Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
That Wolf-Boy is Mine!
After Komugi decided that she would stay no matter what Yata threatened and Yu came to realize that loving someone was not a bad thing, Yata panicked anyway and hypnotized away Komugi's memories of the boys. Now it's as if they've never met – for Komugi. Yu, however, is suffering the loss of the girl he loves, and Rin, Aoshi, and Senri have had about enough of Yata thinking he knows what's best for them. Will they convince the three-legged crow to reverse the hypnotism? Or will true love prove to be stronger than anyone thought? Also includes a short story about Senri's past.
One of the best things about a short series is that they end. That may sound a bit too obvious to merit stating, but a short-and-sweet series, if done right, can be incredibly fulfilling. That's the case with Yoko Nogiri's That Wolf-Boy is Mine, which ends here in its fourth volume. The tale of Komugi's move from Tokyo to Hokkaido and her involvement with the four animal boys in her high school class doesn't have time to stagnate or plunge into melodrama – instead it wraps up nicely and charmingly with all threads gathered up in a satisfying conclusion.
Those who left off at book three will immediately find the cliff-hanger addressed – after Komugi and Yu return from the airport, ready to confront Yata-sensei with the fact that their feelings are mutual, Yata hypnotizes Komugi, believing that if she forgets everything, Yu will ultimately be better off. He doesn't see Yu and Komugi as having a viable future, and since Komugi's tied up in Yu's memories of his mother, he's trying to make the wolf boy as comfortable as he can. Fortunately for readers, this particular issue is resolved fairly quickly, with true love winning the day, so the story can move on to other plot points, such as why Yata is so concerned about Yu's memories in the first place.
That, as it turns out, is only partially tied to Komugi. Yes, the two met when they were children and she did see Yu's mother, but the truth of why Yu was left in the forest is much more nuanced than anything previously suggested. Up until this book, we operated under the assumption that Yu's mother simply abandoned him because he was half wolf, a theory borne out my Komugi's mother's recollections of her meetings with the woman, who had been her classmate in high school. The actual answer puts Yu's mother and Yu's reaction in a much different light, showing us a woman who did love her child, but also that that child was far too young to actually understand what was going on. The real tragedy (or at least one of them) is that Yu's mother's intentions were lost, and that Yu believed that she didn't want him. This is why he thought that he couldn't love Komugi or form any lasting relationships with humans (or anyone, really; his relationships with the other boys begin fairly shallow as well), and it isn't until he overcomes his fears that he is in any position to truly understand.
How much of this Yata knows, or takes into account, is unclear. Of all of the animal guys, Yata, the three-legged crow who stopped keeping track of his age after two hundred years, is the most feral, despite the fact that he's been working among humans for a long time. Or perhaps that's why – he knows that humans can be cruel, and he doesn't want Aoshi, Rin, and Yu to have to suffer. Senri, as we learn in the short story, already knows. Readers familiar with Japanese mythology will already have gathered from the fact that he's a two-tailed cat, a nekomata, or demon cat, that he's older than he looks, and the short story reveals that he's been around since roughly the 1960s, judging by the clothes. (There's no noticeable technology, however, so Nogiri could have been going for any time from the 1920s on up.) At that time, he was a stray kitten, spurned by everyone except for one girl, who took him in and named him. The girl was ill, and Yata, who was hanging around, offered Senri the chance to turn human in order to help her, in exchange for his life. What he means by that, however, is not that Senri must die once his mistress does, but rather that he now belongs to Yata, whom he has been accompanying ever since. This certainly indicates Yata's own loneliness, as Senri has been with him long enough to have grown the second tail, and it also explains why Senri tends to stand apart from the other three boys – not only is he significantly older, but he also carries the love he had for his mistress with him. Maybe this is why he does stand with Aoshi and Rin against Yata in the end, albeit more quietly – to remind Yata that you can keep going even after a loss, and that Yu deserves his chance to be happy.
That Wolf-Boy is Mine's final volume isn't flashy or desperate. Instead it calmly brings the story to a close with a minimum of fuss, instead allowing Komugi's and Yu's emotions to carry things through. The Senri story is a bit of a tear-jerker, but it never feels manipulative, and Nogiri largely manages to make the tale feel complete. Rin fans may not like that he doesn't get a full resolution to his story and it doesn't seem certain that Yata will keep his beak to himself, but this book still gives us a sweet, hopeful conclusion to a series that is pure shoujo sugar – a cute love story about two nice people looking for their places in the world, and finding them with each other.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B+
+ Sweet, hopeful, and happy ending. Never devolves into melodrama, Senri short story is a nice addition.