Title: Akuma de Koibito
Author: SHIRAISHI Yuki
Flower Comics, 2009
For once, it wasn’t the front cover that convinced my easily-swayed mind to pick up this manga. Actually, the front cover turned me off, a little, because I didn’t really want to read a series where it looks like the hero is mean to the heroine. I admit, I like “tsundere” types of heroes, but I like them more in the sense that they are surly and anti-social, not outright abusive or cruel. This cover has the girl bound (albeit with a red symbolic red ribbon), and the title mentions demon-type lovers, so I was worried that the hero would be an ass. I am generally fairly easy to please in my shoujo manga tastes, I mean, I like such a wide range of things that the more literary-picky types think of as a waste of time. I have a super-high tolerance for shoujo manga plot devices and cliches. But even I have a started to develop some dislikes. So, I actually passed this one up at the bookstore a few times instead of buying it. It wasn’t until there was almost nothing else of interest at the store that I ended up giving this one a second look. I am actually happy that I did, because it turns out the back cover calmed my worries. The back cover has a couple of small pictures of our main couple, and in them, the hero looks adorable, with blushing cheeks. Pow, there went my resistance! Ah, yeah, I am a pushover. The first story starring our couple on the cover consists of two chapters that take up half of the book. Two other un-related stories fill out the rest of the volume.
Rinko and and Itsuki are childhood friends. When Rinko first moved to town back in kindergarten, she was picked on by all her little classmates. They would taunt her, calling her slow and stupid. This upset her, obviously, and she would often huddle into a ball and cry. But Rinko soon found a good friend. A cute little boy in her class, Itsuki, was sympathetic to Rinko’s tears, and would try to comfort her. Rinko and Itsuki both looked ridiculously adorable as little kids. Itsuki seemed to genuinely care about Rinko and tried to convince her she wasn’t stupid.
Flash forward 9 or 10 years. Rinko and Itsuki are now in high school, and, while they are still very close, their relationship isn’t quite as sunny as it used to be. It’s not like Itsuki is mean to Rinko, exactly, but he does tease her quite a bit. Itsuki is very popular with the girls at school, and in front of them he has a perfect, angel prince image. All the girls drool over him and admire him from afar. Rinko is the only one he allows close to him. While this would no doubt be a dream come true for any of those other girls, for Rinko it is kind of a pain. When all these girls shyly give Itsuki presents, he dumps them all on Rinko. He makes her take notes in class for him. He seems to totally take her for granted.
For Rinko, who kinda sorta totally likes Itsuki, this is frustrating. why is he so nice to all those other girls, and so beastly to her? Why can’t he treat her gently like he treats them? Why won’t he give her that angelic smile?
Itsuki seems very confident at first, but he does care about Rinko a lot. Even now, whenever she is bullied by anyone, he will not hesitate to defend her. But it is true, he does treat her differently than he treats the other girls. While it may seem mean on the surface, the way he can let his guard down around her and be his normal self really says something about how comfortable he feels around her. But does this comfortable feeling equal love?
Story 2 is a silly tale of a girl named NINOMIYA Madoka who goes to work as a housekeeper for a very mean and surly art student. The guy’s place is a mess! Furthermore, he looks really scary! Madoka is creeped out when he proclaims a room in his apartment off limits. What is behind that door?
Story 3 is really sweet. Jun-chan is a 2nd year high school student. One day when she is at the water faucets rinsing a mop she used during classroom cleaning duties, she and the boy standing next to her are unexpectedly splashed with water. Jun, seeing the small, cute boy next to her is soaking wet, offers him her handkerchief. He accepts it thankfully, but when his friends come along and drag him away, he is unable to return the handkerchief. Jun-chan freaks out, because that handkerchief was important to her! Where will she find that little first year guy! Well, it turns out he finds her. AND, he is not a first year student. He is actually a 3rd year, her sempai! Haruna sempai is an interesting guy. He likes taking photos of happy people. He is smiling and confident, and cheers up Jun, who has some confidence issues sometimes. Jun is kind of horrified to think she may be falling for him. After all, it is the end of march. The 3rd year students are about to graduate…
The art style in this book is cute. There are a few absolutely adorable scenes. I think the main characters look better than the supporting characters (surprise surprise). Oh, and yeah, the guys are cute, lol. There are a few moments where the author parodies dramatic shounen manga for comedic effect. Occasionally a character will be shown with a million lines on their face and lots of detail. It is hard to describe, but it just screams “shounen!”. This is a fun, simple, one=shot volume, non-smutty, with girls that do have some esteem issues, but are not totally spineless, they come across more as ‘normal’ to me. The guys, in particular our hero from story 2, are not always as they seem.