Circus Wonder – Akuma ni Please

It’s been a while since I posted an entry on Circus Wonder, but now I’ve finally gotten around to the second story in the volume. (It’s Spring Break, by the way, so I can actually take a few days off from school work completely for once.)

Also, my poor old scanner is slowly dying. Please excuse it; it’s still trying its best.

Summary

The story opens with what seems like a typical shoujo manga love confession scene, except that the guy says “Nevermind!” after a minute and walks away with his girlfriend. Our heroine, Saiko, is momentarily perplexed and then pissed off because this type of thing always happens to her. On top of that, she was already looking forward to having a boyfriend for Christmas the moment the confession left that guy’s lips, but now her plans are foiled! (This story is populated by incredibly deep characters, can you tell?) In her anger, she kicks a trashcan in such an impossible fashion that a magazine flies out of it and hits her in the face. It just so happens that in this magazine, there are instructions for how to summon a demon to make a single wish come true. Saiko thinks that since, gee, God sure hasn’t been helping her much on her quest to find a boyfriend, she may as well try asking the devil. (You should notice, at this point, that Japan is not a Christian country.)

Saiko thus goes home and prepares to summon a demon, freely making changes to the recipe that’s provided in the magazine. (Ketchup instead of blood, for instance. Ha. Ha. How funny.) Somehow, it works, and a demon, complete with horns and wings, pops up in front of her in a puff of smoke and introduces himself as salaryman “Mark” (The most unfortunate name for a devil ever. Be sure to imagine it with a heavy German accent as it’s written out “Maaku” – or perhaps just “Ma-ku” since I like to imagine the vowel stretched down the entire page for the sake of some added amusement while reading.) of Satan Corporation’s Japanese branch. He seems a bit annoyed once he sees who summoned him, but comes around to asking her her wish. Her answer? “I want a man.” Literally. He’s not thrilled but they nevertheless set out to look for one, engaging in much bickering along the way until he decides to put her in a dress and make-up and sends her out to walk around on her own while he retreats into the sky. After she’s accosted by some otaku, she gets abducted by a pair of yakuza and Mark has to rescue her.

At about this point, Mark figures out that Saiko has absolutely no clue about this whole summoning devils business, including the fact that getting a wish fulfilled comes with the tiny little catch of giving up your soul. Oops. Mark tries to high tail it out of there to spare her (This is where the romance develops, guys.), but she clings to him until he gives in and is about to tell her about the catch… but then Satan himself shows up in the sky and yells at him. He better get that girl’s soul or Satan (dressed in a suit, by the way) will sure be pissed. Nevertheless, Mark decides to spare her and leaves. At some point, she seems to have magically fallen head over heels in love with him so she clings and cries, but to no avail. When some random guy asks her out the next day at school, she realizes that, unfortunately, she desires only Mark. Awwwwww. So, she summons him again (He’s all tattered looking because Satan really did beat him up.) and tells him that her wish is to go out with him. How demanding! Since he magically fell in love with her as well, they cling to each other and wait for their doom, I guess.

While they embrace, Saiko has decided that God isn’t so bad after all, so she wishes for him to turn Mark into a human. The clock strikes midnight, signaling the beginning of Christmas, and Mark is suddenly a human! (I really didn’t see that one coming.) They don’t realize this, however, until Mark tries to pick her up and fly, only to notice that he no longer has wings or horns. Too bad. The last word? “Halleluja.”

Impression

I’m always flabbergasted at the use of Western religion whenever it seems convenient. Sort of like the name of that Gundam 00 pilot, Alleluja Baptism or whatever it was. It’s just… ridiculous.

Akuma ni Onegai is cute if you don’t think about it, but pretty stupid otherwise. Oh, here’s this random guy I just met, I think I’m going to fall in love with him to the point of offering up my soul! That doesn’t sound irrational at all!

I mean, I like shoujo as a genre. I like your stereotypical shoujo stuff: the ridiculous romance, the soap opera love stories, the big googly eyes, the background bubbles, and all of that good stuff. But Akuma ni Please is just a bit too over the top. Cute, but the story makes you really practice your suspension of disbelief. It might’ve worked better as a slightly longer story so that the characters don’t seem quite as insane.

Art

Rather average. It gets the point across, but particularly hands look just plain weird in some panels. Since I like hands a lot – I daresay they’re my favorite body part – this sticks out like a sore thumb. (Ha. Ha.)

Ease of Comprehension

Mark likes to speak with more slang-ish, “tough guy” forms of words (lots of “neee”‘s thrown in at the end) and also some keigo here and there. Since I hate keigo and am a bit rusty on comprehending super casual Japanese (haven’t been watching much anime lately), it can be a bit confusing. Otherwise, it’s nothing you can’t get through in an hour or so with the help of a good dictionary and a basic working knowledge of Japanese grammar.

Final Words

When you really get down to it, it’s dreck, but I like it because I can understand it. Maybe one day when I can understand a level of Japanese not aimed at elementary school girls I can read more sophisticated material that doesn’t accost my brain quite so much.

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