Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Demon Love Spell
Miko is the daughter of a powerful priest, but she doesn't seem to have inherited his spiritual powers. Blind to the spirit world, Miko nonetheless persists in flinging memorized spells around willie-nillie in hopes of hitting something. She has some unexpected luck when her friend complains that her boyfriend is a serial cheater and he turns out to be an incubus – Miko's spell hits the mark and robs him of most of his powers. The catch? Kagura's not going to let her out of his sight until he gets them back!
Mayu Shinjo, the mistress of the silly and occasionally dangerous romance, is back with a new series of the supernatural variety. While it still bears many of the hallmarks of her smuttier work – a forceful hero and a naïve heroine, to name the most obvious – the fact that it was written for Margaret rather than Sho-Comi makes it less controversial than her other English-language releases. It still has plenty of worrisome moments, but Demon Love Spell is an amusing romance with a lighter vibe than some of her other works.
The story's heroine is Miko, daughter of the Otsubaki Shrine. Her father has some impressive spiritual capabilities, but Miko seems not to have inherited any of them. She can't see ghosts or spirits, and any banishing she does is purely by coincidence as she simply chants spells at random. She wants to be powerful, or at least useful, however, so when her friend Shino comes crying to her that Kagura, Shino's boyfriend, has cheated on her again, Miko decides that he must be some sort of supernatural fiend and declares that she will exorcise him. Imagine her surprise when not only is she correct, but she also succeeds in locking away most of Kagura's powers and shrinking him down to fun size. Kagura's fairly upset too, especially since he's a powerful incubus who now has very little chance of getting any action. With neither of them entirely certain as to what to do, Miko takes the newly tiny demon home with her.
This opens the door for Shinjo's particular combination of very funny and somewhat disturbing. Being an incubus, Kagura's powers are based in female desire. With his current stature, the only way he can maintain them is by invading the dreams of women. This leads to some uncomfortable decisions on his part and readers have to decide how the idea of his seducing someone who doesn't remember it but who bears no physical consequences from it sits with them. (Shinjo, naturally, plays the situation as romantic.) Kagura's bite-size proportions also lead to some flat-out humor, such as his relationship with the family hamster and his horror at Miko dressing him in doll clothes, to say nothing of the fact that his manlier portions have likewise become tiny and her reaction to them. The idea of couplehood is very quickly established, possibly because Shinjo had originally intended for this to be complete in two chapters, but that doesn't detract from the remaining pages in the book. Encounters with other spirits, the possibility of Miko turning Kagura back to his original size, and interactions with her parents keep the momentum going and result in an overall enjoyable reading experience.
Visually this is one of Shinjo's more interesting works. While her character designs are nothing new, she uses a more traditional style for her supernatural creatures, which is common in the genre but not for this particular artist. Kagura defies genre norms by not having any sort of supernatural markers in his physical appearance apart from red eyes on the cover, something which does not translate into the black and white interior. In fact most of the spirits who appear, apart from being drawn in a different style, look mostly human, lacking in pointy ears or fangs, which is decidedly different for this type of book. Assistants have clearly done some of the background characters but it is not immediately noticeable, unlike in some of Shinjo's other works, and fans of Sensual Phrase may notice that Miko appears to go to the same school as Aine – the uniform is nearly identical. The art is more polished than in either that series or Ai Ore, however, and while it lacks in backgrounds, it almost makes up for it with a variety of amusing facial expressions on the adorable shrunken demon.
While Demon Love Spell does tread some questionable ground in places, it is overall a fun take on the supernatural romance. Miko is a little stronger than the average Shinjo heroine and Kagura is a bit funnier than her usual romantic lead, which along with some artistic choices makes this stand out from her other English-language releases. Silly in places and romantic in others, this so far is the most accessible of Shinjo's romances to be translated. It still won't be for everyone, but those looking for a slightly dangerous and entertaining romance should give this a try.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B
+ Funny and romantic, some nice supernatural visuals. Miko is stronger than either Aine or Mizuki and Kagura a more sympathetic male lead.
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