Reviewby Lissa Pattillo,
A honeymoon goes wrong when a young women becomes the only survivor of a first of its kind event on Earth – the first known case of Return Syndrome, an 'illness' that causes those infected to uncontrollably age backwards until they cease to exist. Years later her twin children, Rina and Mona, have been raised by one of the world's experts on the matter, Shinobu, who is getting closer and closer to discovering the truth behind the spreading condition. The twins' gaping past up heaves with some answers when a demon, Mika, who shared a bond with their Mother returns to shed light on the real situation and proposes a way to save Mona from the same fate befalling all others who've come in contact with 'demons'. With Mika's help, Rina must chain up her own demon and use his power to save her sister.
Despite being another series starring a pair of orphaned twins facing off against threatening elements in a world with aging issues, don't go into Demon Sacred expecting another Jyu-Oh-Sei, the creator's more well-known work. This series is another beast all together. Where Jyu-Oh-Sei was an engaging sci-fi survival story, Demon Sacred is a fluffy affair of demons and the teens who control them. Once we've seen a girl frolicking with unicorns from another dimension lead to the start of a disease outbreak that causes you to age backwards, the ability to enslave demons by turning them into pop idols and the story laying on the shoulder of two orphaned twins who'd rather cry over a torn idol-poster than deal with a roaring demon in their house, it begs the question – are we supposed to be taking this seriously?
The opening chapter of the book is brief but sets the story into motion, namely where the leads Rina and Mona came from, and the origins of their demonic step-father of sorts, Mika. Flash forward years later and scientists around the world, including the twins' young prodigy guardian, have been trying to unravel the mystery behind the Return Syndrome. Rina and Mona have been living their happy lives in their new home in Japan with little thought given to their Swiss-cheesed past. A perfectly timed cure of amnesia however heralds in the return of Mika who explains to them that by harnessing the power of another demon, Rina can save Mona's life. Using the scent of Mika's blood, which is apparently quite scrumptious to the demon he's summoning, they set forth to chain up a demonic fix-all of their very own.
There's something so hooky about near everything that happens in this book that despite all attempts, it falls on the wayside of something you'd take seriously (as seriously as one takes fiction). Amidst all the awkwardly delivered dramatics of revealed pasts and demon-diseases, even having the twins found wandering aimlessly in Canada comes across as funny. It doesn't help the whole book is accompanied by a drawling, tedious exposition from characters page after page that makes them sound like they're reading script for a documentary. Not that it isn't interesting learning about Shinobu's educational and professional life up to this point but why does his assistant feel the need to stand there and list if off to him? We should hope he knows that already. Perhaps memory is just an issue for these folks because moments later they're prattling off about their jobs and all they know about this Return Syndrome, just because they need a refresher amidst themselves we must assume.
But there's still some intrigue here with research lab politics plot brewing in the background, subtlety threatening notes from the higher-ups and Shinobu left to debate what to do now that he's now living with his work even more literally than before. The demon Mika however is the most promising piece in play for those who can't wait to see what happens next. Despite his emphasized loyalty to the twins' Mother, he's still the kind of guy who oozes self-motivation and it's obvious he has his own tricks up his trench coat covered sleeves. It's especially evident at the book's end when he oh so humbly accepts an offer to be fed. Far less intimidating in comparison is the second main demon to be introduced, K2, who Rina controls by binding him in the form of her pop-idol obsession. He may be all growl and snarl at first, but soon enough he's sitting comfortably in their living room slinging slang, eating cookies in a belly top and pouting about his situation.
Among it all Natsumi Itsuki never stops delivering the treats for those with an eye for pretty-boys, Shinobu, Mika and K2 offering up more than their share of page-time looking like the well-placed fan-girl bait they are. It works well story-wise that Mika and K2 they look the way they do specifically to cater to their Masters' desires, which softens the edge of the genre-cliche of all men being extra-attractive out of pandering coincidence. Overall the book is fairly strong visually with a cast of easily distinguishable characters who are all expressive and lively. As a story staring twins, it also helps that the decision was made to have one of the twins be inflicted with Return Syndrome as it means readers won't have any trouble telling them apart. The very open concept of 'demon' in her story also allows Natsumi Itsuki free range to draw whatever fantasy creatures she pleases and when given the chance she does so well, such as the flowing stampede of unicorns or the Beast of the Apocalypse raging forth from the depths of another world.
Ultimately, Demon Sacred doesn't really offer up a quality story in the traditional sense – the events read too cliched or bombastic to be successfully suspenseful, while the whole thing is so poorly delivered at times that it just doesn't provide satisfying storytelling on near any level – save one at least. This book is entertaining. It's silly, quirky and unabashedly in love with itself, so much so that it's hard not to have fun reading it in spite of its flaws. This collection of melodramatic wackiness won't be for everyone but going in fingers-crossed for something out of the ordinary will allow the book the chance to impress, or at least amuse to a point.
Overall : C
Story : D
Art : B-
+ Hilariously, though likely unintentional, hooky plot elements that make it an entertaining read; spreads out events well enough to keep it interesting from start to finish with a healthy dose of pretty boys
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