Beauty Is the Beast Volume One is a manga by Tomo Matsumoto, and it was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2005. The series is rated “T” for teens; from what I’ve read of the series so far, I would agree with this rating.
The main character of Beauty Is the Beast is Emishi Yamashita, an eleventh grader who moves into her school’s dorm and finding out her parents are relocating due to a job transfer. The story begins with Emishi moving into the girls’ dorm, meeting her new roommate and the other girls that live in the dorm, and adjusting to dorm life.
When Emishi moves into the dorm, she is given a “mission” which she must complete in order to stay in the dorm. Her mission is to sneak into the guys’ dorm and steal a nameplate from a room. When she goes to steal a nameplate, one of the occupants of the room finds her and hides her in the room. This particular guy is named Wanibuchi, and he has a reputation at school because people think he spent junior high in juvenile detention.
Emishi is able to succeed in her mission, and as the volume progresses, she keeps running into Wanibuchi. Emishi and Wanibuchi start hanging out, and the seeds for a potential relationship appear to be sown by the end of Volume One.
After reading the first volume of this series, I thought that while it seems to be a decent story, there’s really not much here to differentiate it from other similar shojo manga series. At the same time, I’m finding myself truly wondering something, though. If Wanibuchi really is interested in Emishi, I’m not entirely seeing why at the moment. Perhaps this is something that might become clearer in future volumes of the series.
Matsumoto’s art style feels a little on the rough side. I’m constantly seeing panels where Matsumoto seems to be skimping on details, especially on people’s faces. There’s also one of the girls that lives in the dorm named Suzu that I swore was a boy when I first saw her in the volume. I was wondering why there was a boy living in the girls’ dorm. This issue became less of a problem as the volume went on, because I got used to the fact that this character was indeed a girl. I understand that Matsumoto was trying to convey that this particular character is more of a tomboy, but this did cause me some slight gender confusion right at the beginning.
I have a feeling that Beauty Is the Beast is a series that will probably have the strongest appeal to teenage girls. For me, while this isn’t a bad series, it’s one that I’m really not in a hurry to rush out and track down the next volume through my local library system. However, if I were to stumble across the next volume on the library shelves, then I wouldn’t be adverse to checking it out.
I wrote this review after reading a copy of Beauty Is the Beast Volume One that I checked out through the King County Library System.