the Devil Within (aka: Tenshi no Naka ni Akuma Ari) Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, October 08, 2007
Release Date: Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Translated by:Christine Schilling
Adapted by:Brynne Chandler
What They Say
Rion believes with all her heart that grown men are devils! Just when she's found the boy of her dreams, her father presents her with three different guys – and forces her to choose a fiancÚ! While fighting off the advances and trying to win the affection of her newfound love, he discovers the stunning secret of the handsome trio...and something shocking about herself!
The artwork on the front cover is the same as used in the Japanese release, though there are a few minor differences. The biggest is that while the artwork is the same, the colors are pretty dull. It's kind of surprising considering how much more vibrant the colors of the Japanese version are. Even the colors outlining the title are richer. So the overall look is a bit disappointing and doesn’t really do anything to catch the eye.
Some of the chapter title pages used to be in color, but are printed in black and white here. Even though almost everyone does this now, I don’t think that it deserves a free pass just because it is common.
The art here is pretty much what you would expect from a title like this. The boys are all incredibly hot and androgynous while the girls are few and pretty in a “this could be YOU!” kind of way. As is common with this type of manga, the character designs are fairly sparse, the simplicity being a huge aspect of the aesthetic. So since the characters – and specifically the look of the characters – are the most important aspect of this manga, it is easy to say that the art succeeds in this regard. But there are plenty of times where the art seems to be “tripping over its own two feet,” so to speak. There is simply too much stuff going on around the characters. While this isn’t always a problem, it sometimes interferes with the art that you actually want to be paying attention to; then it is a problem. Even though this isn’t something that happens consistently, it happens enough to have a negative impact.
For the most part, everything is fine here. There aren’t any offenses to spelling or grammar, dialog is phrased well, and while there are a few moments of obvious localization, they work well with the tone and story. The sound effects are done well: they are almost completely translated next to the effect, but a few of the smaller ones are overlaid and fit in well with the artwork.
But there are a few exceptions to this otherwise proficient job. There are isolated times when some of the aside comments are cut off by the edge of the page. You can still easily make out what the word or letter is, but this shouldn’t happen. Also, there are no page numbers. I know that not everything has page numbers, so this isn’t always a problem, but since the contents and translator’s notes use page numbers, it would be nice if there were actually page numbers in the book.
Lastly, there is a bit of word play in this manga: some of it is obvious; some require translator’s notes. Strangely, the translator’s notes don’t cover the most obvious word play in the whole manga. Rion’s love interest in the story is named Tenshi, which means ‘Angel,’ and this is played on a few times, though not flatly stated. But understanding this pun is key to a handful of jokes in one scene. While it’s not a far leap to assume that most people reading this will probably know that, it’s kind of a bum rap for those who don’t because there isn’t a note explaining it. Other things that are easier to understand and have less significance to the story are given notes, so it’s odd that this one was omitted.
As a child, Rion saw an uncensored tape that showed demons possessing little boys who would later grow up to be demons and attack young girls. From then on she was convinced that young boys were angels who would turn into villainous devils when they got older. Now that Rion has grown into a pretty young girl, she only has eyes for little boys and avoids “devils” at all costs. She even goes to an all-girl school in order to avoid men.
The manga starts as her father – “the big devil” – is coming home from being out of town. Rion goes to buy groceries for dinner and on her way home she is attacked by a scruffy-looking vagrant who is demanding food. Luckily, a handsome man stops the attack, but Rion thinks it’s a ruse perpetrated by the two of them to get to her. So she runs home and hurries to the elevator, but a man jumps in the elevator with her. So she runs away from him and takes the stairs all the way to the top of the complex, but on the way she runs into a gorgeous young boy named Tenshi who looks exactly like her first love. She falls for him instantly, but he seems uninterested.
When Rion makes it to her room, the scruffy vagrant, the handsome do-gooder, and the man from the elevator are all there waiting for her! It turns out that Rion’s father gathered them all together and they are all now her fiancÚs. And over the next few days she is supposed to choose one of them to marry, whether she likes it or not. Now all she wants to do is be with Tenshi, but these beautiful men keep throwing themselves at her. It certainly doesn’t help when the big devil gives all of them a key to her room so they can drop by whenever they want. Oh, what is a girl to do?
In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you right now that this book is not my cup of tea. I am a big fan of shoujo, and while I am not the target for boy’s love, I can get though it fairly easily. But this is neither shoujo nor boy’s love, and that is this book’s first and most significant problem: it does not know what it wants to be.
Ryo TAKAGI is almost exclusively a boy’s love writer who is known for so-so plots, but “really hot” sex scenes. That’s why it’s strange that her first book released in America is one of her few non-boy’s love titles. The story keeps working its way to a seemingly inevitable conclusion, but it always stops itself short. Essentially, The Devil Within boils down to all the bland aspects of TAKAGI’s stories without the payoff of what she is really good at, and that is just plain frustrating.
Everything about the story is paint-by-numbers; there just isn’t anything new here to get excited about or make you want to see what is going to come next. But while this book may offer fans of this genre a blasÚ experience, for the rest of us, there is almost nothing that makes this title worth your time. The pace of the story is hyperactive; speed/intensity lines accompany almost every panel, and a huge amount of the dialog is screamed. The plot unfolds so quickly and without any kind of down time that you almost feel exhausted as you read. Rion is always either running, or screaming, or beating away devils. And that calling all men devils thing gets old really quick. After the first few pages you would think it would ease up, but it doesn’t, so you just have to put up with it.
Also, there is the basic premise to consider. This manga is basically about a bunch of men throwing themselves at, and in more than one case, forcing themselves upon, an unwilling girl. Who are you supposed to root for in this situation? There is no long-shot good guy that everyone seems to be sabotaging; all of the guys are just jerks. There aren’t any good pairings here, and really, there aren’t any good characters. Rion is annoying, the fiancÚs don’t have personalities beyond bishonen stereotypes like “the restrained one,” or “the confident one,” and Tenshi is just an emotionless foil who openly uses Rion to his own advantage. For all the eye-candy in this book, there really isn’t anything to give it any substance. So when you combine unsympathetic characters with hyperactive pacing and no payoff or purpose, you are left with a story that is just worthless.
This is a book that I can only recommend to fans that are desperately looking for something to occupy their time while waiting for a better book to come along. However, Ryo TAKAGI is not a name that should be forgotten because she is genuinely good at what she does. It’s just that The Devil Within isn’t typically what she does. So it really is unfortunate that this is the first thing of hers to be brought out in English because she has numerous books that are better. Hopefully someone will bring over some of her more standard fare and fans of this genre will get the Ryo TAKAGI they deserve. But for now, I think you should stay away from this one unless you absolutely have to read it.
Mania Grade: D
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B-
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Go! Comi
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: The Devil Within (aka: Tenshi no Naka ni Akuma Ari)