The Wize Wize Beasts of the Wizarding Wizdoms
Story & Art: Nagabe
Translation: Adrienne Beck
Adaptation: Ysabet MacFarlane
Lettering: Karis Page
Mangaka Nagabe impressed manga fans with his North American debut The Girl from the Other Side: Siuil a Run, a gorgeous, dark tale of curses, ostracism, and found family. His most recent translated work, The Wize Wize Beasts of the Wizarding Wizdoms, offers the same stylish inky-black aesthetics with a less serious — but no less entertaining — premise.
Wizdoms is a school of magic, named for its omnipotent creator who also introduced a race called demi-humans in to the world. A number of these demi-humans — humanoid animals with species-specific traits — populate a Hogwarts-esque castle of mystical learning. That in and of itself is an interesting premise, especially when paired with Nagabe’s sense of dark visual whimsy. But Wize Wize Beasts is also a boys’ love anthology, full of relatively tame stories of male demi-humans navigating same-sex romances against a backdrop of wizarding education. In many ways, it might seem like an excuse to write and draw Harry Potter furry fan fiction — and instead of balking from that conceit, it embraces with a clear commitment to pure indulgence.
This single-volume manga is filled with mostly unrelated tales featuring different romances mostly between students, though the few professors who do make their way onto the scene are all mystical creatures themselves: a gryphon, a unicorn, and a dragon. The first story, “Alan & Eddington: The Gifted & the Average,” introduces readers to Eddington the hare, who has middling magical abilities, unlike his brilliant Siamese cat-classmate, Alan. Despite this shortcoming, Eddington is determined to attempt a love potion which will make Alan listen to whatever he says for a short period of time, and then hopefully forget the whole ordeal after a short nap. Once Alan is under the potion’s spell, Eddington confesses his love for the cat, and asks Alan to kiss him. Afterward, Eddington regrets his cowardly actions and the way he has exploited his friend. But Alan knows more than Eddington realizes, and the timid hare is in for a surprise.
In “Marley & Collette: The Cold-Blooded & the Warm-Blooded,” a deer and a lizard are roommates who could not be more physically different. The cold winter weather makes Marley sluggish, his cold reptilian blood needing the warmth of the sun to keep him active and alert. Collette, with the extra winter hair afforded to many mammals, often has to help Marley do basic things like get dressed on cold mornings. Marley envies Collette’s ability to enjoy the snow and cold, and feels bad for being so needy. He tells Collette that he can always quit being his roommate if the task of his caretaking becomes too much, but Collette rather enjoys feeling needed — especially by Marley.
The final story, “Mauchly & Charles: Beast & Man,” explores the relationship between an Asian black bear and a regular human — a creature which most demi-humans believe to be mythical. The two met by happenstance once, and since becoming friends have decided to see each other over holiday breaks. Mauchly the bear comforts Charles, who feels like an outcast among his human peers, and the two have a close bond that’s just a little more than typical friends.
Amidst these stand-out tales are some which more heavily rely on the tropes of the genre, including a barely-appropriate relationship between a dragon math professor and the dragon student whom he tutors, as well as a deceptive crow who wants his peacock best friend all to himself. But overall, the collection is populated by gentle romances of varying types, with inventively-designed characters in a familiar magical school setting. For those who wish to take a jaunt into this fantasy land, the manga is currently available in English through Seven Seas Entertainment.