Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Demon Love Spell
The fox Miko encountered on her school trip seems unnaturally obsessed with her. Is this another product of her spiritual powers (such as they are), or is there something else going on? Later Miko bows to Kagura's pressure by designating a special “lovey dovey day” if he'll leave her alone for a month. But naturally things can't possibly go as planned for the somewhat happy couple...
Oh, Mayu Shinjo. You just can't help yourself, can you? Where volume one of Demon Love Spell was a departure from her usual on-the-edge-of-okay romance, its second book has Kagura being much more insistent on physical intimacy than before. Of course, he is an incubus, but it still smacks of Shinjo being up to her old tricks again. Fortunately for readers who enjoyed her unusually chaste (for Shinjo, anyway) romance, Miko is made of much stronger stuff than the usual heroine, and the way she handles herself and tells Kagura that no means no is even more admirable than if she were the result of some other shoujo mangaka's pen. Also interesting here is that Kagura, literal sex monster that he is, turns out to be as invested in Miko's pleasure as his own, not to mention emotional displays of love and not just the physical. What this all boils down to is that Demon Love Spell's second volume is an odd mix of respectful and forceful romance, and while there are parts that are a definite step down, there are others that show a healthier relationship than Shinjo usually portrays.
The book opens with the conclusion of the fox spirit's story that began in volume one. The storyline doesn't add much to the ongoing saga of Miko, her powers, and Kagura, but it is a bittersweet narrative that allows Shinjo to show that she is capable of writing weightier fare. In her comments she admits that this was a tale she had wanted to write from when she began the series, and it shows with the way that it all comes together and the powerful ending of the chapter. It is, however, difficult to call this the best segment of the book simply because it does little to nothing to advance the main story. Although Miko and Kagura are part of it, it would have worked better as a stand-alone short, giving the author time to really explore the fox's tale. As it stands as a part of the larger narrative, it gives Miko a chance to perform a temple dance and get accused of having a threesome.
The rest of the volume is dedicated to a story with two levels. The supernatural part focuses on a cyclops whose beautiful sister has been captured by a more powerful demon. In order to free her, he wants to absorb Kagura's powers, and to get to Kagura, he needs to go through Miko. To that end he possesses the student council president and attempts to suck out Miko's soul. Meanwhile Miko is getting fed up with Kagura's constant need for physical (and sexual) contact; it doesn't matter how much he says he loves her, she has work to get done. To silence him, she makes a deal: he will remain tiny for a month so she can get stuff done, and if he complies, they will have a Lovey Dovey day wherein she will do almost anything he wants. Despite the fact that she specifies that sex is not on the table, Kagura agrees with alacrity. This state of affairs (apart from allowing the cyclops to make his move) gives Miko time to realize that she not only cares emotionally for Kagura, but she also desires him physically as well. She's frightened of these feelings and recognizes that she is not fully ready to act on them, but to see her acknowledge them gives the entire story a much more consensual edge and makes Miko a more human character than many other shoujo romance heroines, who seem blissfully ignorant of their own sexuality. Also unusual is the larger role that Miko's parents play in this storyline, with Kagura turning to them for help and some humorous moments when they learn of his true appearance.
Shinjo's depiction of supernatural creatures continues to be a draw for the series, with her awkward little cyclops being a particularly interesting example. (How does one draw someone with only one large eye in profile?) Her fox-eared boy has a charming innocence about him that her males generally do not display, and Kagura's large and small forms both are recognizably him while emphasizing different features that are present in both incarnations. Backgrounds continue to be more sparse than not, but do come through when needed. The translation makes for an easy read, even adroitly handling a joke about Miko's name and the word's meaning as “shrine maiden” without use of footnotes or awkwardness.
Demon Love Spell may not be quite as unusual as it began, at least within the catalog of Mayu Shinjo, but it is still a fun story that lacks many of the things that can make her work distasteful. Miko's self-awareness and willingness to stand up for herself help to balance out Kagura's incubus nature and moments of humor do a lot to keep things light. So if you like your supernatural romances sexy and a bit fluffy, in terms of what's available in English, this would be a good one to check out.
Overall : B-
Story : B-
Art : B
+ Miko shows more gumption and self-awareness than most Shinjo heroines, some nice humorous and artistic touches.
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