by Paru Itagaki

This was one of my less-favorites so far. There just ended up being so much blood and violence, I got tired of all the exaggerated drawn-out fight scenes (literally pages and pages of them). It felt like I was forcing myself to finish the book and not just skim it all. I’m not surprised– considering what kind of manga this is- that drawing near the climax of the story there’s so much fighting- but it was tiresome to read. (I never like reading battle scenes in novels, either).

~~ warning for SPOILERS ~~

So- Kyu intensifies Legoshi’s training, goading him into fierce, quick action by herself threatening (in public!) other herbivore beasts and taunting him to stop her. Knowing her attitudes, he fully fears for the other animals’ lives and acts. Turns out she is leaking intel about him to his enemy, too! Legoshi reveals a weakness that all canidae have (though it’s weird, I would have thought only a trait of the ‘domestics’), putting himself at Kyu’s mercy in view of his goal. We learn more about the animals’ worship for their dinosaur ancestors, including a big holiday in the cold season called ‘Rexmas’ which is about what you’d expect. Legoshi starts fasting in preparation for his upcoming fight with Melon- because extreme hunger will make him more ferocious. But then Haru chooses this time to come see him, angrily defying the dangers of walking through the black market, and encountering him in one of his more tense moments- it’s obviously a strain, but he remains at heart simply full of admiration for her, and finally kisses her- not without overthinking the moment first though!

Louis makes another bodily sacrific to support Legoshi- but the evidence left behind might make the wolf appear guilty of crime again. We get more evidence of Melon’s crazed violent tendencies, and see Louis struggle to assume the responsibilities his father left on his shoulders, even while he’s mostly just worried about Legoshi. Another weird animal fact of this world: the komodo dragons not only have venom, but it drips more concentrated and potent when they’re emotionally agitated, and it can dissolve stone or concrete- so buildings collapse! (WHAT. Even for a made-up world of animals that walk upright like people, talk to each other, have a complex society and some odd advanced physiologies, this seemed kinda over the top to me). Legoshi has to fight a komodo dragon gang, but is distracted by the beauty of light on their scales, which reminds him of his grandfather. Also, the reptilians can deliberately tear off the ends of their tails and throw them at opponents as bombs (explosives attached). Another bizzarre addition the drama of their conflicts.

Borrowed from the public library. Completed on 4/21/24.

Rating: 2/5

made by Pomegranate ~ artist Christopher Marley ~ 1000 pieces

This puzzle was hard! Probably not great that I jumped straight from doing some easy ones, into a 1,000 piece count again, but I had promised this one to someone in a swap and wanted to finish it soon. Difficult because of all the tiny little things I had to peer constantly at the box image (no poster) to figure out where they went. Not my favorite way to do a puzzle. It had good sturdy pieces with nice surface texture, and a standard piece cut. The first few stages were hardest- it took me two sittings just to get the border done- because very little to go by except piece shape, and that was very subtle (small knobs, small variations). In assembling all the beetles, it wasn’t until the very last two sittings that it felt like the enjoyable “puzzle zone” where I could just look at what I had on the table and fit pieces in, instead of constantly referring back and forth to the reference image. Felt very satisfied to be done, but it’s not one I’d want to repeat! Although I do have another version of this, a second bug puzzle by the same make and artist. I will probably not do that one for a long while.

I was going to take closeup pictures of some individual beetles in the puzzle- they have really brilliant colors and some remarkable patterns. But I forgot to do so before breaking it all apart again. I’ll try to remember when I assemble the other beetle one. 

from CList- bought used

by Paru Itagaki

~~ SPOILERS ~~

Kyu the fierce rabbit attempts to train Legoshi to be a better fighter by overcoming his reluctance to attack smaller females. Her methods are- um, interesting. (And no, I do not agree with her assertion that breasts don’t hurt if they get punched. Maybe not on a rabbit in this world?) We find out that she was taught by the Panda earlier, too. Melon relates a story about his childhood to the lion gang- a terrible story about how his relationship with his mother ended in violence- it really cements the concept that this mixed beast is just insane. (I didn’t understand the bit about how melons are neither fruit nor vegetable until I looked up the Japanese viewpoint- apparently in that culture they are often eaten as a savory food.) None of the stuff he said about why he suddenly hated his mother made any sense to me. Nor anything about how Dolph (the lion) reappeared after having got his throat slashed in the last book. I mean, we saw all the blood on the floor. Is this series going even further off the rails?

