Do you like furries? Harry Potter? Boys Love? Then boy do I have the manga for you. The Wize Wize Beasts of the Wizarding Wizdoms is a manga written and created by Nagabe who you may know as the creator behind The Girl from the Other Side. It’s a single volume work that combines a multitude of stories that all take place in one universe populated by anthropomorphic animals studying magic. When it was first announced, I wasn’t quite sure what to think, but I’ve been a major fan of Nagabe and The Girl from the Other Side since volume one, following it almost religiously. Her style of art is truly unique among mangaka and I was looking forward to something different I could sink my teeth into. Wize Wize Beasts is definitely different from what I usually read, but I wound up liking it a lot more than I thought in the end.
Wize Wize Beasts (as I’ll be referring to it from now on) is a compilation of stories set in the Wizdom’s School of Wizarding, a school for beasts of all types to come study and learn all sorts of magic and different kinds of knowledge. Each of the eight stories within this volume follows a different pair of lovers at this school, sometimes combining the most unlikely animals and creatures together. There are not only the unlikely pairs of animals but also every kind of pair character-type wise as well. The volume was picked up for English language distribution by Seven Seas Entertainment.
The Girl from the Other Side stood out to me as entirely different in style from many of the common manga you see on the shelves. Nagabe’s style was reminiscent of old-style fairy tale illustrations with a lot of dark values and a focus on form rather than detail when it came to the characters. It’s what I loved about the series, and so I was really excited to see that they had come out with something new. Wize Wize Beasts has much of the same style that reminds me of fairy tale illustrations, but doesn’t have the same heavy feel as her last series. They did away with the heavy, dark values, and use more white space and lighter tones to create a more cheery and interesting atmosphere. It also helps that all the characters are some form of animal or mythical beast, drawn in a way that showcases Nagabe’s unique style and brings out the animal’s most interesting characteristics.
What I love about Nagabe’s style of creating manga is their ability to create pages full of weight. What I mean by weight is in essence assigning significance to certain moments. Nagabe has the ability to pull out these significant moments and through the use of panel design, white space, value, and detail create a sense of weight behind them. There are a variety of moments that pop out to me in this volume, but I think a good example would be in the third story between the Dragon professor and his student. In the scene above we see this moment pulled out of the reset of the panels and made into its own full-page splash. The scene is pulled back, allowing white space to intrude and surround the scene like a halo. There is no speech, only the two characters connecting in a meaningful way. This creates a pause both for our eyes and for our minds that assigns weight to this moment in time and this momentary connection between characters.
I’m not a furry myself, but I have no problem with the genre, and I think it can offer some interesting story lines and character dichotomies when we pair animals we may never have thought could go together. We see the same interest in Beastars and somewhat in Zootopia, where I feel like an interest in stories about anthropomorphic animals was given a resurgence. I find a couple of the relationships in this volume a little uncomfortable, but for the most part Nagabe has created couples who are supportive and comfortable with one another while still being awkward teenagers. Many of them are founded on this difference in species that creates this inherent contrast between their personality traits. A wolf and a sheep, a cat and a rabbit, a crow and a peacock. These are just three of the relationships in this volume that I think show the most contrast between the characters. And it’s not only their personalities that contrast, but Nagabe’s unique style comes into play again to create another layer of distinction between their character designs as well.
I think the relationship with the most differences might be the second story which is between a wolf and a sheep. Nagabe creates the contrast between the two characters not only in choosing the animal types, but also through character designs, color, and character qualities. For one the wolf is pictured as nearly three times as tall as the sheep, practically towering over him. The wolf is also shaded almost completely black, the details of his face mostly obscured by his dark fur. Meanwhile the sheep character is white, tiny, and it’s much easier to see his expressions. The wolf is lazy, loves to sleep in class, and relies on the sheep to help him through school. It becomes this cute story of the top-of-the-class nerdy guy and his more rugged, bad-boy boyfriend. I could see it playing out with regular human characters as well, but I think the animal element gives it a new level of interest.
The stories definitely dip into the darker elements of relationships as the volume goes on, which I almost expected from Nagabe given the tone of their other series. One of the stories deals with the rejection from a character’s family because of their openness about their sexuality. There’s also another relationship that boarder’s on troubling as a character prevents another from forming any kind of romantic attachment to anyone else that isn’t them, going behind their back and basically threatening people and acting jealous. The relationship that I was most uncomfortable with was the twin-incest one though. Twins, especially in reverse harem shows like Ouran High School Host club, were a popular romantic fantasy trope. But I am kind of creeped out by them, especially because these two are very young and seem very naive.
Besides that, I did enjoy this new volume from Nagabe. It’s a shame that it’s just a single volume and we probably won’t be seeing anymore, but I think we got a fairly good peak into an interesting world created by one of my favorite mangakas. I’m interested to hear what you think of this manga. Have I sparked your interest? Have you already read this one? Let me know!
~~Thanks for Reading!~~
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