Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Devil Within, v. 1

By Ryo Takagi
Published in the U.S. by GoComi!

Slugline: Okay, I was going to come up with something clever, but these are some seriously messed-in-the-head characters.

Rion, when she was way too young, watched an adult movie of her adopted father's, which has convinced her that men are devils and boys are angels. She is becoming heavily shota-con by the time she is fifteen, as in she is only attracted to underage boys. On her way home one day she meets a boy she is attracted to, but discovers that he is really her age though he has stopped aging. That matter-of-fact revelation is merely the beginning of the weirdness, for when she gets home there are three young men (devils) there, and her father is telling her she must choose from among the three of them to marry. Not to worry, they are not devils, they are really angels -- and they unfurl their wings to prove it to her. And she is really a devil, and the young-looking boy that she likes ages with just a kiss from her, and the three guys have passkeys to her apartment, and her father left that video out for Rion to find to turn her against men until he was ready to introduce her to her fiances... and I can just go on and on.

Ugh. This story is a mess and it's all over the place. I am not automatically against shota-con, but I do ask that they be handled carefully -- which this definitely is not. What the father has done to Rion, and continues to do to her, should be counted as child abuse. Her fiances are not really much better, knowing that she is at best damaged but needing to marry her in order to be rich, or because it is destiny, or for some reason justifies all of this abuse. That reason was not revealed by the end of this volume, and I really, really needed to have a some attempt at a rationale, to try to salvage what I could, but that was dashed. The cover and the back cover text makes it sound like a reverse harem comedy, and I wish it was. And considering my distaste for harem comedies, that should give you a hint about how I feel about this title. Not to say it wasn't funny at times, but once you took those times into the greater context of the story, you feel sorry for Rion and want to make a long-distance phone call to Japanese Child Protective Services.

- Ferdinand

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