Friday, August 22, 2014

The Devil Within (manga, vol. 1) by Ryo Takagi, translated by Christine Schilling

The Devil Within is...a comedy manga? Possibly a romantic comedy manga? It was published by Go! Comi.


Wow, this manga. It's like Takagi tried to cram as many discomfiting and off-putting elements into a reverse harem manga framework as possible. It's kind of amazing.

Okay, so the star of this series is Rion, a teenage girl who was scarred for life after seeing one of her father's uncensored porn videos as a child. In that video, demons possessed angelic little boys and turned them into devils that raped women. Rion was left with a deep hatred of men (they're all devils) and a love of little boys (they're all angels). One day, Rion's father decides that Rion's man-hating ways are no longer beneficial for him, so he sends three gorgeous brothers to be her fiances. She must choose one of them. If she doesn't want to choose, well, not only did her father give Rion a key to each of the guys' rooms, he also gave them each the key to hers. Rion decides she would much rather be with Tenshi, the little boy with the chip on his shoulder who lives one floor below her.

Then there are all of the other things crammed into this volume. Angels, devils, some kind of curse or medical condition, and some sort of supernatural reason Rion must marry one of the three guys her father chose for her.

Every last bit of this is played for laughs. The one fiance who seems like a creepy pervert is usually just interested in whatever food Rion has in her possession. Rion's classmates think her shota-con tendencies are strange, more a bizarre quirk than anything to worry about. Her abnormal love for little boys is supposed to be even funnier when juxtaposed with her desire to run from the hot guys she's being forced to choose between. Oh, and the whole rape-y devil porn thing at the beginning? Rion's father arranged for her to see that so that her fear would force her to stay a virgin until he needed her to be otherwise. His secretary thinks this is both horrifying and great (or great because it is horrifying?).

I didn't find any of this funny, although there was something mesmerizing about seeing what bizarre or horrifying thing Takagi would throw at readers next. I'm still not sure whether Takagi intends for this to be a romance series. So far, there are only two males who don't make Rion run away in either disgust or fear: Tenshi (physically 5 years old) and Fuuya (occasionally behaves childishly). If I had to vote for anyone, I'd vote for Fuuya. Mostly, though, I wish someone had removed Rion from her father's “care” ages ago.

Sometimes good art can make up, at least a little, for a crappy story and characters. You won't find that here, unfortunately. Takagi draws some appealing faces (although some of the designs didn't seem very consistent). However, things got shakier from the neck down. You'd think, with all the times the guys are shirtless or nearly shirtless, that Takagi would take special care with pecs and abs, but wow those were awful. Tiny, shrunken pecs, abnormally long torsos, and giant white spaces where abdominal muscles would normally be.

I'll read the second and final volume because I already own it and because I'm curious to see what craziness Takagi will pull out of thin air in order to wrap this mess up in only two volumes. I hope that Rion's father gets locked up in Hell (his name is Satan, so it would be fitting) and that Rion doesn't ride off into the sunset with a boyfriend who could be in kindergarten.


A 7-page unrelated manga called “Good & Evil Syndrome,” a 2-page comic-style author's note (I guess? It's kind of scattered), and one page of translator's notes. The translator's notes feature this gem: “Pg. 85 – 'taking a dump.' Apparently, some people believe it is a bad idea to poop so late at night.”

“Good & Evil Syndrome” was even crazier than The Devil Within. A teenage boy named Tsuyoshi literally has a devil telling him to do bad things and an angel telling him to do good things. They make it impossible to have quiet fantasies about his crush, Rinko, until one day they gain physical bodies outside of his mind. They spend this time tormenting Tsuyoshi with their advice, trying to seduce him, having sex with each other, or hinting that Rinko might prefer one of them instead.

Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:

  • Diabolik Lovers (anime TV series) - This show's tone is very different from The Devil Within's, more horror than romantic comedy, but it does mix the supernatural, hot guys, and a tiny bit of romance. I've written about this series.
  • 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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