Romance Roundtable #38: Cutie and the Beast (Volume 2)

Welcome back to Romance Roundtable: a feature where the editorial POME Crones gather together to discuss Romance Manga. Today we’re covering Cutie and the Beast Volume 2 by Yuhi Azumi. This book really has it all — huge guys with cute, tiny critters, and, at long last, parents showing up to this age gap relationship love story to ask the hard questions. “Where are all the parents???” you might ask — but as it turns out, they’re right here!


Jenny: i just spent the last 10 minutes re-reading our volume 1 roundtable and
we are so funny y’all

Rachel: i feel like doing these roundtables with y’all brings out the funniest parts of me
love to make jokes about romance comics with my friends!!

CC: love 2 be judgmental and absorb romance comics
LOL two wolves

Jenny: truly!!

CC: the duality of crones
so before we get too far into it, the recap!!!

Momoka's parents: "So tell us what is going on here, Momoka?"
Momoka: "I've been a fan of Kuga-san for a long time... We talked on Twitter fora bit... and I guess he started to remember who I was. We got to know each other when I went to see one of his matches. He invited me out tonight."

CC: LOL love when the book does the summary for us

Jenny: same same

Rachel: also can i just say, i will never draw a cell phone in so much detail
goddamn

Jenny: this artist is giving us a lot
for instance

Momoka's parents confront them.
Kuga, internally: "Hold up. That's her d-d-d-dad?! He's even bigger than I am! What the heck is going on here?!"

Rachel: spider-man pointing at spider-man meme

Jenny: LOL YES!!
vol 1 ends with the wrestler himbo, kuga (29), proposing to his highschool gf, momo (18) — and then her parents show up
and her dad is huge too!!

CC: I have to say
this book presents the first instance of people being critical about a relationship age gap that I have EVER seen in shoujo manga
and
i really appreciate it

Jenny: i love to see it

CC: I’m looking at YOU, Kare Kano, which ends with one of the teens dating her literal dentist
and everyone’s like wow she’s so mature

Rachel: UGH
also never forget Cardcaptor Sakura
where a literal 10 year old is engaged to her ELEMENTARY SCHOOL HOMEROOM TEACHER

Jenny: wow i hate it

CC: oh wow also
sakura’s mom
and sakura’s dad, also like what, her 8th grade homeroom teacher or something??? maybe she was in high school when they met
still weird tho
A N Y W A Y

Jenny: yes anyway, this artist for cutie and the beast
really serving the goods
too detailed cell phones
every one of these expressions

Kuga bowing to Momoka's parents: "Please give me your blessing to marry her someday!!"

Rachel: oh i have so many screenshots of good expressions

Jenny: love (?) that kuga just keeps that same energy–does not try to walk his marriage proposal back at all

Rachel: HAHA yes, he’s like i guess i said what i said

Jenny: nothing to do but stand by it now
but i feel like after our discussions on boss wife
rachel, you really had me looking out for fun expressions on this one
and this artist did not disappoint!

Rachel: YESSS

A co-worker to Momoka's dad: "There's some huge guy who wants to speak with you."

Jenny: LOL i have this one too!

Rachel: maybe because i’ve been rewatching Manben, but i also keep imagining what Naoki Urasawa would say to the artist while watching the video of them drawing these faces
“oh i love drawing these kinds of faces too, they’re fun and they are fast to do hahahaha gotta meet those deadlines”

Jenny: i can hear it i can see it it’s like i’m there with them

Rachel: but honestly these goofy faces have so much character and i like them more than like the beautifully rendered emotional shoujo faces we normally see

CC: it’s more fun!

Rachel: and they’re fun BECAUSE they’re so different from those beautiful shoujo faces
you gotta have both for them to each hit

Jenny: duality of crones

Rachel: two wolves

CC: so one thing about the art
that did bother me
and I know it’s kinda petty
but there is like a 6 page wrestling scene in here
and like, it’s well drawn, but there’s so little movement
which feels very shoujo but I just was dying for some sports anime framing and dynamic people-moving-around-ed-ness

Rachel: oof yeah the action panels were very static

CC: like in that whole spread, I think this bottom panel was maybe the least static bit

Kuga and another wrestler go at it in the ring.

