Mugen Spiral Complete Series (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, March 30, 2010
¯Caught in a bad romance¯
Writer/Artist: Mizuho Kusanagi
Translation: Nan Rymer
Adaptation: Christine Schilling
What They Say
Embrace Kusanagi-sensei's magical manga, collected here in one complete, gorgeous edition! Yayoi—the 78th Head of Household of the Suzuka Clan—is a mystic with a tremendous power over the spirits. Of course, along with great power comes those with the desire to steal it! Enter Ura, who wants to become the King of the Demons. He comes to the human world to challenge Yayoi, but ends up stripped of his powers—and is sealed away as a black cat instead! Although Ura is still hell-bent on "eating" Yayoi's power, the unlikely pair find themselves caught up in an adventure they never imagined!
Ura occupies most of the front cover, appearing in some kind of fanciful, cosplayable outfit posing alongside a random American bald eagle. It appears to be nicely hand painted in acrylics, loosely framed in foliage with colorful orange hues of a sunset forming the background. Abstract spiral designs run along the spine to the back cover where small reproductions of the original cover art for volumes one and two head the summary amidst more spiral graphics.
The art is definitely the strongpoint of Mugen Spiral and it's nice to see it showcased in the A5 format. Characters are beautifully designed and dressed with plenty of variety in clothing. While the settings are actually quite common-place, screen tone is masterfully employed all through, giving substance to backgrounds and creating elegant atmospheric effects. occasionally there are some awkward hand positions, but overall it's a real visual treat. The translation seems fine but I did notice a typo, and a few text bubbles display poorly centered content. Otherwise it's a smooth read, printed with solid ink on substantial paper. Eleven pages of "side story" make for a nice extra at the end, not to mention plenty of sidebar notes from Kusanagi throughout.
Would depression lead you to cohabitate with a man who has vowed to kill you horribly? Well that's exactly the situation poor Yayoi finds herself in, all out of sorts and bemoaning her lonely life after the death of her parents. The twist is she's turned her would be assailant into a cat with some evil-sealing magic. He's Ura, a demon intent on devouring Yayoi to absorbing her powers—evidently the common goal of many other demons as well. So, Yayoi keeps Ura around for protection, occasionally unleashing him from his curse as required. He's very possessive of his "prey", you see, and does a good job of intercepting other attacking demons in a far-fetched kind of cock blocking scenario.
They carry on together in this dreadful sort of codependent relationship through various shenanigans involving the politics of the demon world. It seems Ura and his little brother Ouga are at odds regarding their father, the demon king: Ouga wants him dead, while Ura seeks to save him. Meanwhile, Ura and Yayoi start flirting, apparently manifesting some symptoms of Stockholm syndrome—after all, they are mutual captors of each other to a certain extent.
The brothers clash for a while and various other demons make appearances, mostly to serve as mere punching bags, but eventually Ura winds up getting himself possessed. He manages to overcome his possession after Yayoi unleashes his powers again, then he proceeds to abandon his weary self into Yayois waiting arms, lauding her with praise for all she's done. After having considerably softened up Ura, and even earning some kindness from him, you'd think Yayoi would finally be resting content and enjoying a bit of satisfaction. Oh, but no—the concluding monologue finds her yearning for the bad-old-days of being used and abused!
The sixty-some page "special story" at the end mixes in a time travel plot with some decent drama as Ura and Yayoi visit the past when her parents were still alive. They encounter young Yayoi, encouraging her to believe in herself and her healing powers which are needed to cure older Yayoi's poisonous magical scar. Yayoi enjoys some tender moments with her sorely missed parents who are otherwise dead in present time, and little Yayoi offers her older self and Ura some supportive advice on their tortuous relationship before they leave, returning together back to present time.
Mugen Spiral is a work better enjoyed with LOTS of disbelief being suspended. Also, not scrutinizing the character's motives and psychology very closely should help it go down easier. If you do end up thinking too much however, it may become apparent that the story is basically little more than a hackneyed—though nicely presented—wish fulfillment bad-boy-turned-good fantasy.
Mania Grade: C
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translation Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Mugen Spiral