Legoshi worries that Melon is becoming almost a popular figure in the black market and influencing things- in a very bad way of course. He sets a date (does this sound familiar) to have an end-all fight with Melon and then it all becomes very ritualized, arranging this fight. Turning one role on its head and repeating another, Legoshi tries to enlist support from both Louis and Yahya.

Louis’ father dies and he suddenly expresses emotion for him- and has to take over his CEO role. Louis goes to an herbivore festival (I love how the animals honor their dinosaur ancestors) and unexpectedly encounters Haru. They reminisce a bit, and recognize how much each has changed. But Louis realizes Haru is in mortal danger from Melon- and she doesn’t seem at all concerned.

Melon and Legoshi, in some weird preparation for their upcoming fight, have to do a quiz show in public- on an abandoned construction site- answering trivia questions about animal rules of conduct and physiology. It was very strange, but also amusing, and a nice way to give us more info tidbits on how this society works. (The quiz event was run by small beasts in white sheets with eyeholes- very unsettling). A piece of equipment almost falls to impale Legoshi but Melon saves him, so he can have the pleasure of looking forward to killing him personally, on the set date. Then Legoshi and Kyu have a weirdly argumentative interaction where he admits to her that he’s in love with another rabbit, she declares him hopeless, and then tries to knock over a giraffe in a neck cast who is just strolling along innocently with his giraffe girlfriend in public- because Kyu’s so disgruntled at seeing someone else in love? or she wanted to goad Legoshi into stopping her and prove he could react quickly? I’m not sure.

Borrowed from the public library. Completed on 4/20/24.

Rating: 3/5
208 pages, 2020

by Paru Itagaki

~~ SPOILERS ~~ the biggest are white, highlight to read

More and more depth to this story. Volume 18 opens with flashbacks to Legoshi’s early days at the boarding school, which he started just after his mother died. Now Legoshi is hiding out there while waiting for his fur to revert to its normal hue- which apparently it will do after he sheds. He’s surprised to see all the changes that have occurred since he left- with the segregation of carnivores and herbivores tensions are higher. Carnivores are more openly aggressive and speak freely of the black market, herbivores act glum and skittish. Legoshi is very uncomfortable, feeling an acute longing for peaceful co-existence. He runs into Pina (gorgeous as ever) and the tiger Bill. He fraternizes with the drama club members, who are still meeting even though they’re supposed to be disbanded. Jack is very down about some things he’s learned of Beast history (before the war and the genetic engineering happened). Jack is upset about his natural mild-mannered attributes and complete obedience (genetic temperament). He cuts onions to force himself to cry. He tells Legoshi more history behind the war. There’s this weird part in the middle about an enormous whale. And then an even more unexpected scene where the current beastar Yahya meets with the whale- so apparently it’s still around?

Then an episode with Bill the tiger at home, who cracks an egg and is faced with a sudden shock, and a moral dilemma- there’s a chick embryo inside. Can he eat it?? (No mages of this, but immediately I thought back to the hen and yeah, if she wasn’t um, careful with her private life, a fertilized egg could be in the batch unknowing). Bill, Pina and Aoba- an eagle with the sternest face- tenderly raise the chick until it’s old enough to go into official care- and now Bill vows off ever eating chicken meat again.