CC: i am just dying to see this dude wail on somebody & feel like i’m there
maybe when they eventually make an anime of this
¯\_(ツ)_/¯
feels like a matter of time tho lol

Rachel: true true
i do wanna talk about Kuga though
and how i love the appreciation for beefy guy holding small animal

Momoka dreaming about Kuga holding a bunny while she takes pictures.

Rachel: same, Momoko, same

Jenny: LOL i have this one too!!! it’s so wholesome!!
again i must ask!! who is the cutie!!
i think it might be him!!!

Rachel: YES i had almost forgotten!!!
Jenny’s big brain and the question of “who is the real cutie and who is the real beast??”

Jenny: but also the panel after this
was so cute too

Momoka, blushing and thinking: "That'd be the best!"

CC: OMG YES

Jenny: perhaps they are both the cutie and both the beast
they have both cutie and beast inside of them

CC: i just wanna see a big strong person holding a tiny and cute little critter
it’s at the very top of my hierarchy of needs
if u are big and strong u are obliged to care for a tiny creature

Rachel: also love that the wrestling folks are leaning to this for his brand

Momoka's sister wearing one of Kuga's shirts that says "Usaokuga": "Hmm. Pro wrestling merchandise is surprisingly cute."

CC: OK so
I wonder how much the artist was influenced by
that dude who played The Mountain on Game of Thrones (was Game of Thrones popular in Japan??) who had the tiny dog
bc the internet sure was obsessed with posting pics of them for like a year and a half

The Mountain giving his tiny dog a smooch.

Rachel: oh i dunno, tbf i did not know that until right now
i just feel like strong men with tiny animals is a universally beloved concept

CC: this article title
“world’s strongest man’s pomeranian dog”
seeing this big guy with his tiny lil bunny
just reminded me of how you couldn’t go a day w/o seeing this enormous man taking his lil nugget to a dog park for a while
what a beautiful time
also I too LOVE that Usao has become a part of the brand
i would buy that shirt

Jenny: and they had a big stuffed animal too!
great branding, great merch

CC: you know
for a dude who (feels like) his whole image is to be the villain
and a dude who (feels like) he doesn’t have any female fans
i feel like that might just be…..his perception???
bc like
exhibit 1: his whole brand is built around this “big lad w little creature” aesthetic
and exhibit 2: when these two finally go on a date he can’t walk 2 steps w/o getting swarmed by fans who adore him

Fans approaching Kuga: "Everybody in our family is a huge Kuga-san fan! Could we maybe get a group photo?"

CC: he maybe just doesn’t have a ton of groupies but i think he is a lot more beloved than he thinks
LOL

Jenny: maybe it takes literally sliding into his dms for him to understand that you’re interested

CC: he IS actually that dense

Jenny: this date was both rough and amusing though

Momoka looking at Kuga and thinking: "Even in disguise, at his size... anybody who knows him can pick him out in an instant. I better get one thing through my head. I'm actually with somebody FAMOUS."

Jenny: i can’t totally remember why he’s not allowed to have a girlfriend?
unless it’s just that she’s 18 and that would look bad to literally anyone

Rachel: that’s probably part of it, i also think that like being a famous person and being single is often an important part of the image
at least from all the manga/kdramas i’ve consumed

Jenny: ah yeah fair point, i suppose
though i did really enjoy this part

Kuga's date look — glasses, a low bun, plaid button up over a tee shirt, black rolled up pants, slip on sneaks.

Jenny: his “disguise”
i’m wearing glasses now
no one will recognize me
like clark kent
it worked for him
why not for me!
we’re both in a comic
it’ll be fine

Rachel: he should have worn a bucket hat like the kpop idols do!

Jenny: the bucket hat/face mask combo! impenetrable!

Rachel: it’s true!!
(apparently)

CC: maybe that will be in volume 3
he’s gotta step up the disguise game somehow

Rachel: true, they deserve to have a very cute date!

CC: he’s gonna need to wear like, a mascot costume or something
like when famous people go to SDCC

Jenny: i would love to see it!!
if he was in his own mascot costume?? the bunny with the wrestler mask??
the perfect disguise

CC: t h e g e n i o u s
so there is one more thing I really wanna talk about in this volume
and that is Kuga’s persistence in bribing Momo’s dad

Momoka's mom opens the door to see Kuga, holding a box of sweets.

