Manga-ka: Ahiru Haruno
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: August 2011
Synopsis: “It was fierce love at first sight! When the adorable cub Mr. Wolf carries away to his cave turns out to be a wily tiger boy, little does the sly hunter know that he’ll soon become the submissive wife to his manipulative (but charming) captive! When Mr. Tiger calls the shots, Mr. Wolf can’t help but bend to his every whim. After all, who could possibly resist such a handsome, furry face?”
Lots of yaoi manga feature anthropomorphic animals and it’s easy to see the appeal: cute guys plus cute animals equals win/win. Mr. Tiger and Mr. Wolf doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but it at least delivers on both sides of the equation.
One of the manga’s strong points is how it doesn’t shy away from the animal side of the characters. The characters don’t even have names, they just go by ‘Mr. Tiger’ or ‘Mr. Wolf’ (or in the case of Tiger’s extended family, Brother Tiger, Father Tiger, etc.). Mr. Wolf is the leader of a wolf pack. One day he comes across a tabby cat and decides that the kitten will be his wife. He takes the cat home and teaches him how to live like a wolf. When Mr. Wolf returns from an extended hunting trip, he’s shocked to find that the little ‘tabby cat’ has grown up into a adult tiger. On top of that, Mr. Wolf also realizes that if anyone’s the ‘wife’ in this relationship, it’s him.
The manga uses the differences between wolves and tigers as a good source of conflict. Most of Mr. Wolf’s insecurities are born out of the difference between their two species: tigers aren’t usually monogamous, tigers live twice as long as wolves, etc. Mr. Wolf also starts to feel guilty for carrying off Tiger at such a young age and teaching him how to be a wolf rather than a tiger. If this were a manga featuring humans, the situation would be criminal and disgusting, but within the context of the animal world it’s not as creepy. The manga gets away with a lot because of how innocent the world and the characters are.
For the most part the book is light-hearted but near the end the manga-ka tries to amp up the stakes and make things serious. It’s a shift that just doesn’t work either tonally or plot wise. It’s a common problem in romantic-comedies in any medium and sometimes it works, but not often and not here. Still, it’s not such a severe shift in tone that it ruins the whole book.
Near the end we also get a chapter focusing on Brother Tiger and a hunting dog he meets in the woods. Their story is really cute and I would have liked to have seen more of them.
The art is cute and consistent. The manga-ka tries to include backgrounds, but I still would have liked more and in more detail. Also, I wish she had drawn the characters in animal form more often as she draws animals really well.
Mr. Tiger and Mr. Wolf is a sweet if silly little manga. It’s a nice read if you want something a little bit harder than shounen-ai but still light and fluffy.
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Digital copy provided by Digital Manga for review purposes