Little Darling Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Art Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 8.95
  • Pages: 230
  • ISBN: 1-56970-769-3
  • Size: Shinsho
  • Orientation: Left to Right
  • Series: Little Darling

Little Darling Vol. #01

By Julie Rosato     April 08, 2008
Release Date: November 27, 2007

Little Darling Vol.#01
© Digital Manga Publishing

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Matsuri Kouzuki / Naduki Koujima
Translated by:Kelly Quine
Adapted by:N/A

What They Say
Miyori finds himself stuck with the job of finding all the angels' children who have become lost in the human world. When Miyori stumbles on a child named Daishichi, he realizes that the child is actually the heir to the throne of the heavens. But as soon as they meet, Daishichi proposes to him?! Miyori wishes to someday become a real human man and has no intention of becoming someone's bride! But when he sees the stunningly handsome adult form that Daishichi takes when the sun goes down, Miyori's heart begins to quiver...

The Review
Let me get this out of the way right now: This book is a comedy. I don't think this book takes itself too seriously, and neither should you.

Packaging here is as we've come to expect from June's yaoi novel line. The original cover art is used, featuring Daina, heir to the throne of Heaven, in his adult form and his unwitting demon bride Kaie - wearing the expressions I pictured them having all throughout the book. The color layout does a terrible injustice to the otherwise lovely cover art, and the title logo is so childish and saccharine that I sincerely hope it was used as a joke to go along with the theme of this comedy. The back cover features only the story blurb, which is surprisingly accurate for this publisher. Coverstock is still fairly heavy, which will be a plus or a minus, depending on how tightly you like to hold your books. The illustrations, done by Naduki Koujima (Our Kingdom), are all quite nice, but best is the color plate, which captures a lot of personality from the story in one simple picture.

Overall this novel seemed more readable than any of the previous BL novels I've read to this point by June, probably due to the fact that dialogue, rather than exposition, drives the story. The conversations here pretty much all read like a comedy duo's routine, no matter the participants, and so success hinges on the humor coming through in the script. It does, for the most part (and it improves over time), although this sort of dialogue pattern will always lose something in the translation. It's hard to get a feel for the funny man/straight man banter early on -- a lack of decent characterization of the main players is largely to blame -- but once you wrap your head around the groove properly, the localization works pretty well. (With luck, my telling you so will help you do it sooner.)

That said, the technical job is not perfect by any means -- the text is peppered with typos, usually having to do with plurals or possessives, and descriptive lines often feel stilted rather than fluid. Conversation can be a little hard to follow, especially in the beginning while characters and story alike are still finding their voice, but eventually things smooth out some. It's true that I can't really sing praises here, but somehow the more mindless fluff the story is, the less it seems to matter.

Contents:(please note that the following may contain spoilers)
Kaie, who had the misfortune of being born to a demon and a succubus, is a hermaphroditic demon - and a looker at that. It's bad enough that angels and demons alike want a piece of his tail, but what's worse is they all want him to be female. What's this you ask? Well, at the young age of 280, he has about 20 years before his final sex assignment occurs, but despite the peer pressure, he's determined to become a splendid specimen of a man. Fleeing his father's pressure to become a chick and marry well, Kaie takes on the corporate grunt work of a demon on Earth, hoping to work his way up the ladder and prove his manliness worthy.

So that's the sitch. But things really take a turn for the worse, right from the start, when he's assigned to track down Daina, the heir to the throne of Heaven, who's gone missing on Earth. Only this kid, Daina, has way more going on than his bratty kid appearance suggests. For starters, he falls in love at first sight with Kaie and declares Kaie his wife. Ack? But wait, if you think Kaie's got body troubles, Daina changes from a spoiled boy to a studly man with the setting sun! Well, that's convenient for changing a certain demon's mind about his suitor, but Kaie really, really wants to be a MAN among men - not to mention how much he hates kids. So, while Daina's hot to trot any time, Kaie's in a state. He protests lamely and emos it up every now and again, but no one takes it too seriously because everyone, including Kaie himself, knows he's doomed. They pair up on Earth for a bit, since the politics of heaven turn out to be, well, not so heavenly, but eventually they're able to ascend to Heaven, where they're acknowledged as the Prince and Princess. (Woe to the demon who dreams of being a real man!)

The second half of the story jumps ahead 20 years to - you guessed it - Kaie's sex assignment. Kaie's life in the palace in the intervening decades has been fraught with book learning day after day, and presumably, sexy romps with adult Daina night after night. But when Kaie appears ready to launch into nymphomaniac mode, sending out pheromones like any respectable offspring of a succubus would (the tell-tale signs of sex assignment, dontcha know), he and his beloved pack up for a deserted villa in a tropical Earth paradise to ride out the storm. There's a little upset when Daina's forced to return to Heaven and his horny, adulterous cousin shows up instead, but it doesn't amount to much before Daina returns, bringing with him several pages of sexcapades (a term used loosely here). More importantly anyway, while left on his own in the midst of his nymphomania, Kaie found himself turned into a real man! All with very little to-do, and all very terribly anticlimactic, I must say. But once safely past the pheromone hosing and the sex morning, noon, and night, the Royal Couple heads home to resume a tamer life of ruling the heavens as husband and ... wait for it ... right hand man.

Little Darling doesn't push the envelope anywhere. Heck, it barely opens it in some cases. Truly a "light" novel, the substance meter barely registers - plot elements are dropped in simply to exist and the sex is not explicit - but it still manages to amuse. Humor, rather than angst, surrounds the hermaphroditic business (it works better anyway) - the flippant attitude towards Kaie's "extra hole" makes the conversations funny, if a bit crude. Kaie's fretting like the girly-girl demon-man he is won't annoy as much if you consider it tongue-in-cheek. And hey, at least that Kouzuki didn't cheap out and make Kaie a woman - the sex was guy-guy all the way (even though Kaie remained as girly as a "hunky tough guy" ever was, right up through the very end). In the worst case scenario, when the comedy duo routine fell flat, I took solace in the anachronism of their modern-day lifestyle - something about an angel, wings out and all, using a PDA to discuss details of an assassination or a demon with a notebook computer was just fun to picture.

A note about the child-size business: With Daina occupying a child's body fifty percent of the time, it does give rise (no pun intended) to the question of shotacon scenes. This book generally skirts around the concept, saving it mostly for Kaie's indignation and humorous alludes (such as the most embarrassing conversation a young man could ever hope to have with his mother), but there is a bit of action vaguely mentioned later in the book, during the nonstop sex romp that is Kaie's transformation. If you really can't stand even the mention of the situation comically, you should probably pass on this title.

If you go into this book looking for hot sex, angsty angel/demon conflict, or heck, even just a gooey romance, you're going to be disappointed. It's not so much a relationship between these guys, as a comedy act. The set up is almost laughably bad for all its half-heartedness, but it's somehow saved by often ridiculously inappropriate banter. Not in the mood for a pining uke or a waffling seme? Neither was I; sometimes it's just more fun to laugh. I don't think this book takes itself too seriously, and neither should you.


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jnager 3/13/2012 1:13:47 PM

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