Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Devil Within (manga, vol. 2) by Ryo Takagi, translated by Christine Schilling

The Devil Within is a supernatural romantic comedy. It was published by Go! Comi.

Review:
 
Takagi really does manage to finish this whole series in only a couple volumes. Mostly by allowing Rion's deep hatred of men to just sort of magically disappear. Or at least turn into tolerance.

In this final volume, Tenshi figures out that Rion is the key to getting back his original form, but he doesn't know what to do in order to make it permanent. When he learns that Rion is a devil and has a direct connection to his past, he starts to wonder if Rion is actually responsible for his condition. Meanwhile, Rion learns that, if she doesn't have sex with one of her three fiances (apparently marriage isn't necessarily a requirement anymore?) before her 16th birthday, she'll be taken over by her demon blood. To her horror, her demon blood causes her to pump out pheromones that attract all kinds of guys.

The guys also risk being taken over by their angel blood on their 16th birthdays. Fuya (whose name is for some reason only spelled with one “u” now, rather than the two used in volume 1) pumps out pheromones so strong that he attracts both sexes and has to worry about being gang raped. Somi cuts himself in order to try to keep his angel self from coming out, because his angel is a killer. Koki's angel self is a womanizer and spends money like crazy, which is why he's always broke and hungry. All the guys have excellent reasons to want to sleep with Rion and suppress their powers, but Rion only wants Tenshi.

Rion's shota-con tendencies were toned down a lot in this volume, which I appreciated. I raised an eyebrow at her repeated declarations of love for Tenshi, since I suspected she only really loved his child body, but at least she wasn't taking time out to gaze longingly at kindergartners near her school. The attempts at romance in this volume were still pretty gross, though.

For a moment, I actually kind of liked the idea of Tenshi and Rion becoming a couple. Maybe her memories of Tenshi from when they were children would be enough to overcome her hatred of a physically older body. Maybe Tenshi genuinely liked Rion.

Or maybe the only thing everyone in this series cared about was physical bodies. No one in this series loved anyone, no matter how much they tried to say otherwise. Rion said she loved Tenshi, but she really only like Tenshi's 5-year-old body. Tenshi said he loved Rion, but he was really only interested in having sex with her body. His most disgusting line, after Rion struggled and tried to get away because she decided she didn't want to have sex: “Don't be so tense... It'll only make it hurt worse.” When Rion was then taken over by her devil self, he was perfectly fine with that. Better than fine, because Rion's devil self was more willing to have sex. Somi also claimed to love Rion, but, when it came right down to it, he'd have raped her too, in order to rid himself of his angel powers.

In addition to all that, I had no clue how this angel and devil stuff was supposed to work. The guys claimed that they willingly entered into contracts for their angel powers, but what benefits did they receive? I suppose I could see what Fuya got – his angel powers turned him into a successful model and actor. But Koki's wish was to become rich, and his angel self only ever accomplished the opposite. And what did Somi's angel powers do for him?

All in all, I don't really recommend this volume or the series as a whole. The romance was gross, and the supernatural stuff made no sense. Takagi could draw relatively pleasing faces, but, for the most part, the art wasn't really all that great (although at least this time Takagi mostly kept the guys' chests covered up, thereby avoiding having to draw those pesky pecs and abs).

Extras:

A 14-page unrelated manga called “Sparkly” and a 1-page author's afterword in comic form.

“Sparkly” was the one thing in this volume that I enjoyed. It stars Kyushi, a 16-year-old boy working as a page at a mansion because his family is poor. His employers appear to be model perfect, but one day he learns that they all wear wigs. Their mother had 20 sons and no daughters, and all 20 sons have been made to keep their heads shaved, as Buddhist monks do. This is fine when they're at the temple, but embarrassing for them otherwise. Unfortunately, for various reasons they cannot use good wigs and adhesives and are constantly one good gust away from revealing their secret to everyone. I admit it, I laughed at this one. It was incredibly over-the-top - the guys would have been better off just going without their incredibly precarious wigs.

Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
  • Ceres: Celestial Legend (manga) by Yuu Watase - Rion and the others' transformations, and the way their angel and devil selves had their own separate desires, made me think of this series. Aya is possessed by a vengeful tennyo, a heavenly maiden, while her twin brother is possessed by the man who captured the tennyo in the first place. There is romance and action.
  • The Wallflower (manga) by Tomoko Hayakawa - Granted, Rion got much better in this volume, but I was reminded a little of the main character of this series. Sunako is obsessed with darkness and horror and doesn't feel she can survive exposure to "creatures of the light," aka gorgeous guys. Too bad she's suddenly living with four gorgeous guys. I've written about volumes 15 and 16.
  • Wish (manga series) by CLAMP - If you'd like a romantic series featuring angels and demons and fewer problematic aspects, you might want to give this cute and sweet series a try. It features love between an angel and a human and love between an angel and a demon.
  • The Selfish Demon King (e-book) written by Kyoko Wakatsuki, illustrated by Naduki Koujima - A teenage boy learns that he's an incubus and has been chosen to be the demon king's newest mate. Like The Devil Within, it is crammed full of problematic elements and has a fairly light tone. I've written about this book.
  • Recorder and Randsell (manga) by Meme Higashiya; Recorder and Randsell (anime TV series) - This series has similar humorous elements - in this case, an older sister who looks like a small child, and a younger brother who looks like a grown man. Very little of the humor is sexual where the sister is concerned, but it does go a little in that direction with the brother. I've written about the anime adaptation of this series.

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