Jenny: ah yes, the “i’ve made a bad impression. what will fix this? donuts”

CC: if there’s one thing better than a buff dude with a small creature, it’s a buff dude with a small creature who comes bearing sweets
love that he is doubling down on the whole brand

Jenny: he’s a good boy

CC: I really love that even after dueling her dad, Kuga only gets a cautious acceptance with very reasonable conditions
you love to see it!!!
Rachel you are always asking where the parents are in situations like these & it’s nice to see them show up for once

Rachel: it’s true!!

Jenny: LOL ok i kind of want to talk about the duel
and by talk about i mean “make one joke”

Momoka's dad in full kendo gear, with his wooden sword pointed at the reader.
Momoka's internal dialog: "Some of you might be wondering just who the heck this crazy old man is, exactly. Let me explain. My father is a high school teacher and the advisor of the kendo club. He's an officially recognized kyoshi 8-dan, someone who can win at the national level."

Jenny: phallic
that’s the one joke
but truly
talk about a dick measuring contest
i think they chose to draw at this angle on purpose

Rachel: LOL

CC: LOL so true

Rachel: i mean i do also wanna talk about the dad/daughter relationship portrayed here
because it did crack me up

The morning after Momoka's dad forbids her from seeing Kuga, she eats toast at the breakfast table and glares at him behind his newspaper.

CC: LOL

Momoka makes a completely annoyed teen face at her dad when he comes home and intrudes on her hangout time with Kuga.

CC: love that nobody tries to pretend she is mature for her age
she is extremely a teen

Jenny: yeah i think there were times when it could’ve fallen into the ‘overprotective dad/my daughter is my property’ trope, but i love that he is consistently chilled by her

Rachel: yeah! and also they are very similar and that makes these interactions even subtler

Momoka's dad yelling for Kuga at the wrestling match, surprising the whole family: "Hell yeah! Get him! PASTE him! That's the way!!"

Jenny: !!!!!
i love it

Rachel: also i don’t know what “paste him” means but ok

CC: smear him into paste is what I am assuming LOL

Jenny: i’ve bought into it and that’s all that matters

CC: one fist he calls mortar and the other called pestle

Jenny: LOLOLOLOLOL

CC: don’t think it would fit as knuckle tats but just leaving that idea out there for any aspiring wrestlers reading this romance roundtable

Jenny: would love to see a wrestling federation based on fairy tale witches, and that could be the baba yaga wrester’s finishing move — the mortar and pestle. the iron teeth; the chicken legs; other things probably.

Rachel: YESSS

CC: ted lasso but for witch wresting

Jenny: can you smell what griselda is cooking? (it’s human children)

Rachel: ahahahahahahah

CC: LOL

Rachel: well, with that, do y’all wanna do final thoughts?

Jenny: yeah i’m ready

CC: yeah me too!

Jenny: i can go first bc mine is not great
i will start w an apology for even mentioning the big bang theory

Rachel: LOL

Jenny: but before kaley cuoco was on the big bang theory, she was in this movie with megan fox called Crimes of Fashion, where she went to fashion college, but also she surprise inherits a crime syndicate from her off-brand robert deniro mob boss grandfather
i was obsessed with this movie in 2004
and because of this i watched too much of a different show that she was in, called 8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter

Momoka's dad lists out the rules for Kuga: "You should come see her often. You don't get to make my daughter cry. You can't meet at night until she graduates. She has a curfew, and you'll drop her off at the house. Momoka deserves to experience the working world. She's not marrying anybody until she turns twenty."

Jenny: which like
that’s this
that’s how this is relevant

Rachel: AHAHAHAH
i mean you’re not wrong!

