In this explosive final volume of Kaori Yuki’s Beauty and the Beast of Paradise Lost it’s time for the final showdown with Madame La Médium, as her evil plot reaches its climax. As everyone gathers for the wedding of the King and his new Queen, the Beast and the Doctor infiltrate the ceremony in disguise, having wormed their way onto the guest list. However, nothing gets past the evil witch, who has the guards surround and imprison them! With her main adversaries out of the way, there is nothing left to stop La Médium from conducting her plan, or is there? At the inn where our heroes previously stayed the night, Belle awakes from a mysterious dream where her mother tells her to save her and is greeted by a hand vanishing through a magical portal. Following it gives Belle an opportunity to both save her mother and the Beast she loves, if only she can conquer her fear and self-doubt first.
Up to this point, Beauty and the Beast of Paradise Lost has painted a very interesting take on Beauty and the Beast, filled with its own dark mysteries, and with this being the final volume I had worried that because there were so many questions to answer it may not get the page count to resolve everything. I needn’t have worried though, as this volume takes everything we’ve seen in the previous four volumes and gives us all the answers we needed wrapped up in a very tight, bombastic package that you won’t be able to put down until the end. Things do come thick and fast, but unlike in previous volumes where things could have done with more padding out, it works for the better as you’ve already built up the knowledge, so certain revelations just click into place and actually make some of those plot points you might have wanted more on earlier suddenly make sense.
That’s not to say everything is perfect in its execution. Some of it does feel contrived or put forward as a get-out-of-jail-free card, particularly in getting Belle to where she needs to be. As she was side-lined at the end of Volume 4, it would have taken quite a bit of work to get her back into the fray, but a magic portal though? A quick and easy solution for sure that certainly fits in with the series’ magical elements, but why has her mother’s sprit not called out to her before now?
I had similar feelings with the grand reveal too. While Madame La Médium’s plan completely fits into her character, at the same time it is a little underwhelming. It’s also a little awkward in how it slots it into the rest of the story too as it relies a little too heavily on using a MacGuffin to drive everything forward which I think could have done with integrating into the story a bit more (on the flipside, the other MacGuffin is used incredibly well here in some “a-ha!” type shenanigans!).
With how much power La Médium ends up with though, she could have set herself up as ruler of the world with her prince tied unquestionably to her arm for all eternity, but no, she ultimately chooses a petty and inherently stupid path for herself. Admittedly , it did make me laugh in how this plot development stayed true to her character, something that I feel is actually a core element of this final volume: actually staying true to who you are.
The way this is represented through the character development is probably what made me love this volume so much as it completely nails what everyone stands for and what each of their character arcs have been building towards. The Beast/Prince Cyril finally gets to show his true colours, and even if that does seem quite brash, I loved seeing a gorgeous prince have such a rebellious streak in him (it’s hard to not go into spoilers here, but that last line of dialogue is glorious). Then there’s Princess Belle, who gets doubled down on being even more a fraud, while there’s some really satisfying moments for characters like Isolde and Giselle, both of whom get rounded off nicely. As for Belle herself, again it’s just this nice culmination of the journey that she has been on where she finally gathers the courage to take a stand. She does have moments of weakness at times, but with a little moral support she always comes through.
The artwork here stands very consistently with the rest of the series as it continues to have very strong character art that focuses on their actions and emotions in the moment, while remaining minimalist in the showing of backgrounds and setting, only really using them when explicitly needed. I think the series definitely could have been more visually striking in this area, but it does stop it from getting too messy or bloated in the details. This makes it easier to read when things start to get busy as it pours in magically fuelled action sequences, which make a satisfyingly strong impression.
Beauty and the Beast of Paradise Lost comes to us via Kodansha in both physical and digital formats. Translation of this volume is handled by Alethea Nibley and Athena Nibley and has no issues to note. This final volume also includes a lovely colour illustration insert at the back of the book, while the author’s notes reveal more on her motivations for writing this particular manga, as well as touching on her recent hospitalisation, which I must say this is a great achievement in getting this out after being unwell.
Despite some flaws, I honestly loved this final volume of Beauty and the Beast of Paradise Lost, as it pulls off an excellent finale that satisfyingly answers all our questions and ties up all the mysteries neatly with a bow, all the while allowing its fantastic cast of characters to thrive on the page and show who they truly are. While it does have its dips here and there, this has been a really good series to read through and I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for a unique, dark and mysterious take on the popular fairy tale.