Why do light novel titles (and their manga adaptations) have to have such long titles? I’ve been told in the past that authors like doing this because it gives everyone glancing at the front cover the gist of what it’s about. For that reason, I ask then what the point of back covers, if not to give a synopsis of the story being told. This thought process came through when I received in the mail the very first volume of a new manga adaptation of a light novel series.
That series: I’m a Behemoth, an S-Ranked Monster, but Mistaken for a Cat, I Live as an Elf Girl’s Pet. This is not something you title a book. Rather, it’s an explanation of the entire premise of the story from the perspective of the main character.
A former noble knight slain in battle awakens to find that he’s been reincarnated into one of the most powerful monsters around. However, his body is that of an adorable kitten, one who looks to deserve all the head pats in the world. While trying to escape a dungeon with his life, an elf adventurer named Aria discovers him almost unconscious. In love with the furry critter, she brings him home, dubs him Tama, and brings him on her dungeon-crawling adventures.
As Tama defeats enemies and eats them like a certain slime protagonist, he gains their powers and becomes more of an unstoppable force. But in the arms of Aria (or bazongas, if we’re being honest here), he melts into a pampered little critter that’s living for the attention. Of course, Tama swears he’s not just gonna cat it up for the rest of his life; he has a new mission: to protect Aria with all of his might. Fortunately, he’s got the right sort of skills to get the job done.
I’m A Behemoth, an S-Ranked Monster... (no, I’m not writing out the entire title every time) does a surprisingly good job with creating the world it wishes to build. While it tend to take a page from every fantasy manga out there with the kinds of characters and settings, it brings them to life with a goofy smirk and a perverted glare. Manga artist Taro Shinonome brings author Nozomi Ginyoku and illustrator Mitsuki Yano’s creations to the pages with beautiful details. Every dagger thrown, pounce landed, and even jiggly “tracts of land” are presented with the finest care that an artist can place in such a work.
It’s clear from the big Parental Advisory sticker that this isn’t an adventure for all, but if I’m being honest, it’s not as ecchi as some books I’ve read that weren’t shrink-wrapped. Granted, it earns that label halfway on when you see just how much Aria loves her new pet, bringing a sort of shock level that gives you no choice but to laugh off. The addition of (best) cat-girl Vulcan and her blacksmith skills (as well as her proposition towards the end) make it clear that this will be a fan-service-y affair for anyone who picks this up.
Thankfully, it’s not just about T&A like most of these raunchy comedies try to be. There’s some meat to these characters, and it shows that there’s enough cute and clever elements that’ll keep it entertaining. I love the fact that Tama becomes a huge part in Aria’s labyrinth adventures, showing off his powers that pair up nicely with the elf girl’s skills. The fight against adventure Kussman goes to great lengths to show how far Tama will go to protect his new owner, with an impressive battle that gives the behemoth cat a chance to show everyone what he’s really made of.
There are some questionable things in I’m A Behemoth, an S-Ranked Monster..., but the first volume is a lot more entertaining than it has every right to be. With a possible party in the near-future for Tama and Aria, it’s apparent that there will be a lot of fun and risqué adventures waiting in the wings. While there have been a lot of “reincarnated” stories in the last few years, I’m A Behemoth, an S-Ranked Monster... is one that seems easy enough for any fans of ecchi fantasy to jump on board for.
Promotional consideration provided by Erik Jansen of MediaLab PR