CC: LOL

Jenny: i don’t remember what the rules were from the sitcom! but these rules feel p reasonable

CC: yeah truly
maybe even a big generous tbh

Jenny: and i love that they’re setting boundaries early

Rachel: i like how he gives the rules and then is like “AND THEN MAYBE I’LL CONSIDER IT”
no guarantees here, that’s not how this works

CC: actual parenting!!!
not just like “oh yes, this adult man has a good job, i see no reason why he can’t date my teen daughter”
but also, to be fair post-duel, isn’t like “i will literally murder any man who comes within 100 feet of my teen daughter”
a decent balance!
although I forgot that Kuga wasn’t like, 25 until the little flashback “six years ago” chapter when he was 23

Rachel: oof yeah
age would still have been a problem even back then!!

CC: LOL true
ok, my final thought is related
but
WHAT A CHAPTER COVER IMAGE

The chapter cover image, showing Momoka in a tee shirt and shorts, eating a popsicle and looking over her shoulder at the reader.

CC: “let’s not forget that momo is an actual baby”
“18 years olds were literally born yesterday”
-this artist, probably

Rachel: YEAH
also, respect the artist for being like “feet??? i don’t know them”

CC: LMAOOOO
literally cackled out loud
but truly!!! I love that this book is just like, not gonna let u forget about the age gap

Rachel: yeah for real!
ok so my final thought is this dad

Momoka's dad meets Kuga while wearing his Usaokuga shirt.

Rachel: 1. love that he loves cute animal wrestling merchandise
2. love that he’s like “i admit you’re COOL but you still can’t date my daughter probably”
3. kuga’s expression is here just a+

Jenny: #2 is v important

CC: these two getting along just reminds me of an AWESOME “am i the asshole” subreddit question
where this dude was trying to get his adult daughter to stop dating a weirdo his own age
and people advised that instead of discouraging the relationship, he should just talk about things he liked to do
and over time the daughter would be like “ew this old man i’m dating is just like my dad”
and it worked!!!!

Jenny: INCREDIBLE!!!

Rachel: AMAZING

CC: what i’m saying is, if these two continue to develop their friendship RIP this relationship L O L
i do love all of these things too tho & i am interested to see what happens next

Rachel: yeah same!

Jenny: would be down for vol 3 for sure

CC: me too!

Jenny: before we totally wrap up, i did just want to mention
that this volume ended on a bit of a cliffhanger!
our idiot lovers gave up on the zoo date bc it was too crowded and kuga is Too Famous
but where should the end up instead but…

Momoka, nervous, internally: "Wh-wh-what should I do? The two of us here alone?!"

Jenny: at kuga’s apartment!!
are things heating up?

CC: LOL nothing is gonna happen between these two nerds is my prediction
but i am excited to find out how they are gonna completely blow it

Jenny: i bet that they will eat the lunch that momo made
and it’ll be cute
that’s all i’m betting on

Rachel: oof i mean honestly i hope that’s all that happens!
as cute as this book is i am still solidly on the side of nearly-thirty-year-old men should not date high schoolers

CC: yeah same

Jenny: of course

CC: like for parents to have boundaries…….but also prefer that adults who are entering their third decade of life do not date literal teens

Jenny: this volume (2) had one missed kiss opportunity, so i bet that the next volume will have either another dashed opportunity or another cheek kiss like from volume 1 though

CC: and maybe in volume 4…..hand holding!

Jenny: !!! yes

CC: i have never said that more sincerely in my life; love 2 see this relationship taking its sweet ass time


Join us next time for even more love story shouting in our next Romance Roundtable! In the meantime, check out our Patreon for just a few bonus goofs that didn’t make it into today’s roundtable, as a treat.

CC Calanthe

CC Calanthe

If you prick your finger and write “Cat Fancy” on your mirror during a harvest moon, CC will appear behind you and make you put human clothes on your pets. CC is Head Crone in Charge at POMEgranate Magazine, as well as the co-host of Moon Podcast Power MAKE UP!!
Jenny Mott

Jenny Mott

Jenny is just a Silly Nerd with a lot of Feelings about Comic Books and Friendship and also This Capitalist Yoke We All Share; she enjoys Dogs and Sleeping and Cartoons. Her three favorite words are: Breakfast All Day.
Rachel Weiss

Rachel Weiss

Rachel is a designer and artist from Texas. She is pro-feminism, pro-crones, and pro-dogs. She's also Boss Crone at POMEgranate Magazine, and one day hopes to be able to drink her tea without so much milk and sugar.
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