The lions of the gang commiserate about how things are changing in the black market (more mild). A bunch of different gangs face off with each other- it looks like these red fox vixens will prevail over the lions, but the mixed one Melon steps out as their leader and makes a shocking display of his unhinged violence- combined with a super-disturbingly casual attitude. Louis’ father sternly questions his reluctance to marry- and wonders aloud if he’s even attracted to females of his own species. Angered, Louis goes back to the black market, where Legoshi tracks him down. Trying to convince him to accost Melon together as a team (again). Which is weird, because I swear they had done this already. And failed. Well, Louis reminisces (not in a good way) about his childhood trapped here, and finally shares with Legoshi where that actually was. They are surprised to run into Louis’ childhood companions, who survived all this time against the odds. Well, the rabbit Kyu because she became a tough, quick fighter, summoning the aura of a larger, fiercer beast (chimeara) when she faces an opponent. She challenges Legoshi but he can’t make himself attack her- because of Haru. And Kya surmises she can do something to help Legoshi overcome his reluctance to confront female rabbits.

Borrowed from the public library. Completed on 4/19/24.

Rating: 3/5
208 pages, 2020

More opinions: Al’s Manga Blog
anyone else?

by Paru Itagaki

~~ warning for SPOILERS ~~

Louis spends the night in a hotel with his fiancé, but can’t um, perform to satisfaction. Disgruntled at her insistence, he seeks out the company of the lions- and finds Legoshi there. All of them- the eight-lion gang, one wolf and a fierce deer- set out to track down Melon. The big cats have some curious methods- divination using their pulled whiskers, for one. (Fun fact- the lions have been assuaging their meat cravings by gnawing on Louis’ shed antlers- which he finds upsetting at first). We find out that Melon has insinuated himself into another profession where he can prey on the unsuspecting. He’s teaching in a university- and Haru is a student there. Melon seems to be tormented by conflicting urges due to his dual nature. He has a very touchy and dangerous encounter with Haru- and she stands up for herself- but seems to escape only just barely. There’s more on the carnivore / herbivore history, and the use of products from their bodies: eggs, milk, and the coffee beans that travel through a civet’s gut! There was a whole episode about that. Right after escaping Melon’s clutches, Haru pays a surprise visit to Legoshi- throwing him into angst because drinking the civet coffee gave him strong urges to eat meat. She’s afraid to tell what happened with the professor. Haru really wants to attempt intimacy again, but Legoshi gets such a shock that all his fur turns white. Emotionally reeling, he pledges himself to Haru, to their future. Legoshi then finally accosts Melon- they battle- and we get glimpses of the mixed-species beasts’ childhood- bullied by other young ones for his differences- and then Legoshi and Melon survive a fall from a great height together. When Melon flees Legoshi’s clutches (again), bystanders – and law enforcement- assume that the wolf is the aggressor, so his trouble with police begins all over again. Legoshi runs to his old roommate buddies for refuge.

Borrowed from the public library. Completed on 4/18/24

Rating: 3/5
216 pages, 2020

More opinions: Al’s Manga Blog
anyone else?

by Paru Itagaki

~~  SPOILERS warning  ~~

Starts off with more details about Legoshi’s mother. How much she had isolated herself, when her body showed signs of her mixed parentage. Gosha and Yahya fight again- over the same rift between them: that Gosha chose to focus on his family, while Yahya wants his old teammate for their vigilante crusade. Legoshi walks out of the hospital even though not fully recovered, and engages in some full-moonlight bathing on Deep Night (is this a cultural Japanese thing, or made up for this world? I don’t know) Yahya confronts him there about letting Melon escape. Juno is still after Louis- constantly drawn to him in spite of always getting rebuffed, but now he tells her that he’s engaged- a marriage arranged when he was much younger. Juno runs to Legoshi with her tears (and his neighbors speculate she’s yet another girlfriend). We learn that the animal society puts even more pressure on same-species couples to marry, to keep any from becoming genetically diluted or going extinct. Juno tries to defy this mindset very publicly. Then a backstory on the mice (or rats?) that serve Yahya. (I found this chapter completely uninteresting). We get more inside Melon’s head and learn how unbalanced he really is. Legoshi is on the verge of tracking him down. And there is a really disturbing tattoo parlor scene (with lots of blood) with an old sloth tattoo artist whose applications are torture. But still sought after for some reason. Curiously, his responses are so slow that he replies to all the parts of a conversation after the other person has long moved on (even left the room). Legoshi tries to exploit this. But he runs afoul of the lion gang and is almost done in- saved at the very last minute by something the seal Sagwan had taught him.

