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October 28, 2013

Bento Bako Weekly: Demon Love Spell volumes 2-3

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Written by: Kristin
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demonlovespell2Title: Demon Love Spell
Author: Mayu Shinjo
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volumes 2-3, $9.99
Vintage: 2008 by Shueisha, March and June 2013 by Viz Media
Drama: Supernatural romance

[Volume 1 review.]

[Editor’s note: If you’re at all triggered by talks of sexual harassment bordering on assault then please don’t read this review. In fact, stay away from this series. Even better, stay away from anything by Mayu Shinjo. Her male leads are disgusting and her females roll right over for them.]

Hello, and welcome back to “Kristin hates this manga but keeps having to write about it anyway so please send me cookies to make me feel better.” Or I could dive into the trick-or-treators’ candy. Hmm. The fox boy from before is back, and there is clearly a mistaken identity issue. Kagura is angry because the fox has declared his love for and his intentions to date Miko. Unfortunately, he’s mistaken her for another priestess who died years ago. During the confusing mayhem, both Miko and Kagura admit they love each other, and Kagura finds he can feed off that feeling from her. Things get crazy again when a little demon named Shuto attempts to capture Miko and defeat Kagura in order to rescue his older sister from a more powerful demon. As with the fox spirit, Kagura is quick to attack first and ask questions never. On the relationship front, in order to deter the constant pressure of sex from Kagura, Miko decides that they’ll have a once a month “lovey dovey day,” where Kagura can basically touch her, and cuddle and kiss, and basically do everything but have sex, as long as he promises not to pressure her, hug her, or make out with her on the days in between. Miko has every intention of finding a way to back out of it, however, including trying to tempt Kagura into breaking the deal first. The day is ruined anyway when Shuto turns Miko into an empty shell and uses her to attack Kagura. To wake her back up, Kagura allows himself to be attacked, and Miko snaps out of it when she realizes Kagura might die.

Volume 3 introduces a new character in super famous exorcist Sou Yamabuki. Miko suddenly finds herself being hit on by the guys at school, which she thinks is a result of her love for Kagura making her more appealing. Kagura suggests they go on an actual date (their first), and it’s one of the more adorable, charming few pages to appear in the series…until Kagura starts moaning when Miko holds his hand. When he tries to have sex with her (again) near the shrine, they’re interrupted by Sou, who insists Miko is being possessed by a demon. Turns out her sudden popularity with boys was only due to a low powered succubus. Sou has come to call upon an old promise that Miko’s father drunkenly made some time ago, where he promised the young exorcist could marry his daughter. His path to becoming a powerful onmyoji was partly due to the fact that he wanted to be worthy of Miko. Sou feeds her some lines about Kagura only wanting her because of the immense power a priestess possesses, and encourages Miko’s own doubts about being a priestess in love with a demon. Miko agrees to marry Sou and try to forget about Kagura, and Sou agrees to leave Kagura alone. Kagura and Sou make a deal together to fight as men for Miko, rather than as demon and exorcist. For one whole chapter, Kagura is turned into a human by Sou’s powers, and still ends up drawing Miko’s attention. Immediately she sees Kagura in the young man, even though they don’t look or act anything alike. Sou grows jealous and pins Miko down in an attempt to make her his, but fortunately passes out from exhaustion before anything happens. During the wedding, Kagura (as a human) appears, and Miko’s father senses his identity and breaks the spell. They get back together, but Miko is still hesitant about even kissing or hugging Kagura, and still worried about her position as a priestess in love with a demon. Things degrade again when Miko realizes Kagura has put out a call to demons so that Miko has to unbind him in order to protect her. A snow demon is the first to attack, but after seeing Miko and Kagura argue, he offers to protect Miko himself. This demon, Miyuki, is bored with his gray life in the mountains, and thinks hanging around Miko will prove entertaining. He gets way more than he imagined when he discovers not only the colorful things in the world below the mountain, but the warmth of human beings.

demonlovespell3This series just gets worse and worse, and I’m continually feeling physically ill reading it. Miko is practically being sexually assaulted by every guy in the series, with lines of “I will make you mine,” as if they will own her by taking her virginity. This isn’t a new sentiment, and sometimes such a line can be quite romantic, but it’s over used, and is more creepy than romantic, especially when Miko is constantly pushing guys away and saying “No.” Watch how none of them listen to her. Usually she has to be “rescued” by someone else in these situations. Except Kagura, who is still invading her dreams and having sex with her subconscious because Miko denies him when she’s awake and alert. Half the time because she doesn’t feel she’s ready, half the time because she feels she’s a priestess who shouldn’t be dallying with a demon. That comes up a lot in volume 3 – that she’s a priestess and she shouldn’t be in a relationship with a demon (the fact that her father, one of the most powerful priest/exorcists around, would rather see her happy with an incubus than married to his apprentice isn’t helping). But at least Shinjo is trying to throw some conflict in, though it’s conflict that should have existed in the beginning. By the way girls, never promise your significant other a sexual encounter and then later go back on it. He’ll throw an entitled fit (you did promise, after all!) and just try to take it. It’s cool, though. You’ll just say “No, not now,” and he’ll just pin you to the wall or floor and tell you it’s what you wanted so why are you fussing now. This is what Kagura does, and Miko doesn’t give a shit. What an awesome lesson for young women. Look, the idea that a male character is lecherous and trying to have sex with the heroine is nothing new, I get it. I’ve read and enjoyed series where that happens. On occasion. Not every damn chapter. Not so constantly that there’s hardly anything else to the story. I also get that Kagura is an incubus, and by definition he seduces women in their sleep. But don’t try to write that off as romance or love. Shinjo makes this series so cute and silly, and tries very hard at it, but it doesn’t work. Kagura is still a creep. And so is Sou. In fact, the only ones who aren’t creeps die within one chapter of their appearance, and to be honest those two or three chapters are actually worth a read. They’re not about Miko or Kagura. Bottom line, fucking someone in their dreams because when they’re awake they’re not ready yet is not appropriate. Especially not in a romantic comedy aimed at young women. And turning him into a chibi to make him cute and adorable for half the volume (subject to opinion, because I kind of find it creepy when he’s snuggled up asleep in her cleavage) doesn’t make what Kagura does to Miko in his true form OK. And I’m just going to wrap things up here because writing about this makes me angry and causes me to feel ill. I think my point’s been well made anyway.

Kris
kristin@comicattack.net
@girlg33k_kris

Review copies provided by Viz Media. 

 

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