Visually stunning if somewhat plot deficient, Beast and Feast follows the forbidden and truly torrid romance between Hyodo and Kazuha, a Yakuza and detective.
This is pretty much the most classic cop x criminal story possible, in which childhood not-particularly-friends have grown up and gone down opposite paths, reconnecting thanks to a criminal investigation. We learn that Hyodo, the Yakuza, has carried a torch for Kazuha, the detective, for many years, though the story would work just as well if this weren’t the case.
Hyodo of course takes the opportunity to demand sex from Kazuha as payment for information. Kazuha successfully refuses this coercion, but Hyodo ultimately gets what he wants after rescuing Kazuha from a separate group of miscreants.
It seems both parties feel Hyodo is entitled to have his way with Kazuha in light of having rescued him, which is quite disturbing, but since I doubt anyone views yaoi as a bastion of healthy sexual mores, no harm done.
After an intriguing setup and astonishingly hot first encounter, the plot hits a bit of a rough patch. Actually, said rough patch lasts the whole rest of the book. There are minor hills climbed but no real climax; just a series of oddly heteronormative emotional struggles and minor crime related drama that is all resolved quickly and somehow never feels urgent.
Even the most nearly compelling plotline evaporates in a convenient deus ex machina, just in time to wrap up the book with a superfluous side story about the heroes’ history together.
Overall Beast and Feast reads like a salaryman romance, as if it couldn’t commit to any of the grit of the Yakuza genre. Our Yakuza doesn’t even have any tattoos!
Even if the story is hardly pulse-quickening, the smex decidedly is! And there’s a lot of it. Sexual language and images are not sanitized in any way, and this is a very manly couple with very manly bodies. Sweat drips, blush blossoms, and the panels veritably pulse with energy. There is a beastial nature to the sex and our heroes appear as predator and prey, tense and heaving. If you are a reader who values these scenes especially this is a book not to be missed!
The art all around is terrific. The design of the main characters is well considered and develops their personalities. This is particularly true in the case of Hyodo, who with his bright eyes and prominent canines (not to mention active tongue…), is every inch the eponymous beast.
The author uses chibis, caricatures, and implied line sparingly but very effectively, sometimes communicating more with missing information. The art elevates the star score of this book significantly and makes it a valued denizen of my collection.
Overall, Beast and Feast is a title that I’m sure readers will revisit many times, even if it is flipping through to find the sex scenes. These are some of yaoidom’s most gorgeous characters and the relationship really is sweet at the end of the day. Don’t buckle up for a story that will stick with you, but look forward to a visual feast of beautiful beasts!
Review by Dot Ringo