Title: Beauty Is The Beast
Genres: Shojo, Slice of Life, Comedy, Romance
Author: Tomo Matsumoto
Artist: Tomo Matsumoto
Publication: Lala (Hakusensha)
Start Date: 2003
End Date: 2006
Number of chapters at review: 28 Chapters at 5 volumes
Number of chapters read by reviewer: 28 Chapters
General Overview: Dorm life may be something that many people have had to adjust to over time, but Eimi Yamashita's time spent at her dormitory are a story that stands as a unique portrayal of life, love, and dorm politics.
When Eimi meets the 'beast' of the men's dormitory Wanibuchi, who she refers to simply as 'wanichin' life takes a turn for the unusual in this wonderful slice of life romantic comedy.
Category Ratings: (1-10 scale)
The art is most definitely the weak aspect of the series, where it can range from amazing drawing of the character's overly beautiful faces to what is essentially the least detailed and hilarious chibi characters or faceless characters that just seem to be there as props if anything else to support dialogue or actions. Though this isn't as much of a problem over the bland non-existant backgrounds that tend to seep in whenever the manga-ka generally doesn't feel a need to keep the setting in view.
I'm torn in two halves over the plot in BitB, as it does truly grab the heartstrings. Not to the level that Hot Gimmick or I"S would manage to torture the reader, but enough to make you want to keep reading till the end. Though it almost seems that if there is one string of plot that doesn't fit you will probably leave the series with a deep sense of dissatisfaction.
Okay I may tend to gush here, but Eimi, Shimonuki, Wanichin, they are ALL brilliant characters, with some base to them over the 5 volumes of story, and those are just the main characters. Each character gets some focus, to the point you appreciate every character thrown in front of you with their quirks and flaws, and gain acceptance as a part of the series.
Whilst it isn't clear what the overlying theme is of the series, it does manage to lay out a lot of meaningful thoughts on love, failure, fools, and the importance of appearance, whether it is the redundance of it or the importance of not wearing old clothes and having food on your face.
Is it original? That's a hard row to hoe. It's a slice of life romantic comedy. By nature that isn't particularly original and nor is the plot direction, including some age-old formulae from many shojo. The saving grace of this is the execution however, where you honestly don't expect it to go the stereotypical directions it occasionally heads down. This alone is enough to warrant the score being saved from originality hell.
Overall: 7.3(a true average in every respect)
Whilst it may not stand above any other shojo cookie-cutter series, and most definitely won't be remembered, either by the online community or readers of Viz's Shojo Beat lineup, but this series is a fabulous example of how many mediocre aspects can be brought together by great characters and gel into a worthwhile read.