Original Story by Makoto Sanda
Art by Aco Arisaka
Adaptation by Miyakokasiwa
Translated by Caleb Cook
Lettering by Rochelle Gancio
Fantasy stories are a staple of fiction, and manga is no exception. While many fantasy manga take place in another world, some of the most interesting to me are those that merge fantasy with reality. Bestia perfectly fits this description, supplying an entertaining story set in the familiar city of London.
Bestia centers on Asuka Tsukasa, a young man who decides to study abroad in London to learn more about his estranged mother and a mysterious girl from his past. When he learns that the girl he’s searching for is a dog beast named Edgar, Asuka is suddenly plunged in the strange world of fantastical beasts known as cryptids.
The majority of this first volume focuses on establishing Asuka and Edgar’s relationship and their objectives. Asuka’s mother Honoka played a vital role in controlling the cryptids and allowing them to coexist with humanity. Since Honoka’s disappearance, that balance has been broken, and the government organization Zoo wants Asuka to carry on his mother’s obligations by collecting her former cryptids. Asuka has been placed into a position far beyond his depth, and while he has inherited his mother’s powers as a cryptid handler, his mission is incredibly difficult. That said, what drives Asuka is his curiosity about his mother and his sympathy for Edgar. Edgar refuses to believe that Honoka vanished on a whim, and her confidence deeply resonates with Asuka. He wants to place faith in Edgar’s claims, and find the true reason for his mother’s disappearance.
Edgar is by far the standout character in this story. Her stubborn personality places her in constant conflict with those around her, but she often uses this to hide her own frustrations. This is especially true in regards to her former master Honoka, as she resents her abrupt abandonment. Still, Edgar still longs to see Honoka again and seems willing to tolerate Zoo’s scheme if it will fit her ends. Edgar’s personality also shines during battle, holding nothing back and even trash talking enemy cryptids. Her presence brings some needed excitement into Bestia, making the series more enjoyable.
Miyakokasiwa’s artwork is quite impressive and pairs fittingly with Bestia’s narrative. Since the series takes place in London, Miyakokasiwa makes sure to properly showcase the city’s scenery at any opportunity. Even in the fictional areas that the cast visits, the architecture maintains a European influence, making the visuals feel both cohesive and immersive. This helps the manga stand-out against other contemporary stories and makes it instantly appealing. The art is further supported by the manga’s great paneling. Miyakokasiwa is able to effectively support the narrative tension by manipulating the size and shapes of panels. Several scenes are even given two-page spreads, such as Edgar suddenly saving a girl from an incoming car, which provides the story with further impact. Bestia has a solid visual foundation that will draw readers to its world.
Bestia is off to a strong start, delivering an interesting fantasy adventure that is incredibly entertaining. The cast is thoroughly enjoyable and the artwork provides the manga with a unique flair. This is a manga you’ll want to take a bite out of for sure!