The Spring 2018 Manga Guide
If It's For My Daughter, I'd Even Defeat a Demon Lord
What's It About?18-year-old adventurer Dale discovers an unexpected treasure while killing off poisonous frogs in the woods. He finds a lone demon girl with a broken horn all alone except for the adult demon corpse nearby.
Dale decides to take the girl, who identifies herself as Latina but otherwise only speaks her native tongue, back to the adventuring tavern Mackerel Tabby with a plan to raise the young girl himself.
If It's for My Daughter, I'd Even Defeat a Demon Lord is the manga adaptation of CHIROLU's light novel series by the same name. Seven Seas Entertainment is releasing both the original light novels and Hota.'s manga adaptation in English. The manga's first volume went on sale on May 8.
Is It Worth Reading?Lynzee Loveridge
It's hard not to compare If It's for My Daughter to other child-rearing manga like Usagi Drop and Sweetness and Lightning despite its fantasy setting. This might be a world of monsters and demons but our hero's adventures take a backseat to Latina's learning experiences in the tavern and adapting to human life. All of this is done under the watchful eye of Dale who, despite being only 18, takes to Latina like she's an adorable puppy whose affection he hopes to monopolize while teaching her new tricks.
I haven't read the novels, but I had previously read Rebecca Silverman's review of the novel and the subsequent forum comments that hint this story starts to head down the same path as the latter bit of Usagi Drop and that greatly tainted how I viewed the events that take place within the story. Dale's jealousy of others' cute interaction with Latina and even passive commentary about how she dislikes it when he gives her baths all take on sort of sinister undertone even though there's nothing present in the artwork to suggest we're supposed to find Latina sexually attractive.
If you don't view the story though that particular lens, If It's for My Daughter is pretty quaint if a bit overenthusiastic about how “cute” child-rearing can be. Latina is quintessentially a perfect child that quickly adjusts to keeping herself busy and helping around the tavern, even putting herself to bed when she gets sleepy. She complains about nothing over the course of the book and manages to have only one guilty, tearful breakdown rooted in the trauma of her guardian's death. If all kids came into this world that well behaved and rational, parents would have six of them.
Ignoring the potential elephant in the room, the manga thus far is cute, inoffensive, and a light read if you want a cute diversion. I would have liked a more accurate portrayal at parenting even if sacrificed some of Latina's appeal as adorable, wish fulfillment daughter. If It's for My Daughter doesn't seem interested in transplanting realistic parenthood into a magical setting. If that's the case, the manga could easily do away with Dale like it does in the last chapter and instead focus on Latina attempting to make sense of her past and learning to cook with Kenneth at the tavern. I'd be a little more enthusiastic about that approach than this perfect daughter alternative.
Dale the adventurer, the protagonist of If It's for My Daughter, I'd Even Defeat a Demon Lord volume 1 isn't introduced stumbling upon the titular little demon girl on a quest, nor given time to stand on his own outside of his desire to adopt a child and act like a doting father despite only being eighteen years old. Nope, he's introduced giving his new little girl—Latina—a bath, allowing for misunderstandings with friend and tavernowner Rita to ensue. Thankfully, it doesn't go down the tired route of sexualizing Latina's bath or making Rita step up to clobber Dale and “defend” the little girl's honor, but it's still a reminder that this is a fantasy about being a dad more than a fantasy about fighting a demon lord. Latina herself—smart and quick to learn to speak the humans' language—is an amalgamation of anime tropes for “adorable little girl” and though there's little sense of her being similar to an actual young child—this is no “parenting is hard” by parents/for parents kind of manga—she's at least never the Object of Desire for Dale or any other older character on the page. Dale is as bland as they come: supposedly a great adventurer but almost never seen adventuring and no personality outside of his desire to coddle this adorable demon girl. Little is given to show why a teenage boy would have this overarching desire in him, and he seems more reserved and patient than many a young person his age thrust into young parenthood would be. His age could have been thirty for all the teenage sensibility injected into his character, but for his cherub-like face.
Hota.'s art, based on novel illustrator Kei's designs, is good but also sufficiently bland enough to bring nothing special to an already-lackluster story. Latina is suitably cute but not memorable in design despite being a demon; Dale is interchangeable with countless baby-faced, dark-haired fantasy manga protagonists. Some of the background characters are more distinctive, but barely so. Hota. relies heavily on screentones, often to the point of distraction, but the settings—mostly the fantasy town and inn—are captured in great detail, at least bringing life to the environments in which the manga takes place.
If It's for My Daughter, I'd Even Defeat a Demon Lord volume 1 is a harmless enough manga thus far—especially considering how much more lolicon it could have been—if also a largely forgettable one. The title promises far more action and adventure than this first volume delivers and characters remain one-note and grossly underdeveloped by volume's end. For My Daughter doesn't have a lot to offer the average fantasy RPG or trapped-in-an-MMORPG fan, but perhaps it's just off to a slow start.
It may interest you to know that the original light novel of this title is also currently available in English. I bring it up because If It's for My Daughter, I'd Even Defeat a Demon Lord is one of those manga adaptations where you can tell that things are being glossed over or left out, even if the remaining story flows well. The base plot is a familiar one: a young man ends up being the guardian of a little girl. Of course, she's a demon and he's an adventurer who finds the child by the corpse of her father in the forest, so there's a major fantasy twist here. More troublingly for Dale, Latina, as the little girl reveals her name to be, is missing one of her horns – a sign in demon society that she's a criminal. Given that Latina looks about five years old, that definitely raises some questions.
While the novel that corresponds to this manga volume spends time on world building and explaining details like Dale's background, where he learned the bit of Demon language he speaks, and character development for Kenneth and Rita, the manga instead focuses almost exclusively on how cute Latina is and how hard Dale's parental instincts kick in. Latina is the kind of adorable precocious that has her fully aware of her situation as having been rescued from the woods, and she tries her hardest to both learn human language and not act like she's a burden. To that end she begins helping out at the inn where Dale boards, quickly winning over the crusty old patrons of the incorporated restaurant as well as owners Kenneth and Rita. (That last really isn't hard.) For his part, Dale's major role is to adopt Latina and then worry about her – most of his character development has been neatly excised from the story, the better to focus on his adopted daughter.
The elephant in the room with this sort of story is always the feat that it will turn out to be another Bunny Drop. Having fallen behind in the novels, I can't for certain say anything to assuage those fears except that as of right now, that doesn't even look like a remote possibility. The art also seems to emphasize Latina's childishness over any other kind of appeal, and even when she's shown taking a bath, there's no indication that we're meant to see her (barely present) nudity as at all sexual. That's good news if you're just in the market for a cute story about an adorable little girl getting a second chance at life. It's clear that Latina had a difficult time before Dale found her, and if anyone deserves to feel safe and happy, it's her.
And of course, if you want more information about the story and the world…read the book, kids!
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