I think it’s important to get out of one’s comfort zone every once in a while, and for this review that meant finally reading a boys’ love manga. I don’t have anything against boys’ love; either the story doesn’t interest me, or it gets dibbed by another reviewer before I can claim it (as a journalism major, I should read Candy Color Paradox).
So here comes a fantasy boys’ love book by Nagabe, an artist I really enjoy, that sounds interesting even as a non-furry. Nagabe’s The Girl From The Other Side is a great manga that needs more readership for its wonderful art and dark fantasy. And guess what? I got first dibs!
Once upon a time, as the story states, beings called Wize Wizards – presumably human – chose to “bestow the shape and intellect of humans upon beasts.” These Demi-humans live mostly separated from humans and build their own society. They build their own magical academy, naming it Wizdom’s after their creators. There’s lots of good worldbuilding in these stories. Because the worldbuilding comes from the characters themselves, it felt organic to the short story being told.
Given that The Wize Wize Beasts of The Wizarding Wizdoms is a collection of short stories, I’m going to give my thoughts on each individual story and my overall thoughts at the end.
“Alan & Eddington” is the first story, and it doesn’t give this book a good start. The plot revolves around a character using a love potion to essentially drug the person they have affections towards. There's consequences to those actions, but I don’t think they were hard enough for the actions committed.
“Florio & Nicol” is a fun inversion of tropes. Focusing on a wolf-goat pairing, it flips the hunter-hunted dynamic on its head by making the goat, Nicol, the aggressive, dominating one. Florio, the wolf, is a lazy oaf that is immediately likable. Things get a little scary, but what initially seems like a primal act is actually a wholesome act of love. Trust me, it makes sense when you read it.
“Fermat & Emil” features a student and their professor… Don’t leave yet! This is actually a wholesome story about a stubborn old man and the young student who needs a parental figure in his life. They’re dragons too, so Nagabe gets to be more creative with their designs, which is a treat.
“Marley & Collete” might be the best story from start to finish. Here we start to see how Nagabe is able to use real-life facts about animals to emotional effect. This story focuses on roommates, the warm-blooded deer Collette and the cold-blooded lizard Marley. It’s winter time, so Marley doesn’t have the energy to do anything. He constantly needs help from Collette. Collette, being the bestest friend ever, helps him out, even though he’d rather be enjoying the snow. Their friendship is shown to be so deep you wish they’d just make their romantic love official.
“Doug & Huey” is probably the saddest story thanks to its tragic raven character, Doug. Doug loves peacock and best friend Huey, who is always chasing the ladies. Doug is a likable character with great character design (I like the choice of making his eyes and eyebrows white. It’s cute and makes him highly expressive). It’s sad when people’s feelings don’t line up like you want them too, but you have to move on. Doug doesn’t, and it turns him into a worse person than he was at the beginning.
“Allhoff & Carreras” is definitely the most shallow story of the book. It introduces some fun vampire bat characters and has a good thematic hook with the way bats exchange food. But it all devolves into a long make-out session. I expected more after the quality of the previous stories.
“Cromwell & Benjamin“ focuses on the faculty. Cromwell is a teacher that’s appeared in previous stories as a stern teacher, and we get to learn a little more about him in his rants. However, the main focus is on Benjamin, the unicorn, who’s a nurse (his job is never made explicitly clear). Cromwell comes to Benjamin because he is willing to listen to his rants. The audience finds out, however, that it is Benjamin that needs to let things off his chest. He has the saddest backstory in the book and deserves to be heard. This dynamic leads to some nice character development for both characters and leaves you in a good mood. Note that part of the unicorn mythology was that they could smell a person’s virginity, so remember that or you’ll get a sudden reminder in this story.
“Mauchly & Charles” has some eye-rolling sexual innuendo at the beginning, but after that, it’s probably the best story in the collection. Here we have the joy of seeing the kinship of a bear and… a human!?!?! It’s just so wholesome and heartwarming. The characters genuinely have a bond, and how Nagabe shows that bond is great. Then the story committed the gravest sin: ending! I need more! What’s worse, it’s the last story of the book!
Wanting more is all that you could ask for from a short story collection. For someone new to the genre, I was touched by the majority of what I read. Taking a (mostly) wholesome view of relationships helped ease me into the more sensual stuff. It’s rated 13+, so nothing ever gets explicit or raunchy. The stories were varied enough that I got to feel different emotions so it didn’t get repetitive. Nagabe’s art is always a treat, and they keep the quality streak going. As a BL newbie, this feels like a good “first boys’ love” title.
Deep in the forest lies a mysterious school of magic: Wizdoms, an institution attended by beastmen of all kinds. These studious fantasy creatures have come to live, learn, and perhaps even fall in love in this enchanting space. In this collection of BL stories by master mangaka Nagabe, follow the beauty and surprising humor of magical beasts with human hearts.Add to CartLearn More