Title: The Demon Prince of Momochi House
Author: Aya Shouoto
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volume 1, $9.99
Vintage: 2013 by Kadokawa Shoten, July 2015 by Viz Media
Genre: Supernatural, romance
Himari Momochi’s parents died in an accident when she was still a baby, leaving her to grow up in an orphanage. On her sixteenth birthday, she inherited a mansion, and immediately set out to move into her new home. She finds the mansion run down, falling apart…and occupied by three young men. Aoi, Yukari, and Ise have been living in the mansion for some time, and insist that despite her legal claim, Himari must leave. Himari refuses, but she soon finds out why the boys wanted her to leave – the mansion is haunted, in a way. It’s built in the space between the material world and the spiritual realm, and has become a sort of conduit for various spirits to pass through into the material world. Aoi, who entered the house years ago, was chosen by the mansion as the protector of the house, the Omamori-sama. It’s clear that role was meant to fall on Himari when she entered the house, but Aoi got there first. Despite all of that, Himari chooses to remain living in the house with the intention of helping Aoi and the others. Of course, living in a house that’s basically a conduit between worlds isn’t easy. Various spirits live in the house, and not all of them are nice. One hypnotizes Himari and tries to devour her soul. However, since Momochi blood flows through her body, the house does recognize her as its master, and she’s able to banish some spirits with a simple “Get out” command. Still, there are many powerful entities who want to pass through the house or hurt Himari, and Aoi does his best to erect barriers to keep them at bay. It exhausts him, but he’s clearly kicked his duties up a notch in order to protect Himari.
This is my second Aya Shouoto series (the first is Kiss of the Rose Princess), and I think I’ve figured out my problem. There’s nothing original, just a mash of elements from a lot of other, better series. Now, if all those elements were pulled together into something magnificent, that would be different, but they’re pulled together into something generic. That said, I did enjoy this one more than Rose Princess, but I was utterly bored with that one, so this isn’t saying much. The art is better here, although Himari looks like twenty other shojo heroines, and Aoi and Ise could have walked out of any other pretty boy series. Yukari has a slightly more distinctive look, but he doesn’t do much this volume except pretty up the background. When I first read the synopsis for this series, I immediately thought of Kamisama Kiss, and I still get a strong impression that way in this first volume (and not just because Aoi’s spirit form bears a strong resemblance to Tomoe). What I feel should be a big upcoming plot twist is quite easy to figure out – Aoi purposefully entered the mansion in order to take Himari’s place. Since he’s lived in that house for a good while, with nothing but spirits and his two shikigami for company, Aoi’s social skills haven’t developed well, and he doesn’t know much about the outside world anymore. As the mansion’s guardian, he literally cannot leave. Himari is free to come and go as she pleases since she’s not bound as the mansion’s guardian. This volume is mostly introductory, laying out the basic plot, introducing the main couple, illustrating the dangers of living in the mansion, and highlighting Aoi’s powers (he can transform into a nue – a cat, bird, and fox hybrid with supernatural powers). Nothing much else goes on in this volume, and the plot is rather transparent at present. Shouoto draws some nice backgrounds (assuming she’s drawing them, and not assistants), and Aoi, especially in nue form, is extra pretty as the romantic lead. Viz has also provided some lovely color pages at the front of the book, and the cover design is eye-catching. If you don’t pick this one up, you’re not missing much, especially if you’re already reading similar series. But I did find it more interesting than Rose Princess, for what it’s worth.
Review copy provided by Viz Media.