Here you will find honest, intelligent manga reviews for shojo fans of all ages.

Aug 1, 2009

The Devil Does Exist - Mitsuba Takanashi

The Devil Does Exist, or Akumo de Soro, ran in Bessatsu Margaret from 1999 - 2002. This is the first serialized work of Mitsuba Takanashi, better known for her most recent translated title of Crimson Hero.

Synopsis: Kayano Saito’s shy personality makes confessing her true love for basketball captain Kamijo difficult. When she finally finds the courage, her clumsiness and embarrassment cause her to confess to first year Takeru Edogawa. Takeru is the son of the principal and his reputation as a trouble-maker leads Kayano to believe the worst of him. He doesn’t help when he teases Kayano, steals her first kiss, and declares she will belong to him and not Kamijo. Events get complicated when Kayano’s single mom announces that she’s getting engaged – to none other than principal Edogawa. Now Kayano will never get away from Takeru, and must become his older sister! Things only get worse when the two teens discover that they may actually be developing feelings for one another.

Review: Sibling rivalry at it’s finest? Hardly. Naughty scenes of incestuous relations? Um, no, not that either. So what does The Devil Does Exist provide? Takanashi presents a struggle of teenage relationships and difficult family emotions. The story begins weakly, with the main characters not even very likable personalities. Kayano exhibits the wishy-washy feelings of a teenage girl who cannot decide how one boy makes her feel. Her gullibility is annoying. Her feelings are easily manipulated, and she falls for the same threats repeatedly. Her friends describe her as “pure”, and she tries to believe the best of everyone - both a good and bad trait. She eventually comes to realize her own strength, which makes her a more satisfying character. Like Kayano, Takeru also starts off as a non-endearing lead. He’s introduced as a bad boy who disgraces Kayano until she (and the reader) resents him. Then fickle Kayano decides she likes him and he’s become a sensitive, caring guy. It's a confusing, sudden transition that doesn't feel right for the character. All of this is just evidence that Takanashi’s first piece is very rough around the edges. Once the two teens declare their feelings, the plot becomes more about how to hide their relationship from their parents in order for the family to be together and happy. Pleasantly, the plot and characters improve as the story progresses. Takeru becomes enjoyable as a character more and more because he is always pushing Kayano to become stronger. Takanashi does a superb job of wrapping up any loose plot lines as the story concludes, leaving readers satisfied. The artwork begins just as unpolished as the storyline, yet improves as the story progresses. The character designs show her distinctive style. I chuckled as Takanashi admitted in a sidebar that Takeru was drawn to look like Hyde from L’Arc en Ciel. (Way to pull in the fangirls!) Still, the panels are well laid out, and nice toning as well as backgrounds accent the scenes. Her ability to age the characters from the beginning to the end of the series really shines. All in all, The Devil Does Exist is like a diamond in the rough, showing Mitsuba Takanashi’s promising talent, just lacking that certain polish her later work exhibits. A good read if one sticks with it, and certainly a better understanding of the mangaka’s abilities as a whole.

Romance Rating: Steamy - One bedroom scene, but no nudity.

Media Status: The Devil Does Exist is available in English in 11 volumes from CMX. A live action drama of the series called Devil Beside You was made in Taiwanese and broadcast on China television in 2005.


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