I’m hitting the road for a brief vacation this weekend, so this week’s column is more of a drive-by than a full-on review. On the menu: The Demon Prince of Momochi House, a supernatural rom-com that recently joined VIZ’s Shojo Beat line-up.
The Demon Prince of Momochi House, Vol. 1
By Aya Shouoto
Rated T, for teen
VIZ Media, $9.99
The Demon Prince of Momochi House follows a tried-and-true shojo formula: a plucky girl inherits a house–or a school, temple, or dojo–that’s already inhabited by a posse of good-looking boys. The wrinkle is that Himari–said plucky girl–has inherited a haunted house that sits atop a portal between the demon and human worlds. Her arrival triggers a flurry of supernatural activity, as ayakashi descend on Momochi House to investigate its new resident. Protecting her is Aoi, a seemingly ordinary seventeen-year-old who transforms into a fox-eared demon whenever an unruly spirit appears, and Yukari and Ise, a pair of shikigamis whose human form screams “boy band!”
By the end of the first chapter, Aya Shouto establishes a pattern that will be repeated throughout volume one. Aoi warns Himari not to explore Momochi House on her own; Himari ignores him and is promptly attacked by a demon; Aoi then rescues Himari, causing her to blush, stammer, and wonder why she feels flustered when he’s around. Rinse and repeat every 25-30 pages.
If the plot barely deviates from the Kamisama Kiss playbook, the brisk pacing and cheerful banter between Himari and her tenants prevents the story from devolving into pure formula. So, too, do Aya Shouoto’s sensual character designs and smart-looking yokai, both of which suggest the influence of CLAMP’s xxxHolic or Gate 7. I’m not sure that snazzy artwork and a spunky heroine are enough to sustain my interest for ten or fifteen volumes, but I’d certainly pick up the next installment to see if the story moves in an unexpected direction.
Reviews: Megan R. takes Full Metal Panic: Overload! for a spin at The Manga Test Drive, while Sean Gaffney posts an early review of Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto. Over at Otaku USA, Sean O’Mara posts a generously illustrated essay on Hayao Miyazaki’s manga.
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* Denotes a video review.