Beast Children 004-010 – Manga Review
Synopsis: Blood, guts and glory! Give it your all on the rugby field! (Official Shonen Jump Synopsis.)
Warning: Spoilers to Follow:
10 Chapters in and it’s pretty clear that Beast Children has little original to offer. While the series centers on Rugby, an often skipped over sport in manga, many of the characters, central story beats, and elements are ripped straight from its predecessors. In fact, at times Beast Children seems to be almost apeing Haikyuu. Let’s dive in.
Chapters 4 through 10 primarily focus on Sakura joining his new school’s rugby team, the emotion that carries at finally playing with other people, his first match, and his quest to challenge Yukito again in a 7 v 7 match up. The single biggest issue with any of this is that Sakura, by himself, is a flat character. Sakura’s small stature matches how little there is to latch onto. Sakura’s entire journey is something we’ve all seen before: The rugrat hero who has immense talent that needs to be cultivated and nurtured, before he’ll grow up to be a star. It’s a power fantasy, as most shonen are, and while that positive message is appreciated, it’s far too similar to more popular titles. At times Sakura feels like budget Hinata from Haikyuu fame. Not only is Sakura a tiny player, but he possess incredible speed, and a talent for low level tackles that catch others off guard. If it sounds familiar it’s because it’s basically the inverse of Hinata/if his character was subtly adapted to Rugby. Hinata also has incredible speed, and a scary powerful high jump that allows him to catch the enemy off guard. (The comparisons are hard not to draw, especially when Sakura’s new team is described as a fang-less, wounded beast. That remind anyone else of some certain wingless crows?)
There’s nothing wrong with aping the greats, even current running ones, as long as it’s in small ways. But Sakura feels just too close to Hinata to come away as his own, unique character. There’s nothing about Sakura that makes him feel unique or special in a Jump landscape that’s seen so many of these pint-sized heroes. Because of this Sakura’s emotional journey feels altogether thin. There’s only so long we can harp on how he had to play by himself, yet Beast Children doesn’t know what to offer besides that.
It’s here that, oddly, the series could honestly use more aping. For as much as Sakura doesn’t stick out as unique, the rest of Beast Children’s cast feel even thinner. Not one of the other characters has really been explored, allowed to shine, be shown as quirky, or unique. Sure there’s Sakura’s new captain, but even he seems to exist just to remind us that Sakura’s special, as other teammates play the role of the doubter, constantly trying to push Sakura away as unimpressive. It’s not to say that Beast Children actually needs to copy Haikyuu, but it needs to offer us a larger cast if our main character is going to be so one-note.
Outside of that Beast Children is otherwise competent. It’s not terribly original, but if all you want is a typical shonen sports manga that explains Rugby well enough for you to follow it hits the right moments. Sadly, even if Beast Children has improvements in the pipeline I doubt it’ll live long enough to see them take hold. Beast Children has been running long enough now for the reader rankings to start hitting and this manga is bottom of the barrel. It’s understandable, if Rugby isn’t interesting and unique enough for you then that’s it. Shonen Jump is absolutely ruthless in this regard, leaving little room for series that lack at least something to set them apart. Black Clover is what Beast Children could have been if Rugby had proved to be what reader’s wanted. Black Clover is a pretty generic story beneath its art, but its medieval/magic aesthetic turned out to be popular enough to nab people up, even if the story, at times, doesn’t feel truly unique. Beast Children is trying to do the same thing, just that Rugby isn’t a draw for Jump’s current readership.
That’s it for today. Please let me know your thoughts on Beast Children in the comments below!
Beast Children is published as part of Shonen Jump.