Reviewby Rebecca Silverman, Oct 26th 2013
Demon Love Spell
Miko's relationship with Kagura the incubus continues on its rocky way, with Kagura desperate to consummate and Miko not sure if she's A) ready or B) willing to give up her purity to a demon when she's a shrine maiden. She'd better decide fast, though – her father's former pupil, who is now a celebrity onmyouji, has arrived on her doorstep with a proposal, and a snow spirit also seems pretty darn interested. What drastic measures will Kagura take to keep his girl? And more importantly, what will Miko decide?
Although Mayu Shinjo's Demon Love Spell was named as one of the worst manga of the year at 2013's SDCC, it is, when compared to other series by her or even other shoujo romances, fairly harmless. Miko has a bit more gumption than other Shinjo heroines, possibly because she truly controls the hero's state of being. Kagura is an incubus, a demon that feeds on sexual energy, but to keep him in line, Miko uses her (sporadic) powers to shrink him down to doll-size, thus ensuring her own safety and that he can't do anything to anyone else either. By this third volume of the series, her ability to control Kagura's size has gone from being just a joke to making him into her secret weapon. He still grumbles, and this book has a short story about his daily life in chibi form that is both cute and funny, but overall Kagura's growth is now associated with Miko being in some sort of trouble that she cannot extricate herself from.
In this volume, most of that trouble is boy-based. Miko one day finds herself irresistible to males. She's all of a sudden getting asked out, confessed to, and love letters where previously no boy ever gave her the time of day. This dovetails nicely into the longest story in the book, a 120 page tale of Sou, the former student of Miko's father who is now a celebrity exorcist. Sou, it seems, has always had a plan in place to marry Miko when she was old enough, and now with Kagura hanging around, he's got the perfect opportunity to blackmail her into it. That plan is nothing that a seasoned reader of the paranormal romance genre (or even just a thinking reader) couldn't figure out, but he uses it to play upon the doubts and insecurities that Miko already has about her relationship with a demon, making the ploy much more effective. Kagura, in an effort to win without his incubus powers, undergoes an interesting transformation, essentially neutering himself. This brings up the question of whether or not Shinjo will keep this plot device, which would be a huge departure for her, as even her “sweet” heroes like Akira of Ai Ore tend towards the predatory, and also raises the question of whether or not she can bring herself to keep him “pure.” Certainly this twist has possibilities for the rest of the series.
The second story in the volume focuses on Miyuki, the male version of a yuki-onna, or snow spirit. Miyuki comes to the human world out of boredom when Kagura, in an attempt to impress Miko, distributes fliers inviting other demons to attack him. This story hearkens back to the fox tale of volume two, and is very bittersweet, something Shinjo does fairly well. It also features a monster who looks like he could be a pokemon, a rather large departure in character design from previous demons.
One of the strengths of this series is the fact that Miko has a real relationship with her parents. We see her interact with them on a daily basis and they are fully aware of Kagura's existence. In this volume we not only see them having family time, but we also see Miko's father looking out for her in a way that is fairly rare for a shoujo romance, where father figures are usually painted as the main obstruction to the girl's happiness with her boyfriend. This is not to say that Miko's parents play a huge role, which would be frankly awkward in a lot of scenes, but their larger than normal presence does work to make this story stand out a bit.
Shinjo's art is clearly more refined with each volume but still retains some of the issues it has always had, primarily with open mouths, which can at times cause the jaws to look detached. Most of her males tend to look the same, which is an issue that comes to the fore this volume with the Miko-is-irresistible plot line, and the always jarring effect of having someone else draw some of the unimportant characters Miko interacts with. Otherwise this volume looks good and panels are easily followed.
Demon Love Spell is hardly a stand out in the shoujo genre, but it also is hardly the worst thing in creation. Kagura is the usual forceful Shinjo lead, but when compared to some of her other heroes (or others in the genre), he's fairly mild. Miko does her best with her sporadic powers and has no problem with the word “no.” With this volume Shinjo again proves that she is capable of writing something that is touching, and while she does liberally pepper the story with intense kissing scenes, it isn't nearly as smutty as her earlier works. Simply put, if you enjoy paranormal romance, this is a fun one. With humor, romance, and a little tugging on the heartstrings, Demon Love Spell is a beach book – and sometimes that's all you want to read.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B-
+ By turns funny, romantic, and bittersweet. Unusual monster design (for Shinjo), nice relationship between Miko and her parents.
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