In the after pages we learn that the manga artist draws everything by hand- even all the backgrounds and shading tones are painstakingly inked in. I was super impressed. So much respect for the dedication and work that goes into that.

Borrowed from the public library. Completed on 4/18/24.

Rating: 3/5
208 pages, 2019

More opinions: Al’s Manga Blog
anyone else?

by Kathi Appelt

~~ SPOILERS ~~

Wish I’d liked this one better. It’s very dismal. Two overlapping stories- one about an abandoned cat that takes shelter under a dilapidated porch with an old hound dog. The dog has been chained there for years by an abusive man who alternately starves and beats him. This miserable man escaped a brutal childhood (treated badly by one parent, abandoned by the other), and lived for decades alone near a dark bayou- his one ambition seems to be bagging an enormous ancient alligator. To prove something to himself. So the cat has kittens, and they are warned to stay hidden under the house where it’s safe, or the man might use them for alligator bait. But of course growing kittens eventually have to explore and push at boundaries. And then bad things start to happen, one after the other. I’ll be frank- one of the animals dies.  A kitten finds himself lost and struggling to return home, and meanwhle an ancient malevolent half-human, half-serpent being lurks, waiting to wreak some revenge. That’s the other storyline.

I liked the parts about the cats, and the poor dog, even though so many dark trials happened to them. (Kinda like the foxes). I didn’t at all like Gar Face and the alligator- though they felt important to the story. The thousand-years-ago telling of the lamia being and how she lost her daughter and why she seethed with anger for so many years, felt more like a fable. And of course they all weave together in the end- I knew all these ‘bad guys’ would cause calamity to each other- I didn’t expect one of them to suddenly be moved with emotion upon seeing the bond of caring the kittens had, and have a complete change of heart. It felt too abrupt.

The pictures (few) are great. The prose is somewhat tiresome. Very short chapters (most just half a page, if that), very repetitive language, and enough inaccuracies (I’m pretty sure beautyberry and sumac are shrubs not trees) that it bothered me. Also descriptive phrases like “the goldy sun” and “greenly” something got on my nerves after a while. I’m glad I read it, but I don’t know if I’ll be interested in reading any more by this author.

Borrowed from the public library. Completed on 4/17/24.

Rating: 3/5
320 pages, 2008

made by Sunsout ~ artist Persis Clayton Weirs ~ 500 pieces

This puzzle was just so cute. I love the picture. I could have done it much faster, but lingered over it on purpose. Well, the grass was a bit harder than the rest, but it was still a joy with all the fun wonky shapes in the piece cut. Even more special to me because I’ve had my eye on this puzzle for a while, hoping I’d get it in a swap someday or find at the secondhand shop. Did a multiple puzzle swap with my grandmother, and I didn’t know which ones she was sending me, they were all a surprise. What a delight to find this one in the box. I had to work it first of the lot.

swap from Grandma

by Paru Itagaki

~~ SPOILERS ~~

Once again, more aspects of this animal society are revealed that surprise the reader and add complexity. Haru’s father finds out about their relationship, and even though he’s admired Legoshi previously in conversations with his wife, (how progressive and “open-minded today’s youth are”) they’re still a bit shocked. But try to make Legoshi feel welcome in the family, which he finds very touching. Meanwhle, law enforcement has been trying to apprehend the murderous mixed-species Melon, but failing because they try too hard to keep the whole affair hidden from the public. Beastar horse Yahya takes over and tries to enlist Legoshi’s assistance, offering a reward he finds hard to refuse. Together they attend a masked event where animals have illicit encounters between different species. Legoshi’s not very good at playing the part he’s supposed to enact, but Yahya uses a fight with the young wolf to draw out the criminal. He then momentarily leaves Legoshi guarding Melon, but they start up a conversation and Legoshi is intrigued by the fierce mixed beast, taken in by his charming manner, and becomes sympathetic. He pays very dearly for being so trusting.

