Liam, a handsome and hedonistic traveler, is “saved” from either pleasure or pain by Cavo, a demon who answers Liam’s cries of …let’s say distress. Cavo rescues Liam from some unscrupulous forest guides and his reward is Liam’s relentless flirtation. A fun twist on the “Beauty and the Beast” fairy tale ensues, as the gentle demon is introduced to the human experience by the sexually aggressive rogue. Liam is amused by Cavo’s innocent discomfort with his overtures and a kind of affection begins to creep into their relationship as they travel. Whether Liam wants more than sex from Cavo is to be determined, but Cavo definitely falls hard for the dashing Liam.
Of course, life isn’t so simple in a world of fantasy adventure. Cavo finds himself braving a human town and rescuing Liam from pursuers. It’s easy to guess that Liam has brought the problem on himself with either his sexcapades or his smuggling operations. It’d be a nice twist if it turned out to be something else entirely, but as good as this manga is, it doesn’t break much ground.
Considering that Monster and the Beast is Renji’s first comic, it’s impressive. Liam’s proportions are a little off once in a while, giving him a tiny head and long body. But that’s a common enough problem in yaoi manga. The interactions between Liam and Cavo are consistently well drawn, impressive given their size difference. And the art is smooth as butter, with slick, precise inks. Cavo’s character design is interesting but so close to human he barely registers as a demon. To indicate his demonic nature, Renji settled for the gimmick of having Cavo’s long hair obscure his face at all times, so we only have Liam’s word—and the hint of sharp teeth and an animalistic muzzle—that Cavo is monstrous. Amusingly, Cavo’s long locks do double duty covering his private parts. The backgrounds for the first two-thirds of the book are generic forest, then the characters arrive in a generic town. At least the town is a change of scenery.
It will be interesting to see how Renji’s art develops over further volumes, considering how generally solid it is at the start. Volume 1 sets up enough mystery and interest to keep the story going, but at some point either Cavo or Liam is going to have to give. Cavo is very up front about his jealousy, once he learns the word. But Liam doesn’t seem cut out for monogamy, no matter how unique his partner. No doubt getting the two together will be half the fun.
publisher: Yen Press
story and art: Renji