So I’ll be reviewing the first half of The Devil Does Exist, a shojo manga by Mitsuba Takanashi of Crimson Hero fame. And I have to say, I liked Crimson Hero better. The characters in that series stand out much more, and the manga is more engrossing. The Devil Does Exist (also known as Akuma de Sorou in Japan) starts off when the lead female Kayano gets involved with Takeru Edogawa a.k.a “The Prince of Attraction” after accidentally giving him a love letter that she meant for someone else. He blackmails her into doing things for him and sitting through his classes, for which she slaps him and he becomes attracted to her. Coincidentally, it turns out Kayano’s mother is getting remarried…to Takeru’s father! Thus, Kayano is forced to contend with Takeru’s not-so-brotherly feelings for his new sister. The Devil Does Exist contains all of the usual shojo clichés – the disastrous love-letter confession, the stolen first kiss, the fan club that’s enamored with the main male love interest. But after awhile I began to feel as though the author was throwing in shojo clichés for the sake of having shojo clichés. This is especially evident in volume five when Takeru’s grandmother puts pressure on his father for Takeru to go through with an arranged marriage. This makes sense in political dramas like Goong or The Story of Saiunkoku, or even in series where the male love interest is from a prominent rich family like Tsukasa from Boys Over Flowers, but Takeru’s father is just a high-school principal, so I found the grandmother’s rush to get Takeru hitched really pointless. This is especially true because the meek, sheltered girl he’s engaged to, Rumi Saionji, after meeting Takeru once and realizing he isn’t the kind young man his grandmother described him to be, falls in love with him. Oookay.
But I think the biggest problem I had with this series is that Kayano sees her feelings for (and later, relationship with) Takeru as a ‘sin.’ My problem with Kayano’s guilt is probably due to my familiarity with Marmalade Boy, which is a much better series that also features stepsiblings who fall in love with one another. While in Marmalade Boy Miki and Yuu keep their relationship a secret from their parents much like Kayano and Takeru do, the fact that they are stepsiblings who are in love is treated as sort of a joke (at least until the end of the series). But in The Devil Does Exist, Kayano’s guilt over falling in love with her stepbrother is treated as the main dilemma of the manga, and this simply doesn’t work for me because I don’t feel as though it’s a strong enough conflict to carry a series. While Kayano fears the consequences of anyone finding out about her and Takeru, the series hasn’t convinced me that if their relationship were found out it would be the end of the world. Although at one point in volume three Kayano says that to a man of such social standing as Takeru’s father any scandal “would be a fate worse than death,” so far Takeru’s father has been extremely laid-back and affectionate towards his son, so I can’t imagine him getting that upset over Takeru’s choice of love interest. Besides, it’s not as though Takeru and Kayano are actually related by blood – because then their love really would be a sin!
Unfortunately, CMX’s English translation of the series has done nothing to earn points for The Devil Does Exist in my book. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a translation that’s distracted me as much as in this series. The lines that are the most noticeably awkward are Yuzuru’s, an effeminate “stalker” who wants revenge against Takeru and is later revealed to be his brother. It’s obvious Yuzuru is supposed to be speaking strangely, but lines like “You wish to cultivate Yuzu as an enemy” and “I shall continue to await the collapse of your happiness!” are pretty difficult to stomach. There are also some weird word choices – Kayano’s monologues often include the word “incorrigible,” which doesn’t seem very casual and could easily have been replaced with “hopeless” or even “unforgivable.” I know it’s sort of a minor flaw, but the abundance of cumbersome dialogue really hurt my opinion of the manga. That being said, there are some shining moments in this series – particularly several early scenes between Takeru and Kayano as they realize their mutual feelings for each other – I just wish there were more of them. And as far as characters go, I find Takeru to be pretty intriguing because he knows how to push people’s buttons without pushing them away (or as Kayano puts it, he becomes a “devil” in order to help others). Even though I don’t dislike The Devil Does Exist, I really don’t know if I plan to continue this manga, but considering I already have volume 11 (the last volume) and managed to find volumes nine and ten for a dollar a piece, I may as well. Who knows, maybe the second half will be better. But I won’t hold my breath.