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The Spring 2022 Manga Guide
Devil Ecstasy

What's It About? 

Noboru Kusakabe is an 18-year-old virgin college student who developed a trauma for big breasts. Desperately wanting to lose his virginity, Noboru and his friend discover a mysterious brothel called “Devil Ecstasy”. Although he was nervous about his first experience, Noboru is thrilled by a beautiful girl with small breasts named Meruru who holds a scary secret about the brothel!

Devil Ecstasy has story and art by Shūzō Oshimi and Englilsh translation by Alexandra McCullough-Garcia. Kodansha Comics has released its first volume both digitally and physically for $9.99 and $24.95 respectively.

Is It Worth Reading?

Christopher Farris


Devil Ecstasy opens with a table of contents featuring some of the most hilariously overt porny chapter titles I've seen in a while (you tell me how I'm supposed to read the words "Chapter 1: Horrific Hooters" and not cackle at the prospect of a trashy good time), so it's only a smidge whiplash-inducing when the story starts by explaining that our main character Noboru was molested as a child by his older cousin, specifically confirming that he was Actually Traumatized by the experience in a manner that informs the entire trajectory of everything about this story. Being an earlier work by The Flowers of Evil creator Shūzō Oshimi, you can see him already grappling with foundational aspects of sexual anxiety in this setup, but it isn't exactly the most enticing note to kick off something bawdily billed as 'erotic horror' that turns out to be pretty inept at presenting either eroticism or horror.

Miserable main character Noboru really is the weak link here. It's kind of impressive how much his situation manages to mishandle something with as much tried-and-true entertainment value as "Pussy From A Girl Who Is Evil", but Oshimi finds a way. Even putting aside the fully non-consensual elements, which can be a component of the fantasy in a fictionalized scenario like this, it never feels like it's enjoying these expressions of loss of control at the hands of any of these dommy-mommy demons. Instead, nearly every evil interaction is punctuated with the ostensible self-insert protagonist agonizingly screaming about how gross it feels and how much he hates it. It's fundamentally ineffective to fuel 75% of your story's sexual tension on a character's trauma that we're also supposed to be genuinely sympathetic to. As well, while we know Oshimi's art would eventually end up quite effective at portraying the uncanny awkwardness of teenage sexual awakenings, it's ill-suited at this point to the kind of more 'stock' titillation you expect from exciting encounters with aggressive vampire women. It mainly manages to swing from "almost appealing" to "awkwardly gross", only finding outlandish inspiration in segments featuring these monster-ladies' melons jiggling around like Jell-O in Jurassic Park as they chase after their victims, or a few instances of patently-absurd jizz-o-mancy.

If his point-of-view can't even carry the horny elements, then the horror aspects of Devil Ecstasy are even more weighed down by Noburu as a protagonist. I understand that scary stories often rely on characters being uninformed or making poor decisions, but our boy here is far beyond those tropey reliances. It's honestly astounding to see him still stumbling around 150 pages in, slack-jawedly trying to figure out what's going on despite already having the entire premise point-blank explained to him by the second chapter. A lot of horror is driven by the unknown, the audience diving into the dark with the main characters unsure of what lurks within. But if that audience has figured out what's going on way ahead of their viewpoint character, it just becomes an exercise in annoyingly dragging things out, especially when the premise is as tits-simple as this one. It means we're frustratingly chained to a character who's a poor fit for fueling any fanservice funtimes, and a dense drag when he's making any effort at unraveling the world's most obvious monster mysteries. And that's not even getting into the book's poorly-conceived explorations of the Madonna-whore complex as illustrated between its female lead and the legions of other lascivious ladies, or it's bizarre detours into the particulars of the absurd biology of succubi (succubiology). I know the law of averages as applied to particular fetishes means a lot of the stuff here will slide smoothly up someone's alley, but in my case, you can mark me down as neither scared nor horny.

Rebecca Silverman


One thing's for sure: translator Alexandra McCullough-Garcia had a wonderful time translating this. Or maybe she just has a gift for breast-based insults; “tubby-tittied bitch” and “Beelzeboobs” both surprised a laugh out of me. Beyond that, though, this story, which is billed as “erotic horror” and means it, mostly just felt like an excuse to demonize sexual women, pursuing the narrative that a woman who actively seeks out sex is probably up to no good. In fact, all of the women (barring two who get three pages total) are succubi, and they're planning to suck all the men dry and take over the world. A flashback is meant to show us that this is simply what all humans deserve for villainizing and killing succubi over the years, but somehow that feels like a toothless excuse. That's because most of the succubi we meet fall under one of two personality types: sweet and a little lost, or pure sexual evil. Why yes, this does feel rather like the Madonna/whore dichotomy, especially since pure little Melulu has never drained a man because she feels badly for them, while psychotic Sirène just lives for man-hunting and is happy to do so naked and in public.

It also doesn't help that protagonist Noboru's first encounter with a succubus left him with a lifetime of trauma – as an elementary schooler, an older girl (not shockingly later revealed to be a succubus) forced him to play with her breasts, and now as an adult he's terrified of large boobs. I think this is meant to be at least a little funny, but opening your manga with a scene of a child being sexually abused is a major risk, and one I don't think pays off here. In fact, much of the book is Noboru being pursued by Sirène, who can't accept that he isn't attracted to her, so the plot essentially hinges on Noboru reliving his trauma over and over again. Throw in an impotent rocker (who can be with his succubus girlfriend because he can't get an erection, so there's no danger to him) with an inexplicable Star of David around his neck, plentiful use of the ahegao face, and copious amounts of bodily fluids and this is just kind of baffling and gross. (As a note, there's a later use of a five-pointed star to take out a succubus, which makes the necklace even stranger. Maybe the artist got confused?) There's some kind of interesting succubus mythology – they don't have vaginas and their clitorises are under their tongues – but it's hard to get past the “evil sexual women” theme and the blatant sexual abuse of Noboru.

But hey, at least that translation is good!

Jean-Karlo Lemus


It's been a while since I've seen an erotic horror-comedy, but then again it's been a while since I read My Balls. Devil Ecstasy's premise of a gynophobic young man running away from a brothel full of succubi is plenty heavy on the laughs, even if much of the humor revolves around the succubi having really big breasts (with the exception of Melulu). Bosoms are presented at every opportunity, and if you ever wondered what a chase scene drawn by Junji Ito involving buxom demon-women with their boobs out and shaking up a storm would look like, you've got your answer right here! The story meanders a bit while Noboru fights off his skepticism over succubi being real or how he can fend them off, but manages to be entertaining enough nevertheless. There's even a good twist at the end where the head succubus of the Devil's Ecstasy brothel is the woman who traumatized him back when he was a child. It's a good cliffhanger to end the book on.

As said earlier, Devil's Ecstasy reminds me plenty of My Balls in terms of tone and writing. And I think that's alright. It doesn't want to set the world on fire, it just wants to set some boobs free while also tossing some spooks out. It's fun enough, I can respect that.

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