Beauty is the Beast, vol. 1-5

Eimi Yamashita’s parents relocate for work, so she decides to move into the girl’s dorm at her school. But living in the dorm is very different and she has to learn to deal with having a roommate, managing her money, enduring weird initiations, and handling vacations. It’s her feelings for the reclusive Wanibuchi, that are hardest to handle, though, especially when he’s dating an older woman, and when shy, but handsome Shimonuki decides he’s going to win her heart.

This is an odd little series (only five volumes), but it will capture the right reader. At first Matsumoto seems to be writing a simple school/dorm story with little hints of romance thrown in, but she soon moves to focusing solely on the Wanibuchi/Eimi/Shimonuki love triangle. This is one of the downsides to the series, as it means several very interesting side characters, who had been focused on in the first two volumes, are pushed aside and not revisited. Matsumoto’s art can also be hard to follow–her word bubbles don’t always clearly indicate who is talking. Also, for a romance, the ending is sweet, but rather unsatisfying.

However, Eimi is an appealingly honest person, Wanibuchi is appropriately dark and brooding, and Shimonuki is a nice guy, so you do find yourself rooting for the characters and caught up in their lives. This series is a nice choice for a patient reader who doesn’t mind a story that wanders around some. That reader will find out some interesting things about dorm life in Japan while enjoying a delicate romance which takes its time, but not too much, unfolding. The (unrelated) bonus story at the end of volume five is also nicely done and faintly reminiscent of Mitsukazu Mihara’s storylines.

Beauty is the Beast, vol. 1-5
By Tomo Matsumoto
Volume 1: ISBN: 9781421502892
Volume 2: ISBN: 9781421503523
Volume 3: ISBN: 9781421503530
Volume 4: ISBN: 9781421503547
Volume 5: ISBN: 9781421503554
VIZ, 2005-2006