The King’s Beast Volume One is a manga set in the same world as Dawn of the Arcana.
The King’s Beast Volume One
Written by: Rei Toma
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: February 2, 2021
When I saw that this story was set in the same world as the Dawn of the Arcana manga, I wondered if this would be a hindrance in understanding this story, since I had only read one volume of the series nearly seven years ago. However, I can say after reading this volume is that The King’s Beast is able to stand on its own and can be enjoyed by readers who have little to no knowledge of Dawn of the Arcana.
In this world, Ajin boys who show special abilities are conscripted to serve as a beast-servant for the imperial palace. Beast-servants are status symbols and shields for their masters and are generally kept or discarded based on the whims of their master. The boys who don’t show special abilities must enlist in the military. Female Ajin are expected to work in lowly positions, with the younger ones serving as prostitutes.
The King’s Beast focuses on a set of Ajin twins: a boy named Sogetsu and a girl named Rangetsu. Sogetsu is discovered to have special abilities and is taken away from Rangetsu. He serves the fourth prince and is killed while in serving as a beast-servant. The rumors say that the fourth prince killed Sogetsu, and Rangetsu overhears the rumors. She decides to take on the identity of a boy and works her way up to become a beast-servant even though she doesn’t have any special abilities. But Rangetsu manages to become the fourth prince’s beast-servant and prepares to take revenge for the death of her younger twin brother.
But we can see that the fourth prince isn’t like the other members of the royal family. Unlike the other members of the nobility, he actually cares about his beast-servants. He defends Rangetsu against his prince’s guard, who tries to put Rangetsu to work doing menial tasks. And when it comes out that the fourth prince didn’t kill Sogetsu, and Rangetsu sees him shedding tears for her brother, she strikes up an alliance (albeit it a tenuous one) to find her brother’s true killer.
Even though the prince thinks that Rangetsu is male, there are some panels in here where he seems like he’s getting a little too close to Rangetsu. We see several panels where the prince and Rangetsu are positioned in ways that is normally seen in shojo romance stories. These panels definitely give off a kind of romance undertone, and it makes me wonder if Toma is leading up to having the fourth prince discovering the truth about Rangetsu and falling in love with her. If that ends up being a twist, it’s one that I’m already seeing from a mile away.
But the story that’s presented here is riveting enough that I found myself not wanting to stop. I also thought that the art complements the story, and it works with the kind of world that Toma has set up for both Dawn of the Arcana and The King’s Beast.
This volume also includes a bonus chapter for Toma’s The Water Dragon’s Bride. I haven’t read any of that manga, but fortunately, the first few panels give readers enough of a recap to help out those who have never read The Water Dragon’s Bride to understand the concept of the series and what led up to the point the bonus chapter is depicting.
I would recommend The King’s Beast to readers who are fans of Dawn of the Arcana or any other of Toma’s work. I would also recommend it to readers who enjoy stories featuring supernatural characters that are set in a world that’s set up like one of the earlier eras of Japanese history.