Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Alas, a lot of devil-themed dramas are no better than the ones about angels, at least if this series is any indication.

THE DEMON ORORON (Akuma no Ororon), by Hakase Mizuki.  First published in 1998 and first published in North America in 2004.


Chiaki has led a lonely life.  Her parents disappeared long ago and most people ostracize her for her ability to see spirits, so she's mostly lived on her own.  One day she stumbles across a strange blond man on the street and takes him in.  She couldn't have possibly guessed that she is part angel, or that her powers have made her a target to the forces of heaven and hell.  Luckily for her, the stranger she found is Ororon, the king of demons, and he swears to protect her from all those that would threaten her.


The Demon Ororon feels like what would happen if someone threw xxxHolic and Angel Sanctuary into a blender with a bunch of empty fluff and drama.  The concept is too familiar and too haphazardly constructed to thrill anyone but the most inexperienced manga readers.

The biggest problem is that neither Chiaki nor Ororon do enough to capture the reader's attention and imagination.  Despite the fact that she possesses literally cosmic powers, Chiaki is too much of a plain Jane to distinguish herself as a heroine.  Not even her lonely backstory can help her, as that's resolved before the first chapter ends.  As the plot goes on, she becomes less involved in the plot proper.  Instead, she's used as a damsel for Ororon to save and lectures him afterwards for killing his opponents.

 Ororon is meant to be seductive, cool, and secretly tormented, but all of these qualities are downplayed too much to impress the reader.  I couldn't have cared less about his crazy mom or the power struggle around his title, and it's clearl right from the start that his coolness is nothing but a facade.  Even his declarations of love and devotion to Chiaki ring hollow because he says it so often as to cast doubt on the sincerity of his sentiment.  Not suprisingly, the rest of the cast is no better handled than our leading couple.  They are nothing but anonymous angels and devils who look like fashion models and end up getting splattered across the scenery.  The only exception to this is Ororon's brother, but that's only because he speaks in a fancy font that's nigh unreadable.

It's a shame that the character writing sucks so much because the story at large does manage to gracefully transition from a monster-of-the-week story to something more ambitious after it gets through Ororon's backstory.  It does feel like the narrative stakes are increasing, but it's impossible to keep a lot of the characters straight or care about their issues.


Mizuki's art is striking to say the least, although it's up to personal opinion whether that's in a good way or a bad way.  Her character designs are highly stylized, much closer to a fashion sketch than anything you might find on the manga shelves.  Personally, I found their strange, pinched faces, tiny heads, and jutting angular bodies to be hideous.  Worse still, many of them (including Chiaki) are so similiarly androgynous that it's hard to tell who is who.

You get the feeling that Mizuki was also not comfortable drawing the fight scenes.  She tends to skip right past the actual acts of violence, which leaves the reader feeling jarred when the opponent is standing in one panel and smeared across the panel in dark splotches in the next.  That's probably for the best, though, as what few fight scenes she does draw are stiff and her composition is positively jumbled.  At times only the inner monologues indicate which panels follow one another.  She also doesn't have much use for backgrounds, choosing instead to go with stark black and white washes.  It's all very distinct, but it's not very good.


Tokyopop didn't help things by getting too fancy with the fonts.  They used four different fonts for four different characters and even Chiaki's inner monologue gets its own special font.  As each new one appears, they get more and more stylized and thus harder and harder to read.  It helps to distinguish characters, but I do wish they had thought more about what's easy to read and not what looked cool on the page.  Also, while there are a few typos I was bothered a lot more by the constant use of 'bogy' to refer to minor demons and similar beings.  What the hell is a bogy?  It is like a boogeyman?


The Demon Ororon is a stylish, derivative mess.  There's nothing here story-wise that you can't get from countless other manga titles and the artwork is hit or miss at best.  Throw this one back into the purgatory along with most of Tokyopop's library.

This series was published by Tokyopop.  This series is complete in Japan with 4 volumes.  All 4 were published in single volumes and a 4-in-1 omnibus, and all are currently out of print.

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