January 26, 2008
I was totally smitten with this series. I could not put it down, and most of it was spent waiting forever on trains when the windchill was around ten below zero. I had to read it without gloves on. That’s love.
It was definitely flawed. It was totally and unashamedly ultra-goth, where a lot of the characters frequently pondered why they were born and what their purpose in life was. All of the main characters would regularly beat themselves up in internal monologues, and the dialogue at these points can be pretty corny. There’s also frequent moral questions that are brought up and discussed badly. Why kill? Why not kill when your life is in danger? I’m the king of hell, why can’t I kill ghouls? This person asked for death, why are you blaming me? See, I spared this person’s life and they just hurt me, so why should I? It may be because I read all four volumes back to back, but that stuff got tired and repetitive really fast.
As much as I liked the art, as more and more characters were introduced I had trouble telling them apart because everything was so minimalist. Ororon had three moles below his eye and his brother Othello had one mole below his eye and spoke in a gothic font, but otherwise they looked identical. To prove my point, I don’t know who a lot of the people on the front cover are. The two in the back are really minor characters, a pair of royal advisers or something. The fact that they’re minor characters and are the only ones I can identify says something. The one in the foreground who is not wearing sunglasses may be the eventual antagonist, one of Ororon’s brothers. He’s the only one in the series who wears glasses, so by process of elimination it would have to be him, but he had dark hair. In that case, maybe the glasses are supposed to be sunglasses, and I’d guess it was Othello since his hair was drawn shiny. The other two, if I had to guess, would be Chiaki and Ororon, but Ororon is always shown with blonde hair, so it may be that it’s just Chiaki and a group of minor characters, or that may not be Chiaki at all. On the back, Chiaki and Ororon are both shown with brown hair, so… I don’t know who’s on the cover.
I also don’t actually like the end of the series at all. AT ALL. What starts off as a really weird, quirky relationship between Chiaki and Ororon turns into a big battle royale for hell. I like that the final battle was started by Ororon killing someone he probably shouldn’t have (thus proving Chiaki’s point about taking life being a bad thing), but a ton of minor characters were brought in, all with positions in hell that were supposed to be important but we didn’t really ever find out about, then a whole hell power struggle was brought in at the end… and while it made sense since Ororon had talked about his precarious position in hell all along, it went into a level of detail that was unnecessary given the fact we never saw or heard much about hell. The final volume was one long fight scene with a ton of minor characters, and I just couldn’t tell what was going on in a lot of cases, why certain battles were being waged, where people were in relation to each other, and what was happening other than the fact Ororon was fighting one of his brothers. The progression of the series from light and happy to really dark was pretty well done even though I didn’t particularly like the direction.
The very end of the series is something I generally applaud, since it’s not something a lot of mangaka are willing to do even in the darkest of stories. It didn’t really make sense though given the fact that one person had the power to change/reverse what happened. Also, even though I wouldn’t want to read any more after what happened at the end, the eventual fate of “God” is never revealed.
Now that I’ve got all my complaints out of my system, yes I did love it. Despite everything it did wrong, it was so unashamedly GIRLY that it was hard for me not to get sucked in. The relationship between Ororon and Chiaki is great and very sincere, and although they don’t get many happy moments together once they both figure things out, to hear them talk of one another is most heartbreaking. There are plenty of other passionate characters, too. Othello, Ororon’s brother, is another excellent character. It’s implied that he’s extremely effeminate and sort of a pansy, but he gets an extremely tragic romance in a short story, and he’s also apparently the most powerful being in hell. You’re never quite sure if he’s totally on Ororon’s side either (it seems like he could whip out a dirty trick at any time to take Ororon back to hell), so he’s always accompanied by a sense of foreboding. He starts keeping a three-eyed bounty hunter as a pet at one point, and while this boy is a huge source of angst for the middle/end of the series, Othello eventually gives the boy a reason to live and releases his “pet” back out into the wild, so to speak.
Also, I should mention the characters are very much aware of how much they angst and complain. Othello comments at several points what a tragic figure Ororon makes. The fact that one of the possible directions for the series was some sort of battle between “God” and Ororon, or that “God” and Ororon might have to be separate forever also made me uncomfortable just because I could not foresee that going well at all. Unfortunately, “God” is totally downplayed in the end, and I kind of wish more had been made of this special power.
It has its flaws, but I really, really, really liked it. It’s a great passionate shoujo series with a believable couple, one of whom is an angsty Satan, and sometimes that’s all I need in a series.