Louis ventures into the black market and encounters the lion gang. After some altercation, they invite him to their headquarters for a meal, but are very nervous about their new boss finding out. Louis is taken aback by some changes in the lions’ demeanor, and they beg him to return! turns out the new leader, instead of making himself stronger as Louis had done with a change of diet, has infused weakness into the lions. And he torments them, too.

In the final scenes, Legoshi is unconscious in the hospital, where he has an out-of-body experience and converses with his mother’s ghost. We learn a lot more about her physiology as a mixed species animal, and the trials she suffered for that. Legoshi finally learns who his father actually was- another shocker!

Borrowed from the public library. Completed on 4/15/24.

Rating: 3/5
208 pages, 2019

More opinions: Al’s Manga Blog
anyone else?

by Paru Itagaki

Legoshi meets Yahya, who first courteously offers him a meal, then reveals how he “recycles” the criminals he kills into said meals, then threatens him outright. And I really don’t understand what happened next. ** SPOILERS! ** Legoshi is groveling, and so terrified, or ashamed at being a carnivore? that he pulls his own teeth out, and gives the bloody fangs to Yahya. Ummm- how could someone physically do that? Even a strong young bipedal wolf character in a fictional world, I find it unbelievable. Another shocker! Legoshi runs to Gohin the Panda for healing (and gets some artificial replacements). Meanwhile, Legoshi’s companions from school are starting university. Haru is disgruntled to meet another rabbit who’s dating a carnivore, and feels like those two must not be serious because she knows how difficult the predator/prey instincts are to overcome. The other animals try to convince her that times are changing and this is acceptable now, but later on Haru is proved right- in a very disturbing, bloody scene. Haru muses on the nature of her attraction to Legoshi and then goes to find him. They haven’t seen each other in a long time, and clear some things up. Haru insists that Legoshi show her some of the darkest parts of the black market- even facing the horrors of a shop that sells rabbit meat (sourced from morgues). She has to disguise herself while walking the streets so as to not trigger any hungry meat-addicted carnivores- and it looks pretty funny IMHO.

Then Legoshi’s old school buddies visit, and they go to a place where animals can let off steam by indulging in all the behavior they have to suppress while in “polite” society. For big cats, scratching their claws on wood surfaces. For the carnivores, it’s wildly chasing a ball! This felt so lighthearted (especially compared to the previous chapters). Then in the final scene we meet a new criminal, another mixed-species animal. Unlike Legoshi who has a mild temperament and had to train himself to be aggressive, this gazelle/leopard hybrid (don’t ask, it’s fiction!) has violent urges. Puts on a calm exterior to get clients in the door, and then viciously strikes. Yahya is trying to catch this creature Melon, but has been constantly thwarted.

A word about Yahya: he is so badly drawn. I’ve admired how expressive all the animal faces are throughout this manga, showing emotions so adroitly, but this one is supposed to be a horse and it’s all wrong. His tail is like a donkey with hair only at the end. His face has odd angles, looks distorted, the jaw muscles (cheek) in the wrong place, almost no chin, nostrils pinched, upper lip looks more like a camel or sheep than a horse. Ears too thick- well, they’d work if he was a shetland pony, but he’s a tall strong horse! The mane is nice though. And he (the character) goes on and on about his field of vision, it seems to be an obsession, and his ways of working to improve it just struck me as odd.

Borrowed from the public library. Completed on 4/13/24.

Rating: 3/5
208 pages, 2019

More opinions: Al’s Manga Blog
anyone else?

DISCLAIMER:

All books reviewed on this site are owned by me, or borrowed from the public library. Exceptions are a very occasional review copy sent to me by a publisher or author, as noted. Receiving a book does not influence my opinion or evaluation of it

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