Tuesday, August 3, 2021

REVIEW: Cute Devil (manga) by Hiro Madarame

Cute Devil is yaoi manga published by Tokyopop's old Blu imprint. It's now out of print and looks to be extremely expensive to buy online. I'm pretty sure I bought my copy brand new.

This review includes spoilers.


Akiyoshi has always had a bit of a complex about his effeminate looks, so he can't help but feel a bit sorry for Naruse (called by his given name, Fuuta, by most of the class), who's even prettier than he is. Still, when Naruse asks Akiyoshi to be his friend, he has no intention of saying yes. Which is when Naruse reveals his hidden devilish side. He wants to have sex with Akiyoshi and had initially planned to gradually win him over, but if Akiyoshi won't play along, then Naruse figures he'll just rape him. And so he does.

And that's how things continue. Akiyoshi can't say anything to anyone because Naruse's so good at pretending to be a delicate flower that no one would believe him. Plus, there's the issue that he kind of enjoyed it.

I first read this volume years ago and was so repulsed by it that I blocked it from my brain and never reviewed it. I was a little scared to do this reread, but I have (sadly) since read worse, so it wasn't as emotionally scarring an experience as I expected. Which is not an endorsement - this was still terrible, the embodiment of some of my least favorite things in yaoi manga.

I am not generally a fan of yaoi manga featuring rape, and this volume presented rape as both funny and hot. It was clear that cute and pretty Naruse being the aggressor was supposed to be hilarious. Same with Akiyoshi's attempts to escape him, or at least ensure they were never alone together (no such luck - Naruse had everyone wrapped around his finger and could empty out a bathroom with nothing more than puppy-dog eyes).

It was a horrible joke, and not even one the author could stick to, because partway through the volume Naruse experienced a growth spurt and turned into a stereotypical tall and handsome seme. This changed his public behavior somewhat - he started acting more like the jerk he really was - but for some reason it barely affected others' opinions of him. The guys still worshiped him. The only change seemed to be that the girls went from thinking he was adorable to actively throwing themselves at him.

In an effort to redeem Naruse somewhat, the author had him do "nice" things for Akiyoshi multiple times throughout the volume - fending off a couple guys who were either after Akiyoshi themselves or trying to smear him, and retrieving a gift from his grandmother that got stolen. However, it wasn't enough to overcome the fact that he'd literally raped Akiyoshi. Plus, it didn't seem like he was doing nice things for Akiyoshi so much as he was protecting someone he considered his property. He even called Akiyoshi his property near the end of the volume. So yeah, no amount of "nice" deeds could erase the fact that Naruse was an abusive rapist.

The art accomplished what it needed to but wasn't really to my taste, and there were a few panels I had trouble deciphering. The few color pages were much better looking than the regular black-and-white artwork.


Two full-color illustrations (the back cover illustration and one new one), a short foreword by the author, and a 2-page bonus comic about Naruse's friend/accomplice, Hisashi. Hisashi is actually one of my favorite kinds of characters - the tough-looking guy who's really a giant softie. I would have liked him better if he hadn't supported and enabled Naruse's behavior. We also get to see Naruse's two older brothers, one of whom is obviously interested in Hisashi, not that Hisashi notices.

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