Title: The King's Beast Vol. 4
Author: Rei Toma
Release Date: November 2, 2021
Publisher: VIZ Media
The King’s Beast Vol. 4 continues Ko Rangetsu’s story. While revenge was her initial motivation, her short time with the fourth prince Tennyou has made her profoundly fond of her current master. Unfortunately, however, this is a volume that lays bare the manga’s shortcomings.
The chapters here are focused on Tennyou’s and Rangetsu’s confrontation against the third prince, Kougai. Introduced as a suspicious character in the previous volume, it’s finally time for the big battle between princes. However, instead of beating around the bush, the story lays bare what his motivations are. Sadly, it’s much more infantile than expected.
In the end, we still don’t have a good lead into who killed Sogetsu. It’s honestly even easy to forget this motivation of the story by now. The story is almost hitting a “the new royal person of the week” situation, introducing new people while making an unappealing intrigue that’s just too small.
Though I won’t deny there’s emotional weight to the events, everything feels of little consequence. While the last volume was a good reminder of the cruelty of the setting, this one makes it all feel petty and dull. The pacing has been too slow, but the situations so far don’t live up to the premise either.
Despite everything that has happened so far, Rangetsu continues to be way too naive for her good. She’s as straightforward as an arrow, and in a world of back-stabbing nobles, this is a fatal flaw. But the volume doesn’t show her paying any price for it. The most we have is one of the royal people newly introduced reminding her of her position.
However, The King’s Beast Vol. 4 has a few interesting character developments. As the series has mentioned before, Tenyou isn’t actively seeking the throne. Instead, the prince is much more of a shadow player, making his moves away from the spotlights. He’s a cunning person, but that doesn’t mean he plays dirty at all.
Some people also see it as him shirking from responsibilities, which is a valid interpretation. Considering his skills, he could be a serious contender for the emperor position. This situation troubles his subordinates, Rangetsu and Taihaku, who believe in his potential but want to see him in action.
As the competition escalates between Tenyou and Kougai, we finally get to see how he fights when he’s serious. The third prince tries to force Tenyou to act using his relationship with Rangetsu as leverage. However, when it gets to a battle of wits between the two, the fourth prince makes a bold move. The payoff is supposed to be huge, but it’s only talked about briefly.
When it comes to the illustrations, this isn’t one of the best volumes either. When the characters are playing the Jiju match, the panels focus on the foul plays against Rangetsu. The dispute itself ends up hard to follow with an unclear storyboarding. There are also many simplified panels fitting the high amount of jokes and lighthearted moments in the volume.
It’s a shame to say this, but The King’s Beast Vol. 4 shows the series has stagnated. While there’s enough content when it comes to showing Tenyou’s abilities and his relationship with Rangetsu, that’s all it has to offer. The low stakes of actions, lack of consequences, and naive characters make the already slow pacing tedious.
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