behest of ruling humans. With their population controlled to keep the humans in power, Ajin are nothing more than servants to be used by humans. If they’re male, they become weapons. If they’re female, they become prostitutes, but they all exist until they die to do the bidding of humans. Boys who show signs of special abilities are conscripted to serve in the imperial palace as beast-servants—status symbols and shields for their royal masters, to be kept or discarded on a whim.
Rangetsu’s twin brother Sogetsu was ripped from her arms and sent to the palace to attend Prince Tenyou as a beast-servant but was murdered soon-there after. Lacking powers herself, Rangetsu spent the rest of her life training to be good enough to become a beast-servant and abandoning her womanhood to become a weapon in the process. Once Rangetsu enters the castle, she realizes that Prince Tenyou is not what she expected. But with her vengeance put on hold, she becomes allies with Tenyou, and they both seek to find Sogetsu’s killer.
As a character, Rangetsu is filled with hatred and hurt. The bulk of the volume is focused on entering the world of The King’s Beast. While the marketing promises romance, none can be found outside the small moments of classic shojo tension. That said, what is in this volume is a deep dive into understanding who Rangetsu is as a character. We learn about her pain, her grief, and ultimately her strength. While the singular focus of vengeance propels her, Toma takes the time to make her both sympathetic and someone not to be pitied. With most “woman turned warrior hiding her gender,” you have a period of the protagonist learning how to become capable, but with The King’s Beast, Rangetsu has already done the training and, by her own admission has killed many humans and Ajin to get to her standing. This is refreshing and allows the readers to see Rangetsu as someone who has made up their mind and not fighting with herself.
Toma’s art is also wonderful, delicately showcasing Rangetsu’s visual aesthetic and depicting her in fight sequences that showcase her power. Additionally, Rangetsu’s fox max is a gorgeous aesthetic to the character that makes her both more beautiful and more intimidating.
Overall, The King’s Beast Volume 1 is heavy on the world-building, but it all works to immerse the reader into the story. That said, knowing that this volume and the second one were released in Japan simultaneously, as noted multiple times in the volume, makes it feel like something is missing. Perhaps it was how the volume was presented as having both romance and revenge that it feels like something is missing. That said, this is a strong debut to a series that I’m sure will only get stronger.
The King’s Beast Volume 1 is available wherever books are sold February 2, 2021.
The King's Beast Volume 1
.Overall, The King’s Beast Volume 1 is heavy on the world-building, but it all works to immerse the reader into the story. That said, knowing that this volume and the second one were released in Japan simultaneously, as noted multiple times in the volume, makes it feel like something is missing. Perhaps it was how the volume was presented as having both romance and revenge that it feels like something is missing. That said, this is a strong debut to a series that I’m sure will only get stronger.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.