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Manga Review: Kare wa Diablo Vol. 3

Alternate Names: He is Diablo!, Kare wa Diovolo
Year: 2010-2011
Author/Artist: Kayoko Shimotsuki
Genre: Shoujo, Urban Fantasy, Comedy, Romance, Drama

Reviewers Note: Volume 3 covers consists of chapters 9-12 with a bonus chapter at the end. This review is based on the S2 Scanlations English translation. >insert spoiler warning here. No, seriously…<

In the third and final volume of Kare wa Diablo, Meiko and Lucifer (with the help of a “Shiba Inu”) play doubles tennis with manga-otaku Uriel and Johan; Lucifer engages in some shenanigans at the school play; and Lucifer’s sister Michael pays a visit (Homicidal SisCon, anyone?) ahead of a battle between a transformed Meiko and Michael. Queue a rooftop kissy scene between our two main characters after the destruction wrought by Michael has been fixed by God.

Whilst the final two chapters of this series redeemed it slightly, the whiplash caused by the story going from over-the-top humor to very serious material has been a bit of an issue throughout this series. This all-or-nothing approach takes weakens a series that began with an interesting premise. There is no getting around it.

Herein lies the corpse of Kare wa Diablo. No longer shall I gaze upon your pages. No longer shall I see Meiko occasionally gaining superhuman strength from eating Anpan whilst random stuff happens around her. You promised so much but fell headfirst into a pit trap. You shall not be missed.

With this in mind, I have decided to not do a review of the entire series as originally intended, as I think that I have gone over the strengths and flaws of the series in sufficient detail already. I will, however, say that this series began at an eight and ended at a six out of ten. Well, at least it isn’t the abomination that is Butterflies, Flowers… 


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Manga Review: Kare wa Diablo Vol. 2

Alternate Names: He is Diablo!, Kare wa Diovolo
Year: 2010-2011
Author/Artist: Kayoko Shimotsuki
Genre: Shoujo, Urban Fantasy, Comedy, Romance, Drama

Reviewers Note: Volume 2 covers consists of chapters 5-8 with a bonus chapter at the end. This review is based on the S2 Scanlations English translation. >insert spoiler warning here<

In volume two of this series, Asuma / Asmodeus, that douchebag fallen that appeared in volume one, makes his grand appearance after acting in the shadows. He now attempts to get back at Rui / Lucifer by trying to destroy the bond between the other fallen’s relationship with Meiko. In the process, it only “makes their bond stronger”. It also results in Asman taking a liking to her ahead of being forced into a witch contract with resident swashbuckling cosplayer Toutsu by Lucifer. After that, an arc about the cultural festival introduces two new characters. Meh…

This week’s installment is a case of diminishing returns, as the story is becoming weirder. In an effort to add in lots of things to the story, such as the cliched Cultural Festival arc, it is all over the place narratively. We do see a moment of brilliance in the form of a flashback to Rui’s past with his former witch Lillith. The form of him being cut in half by Michael whilst protecting her is sobering even if the rest of the chapters undo much of this.
This brings us to the question of how many things a series can include before the mess of ideas overpowers the story. I think that the first volume did okay even if it wasn’t brilliant. In volume two, the story is diluted to the point where the goodwill built up in the first volume is being undone. This is a shame as well because the series had a decent premise.

Verdict: I am downgrading this series from eight to seven Aguris. I cannot justify keeping my rating as high as it was because the second volume was a bit of a letdown. Perhaps the third and final volume will give this series some well-needed TLC. I suppose we will have to wait and see.

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Manga Review: Kare wa Diablo Vol. 1

Alternate Names: He is Diablo!, Kare wa Diovolo
Year: 2010-2011
Author/Artist: Kayoko Shimotsuki
Genre: Shoujo, Urban Fantasy, Comedy, Romance, Drama

Reviewers Note: Each volume consists of four chapters. This review is based on the S2 Scanlations English translation.

Whilst trying to find a few completed manga series to get stuck into, I came across a short-run series called Kare wa Diablo. The first chapter proved to be interesting enough for me to read the first volume. Here is the premise:

High Schooler Meiko has a major crush on a boy at her high school. However, he has a girlfriend. So, she does what any self-respecting school girl with an interest in the occult does – she summons a supernatural being to make the object of her affection fall madly in love her.
Well, it turns out that she made the arrangement with Lucifer, who also decides that teaching her class would be a great way to amuse himself. As Meiko deals with the ramifications of her request, her demonic summon puts forward the option for her to become his witch or let one of her schoolmates get murdered due to the initial request. So begins a silly story about demons, witches and the power of Anpan.

The first chapter of this series has a bit of a darker edge to it. However, it is made clear in the latter parts of this chapter of what to expect from this series: a comedy set in a world where the supernatural lies just below the surface… with enough variation in pace and story arcs to keep it interesting. Whilst these arcs are often predictable, the first volume was still enjoyable. The romance element is there but it takes second place to the comedy, which is not necessarily a bad thing given how focusing on romance often means focusing on drama.

