Today I received my copy of The King’s Beast by Rei Toma. Just by looking at the cover and the first few pages I knew this would be a book that I would want to review. Toma’s art and story telling skills proved to be a major factor of what drew me in to the story. The story does not play out how one would think it would which made it all the more interesting.
The story centers around humans and a species called Ajin. Ajin are animal human hybrids and they exist only to serve humans. Young boys who show signs of special powers become royal servants. The females have it just as bad and when they come of age become prostitutes. After they are no longer desirable they get cast in more menial roles and work to serve humans until the day they die. It’s a grim outlook and one that plays in very well to the story that Rei Toma is telling.
Volumes one and two of The King’s Beast were released simultaneously in Japan but only volume one so far is available in English. VIZ has published it along with Toma’s other manga series Dawn of the Arcana and The Water Dragon’s Bride.
Ajin 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. When they were children, Rangetsu’s twin brother Sogetsu was ripped from her arms and sent to the palace to attend Prince Tenyou as a beast-servant, where he quickly fell victim to bloody dynastic intrigues. Now in a world that promises only bitterness, Rangetsu’s one hope at avenging her brother is to disguise herself as a man and find a way into the palace!VIZ
The first book tells the story of Ko Rangetsu who is becoming the fourth prince’s beast servant. Tenyou, the fourth prince has not had a beast servant since his last one was murdered and was pretty much forced to accept Rangetsu. You find out why when you read this book but I won’t spoil it for you. His motivations are pure and it’s one of the parts that I enjoyed the most because it makes him out to be completely different from what you would have expected.
Ko Rangetsu is disguising herself as a man in order to get closer to her brother’s killer. Her brother was Tenyou’s servant and was murdered shortly after being assigned to him. He was young when he passed and the news of his death shocked Rangetsu to her core. It motivated her to rise above attempt a new life disguised as a man. She trains to become as strong as possible and earns herself the recognition needed to be assigned to a royal despite having no special abilities.
Now that they are paired together you get to read how their relationship as master and beast develop in this beautifully illustrated series. What starts out as Rangetsu working towards killing the fourth prince and avenging her brother turns into a story you will want to pay attention to.
Volume one of The King’s Beast is set in the same universe as Toma’s other manga series Dawn of the Arcana. I haven’t read that one but now that I’ve read this story by her I am going to order myself a copy and start reading that one as well. If you’re a fan of that series or The Water Dragon’s Bride you are sure to enjoy this story just as much.
You can pick up volume one of The King’s Beast by clicking the link here.