Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Let's close things off with an devilishly charming little series that's been mostly lost to the ages.

STRAY LITTLE DEVIL (Sutorei Ritoru Debiru), by Kotaru Mori.  First published in 2004 and first published in North America in 2006.


Pam Akumachi was always told by her grandmothers that nice devils were real.  They even taught her a spell to summon them.  When Pam finally tries to use it, though, she ends up getting sucked into another world full of devils and angels.  She discovers that she has been transformed into a devil and gets attacked by an angel that looks just like her best friend.  Now the only way for Pam to get back to her world is to become a full-fledged devil and that means starting from the beginning.  She has to learn to read their language, work her way through the demonic ranks, and find a familiar, even if she has to shake up a few rules to do so.


If you just go by the cover, you might expect Stray Little Devil to be nothing but fanservice and nonsense.  What I got was not great by any measure, but it turned out to be a decent and relatively innocent hero's quest.

Nobody, not even Pam, is all that deep as far as characters go.  There are tricky mentor types, aloof villains, wacky sidekicks, a tsundere girl who will inevitably warm up to our innocent lead, all of them as stock as stock characters can be.  The big joke is the contrast between Pam's gentle nature and her demon nature, even if in truth it's closer to being a quarter of a way to a joke.  Still, her childlike personality is fairly endearing, even if you want to smack her sometimes over how oblivious she is about her opponent Lufia. 

I was also surprised as to how many tropes this takes from the whole 'girl gets sucked into another world' concept, something which would have been positively old-fashioned in 2004.  It also borrows a bit from magical girl stories since it relies a lot on cute tranformable familiars and an emphasis on the power of female friendship.  The downside to both of these things is that it makes the story fairly easy to predict.  You know the bitchy girl will end up becoming Pam's closest ally.  You know that Pam's hardheaded insistence on saving others will win over Lufia over time.  Despite all that, I don't mind because it takes those well-worn tropes and makes them work well.


Mori's art is cute and cartoon-like, a sort of missing link between the chibis of the 90s and the moe artstyle that came to define the 2000s.  It's also short on fanservice, despite some questionable style choices on the part of the cast.  The panels are denser than you expect thanks to Mori's heavy use of big, swirly speedlines and over-the-top reactions.  I do wish they had spared some of the imagination they put into the characters for the world around them, as the backgrounds are little more than a bunch of floating islands and dark, jagged interiors.  The art is nothing extraordinary in the larger frame of things, but it's cute and light enough to work with the story's tone.


Stray Little Devil is no trick, but instead a charmingly simple little treat of a manga.  Maybe if it had gone to a larger publisher, it might have found an audience to appreciate its charms.

This series was published by Dr. Master/ComicsOne.  This series is complete in Japan with 5 volumes available.  All 5 were published and are currently out of print.

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