This series involves a cast of human, demon and angelic characters. The human cast comes off as just as interesting as the non-humans so far. Whilst I can understand why people may not like Meiko as a protagonist because of how quickly she adapts to all of the weird stuff happening around her, I think that this makes her more of an interesting character because she isn’t an emotional wreck. Lucifer’s use of telepathy for communication with Meiko is a simple way of avoiding other people knowing who and what he is. As expected, there is also a playful aspect to characters such as Lucifer and Beelzebub.
Now, to the art! Whilst the linework is clean and crisp, the character designs aren’t overly unique. We see your standard stereotype appearances, such as Lucifer having the “black prince” type. However, the monsters are visually interesting and the action sequences do just enough to do their job. The artwork as a whole looks pretty fresh for a series released nearly a decade ago. It ages well not only because of the linework but due to the artist making the smart move of not including references to pop culture or technology. So, no talk of MySpace or use of phones that need to be carried around on a wheelbarrow.

In conclusion, the first volume was a joy to read and reminds me a little of Kamisama Kiss so far, but with more of a focus on the comedy rather than the romance. If you are looking for a short-run shoujo comedy than I highly recommend that you give this series a short. I give the first volume of this series eight out of ten Aguris.

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Anime Review: Kamisama Kiss Season 2

Year: 2015
Episodes: 12 (English dub version) 
Genre: Shoujo, Romance, Drama, Supernatural 

At the end of Kamisama Kiss season 1, we saw a mysterious figure take an interest in Nanami’s shrine festival. Season 2 begins with Nanami getting an invitation to a periodic meeting of the gods. Whilst a large section of the second season revolves around this arc, we also see Nanami coming into her own, as well as Nanami and Tomoe beginning to acknowledge their romantic feelings for each a lot more. This is affected by the two looking into each other’s past. This played out with sufficient subtlety and facilitated character development as a whole.
The second season also introduced a lot of new characters, expanding the cast dramatically. There is a stark contrast in personality for some of the gods, ranging from the lazy to the aggressive and downright murderous. Nanami manages to gain respect and develop friendships in the process. We also saw the return of Hamemiko of Swamp and her human beloved Kataro, which in a sense offered a contrast to Nanami and Tomoe’s relationship.  
We saw more of the world as well, which Nanami is forced to navigate. For instance, there is an arc revolving Kurama, our resident Crow Tengu. Whilst many of these perils are related to the new characters that she comes into contact with, our resident shrine goddess must also deal with the dangerous environment of the spirit world. Whilst we saw a bit of this in the first season, the second season Nanami’s kind and often gullible nature continues to place her in several dangerous situations.

Kamisama Kiss continues to be one of my favorite Shoujo series, just as it is for many of the shoujo fans that I am acquainted with. Whilst it never received a third season, I will have to read the manga and watch the several available OVAs to get my fix. That is, however, after I have finished a sizable backlog of anime and manga.

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Anime Review: Trinity Seven

Year: 2014
Episodes: 12
Online: Crunchyroll, MAL, Wikipedia
Genre: Shounen, Comedy, Supernatural Fantasy, Action, Supernatural, Harem, Ecchi

I apologise that it has taken me months to get around to reviewing this series in spite of completing it last year. Time to get to it!

Halfway through last year, my husband and I were looking for new anime to watch. We scoured numerous lists for something that we could both live with. Then we happened across a compilation of scenes that featured a rather amusing scene from Trinity Seven. Intrigued, we looked around for more information on the series and it noticed that it was in numerous lists across the various applicable genres. One of those just happened to be a “best harem” list. We decided to give it a run. The series is based on long-run manga series.

During a breakdown event, Arata Kasuga discovers that there is more to the world than bumming around the house or going to school . With the discovery that magic exists, Arata becomes a mage in order to protect his Grimoire, an entity that has been looking out for him since his previous world disintegrated in a previous breakdown event. At Royal Biblia Academy, he meets the other members of the Trinity Seven. He will come to understand what become of his cousin, all whilst avoiding become the Demon Lord.

To begin with, Trinity Seven is set in a rather unique universe. Given that magic is a pretty important part of the setting, we see a host of different rules and terminology for those wielding it. One of the biggest issues is the ongoing threat of Demon Lord candidates losing the plot and transforming into a Demon Lord. The series does a great job of avoiding info-dumps, offering information as it becomes relevant to the current situation. This allows the viewer to learn alongside Arata.
This series was hilarious. Whilst other harem series have a bit of a pushover for a male lead, Arata is such an awesome character. He is confident in his own “perverseness” and is eternally optimistic. Whilst the former sometimes results in physical assault by members of the opposite sex, it is also something that helps break down the social barrier between himself and those around him. The latter manages to be a game-changer as well.
The rest of the cast are based off of the typical anime and manga archetypes but they each contribute meaningfully to the story. We see solid character arcs and character development that allow for a level of gratification. There is a lot of fan service but this, oddly enough, helps move the story along.
My one annoyance for this series is the Lilith character. She is a little tiring to watch. Whilst there is a bit of a character arc for Lilith, it doesn’t have the level of gratification of most of the other female characters in the series. Compare this to Arin, the shameless figure that believes Arata to be her destined future husband. Arin might be a little odd but she feels more true to her own nature. This is my main issue with Lilith, a character more likely to lash out that address her own emotions and inclinations. Lilith just comes off as unlikeable.

Whilst I really loved this series as a whole, the end episode was annoying in that it left things open for another season without delivering. Alas, this is all too common these days, with many good shows being cancelled before they can offer sufficient closure for viewers. At least we have the manga series which is still ongoing since it began back in 2010. I recommend this series to folks looking for an example of a good harem comedy series with decent world-building.